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WW1 British de Havilland DH.5 Original Illustration Art by Jerome Biederman
Item #: VF4121
Click on an image to enlarge
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 British de Havilland DH.5. 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

Captain Geoffrey de Havilland designed the Airco DH.5 to combine the superior performance of a tractor biplane with the excellent forward visibility of a "pusher" type. The construction was that of a conventional tractor biplane of the time, but the mainplanes were given 27 inches of backward stagger, so that the lower wing was positioned forward of the upper wing. In the prototype armament installation, the forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun was either fixed to fire upward at an angle or possibly mounted so that its elevation could be adjusted in flight; in the production installation the gun was given a more conventional fixed mounting on top of the cowl, offset to the left, to fire in the line of flight. As the pilot was seated forward of the center of gravity, the main fuel tank was necessarily behind the cockpit, below the oil tank. An auxiliary gravity fuel tank was fitted over the top mainplane, offset to the right.

By the time the prototypes of the DH.5 underwent service trials in December 1916 in France, superior types such as the Sopwith Camel and the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 were not far behind. In fact, the new fighter was inferior in most respects to the earlier Sopwith Pup. The provision of a single machine gun at a time when most fighters carried two also meant the aircraft was somewhat under-armed for operations in 1917. Nonetheless, the DH.5 was ordered in quantity from four manufacturers: Airco (200), British Caudron (50), Darracq (200) and March, Jones & Cribb (100).

Operational history

A DH.5 serving with the Australian Flying Corps in September 1917

In service the type proved unpopular – its unconventional appearance led to rumours (largely unfounded) of handling difficulties. What was true was that its performance rapidly dropped off at altitudes over 10,000 ft (3,000 m), and that while it was very manoeverable, it tended to lose altitude quickly in combat. The unusual position of the upper mainplane resulted in an unfortunate "blind spot" above and to the rear (the very direction from which a single-seater was generally attacked). On the other hand, the robustness of its construction, its good performance at low altitude, and the pilot's good forward field of view made the aircraft a useful ground-attack aircraft. In this role, the type served with distinction in the Battle of Cambrai.

The DH.5 has the historical distinction of having formed the initial equipment of No. 2 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps - the first Australian fighter squadron. It did not prove satisfactory, serving mainly in the ground-attack role until December 1917, when it was replaced by the S.E.5a.

By this time, the withdrawal of the type from the Western Front was already almost complete - the last DH.5 squadron receiving the S.E.5a in January 1918. DH.5s issued to training units proved unpopular and the type soon vanished from RFC service.

No original aircraft has survived, but an airworthy full-scale reproduction, built in the United States by John Shiveley, is on display in the Aviation Heritage Centre, Omaka Aerodrome, New Zealand.

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