View Full Version : First World War Aviation Art-a chronology

Pete Hill
03-24-2015, 09:06 PM
Hi forumers,
I got the idea for this thread from another forumer on the aviation art website e-hangar who produced two threads, one on the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the other on the Battle of Midway in 1942, where he assembled images of paintings done by various aviation artists on scenes from either of those battles. The images were arranged chronologically in order of the historical dates (and in the case of Midway, the times) of the events they were portraying. This created an aviation art re-telling of the events.
As a mad fan of WW1 aviation art, I thought I would assemble a number of images by various aviation artists and list them in chronological order of the events and incidents they depicted. The story of the war in the air in WW1 could be re-told through aviation art!
To prevent the number of images becoming too large, I restricted myself to only artworks that portrayed events that had a specific date (ie 15th May 1916 etc). This meant there were many fine paintings I could not include as they did not depict specific events but instead rendered random or typical scenes without exact dates. Even so, the list proved to be quite large so this thread will be an on-going, lengthy project!

Pete Hill
03-24-2015, 10:38 PM

'Bleriot' by John Young.

This painting depicts one of the reconnaissance missions performed by the fledgling Royal Flying Corps over Belgium on August 22, 1914. This aircraft is a French-built Bleriot monoplane which was one of the types flown by the RFC during the August campaign.
The reconnaissance missions gave timely warning to the commander of the BEF, Sir John French, informing him of the approach of Von Kluck's German army which was threatening the flank of the outnumbered BEF, following the un-expected withdrawal of neighbouring French forces.

Pete Hill
03-24-2015, 11:08 PM

'The Five O'Clock Taube' by Mervyn Corning

An Etrich Taube monoplane of the Imperial German air-force performs a bombing raid on Paris on 30th August, 1914. As German armies to the north and north-east of the French capital advance southwards and the Anglo-French armies withdraw towards the Marne, the Taube monoplane of Leutnant Ferdinand von Hiddessen arrived over Paris at 12.45pm and the pilot dropped four small bombs by hand from the cockpit. They exploded in the city below, killing between one and three civilians (accounts vary) and injuring several others. Hiddessen then made another pass over the city centre, dropping a weighted bag containing propaganda leaflets. Attached to the bag was a six foot long thin banner in the tri-colours of the Imperial German flag. The bag landed intact in a street and was taken to a police station where it was opened, revealing a bundle of leaflets which warned the citizenry of Paris that the German army was at the city's gates and urged the populance to surrender. Apparently, Hiddessen had made an error, dropping the bag itself rather than opening the bag and pouring out the leaflets so they scattered widely over the city as planned.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 12:07 AM

'China's German Air-Force' by Mervyn Corning.

In 1914, the German colony at Tsing-Tao, China came under threat by military forces of Japan which had sided with the Allies. The small military forces defending the colony included a single aeroplane, a Rumpler Taube flown by Oberleutenant zur Gee Gunther Pluschow. On September 26th, 1914, Pluschow encountered a French-built Maurice-Farman of Japan's air-force in what was the only air-to-air action fought over China during the Great War. Pluschow, armed only with a Luger pistol, maneuvred his aircraft underneath the Farman and fired a number of shots. Several rounds hit the Farman, forcing it to land. Two months later, Tsing-Tao was captured by Japanese troops and Pluschow escaped back to Germany.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 12:12 AM

'The First Dogfight' by Mervyn Corning

In what is generally accepted as the first instance in which an aircraft shot down an opponent in aerial combat occurred on October 5th, 1914. Flying a Voisin-III of the French air-force, Sgt-Pilot Joseph Frantz and his observer/gunner, Air-Mechanic Louis Quenault, encountered a German two-seater Aviatik over the French village of Jonchery-sur-Vesle. The Aviatik's observer was seen to take out a rifle and he began firing shots at the Voisin.
Frantz's aircraft was better-armed, carrying a 8-mm Hotchkiss machine-gun mounted in the front cockpit. Quenault fired off two drums of ammunition at the enemy plane. The Hotchkiss then jammed and Quenault brought out a rifle and fired several more rounds but the Aviatik was already mortally damaged. The latter crashed behind French lines. The pilot, William Schlingting, was already dead, killed by one of the Hotchkiss rounds whilst the observer, Fritz von Zangen, perished in the crash. Frantz later visited the crash-site and found the wreckage being looted by souvenir hunters. He later sadly commented that he got no satisfaction nor any feeling of triumph from the death of his enemies.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 12:56 AM

'First Air-to-Air Victory' by Wilf Hardy

Another depiction of the same incident as described above. The French pilot, Joseph Frantz, survived the war and lived until 1989.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 01:25 AM

'First Victory' by Paul Lengelle.

A watercolour depicting the same incident as above on October 5th, 1914. Contrary to popular belief, the incident was not the first ever dogfight, nor the first time an aircraft brought down another. US historian Harry Woodman asserts that the first hostile encounter between two aircraft occurred in 1913 during the Mexican revolution where two American mercenary pilots, Phil Rader and Dean Lamb, each flying for opposing sides, had an inclusive duel where they fired pistols at each other. And the first pilot to bring down an enemy plane was a Russian, Pyotr Nesterov, who, over the Eastern Front on September 7th, 1914, deliberately aimed his French-built Morane and rammed an Austrian two-seater Albatros B.I, killing both himself and the enemy crew in the process. However, Sgt Jospeh Frantz was the first to destroy an enemy plane with gunfire.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 06:17 AM

'Flight Lieutenant R L G Marix' by Ivan Berryman

On October 8th, 1914, a pair of Sopwith Tabloids carried out what was the first strategic bombing mission against Germany. The two British pilots, Squadron-Leader D A S Grey and Flight-Lieutenant Reggie L G Marix, were charged with bombing the huge German Zeppelin storage sheds at Cologne and Dusseldorf. Thick, murky cloud forced Grey to switch targets and attack the Cologne railway station. Marix, however, had better luck and found the Zeppelin shed at Dusseldorf where the airship LZ.25 was stored inside. Marix dropped his bombs from a height of 600ft and the Zeppelin inside the shed ignited and then exploded spectacularly, the fireball almost consuming Marix's aircraft. Both Tabloids managed to make it back to base and both Grey and Marix were awarded DSOs for their efforts.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 07:13 AM

'Surprise Party' by Mervyn Corning

After the raid on Dusseldorf, the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) planned a follow-up raid on German Zeppelin sheds, an operation much more complex and bold. On the evening of November 13th, 1914, operating under great secrecy, a train arrived at Belfort in south-east France, an airship field located 50 miles from the German border (and only 12 miles from the Swiss border). On board the train were four Avro 504 aircraft, dis-assembled and packed into crates, along with British RNAS air-crew under the command of Squadron-Leader Shepherd.
Permission to use the location as a launching base for the attack had been gained only after lengthy and delicate negotiations with the French with the condition that the raid be carried out before December.
The small force planned to launch a surprise bombing raid on the German Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen, located some 125 miles to the east. Time was of the essence as it could only be a matter of time before the base was discovered. The RNAS personnel assembled the Avro aircraft and fitted the special bomb-racks, designed to carry and drop the 20-pound Hale bombs, four of which would be carried by each aircraft. Although the 504 was a two-seater, the pilot would fly each plane alone, the other cockpit rigged to serve as a spare fuel tank.
During the preparations in cold weather, Shepherd fell ill and damaged one of the aircraft during taxying trails. He was replaced by Squadron-Leader Roland Cannon. On the morning of November 21, the four aircraft were wheeled out and take-off commenced at 9.30am. One of the Avros (Cannon's), the one that had been damaged, proved unable to lift off despite the makeshift repairs so only three aircraft began the mission, piloted by Squadron-Commander Briggs and Lieutenants Babington and Sippe.
Unable to fly in formation due to the Avro's high cruising speed, the three pilots flew individually to the target. Briggs was the first to reach the Zeppelin base at Friedrichshafen at 11.30am but his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire after he dropped his bombs. His aircraft force-landed at the base and Briggs, badly injured, was captured.
Sippe arrived next, dropping three of his bombs whilst the fourth failed to detach. Flying low over Lake Constance, he evaded the AA fire and made it back to base.
Last to attack was Babington who dropped his bombs at the target despite his plane having engine trouble. Forbidden by the French to carry maps, Babington got lost en route home but by good luck, he landed his fuel-starved plane in French territory.
Briggs, Babington and Sippe were all awarded DSOs and the British Press made the most of the raid's propaganda value, proclaiming it a great success. In reality, actual damage inflicted to the Zeppelin base was slight, limited to minor damage to one of the workshops and to the main doors of one of the airship sheds, along with damage to a nearby house. Casualties on the ground were one killed and two injured.
Briggs, after recovering in a German hospital, was transferred to a POW camp but he later escaped.
After the raid, the Germans strengthened AA defences around their Zeppelin sheds and where possible, moved them deeper into German territory, out of range of Allied air attack.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 08:08 AM

'Christmas Surprise' by David Pentland

On December 25th, 1914, the Royal Navy carried out the first ever co-ordinated sea and air attack on an enemy target. Three RN seaplane tenders with several warships as escorts, sailed into the North Sea and set up a temporary base at the small island of Helgoland. On Christmas Day, the tenders launched a total of nine Short seaplanes of various models in near-zero temperatures. The engines of two of the planes refused to start in the freezing conditions and both aircraft had to be winched back on board but the remaining seven aircraft managed to get airborne.
Their objective was the Zeppelin sheds at the Nordholz air-base near Cuxhaven. Poor visibility and heavy anti-aircraft fire hampered the bombing attack on the air-base and the damage inflicted was limited. However the British were pleased with the results of the raid as it proved the feasibility of such operations and none of the aircrew's lives were lost. Of the seven aircraft who participated in the raid, three were recovered intact by the tenders, three more landed near the Island of Nordeney and their crews were rescued by a British submarine (the aircraft were deliberately scuttled) and the last aircraft was reported missing but the crew was rescued by a Dutch trawler. One of the aircrew who took part as an observer was Lieutenant Erskine Childers, famous for being the writer of the espionage novel The Riddle of the Sands which had been a bestseller before the war. A staunch Irish nationalist, Childers became radicalised after the war and was a leading figure in the Anglo-Irish troubles prior to his death by execution in 1922.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 09:52 AM

'Kazakov and his Katze' by Mervyn Corning

On March 31st, 1915, over the Eastern Front, a Morane-Saulnier Type G of the Imperial Russian air-force approached a German Albatros two-seater. The German crew were puzzled to see the Russian fighter trailing a long cable at the end of which was a five-pronged anchor and an iron ball. The strange weapon was the 'Katze' and the pilot was Alexander Kazakov, destined to become Russia's most successful Ace of the Great War.
Kazakov flew his French-designed fighter in a low pass over the Albatros, the dangling Katze tearing a gash through the left upper wing, tearing it to shreds and sending the German plane tumbling earthwards.
Kazakov had achieved his first aerial victory. By 1918, he was credited with 20 confirmed victories although the total was likely higher as Russian pilots were only credited with enemy aircraft which crashed within Russian territory. Unwilling to support the new Bolshevik government, Kazakov resigned from the air-force in early 1918 and he later fought against the Reds during the Russian Civil War the following year. After the British withdrew their military support for the pro-Monarchy forces, Kazakov became severely disillusioned. He died in an accidental crash at an air-display in August 1919 but many witnesses were convinced it was an act of suicide.

Pete Hill
03-25-2015, 09:58 AM

'Kazakov's First Victory' by Mark Postlethwaite

A painting depicting the same incident as above, with more accurate markings on both aircraft. This painting featured on the cover of the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces Book 'Russian Aces of the First World War'.

03-25-2015, 01:25 PM
A good selection of paintings, Pete.

03-25-2015, 07:55 PM
A good selection and well documented - I just wish I could make the time to browse them all .
Reminded me that many years ago I did an Avro 504 scene of the Friedrichshaven raid . Very enjoyable painting to tackle and thankfully came out well . I enjoyed learning about the history of the various elements that went into it. good stuff.

Pete Hill
03-26-2015, 10:02 AM

'The Strange Story' by Mervyn Corning.

On May 10th, 1915, Lieutenant Louis A Strange, a pilot serving with No 6 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, took off on a patrol in his Martinsyde S.1 Scout. He encountered a German two-seater Aviatik and dove to attack it. His S.1 biplane had a Lewis-machine gun mounted on the upper wing, with an ammunition drum that held 47 rounds and had to be changed by hand. This procedure involved the pilot un-doing his safety straps and standing up in the cockpit to change the drum on the weapon above his seat.
Strange quickly emptied his first drum at the German plane, seeing no apparent results. Un-buckling his safety straps, he raised himself upright in the cockpit to attach a fresh drum to his Lewis MG. At that moment, the Martinsyde abruptly flipped over, leaving Strange dangling in mid-air from his upside-down aeroplane, hanging on to the ammunition drum of the Lewis. The aircraft began to spin earthwards. Strange desperately tried to hoist his legs back into the cockpit, his boots shattering the instrument panel. He swung his legs backwards, his boots catching on the rim of the cockpit. By arcing his back, Strange managed to get himself into the cockpit. He grabbed the control column and shoved it hard to one side which was the standard method of getting an aircraft out of a spin. The Martinsyde righted itself and levelled out with only 500 feet to spare but the sudden force proved too much for the seat which broke, sending Strange sprawling onto the floor of the cockpit, his feet sticking upwards, his head facing rearwards along the narrow fuselage. Somehow he managed to wriggle himself around and grip the control column. Unable to see over the rim of the cockpit and without any working instruments, Strange somehow managed to fly his aircraft back to base.
His CO reprimanded him for carelessly damaging his own plane and none of his fellow pilots believed his story. After the war, Strange read an article in a newspaper containing an eyewitness account of two German air-crew who had seen a British flier hanging upside down from his plane. Strange tracked the two men down who turned out to be the Aviatik crew who had both survived the war. The Germans were relieved to discover that Strange had escaped with his life as they had felt so sorry for him, seeing him hanging helplessly from his aircraft.
Louis Strange served as a commander of training units and bomber squadrons during the Great War, earning an DFC and DSO. He served with the RAF in WW2, flying a Hawker Hurricane from France to Britain in June 1940, evading an attack by Me-109s in the process. He later helped develop the catapult-launched 'Hurricats' which proved vital in convoy defence in the Atlantic. He remained a regular flier until his death in 1966.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 04:30 AM

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 07:17 AM

'Warneford & Goliath' by Mervyn Corning.

On 7th June 1915, Lieutenant Reginald A J Warneford piloting a French-built Morane Saulnier Type L 'Parasol' monoplane of No 1 Air-Wing of the RFC, intercepted the German Zeppelin LZ.37 over the Belgian coast at Ostend. He chased the massive airship and managed to climb above it, dropping several small bombs. One of these struck the Zeppelin, igniting a massive explosion, the force from which buffeted Warneford's aircraft, flipping it upside down and stalling its engine. As the burning wreckage of LZ.37 crashed in nearby Sint-Amandsberg, Warneford glided his aircraft to a force landing behind enemy lines. He frantically worked on his engine for half an hour and managed to re-start his plane and take off again before any German troops found him.
Warneford was awarded the Victoria Cross for his exploits that day.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 07:23 AM

'Lieutenant Reginald Warneford VC' by Ivan Berryman

Another depiction of the same event on June 7th 1915 as described above. This was actually the second time Warneford had attacked a Zeppelin. Three weeks previously, he had attacked LZ.39 over Belgium but the latter had jettisoned ballast and had climbed out of range.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 07:36 AM

'Lieutenant Warneford's Great Exploit' by Gordon F Crosby

An earlier depiction of Warneford's mission on June 7th, 1915. Only ten days after this action, Warneford was ferrying a two-seater to his RNAS base at Veurne with an American journalist named Harry Beach on board when the aircraft suffered a sudden structural failure, causing one of the wings to crumple. In the subsequent crash, Beach was killed immediately whilst Warneford died of his injuries shortly afterwards.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 08:11 AM

'Lt Warneford VC' by Jason Askew.

Another depiction of the destruction of LZ.37 on June 7th, 1915.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 09:08 AM

'Flight Lieutenant Warneford attacking the Zeppelin' by Brian Byron

Another portrayal of the June 7 1915 event described above.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 09:18 AM

'Warneford VC 1915' by Les Urwin

Another depiction of the events of June 7th, 1915.

03-27-2015, 04:25 PM
Love looking through this thread--you certainly are a ,going to be a very busy boy and b, a very high post count /record post count for one thread LOL :)

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 11:01 PM
Yes, you are right! :angel: You should wait until I eventually manage to get to 1918! With luck, I may finish this thread by next August! LOL.

Pete Hill
03-27-2015, 11:13 PM

'Leaving For France' by Roy Cross.

Royal Aircraft Factory BE2As of No 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps depart Britain to fly across the Channel to France on August 13th, 1914. No 2 Squadron was the first RFC unit to arrive in France in the Great War. Three more RFC squadrons flew across the Channel later that same day. A total of 60 British aircraft made the crossing on August 13th and all of them reached their designated aerodromes intact, a remarkable achievement considering the high attrition rate of aircraft lost crossing the Channel later in the war.
This painting by Roy Cross was exhibited at the 2014 annual British Guild of Aviation Artists Exhibition.

(This image should have been first in this thread, sorry but I only just found it, along with a couple of others. Maybe the website admin can help?) :crossfingers:

03-28-2015, 07:49 AM
While this is all very interesting and we all admire aviation art, I'm not sure if this is the right place for this type of subject. If all the paintings were done by yourself then that would be fine. This is after all WETcanvas , predominantly for works by forum members. I don't think we need lots of published works, readily available elsewhere on the Internet. You have set your self a huge task, which will take up a large amount of space, also I am not too sure of the position on using other artists work .
This would be an ideal and challenging project to turn into a book, but I personally feel that this is not the right place.
All members please feel free to comment.

Russell Smith
03-30-2015, 08:20 AM
I have no problem with the thread, but of course I may be a little biased in favor of the subject. :wink2:

There is actually a book in the works of WWI-themed aviation art. Art if the Dogfight is being written by James Wilberg and will will hopefully be available by Christmas of this year.

03-30-2015, 10:44 AM
I like the thread and feel that if people want to read they should have the choice ,if others don't then they don't need to. :)
Maybe Pete Hill could be open to suggestions of favourite paintings by others he may have missed.

03-30-2015, 11:39 AM
There is nothing wrong with the subject of the thread, nor indeed the narrative. It is the use of widely used published works by other artists, that goes against the purpose of this forum. This is an art form. A show case for members own works.
'The Spitfire as depicted in Aviation Art.' Not here, more like on an Aviation forum eg PO Prune!
'The Spitfire, how I depict it in My art' not a problem.

03-30-2015, 03:12 PM
Much as I respect Pete's aims and enthusiasm I am wondering what the moderators think.
I'm inclined to agree with Jim .
E-Hangar if it ever gets back on it's feet might be a more appropriate place for this kind of thread .

Pete Hill
04-02-2015, 02:37 AM
G'day, guys.
I have read all your comments and I have accepted and agreed with your concerns, so I will end the thread here. Thank you for your comments and thanks for being civil and constructive about the issue.
Regards Pete

04-02-2015, 05:30 AM
Hi Pete, thanks for being understanding re concerns for the above thread. I still think you could go ahead with it using your own illustrations, you certainly have the ability, and a style of your own with a clarity of detail ideal for this type of project. I'm sure our WW1 fans would agree.
Looking forward to more of your work