Michael O'Neal Aviation Art presents - Captain Biddles Rumpler, an original fine art painting done in the classic style. Home Larege Paintings Small Paintings Prints Commissioned Paintings Contact Michael O'Neal

Captain Biddle's Rumpler



Hover over thumbnail to examine details of painting.

The image of a scyth bearing grim reaper was emblazoned on the side of the SPAD's in Captain Biddles squadron. Here the artist clearly recreates this famous image. The details show the pilot with his head down in the cockpit, concentrating on the battle at hand. In this photograph the rear gunner can clearly be seen hunting for more German's to prey upon. The details are so real in this painting that even the bridge on the valley below can be clearly seen. The terrain is true-to-life as it was taken from photographs captured during and shortly after the war The magnificant detail in this painting is clearly depicted by this photograph of the engine cowling and propeller Even the wheels are depicted in action, and the clarity of the struts that held them can be clearly seen in this photograph The artist gives true-to-life depiction of the aircraft's markings as demonstrated in this photograph.

18" x 24"
Oil on Wood Panel - 2002

Captain Biddles Rumpler - Fine Art Painting by Michael O'Neal

$4500 USD

Captain Biddle’s Rumpler
(18" x 24” Oil on Wood panel – 2002)

In the summer of 1918, Captain Charles Biddle commanded the US 13th Aero Squadron. The unit was then based at Toul, France as part of the 2nd Pursuit Group, flying the SPAD XIII. The unit insignia was the scythe bearing grim reaper, appropriate to their task of “reaping” the harvest of German aircraft patrolling their sector.

For several days in mid August, a high flying German two-seater crossed Allied lines with clock work regularity, passed directly over the city of Toul and continued, uninterrupted, on a photographic mission behind the lines. So great was the German’s altitude, that by the time fighters were scrambled to intercept, the German was well on it’s way home.

On 16 August 1918, Captain Charles Biddle took off in the pre-dawn hour hoping to surprise the German crew on their daily mission. Flying alone at 5:40 AM, Biddle spotted the German and carefully put himself in the eye of the sun rising in the east. As the German passed beneath him, Biddle nosed over to attack.

“… by diving I overhauled him very quickly and went down under his tail with all the speed I could muster. The pilot maneuvered very well and I had a hard time to keep myself covered, but managed to get in close and gave him a burst until I had to turn away to keep from running into him…..I went after him once more and coming up under his tail gave him a good burst at short range. This time I did better, for I got the observer in the stomach, shot the band of cartridges on his gun so it would not work, shot the synchronizing gear on the pilot’s gun so that it was out of commission, and another bullet stopped the motor. “

Return fire from the Rumpler slackened, then finally stopped altogether. Sensing the observer was seriously wounded, Biddle slid up above the Rumpler to get a look at it’s condition. The observer had fallen to the bottom of his cockpit and his machine gun, rendered useless by Biddle’s accurate shooting, pointed straight up. The pilot too was slightly wounded and with a failing engine, resigned himself to capture. In another moment the German two seater would land in Allied territory with the observer, Ltn. Max Groeschel, fatally wounded.

“Captain Biddle’s Rumpler” captures the moment that Biddle rises above the German two-seater. The German pilot, knowing his observer has been badly wounded and his own gun disabled, looks back to see what the skeleton-emblazoned SPAD will do next.


  • Awarded 2nd Place (Military category) in the 2003, American Society of Aviation Artists International Exhibition and subsequently appeared in the year-end edition of Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine
  • The painting appeared on the rear cover of “Falconer”, the quarterly publication of the Dassault Falcon Jet company
  • Appeared in the American Society of Aviation Artists Annual International Juried Exhibition at the Hill Air Force Base Aviation Museum in 2003
  • Cover artwork on 13th Bomb Group periodical