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|"A Ship's Camel"
Sopwith Camel (Naval)
By : Deborah Susan Jones : Editor
"This week's Legendary Art is one of Peter's Aviation investigative drawings examining the blue and white checkered Sopwith 2F1, Ship's Camel as flown by Captain Bernard Arthur Smart from a converted large cruiser HMS Furious in 1917.
This aircraft was one of seven launched from HMS Furious on July 19 1917 as part of the first carrier air strike in history, a British bombing raid mounted by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force officially designated Operation F.7, the target being the the Imperial German Navy's airship base at Tondern in Germany. The aircraft were specially configured for the mission with bomb racks and bomb sights, and the Lewis guns were left behind to save weight. The raid was a success with two Zeppelins being destroyed in their sheds by the 50-pound bombs dropped by the Camels. Only two of the Camels managed to return to Furious, one of which was Smart's aircraft but they destroyed two German Zeppelins, L.54 and L.60 plus a captive balloon for the loss of only one pilot while Tondern was abandoned as an active base, and ordered to be used only as an emergency landing site. Captain Smart was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for this exploit.
The Sopwith 2F1 Camel a was naval version of the famous standard Sopwith Camel. Ironically Peter's involvement with Naval Aviation subjects originates from his involvement with and creation of a project for The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund in 1990 on the 50th anniversary of The Battle of Britain.
At the time he created a number of paintings for a corporate calendar and it was during the creation of the works that the Artist's brother-in-law, then a Royal Navy Helicopter pilot, began a friendly rebuke concerning the lack of artistic portrayal by Aviation Artists of the heroic exploits of many brave naval pilots.
Thus is was that the Artist began research of naval aviation history which inevitably led to this issue's subject matter, Commander Smart's Camel from the1917 mission, and an investigative sketch (visual) to explore the intrinsic nature of the naval variant of the aeroplane and specifics relating to that particular event, such as the absence of a Lewis Gun and the very distinctive checkerboard markings on the engine cowl, characterisation being a major aspect of the Artist's "style".
The drawing is, of course, a preparatory work for a major oil painting that came later.
Deborah Susan Jones : Editor