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18" x 24"
Oil on Linen - 2001

Allies - A Fine Original Painting by Michael O'Neal

$4500 USD

(18”x 24“ Oil on Linen 2001)

On May 8th, 1918 a flight of four SE-5a’s of #2 Squadron Royal Australian Flying Corps were returning from a patrol along the western front. Now far behind their own lines, they spotted a formation of 4 enemy aircraft below. The bright sun obscured the aircraft, but the straight wings of the enemy airplanes were clearly evident. The SE-5’s maneuvered for favorable position and, apparently unseen by the enemy formation, attacked from above and behind.

The flight leader and his wingman closed, but just before firing, swerved away sharply without firing. A third pilot fired, but his guns jammed and he retreated to correct the jam. Captain Gregory Blaxland continued his attack, pressing closer to the formation still flying along apparently unaware of the impending attack from behind. Blaxland aimed carefully for the pilot and fired an accurate burst. The pilot immediately fell forward hit in the stomach and head by the burst. Blaxland pulled up and away, preparing for a second attack, but the fight quickly dispersed.

Bewteen Bailleul and Hazebrouck, French Lt. d’Aboville, leading a flight of SPADs of Escadrille SPA 86 saw what he thought was a flight of British AVRO’s. He noticed too that Adjutant Henri Renault, flying SPAD VII #13 was missing.

By the time the Lt. d”Aboville landed, Captain Blaxland had realized his error. His flight leader’s initial attack was aborted when he saw the French Cockades on the wings d’Aboville’s flight of SPADs. Blaxland, never noticed the markings and fired without ever identifying the type of airplane he was attacking.

Months earlier, the rapid German advance along the British held portion of the front prompted the re-deployment of French squadrons to assist the British. British Intelligence failed to notify English units and as a result, the straight winged French SPADs, virtually an unknown type of aircraft in the English sector, were frequently misidentified as a German aircraft.

Both Blaxland and his flight leader were quickly posted back to England for their error. Renault fell between Bailleul and Hazebrouck, a victim of “friendly fire” from his Allied brethren.

  • Featured as cover painting for volume 16, number 3, 2001 Over The Front magazineAllies was featured on the cover of Over The Front magazine in 2001, volume 3