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. Thirty five years ago there were still a number of surviving WWI veterans, although there were few prints being signed by them at that time. The limited edition of the print was signed by Sir Thomas Sopwith, designer and builder of the Camel, one of the most important fighter aircraft in history, and a true icon. It is now a quite rare print on the secondary market
Overall size: 20½" x 27½"
Signed by Sir Thomas Sopwith
Sir Thomas 'Tommy' Sopwith
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 traveling 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 Endurance prize with a flight of
8h 23m. Sopwith Aviation got its first military aircraft order in November 1912, and in December moved to larger premises in Kingston upon Thames.
The company produced more than 18,000 World War I aircraft for the allied forces, including
5747 of the Sopwith Camel single-seat fighter. Sopwith was awarded the CBE in 1918.
Bankrupted after the war by punitive anti-profiteering taxes, he re-entered the aviation business
in 1920 with a new firm named after his chief engineer and test pilot, Harry Hawker. Sopwith
became chairman of the new firm, Hawker Aircraft.
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