by Robert Taylor
|In search of Manfred von Richthofen - the Red Baron, WWI Ace Capt. Roy Brown leads a flight of Sopwith Camels of 209 Squadron on a high patrol as the dawn breaks over the Western Front. France, 1918.
This print was published in 1985 and signed by Sir Thomas Sopwith, designer and builder of the Camel, one of the most important fighter aircraft in history and a true icon. The main edition has been a scarce item for at least thirty years, even more rare though are the Artist's proofs which also bear the signatures of two WWI Aces who flew the Sopwith Camel.
This artist's proof is framed to also include an authentic original brass Royal Flying Corps uniform badge from WWI.
Triple matted with a shadow-box layer, all materials and methods used in the matting meet the highest conservation standards. The piece is completed with a top quality Ebony finish wood frame and ultraviolet filtering plexiglass, providing maximum protection against fading.
|Overall size: 29" x 34½"|
|Museum presentation||Signed by Sir Thomas Sopwith & two WWI Aces - framed with original Royal Flying Corps badge||$1895|
|Overseas Orders: Additional shipping charges apply to this item if shipped outside the U.S., please call or email for shipping quote|
|Tommy Sopwith was ninety seven years old when he signed this print.
Not surprisingly his signature was a little shaky, and on some copies of the print the signature wandered from the image border into the white area, making framing slightly awkward. On this particular piece however his signature is nicely centered in the border.
|Original WWI Royal Flying Corps cap badge|
Sir Thomas 'Tommy' Sopwith CBE Hon FRAeS
Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith was born in Kensington, London on 18 January 1888. He became interested in flying after seeing
John Moisant flying the first cross-Channel passenger flight. His first flight was with Gustave Blondeau in a Farman at Brooklands. He soon taught himself to fly on a Howard Wright Avis monoplane and took to the air on his own for the first time on 22 October 1910. He crashed after travelling about 300 yards, but soon improved, and on 22 November was awarded Royal Aero Club Aviation Certificate No. 31, flying a Howard Wright 1910 Biplane. On 18 December 1910, Sopwith won a £4000 prize for the longest flight from England to the Continent in a British-built aeroplane, flying 169 miles in 3 hours 40 minutes. He used the winnings to set up the Sopwith School of Flying at Brooklands.
In June 1912 Sopwith with Fred Sigrist and others set up the Sopwith Aviation Company, initially at Brooklands. On 24 October 1912 using a Wright Model B completely rebuilt by Sopwith and fitted with an ABC 40 hp engine, Harry Hawker took the British Michelin
Bankrupted after the war by punitive anti-profiteering taxes, he re-entered the aviation business a few years later with a new firm named after his chief engineer and test pilot, Harry Hawker. Sopwith became chairman of the new firm, Hawker Aircraft.
After the nationalisation of the aviation interests of what was by then Hawker Siddeley, he continued to work as a consultant to the company until 1980. He became a Knight Bachelor in 1953. Sopwith's 100th birthday was marked by a flypast of military aircraft over his home. He died in Hampshire on 27 January 1989, aged 101.
|Air Marshal Sir Aubrey Ellwood KCB DSC DL
Educated at Marlborough College, Ellwood joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1916. During his service as a fighter pilot in the First World War, he scored ten victories (all in the Sopwith Camel) to become a double flying ace, being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in the process. Having been awarded one of the first permanent commissions in the Royal Air Force in 1919, he was appointed Officer Commanding No. 5 Squadron in India in 1932 before returning to the UK in 1937 to join the Directing Staff at the RAF Staff College.
Ellwood served in the Second World War as Deputy Director of Bomber Operations before becoming Air Officer Commanding No. 18 Group in January 1943 and then Senior Air Staff Officer at Headquarters Coastal Command in March 1944. He completed his was service as Director-General of Personnel.
After the war Ellwood was appointed the Air Officer Commanding in Chief Bomber Command. His next and last tour was as Air Officer Commanding in Chief Transport Command before retiring in January 1952.
|1st Baron of Inchrye Harold Balfour MC PC
Balfour joined the 60th Rifles in 1914 and served in France for three months before he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. After training he was posted to No. 60 Squadron. In 1917 he was serving with No. 43 Squadron when he downed two enemy aircraft while flying a
Sopwith 1½ Strutter. He was injured in a crash and moved on to the School of Special Flying, No. 40 Squadron, then returned to No. 43 Squadron. Now piloting the Sopwith Camel he claimed 7 more victories and was promoted to major. Balfour then took command of a training school until 1919. He was private secretary and Aide-de-camp to Air Vice Marshal Sir John Salmond 1921-22 and temporary ADC to Sir Samuel Hoare, Secretary of State for Air, 1923. He retired from the Royal Air Force in 1923.