Image Size: 14″ x 20″
650 Public Edition (Limited Edition, Signed and Numbered)
WI Sopwith Camel In Trench
It could have been a bullet through a gas line, a broken prop, a severed control cable, or just a dud engine that gave up the ghost over the lines; it didn’t matter which. This Sopwith Camel pilot from the American 148th Squadron likely had his hands full fighting a prevalent westerly wind, just to get back to the Allied side of the lines. Stretching his glide over the no man’s land the flyer preferred the safety of a deadstick landing in friendly territory. Lucky for this Yank he has fallen into the friendly hands of British and Canadian troops, who welcome this unexpected guest from out of the blue. The officer in charge of this machine gun company shares a healthy tot of medicinal brandy with the shaken airman while a medic checks over his injuries. Curious Tommys surround them in a welcome break from another day in the trenches of the Western Front in 1918. They had better make their observations quickly, since it won’t be too long before German troops on the other side of the line send over some “hate” at the downed aircraft to prevent it from being salvaged.
This painting was suggested by many real incidents of this kind that occurred during the Great War of 1914 – 1918. Combat damage and mechanical breakdowns routinely forced pilots to try to coax their aircraft that extra little bit in order to pancake on their side of the lines. In Elliot White Springs’ book Diary of the Unknown Aviator, he describes a similar incident; as a result of an oil line failure and the corresponding lack of engine lubrication, the engine bearings meltd. He managed to glide back and crack up in an Allied trench. Thanks to the troops that pulled him from the wrecked aircraft and a willing escort for his return to the squadron aerodrome he arrived a good deal more lubricated than he began. Flyer and escort stopped for a celebratory champagne at every French estaminet along the way.
James Dietz has once again brought his unique blend of man, machine and story to aviation art. In a style and composition that harkens back to the golden age of American illustration, he has again brought to the many collectors of his work the touch, look and feel of that long-gone-by era of aviation.