Fokker D.VIIs attacking an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, WWI 1918
Fokker D.VIIs attacking an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, WWI 1918
Fokker D.VIIs attacking an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, WWI 1918
Fokker D.VIIs attacking an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, WWI 1918
Fokker D.VIIs attacking an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, WWI 1918

GEORGE HORACE DAVIS (1881-1963)

Fokker D.VIIs attacking an Armstrong Whitworth FK8, WWI 1918

1919 England

Offered by Hurlingham Fine Arts

£1,800 gbp
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George Horace Davis was an important technical diagram illustrator of the First World War. He was born on the 8th May 1881 in Kensington, London, and educated at the Kensington Art College and Ealing School of Art. He worked as a freelance artist and during WWI served with distinction with the Royal Flying Corps. Davis became Officer-in-Charge of Aerial Diagrams at the studios of Section T5 in South Kensington. The primary purpose of T5 was to produce accurate pictures to aid flying instructors teaching trainee pilots tactical aerial manoeuvres and technical issues. Models of German and British aeroplanes were constructed and photographed from all angles. When a machine was required in a certain position, the suitable photograph was selected, enlarged, and then traced out on the diagram. Experienced combat pilots returning from the Front gave valuable insight on the latest aerial tactics which would then be passed on by Section T5 to the instructors as lessons in pictures. These diagrams were treated as secret documents and were also extensively used in the training of American and other Allied aviators.

Although the present watercolour is dedicated to " E.H." and titled " March 21. 1918 ", the start of the Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser's Battle), the painting is more likely to be a made-up view than a record of a particular incident. The code letter "C", as marked on the fuselage in the present picture, certainly applied to No.8 Squadron, but the number on the tailfin " C2137" was issued to an Arco DH6 not an Armstrong Whitworth. The red painted Fokker D.VIIs in our picture may represent Baron von Richthofen's Jasta 11. The Baron was shot down on the 21st April 1918 and never had the opportunity to pilot the D.VII which became operational in late June.

It is possible this picture was inspired by the R.A.F.'s first Victoria Cross awarded to Captain Ferdinand " Freddy" West of No.8 Squadron piloting an Armstrong Whitworth with his Observer, Lt J.A.G.Haslam, in August 1918. The Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated on the 1st April 1918 to form the Royal Air Force. On the 12th August Captain West discovered a large mass of German reinforcements hidden in some woods ready to counter attack. Twice he flew low over the site to verify their position and as he later wrote, " We were being heavily attacked from the ground but I scarcely noticed it, so engrossed was I in tallying up the strength of this enemy reserve. Haslam, behind me, was retaliating. There must have been a dozen machine-guns blazing at us. The Germans knew what we were after. They had to bring us down to save themselves. We disappeared again into the cloud ". Captain West was unable to send a signal as almost immediately German fighters drove him down knocking out his wireless transmitter and severely wounding him in the leg. He came close to passing out through loss of blood as his femoral artery had been cut. West recalled, " Two more German Aircraft crossed my path in staggered diving formation. I opened fire at once, and as I pressed the trigger a tremendous new surge of pain shot through my leg and I heard the enemy rat-tat-tat again near to. Haslam was blazing away behind me". Eventually they crossed the Allied trenches at tree top height still pursued by an enemy fighter, " There was a German on our tail. I could not turn round but from the desperate spatter of Haslam's guns I knew we were still in danger". Captain West landed in a field and was again raked by machine-gun fire from above. He and Haslam, who was also wounded, were then gathered up by Canadian ground troops. West gave his report to the Squadron Adjutant from his hospital bed where his leg was amputated.
Fair, some paint loss restoration and minor scuff marks
After the Armistice, Davis continued to contribute paintings for 'Flight', now 'Flight Magazine', and the 'Sphere'. In 1923 he joined the Illustrated London News and calculated that he had produced some 2,500 illustrations in over 40 years for the ILN before finally retiring at the age of 83. The Imperial War Museum holds a large collection of his work.
Dimensions
Height 24.00 inch (60.96 cm)
Width 19.00 inch (48.26 cm)
Medium
Pencil, watercolour and gouache
Signed/Inscribed
Signed and dedicated " To E.H. from G.H.Davis R.A.F. - T5 1919 "
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