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WW1 British Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe Original Illustration Art by Jerome Biederman
Item #: VF4116
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WWII original aircraft on art board that measures 25″x20″. Illustrated image measures 19″x14.25″. This particular aircraft is identified on the reverse 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 British Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe 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

In April 1917, Herbert Smith, the chief designer of the Sopwith Company, began to design a fighter intended to be the replacement for Sopwith's most famous aeroplane, the successful Sopwith Camel. The resultant design, called Snipe by Sopwith, was in its initial form a single-bay biplane, slightly smaller than the Camel, and intended to be powered by similar engines. The pilot sat higher than in the Camel while the center-section of the upper wing was uncovered, giving a better view from the cockpit. Armament was to be two Vickers machine guns. In the absence of an official order, Sopwith began construction of two prototypes as a private venture in September 1917. This took advantage of a licence that had been granted to allow construction of four Sopwith Rhino bomber prototypes, only two of which were built. The first prototype Snipe, powered by a Bentley AR.1 rotary engine was completed in October 1917. The second prototype was completed with the new, more powerful Bentley BR.2, engine, which gave 230 horsepower (170 kW) in November 1917. This promised better performance, and prompted an official contract for six prototypes to be placed, including the two aircraft built as private ventures.

The third prototype to fly, serial number B9965, had modified wings, with a wider center-section and a smaller cutout for the pilot, while the fuselage had a fully circular section, rather than the slab-sided one of the first two aircraft, and the tail was smaller. It was officially tested in December 1917, reaching a speed of 119 mph (192 km/h), and was then rebuilt with longer-span (30 ft (9.14 m)) two-bay wings (compared with the 25 ft 9 in (7.85 m) single bay wings). This allowed the Snipe to compete for Air Board Specification A.1(a) for a high-altitude single-seat fighter. This specification required a speed of at least 135 mph (225 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,573 m) and a ceiling of at least 25,000 ft (7,620 m) while carrying an armament of two fixed and one swivelling machine gun. An oxygen supply and heated clothing were to be provided for the pilot to aid operation at high altitude.

The Snipe was evaluated against three other fighter prototypes, all powered by the Bentley BR.2 engine: the Austin Osprey triplane, the Boulton & Paul Bobolink and the Nieuport B.N.1. While there was little difference in performance between the aircraft, the Sopwith was selected for production, with orders for 1,700 Snipes placed in March 1918.

The Snipe's structure was heavier but much stronger than earlier Sopwith fighters. Although not a fast aircraft for 1918, it was very maneuverable, and much easier to handle than the Camel, with a superior view from the cockpit - especially forwards and upwards. The Snipe also had a superior rate of climb, and much better high-altitude performance compared to its predecessor, allowing it to fight Germany's newer fighters on more equal terms. Further modifications were made to the Snipe during the war and postwar. The Snipe was built around the Bentley BR2 engine - the last rotary to be used by the RAF. It had a maximum speed of 121 mph at 10,000 ft compared with the Camel's 115 mph (185 km/h) at the same altitude and an endurance of three hours. Its fixed armament consisted of two 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns on the cowling, and it was also able to carry up to four 25 lb (11 kg) bombs for ground attack work, identical to the Camel's armament. The design allowed for a single Lewis gun to be mounted on the center section in a similar manner to those carried by the Dolphin - in the event this was not fitted to production aircraft.

The Snipe began production in 1918, with more than 4,500 being ordered. Production ended in 1919, with just under 500 being built, the rest being cancelled due to the end of the war. There was only one variant, the Snipe I, with production by several companies including Sopwith, Boulton & Paul Ltd, Coventry Ordnance Works, D. Napier & Son, Nieuport and Ruston, Proctor and Company.

Two aircraft were re-engined with a 320 hp (239 kW) ABC Dragonfly radial engine and these entered production as the Sopwith Dragon. An armoured version entered production as the Sopwith Salamander.

Operational history

First World War

Sopwith Snipe

In March 1918, an example was evaluated by No.1 Aeroplane Supply Depot (No.1 ASD) at St-Omer in France. Lieutenant L. N. Hollinghurst (later an ace in Sopwith Dolphins, and an Air Chief Marshal) flew to 24,000 ft in 45 minutes. He stated that the aircraft was tail heavy and had "a very poor rudder", but that otherwise manoeuvrability was good.

The first squadron to equip with the new fighter was No. 43 Squadron, based at Fienvillers in France, which replaced its Camels with 15 Snipes on 30 August 1918. After spending much of September training, it flew its first operational patrols equipped with the Snipe on 24 September. The Snipe also saw service with No. 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps (AFC) from October 1918. While 43 Squadron's Snipes saw relatively little combat, the Australians had more success, claiming five victories on 26 October and six on 28 October, while on 29 October, 4 Squadron claimed eight Fokker D.VIIs destroyed and two more driven down out of control for the loss of one of 15 Snipes. No. 208 Squadron RAF converted from Camels in November, too late for the Snipes to see action.

One of the most famous incidents in which the Snipe was involved, occurred on 27 October 1918 when Canadian Major William G. Barker attached to No. 201 Squadron RAF flew over the Forêt de Mormal in France. Barker's Snipe (No. E8102) had been brought with him for personal evaluation purposes in connection with his UK-based training duties and was therefore operationally a "one-off". The engagement with enemy aircraft occurred at the end of a two-week posting to renew his combat experience as Barker was returning to the UK. While on his last operation over the battlefields of France, Major Barker attacked a two-seater German aircraft and swiftly shot it down. However, Barker was soon attacked by a formation of at least 15 Fokker D.VIIs, an aircraft widely considered to be the ultimate German fighter design of the First World War. The ensuing melee was observed by many Allied troops. In the engagement, Barker was wounded three times, twice losing consciousness momentarily, but managing to shoot down at least three D.VIIs before making a forced landing on the Allied front lines. Barker was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action. The fuselage of this Snipe is preserved at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

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 $450.00 USD