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WW1 French Nieuport 28 Original Illustration Fighter Plane Art by Jerome Biederman
Item #: VF4008
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WWI original aircraft on art board that measures 25″x20″. Illustrated image measures 19″x14.25″. This particular aircraft is identified at the bottom and sighed by the artist. Jerome Biederman was born February 1, 1913 in Braddock, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Chicago’s American Academy Of Art. He maintained studios in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Nashville during his career. This original Gouache watercolor illustration is of a French Nieuport 28 and was part of a series of aviation paintings that Jerome did in 1975. His artwork routinely sells for over a thousand dollars and he is listed with Artfact with many of his artworks with a selling history.
 

Design and development

By the middle of 1917, it was obvious that the Nieuport 17 and its immediate developments such as the Nieuport 24bis, with only moderate performance gains, were unable to offer sufficient improvements to deal with the latest German fighters. The Nieuport 17 line was already being supplanted in French service by the SPAD S.VII as quickly as supplies of the Hispano-Suiza engine would allow.

The Nieuport 28 design advanced the concept of the lightly built, highly maneuverable rotary engined fighter typified by the Nieuport 17 to the more demanding conditions of the times. It had a more powerful engine, twin machine guns, and a new wing structure – for the first time, a production Nieuport fighter was fitted with conventional two-spar wings, top and bottom, in place of the sesquiplane "v-strut" layout of earlier Nieuports. Ailerons, controlled with torque tubes were fitted to the lower wings only. The design of the tail unit closely followed that of the Nieuport 27, but in order to provide a more streamlined profile, the fuselage was longer and slimmer, so narrow that its twin Vickers machine guns were offset to port, one between the cabane struts and one just outboard of them. Several prototypes were built - testing three different dihedral settings for the top wing, including a completely flat wing, and one with marked dihedral that rested very close to the top of the front fuselage. Production machines had an intermediate configuration, with a slight dihedral in the upper wing, taller cabane struts, and room for the second machine gun to be mounted under the center section.

Aside from the original three variants, additional prototypes were built to test a wooden monocoque fuselage and alternate engine installations including the 300 hp Hispano-Suiza 8Fb, 170 hp Le Rhône 9R, 275 hp Lorraine-Dietrich 8Bd and 200 hp Clerget 11E. The results of these tests facilitated the development of the Nieuport 29.

Nieuport 28A

Nieuport 28A advertising Nucoa margarine after the war in the US

In late 1918, about the time that the type was withdrawn from front line use, the U.S. Army placed an order for an additional 600 improved Nieuport 28s, which were given the American designation 28A. Although these were mainly intended as advanced trainers, early problems with the SPAD S.XIII in American service meant that the possibility of re-introducing the Nieuport fighters into squadron service was not discounted, and provision was made for the installation of twin M1917/M1918 Marlin guns, mounted side by side under the center section. The Nieuport 28A was to feature an improved upper wing leading edge structure and a redesigned fuel system, correcting faults in the initial production batch. As the Nieuport company were preoccupied with later types, production was undertaken by Lioré et Olivier who had built 170 Nieuport 28As and parts for another 100 by the end of the war, with the remainder of the order being cancelled.

Operational history

Starting Nieuport 28s of the 95th Aero Squadron for a patrol

By early 1918, when the first production examples of the Nieuport 28 became available, the SPAD S.XIII was already firmly established as the standard French fighter, and the Nieuport 28 was "surplus" from the French point of view. On the other hand, the United States Army Air Service was desperately short of fighters to equip its projected "pursuit" (fighter) squadrons. Since the SPAD S.XIIIs the Americans actually wanted were initially unavailable due to engine shortages, the Nieuport was offered to the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) as an interim alternative.

A total of 297 Nieuport 28s were purchased by the Americans (none of our sources make it clear if this refers only to the initial order, or includes Nieuport 28A trainers accepted from the late 1918 contract). The 94th and 95th Aero Squadron received the initial allotments, starting in March 1918. In all, four AEF pursuit squadrons: the 27th, 94th, 95th and 147th Aero Squadrons, flew Nieuport 28s operationally for various periods between March and August 1918.

Rickenbacker with his Nieuport 28 – note offset guns

The factory delivered the Nieuport 28s to the Americans in mid-February 1918 without armament. At the time the AEF had no spare Vickers machine guns to supply to the squadrons, so that the first flights were unarmed training flights for pilots to familiarize themselves with the handling and performance of the new type. When deliveries of Vickers guns to the American squadrons finally started in mid-March, and until sufficient guns had been received for all of the fighters to be fully equipped, some aircraft were flown on patrol with only one machine gun fitted.

On 14 April 1918, the second armed patrol of an AEF fighter unit resulted in two victories when Lieutenants Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell (the first American-trained ace) of the 94th Aero Squadron each downed an enemy aircraft over their own airfield at Gengoult. Several well-known World War I American fighter pilots, including the 26-victory ace, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, began their operational careers on the Nieuport 28. Quentin Roosevelt (the son of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt) was shot down and killed flying the type.

The 94th and 95th had the task of dealing with the type's teething troubles. Initially undercarriages failed on landing - this was corrected by using heavier bracing wire. The Nieuport 28's 160 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine and fuel system proved unreliable and prone to fires. Field improvements to fuel lines, and increased familiarity of the American pilots (and their ground crews) with the requirements of monosoupape engines reduced these problems, but the definitive solution adopted was simply not completely filling the reserve fuel tank, at the expense of range. More seriously, a structural problem emerged – during a sharp pull out from a steep dive, the plywood leading edge of the top wing could break away, taking the fabric with it. On the whole, although the pilots of the 94th and the 95th appreciated the manoeverability and good handling of the Nieuport, and were reasonably happy with its general performance, they regarded the type as fragile and dangerous.

The 27th and 147th Aero Squadrons arrived at the front three months later, starting combat operations on 2 June 1918. In July 1918, the 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons received their first SPAD XIIIs and some of their surviving Nieuport 28s were then transferred to the 27th and 147th Aero Squadrons. By the end of August 1918, all four American squadrons were fully outfitted with SPAD XIIIs. The pilots of the 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons welcomed the SPADs, although the 27th and 147th Aero Squadrons were much less enthusiastic about the change.

U.S. Navy Nieuport 28 on specially built platform mounted above the forward turret of USS Arizona

Twelve of the Army Nieuports were transferred to the U.S. Navy which equipped them with Royal Navy style hydrovanes and wing floatation gear, and flew them from launching platforms mounted above the forward turrets of eight battleships, in the same way that Sopwith Camel 2F.1s were used by the British Grand Fleet.

L-R: The Dawn Patrol stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Richard Barthelmess, and Gardner James with a Nieuport 28

Postwar

Postwar, approximately 50 new Nieuport 28As which had not previously seen service were shipped to the U.S. During the 1920s, Nieuport 28s were also in service with various air forces; Switzerland obtained 15, while Argentina received a couple of aircraft. Switzerland acquired its examples in 1919, and continued to fly the type throughout the 1920s, retiring their last Nieuport 28s from active service in 1930.

During the same period, a number of Nieuport 28s made their way to Hollywood where they appeared in the movies, The Dawn Patrol (1930), as well as its remake in 1938, Ace of Aces (1933) and Men with Wings (1938). The Nieuport 28s appeared in several later films set during WWI, including the Lafayette Escadrille (1958).

The Artist

"History will duly set aside the years 1900-1950 as the most momentous. Invention followed close upon the heels of invention...of all the bewildering and glittering array, few if any remotely approach in importance that role occupied by the ability and means to move...on the land, in the air, above and below the surface of the water," expressed Jerome D. Biederman. And few artists have been equally adept at capturing important vintage automobiles and other forms of transportation as this pioneering artist.

 

"My final year in high school, I convinced myself that, above all else, I wanted to become an artist, and started a vigorous inquiry into every school of art within a thousand miles of my hometown Pittsburgh," Biederman wrote in his autobiography, published in the November-December 1970 issue of Horseless Carriage Gazette. He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago. "The only entrance requirement consisted of artistic proof of one's ability, so I prepared a complete catalog featuring an imaginary automobile. Each page portrayed a separate model, each laboriously rendered in profile, all in full and glorious color. When this massive document was finally lashed together, it possessed all the weight and characteristics of a suitcase loaded with bricks. Thus, for better or worse, my artistic career was launched."

 

Biederman graduated from the Academy in October 1932, and like many of his contemporaries, the rigors of the Depression meant that it took him three years to find a job in his field. "My introduction to the advertising world was a revelation akin to the opening of 1,000 doors," he wrote. "Such mysteries as art direction, layout, production, type, reproduction-all unfolded in rapid succession...I survived this routine for years, but slowly and inevitably had begun the realization that the artist must at some time look to specialization and away from generalization in order that he might achieve recognition, prominence, and even fame. In 1940, I departed the advertising affair for the calmer atmosphere of a studio.

 

"I turned my full attention and energies to transportation vehicles...on/in the water, air and land," he continued. "Movement in its various forms has dominated my time, my thinking, and my life these past thirty years. In the years that followed, I did become known and my particular specialty recognized, but many detours were necessary, including art directorships, freelance artist, etc. As my exhibits became more numerous and my sells more regular, exposure of my efforts began to enter into commercial channels...calendars, prints, premiums, novelties, magazines, as well as other channels."

 

As Biederman's expanding body of work was gaining him prominence, he began a relationship with the McCleery-Cumming Corporation in 1956; this calendar company retained the artist to create six paintings for each of their 1958 automobile calendars. He painted for the calendar company for 36 years, and in the first 31 of those years, 186 automobile paintings were printed without interruption. A total of 444 Biederman transportation paintings were published in McCleery-Cumming calendars by 1993. In addition to the calendars, Mr. Biederman's automotive paintings were featured prominently in Playboy magazine, Automobile Quarterly and Horseless Carriage Gazette. He retired at the age of 75, in 1988, and died in 1996.

 

According to his widow, most of Biederman's paintings were done in tempera on heavyweight 20 x 30-inch illustration board. Calendar art averaged roughly 10 x 15 inches, depending on the subject. A substantial portion of Biederman's body of work remains intact, and most originals are available for purchase at $1,200 apiece.

 

"It seems to me that despite the untold millions of devotees adherent to this, that and the other...the fundamental 'love affair' lies in and with the internal combustion engine, the good, bad or indifferent that surrounds it," Biederman wrote. "The combination of motor, wheels and body, has known, knows, and will experience moments of greatness, be they in performance, styling, concept, even flights of fancy."
Shipping Weight: 3 lbs
Your Price $500.00 USD