Early 1917, the western front. A French SPAD VII of the 'Escadrille des Cigognes' (Storks Squadron) has an encounter with three German Albatros D.III planes above British trenches, opens fire, and is able to shoot down all three of them. Subsequently, while the pilot thinks he's in the clear, a German Halberstadt D.II plane is about to bounce him...
The scene is based on the military career of legendary French ace Georges Guynemer. Before participating in the defense of Verdun in 1916 he already succeeded in downing three German planes in one single morning the summer before. Guynemer's greatest month however (from a military point of view) was May 1917, when he downed seven German aircrafts including a quadruple on May 25. During that time, Guynemer flew a SPAD VII.
In December 1916, Guynemer had written a letter to the chief designer at Spad, criticizing the Spad VII as inferior to the German Halberstadt that was its contemporary. As a consequence, Spad developed two new but very similar models, the SPAD XII and the SPAD XIII.
On 29 June 1917, Guynemer became the captain and commander of the Storks squadron. In July 1917, Guynemer started flying the SPAD XII.
Guynemer was a top fighter ace for France with 54 victories during World War I, and a French national hero at the time of his death in September 1917.
About the artist:
Keith Burns is a recognized aviation artist that is a member of GAVA (Guild of Aviation Artists), the premier society for the promotion of aviator art. Keith’s paintings of World War II era planes regularly appear at their events and at the Flying Legends shows in England. He even did some stop animation shorts for the Imperial War Museum in England.
Together with Garth Ennis he revived the legendary British fighter ace Johnny Red, originally created by Tom Tully and Joe Colquhoun.