"BALLOON BUSTER"

BY ROBERT TAYLOR

Autographed by First World War fighter pilot Henry Botterell.

L/E of 600. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 32" x 23 1/2"

Price: $295.00

— SOLD OUT —


A New Limited Edition Print By Robert Taylor Recording An Incident Near Arras, France On 29 August, 1918.

Just before 8 a.m. on the morning of 29 August, 1918, Flight Lieutenant Henry Botterell climbed his 208 Squadron Sopwith Camel out of a forward airfield at Tramecourt, in northwen France. Carrying four bombs, he headed west/southwest towards his target at Vitry, just over 50 miled distant, and well into enemy-occupied territory.

Some 35 minutes into his mission, flying at around 100 mph at 12,000 feet, he noticed a German observation balloon as he passed over Arras, and made a mental note to give it his attention on the return journey. Arriving over Vitry, he dropped his bombs in the area of the railway station in an effort to disrupt communications, and headed back on the reciprocal course.

As he passsed to the north of Arras he could see the ground crew furiously winching the balloon down, and although aware of the danger of attacking normally heavily defended balloon installations, couldn't resist the opportunity to make an attack.

Pulling his Camel into a dive, he swooped down, pumping some 400 rounds into the target. With the balloon now hauled down around 1,000 feet, the observer aboard had just seconds to make his escape, leaping from his basket and pulling at his parachute in the same motion. Robert Taylor's new painting captures the scene just moments later: the balloon is aflame, the basket and a tangle of ropes and guys, binoculars and telescopes and maps, all plummeting toward the ground. The observer's parachure snaps open, as Henry Botterell banks his fighter clear of his victim - close enough to see the fear in his eyes that he, too, may fall to the Camel's guns. However, in the tradition of gallantry that prevailed among World War I figher pilots, Henry merely waived a salute before heading back to base - no sense in waiting around to see whether the other aircraft that had suddenly appeared were friend or foe.

Below the drama, the rolling landscape of northern France unfolds, pockmarked with bomb craters, yet tranquil in its natural beauty.

Perhaps the last opportunity for aviation collectors and historians to acquire a print by Robert Taylor and individually hand-signed by a First World War figher pilot: Henry Botterell, now 100 years of age, believed to be the last living fighter pilot of all nations who fought in the First World War.

Flight Lieutenant Henry J. L. Botterell
Together with the signature of Robert Taylor, each print in this highly-collectible limited edition is individually hand-signed by World War I figher pilot Henry J.L. Botterell - the last known living figher pilot from World War I.

Born in 1896, Henry Botterell was recruited by the Royal Naval Air Service in Canada, and in 1916 travelled to England, where he trained to fly fighters. In 1917 he joined an operational squadron in France on the Western Front, but an engine failure on his second takeoff brought his flying career to an abrupt conclusion, forcing him to spend some months convalescing in a hospital in England, where he was demobilized.

After a chance meeeting with pilots on leave in England with whom he had trained, Henry rejoined and requalified as a fighter pilot, and in early 1918 returned to operational flying with R.F.C. Squadron 208 in France. He saw active service for the remainder of the war, flying Camels with 208 Squadron until the armistice in November.

Staying in France as a part of the continuing force, he returned to Canada in 1919, bringing with him a fence post which the wing of his Camel had "collected" on one of his many low-level sorties. The post now resides in the War Museum in Ottawa.

THE SOPWITH CAMEL

[VIEW BOTTERELL'S LOGBOOK OF 8/29/18 ]

Generally considered by pilots of the era to be the best fighter aircraft of World War I, the Sopwith Camel accounted for no fewer than 1,294 enemy aircraft destroyed between 1917 and the end of the war - more than any other aircraft during the conflict.

From its first appearance at the Battle of Ypres, the Camel made an instant impression on the air war over France. Combining a good rate of climb with twin machine-gun firepower, in skilled hands the little fighter was more than a match for the German Albatross and Fokker scouts and helped restore the Allied fortunes in the sky after their defeats in early 1917.

Difficult to fly because of the concentration of weight forward of the cockpit and the torque of its rotary engine, and uncomfortable for the pilot - who sat in a wicker chair with no harness - the light and agile Camel was nevertheless a favorite among the fighter pilots of its day. It is revered today as one of the greatest fighter aircraft of all time.