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US Air Service Curtiss P-1B Hawk Original Illustration Fighter Bomber Art by Jerome Biederman
Item #: VF4029
Click on an image to enlarge
Original aircraft on art board that measures 25″x20″. Illustrated image measures 19″x14.25″. This particular aircraft is identified on the reverse and signed by the artist to the front. 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 United States Air Service Curtiss P-1B Hawk and was part of a series of aviation paintings that Jerome did in the early 70's. 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


XPW-8B prototype for P-1

The Curtiss P-1 Hawk was the first US Army Air Service aircraft to be assigned the "P" (Pursuit) designation which replaced seven designations for pursuit aircraft, including "PW" (for "Pursuit, Water-cooled engine"). The P-1 was the production version of the Curtiss XPW-8B, an improved variant of the PW-8, 25 of which were operational with the Air Service's 17th Pursuit Squadron

In September 1923, the Army ordered production of the PW-8. The PW-8 (Curtiss Model 33) had been developed from the R-6 racer and was acquired by the Air Service after a competition with the Boeing Model 15, designated the PW-9, to replace the existing Army fighter, the Boeing MB-3A. Although the PW-8 was faster than the PW-9 (both having top speeds in excess of 165 mph), it was otherwise outperformed by the Boeing plane, and its surface radiator cooling system, mounted on the upper and lower surfaces of the top wing for streamlining, was more difficult to maintain and vulnerable in combat. However, Assistant Chief of the Air Service Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell agreed to purchase 25 PW-8s in return for assistance by Curtiss in making the Dawn-to-dusk transcontinental flight across the United States.


P-1B Hawk
P-1B Hawk
P-2 Hawk
P-2 Hawk

The prototype of the P-1, the XPW-8B, came about when the Air Service, which had selected the Boeing PW-9 over the PW-8 as its main production fighter, asked Curtiss to modify the last of its three original XPW-8 prototypes with wings resembling those of the PW-9. Curtiss designated the modified aircraft its Model 34A and returned it to the Air Service for evaluation, from which the service ordered it into production as the P-1. The first production P-1, serial number 25-410, was delivered on August 17, 1925, and was followed in successive years by the P-1B and P-1C variants with improved engines. The newest P-1 variants remained in operational service until 1930.

The March 7, 1925 order for the P-1 also requested five aircraft with the more powerful 500 hp (373 kW) Curtiss V-1400 engine installed. These were completed in January 1926. The first (SN 25-420) was then modified with a supercharger mounted on the right side of the fuselage nose, and whose turbine was driven by engine exhaust; the craft was designated XP-2.

However, the Curtiss V-1400 engine did not perform up to expectations, with or without the supercharger, and so after a year in service, three of the standard P-2 Hawks had their engines replaced with the Curtiss D-12 and were consequently redesignated as P-1s. The fifth machine (25-243) received a Curtiss V-1570 Conqueror engine and became the XP-6.

93 production P-1s were brought into service in the P-1, P-1A, P-1B, and P-1C variants. 52 other P-1s, variants P-1D, P-1E, and P-1F, were made by conversion of other Hawk variants, primarily AT-4 and AT-5 trainers.

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 $400.00 USD