Michael O'Neal Aviation Art presents - Madison Ace, an original fine art painting done in the classic style. Home Large Paintings Small Paintings Prints Commissioned Paintings Contact Michael O'Neal

Madison Ace



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18" x 24"
Oil on Belgian Linen - 1999

Madison Ace

$3500 USD

Madison Ace
(18”x 24" Oil on Belgian Linen - 1999)

In the late morning hours of 14 October 1918, a small group of British Sopwith Camels engaged a group of Fokker D.7 biplanes near Lichetrveld, Belgium. The Fokkers were painted grimly in black markings and fought a spirited fight. Among them was a single Fokker Triplane. It too was painted entirely black but had an ominus fire-breathing Devil’s head emblazoned on it’s fuselage sides. The Triplane had long since been replaced by the superior Fokker D.7, but this was not ordinary pilot flying the Triplane. It was Ltn. Josef Jacobs, a 47 victory ace and command of Jagdstaffel 7. Jacobs prefered the Triplane over the newer D.7 and flew the Triplane until the end of the war, using captured English engines to power his aircraft.

The Camels were from 210 Squadron, RAF, an experienced group who counted several aces among their members. As the fight developed the masses seperated into individual combats and Jacobs found himself locked up with a particularly aggressive Camel. The pilot was a 19 year old American, Ken Unger from Montclair, New Jersey. Unger had learned to fly before the war and although he volunteered for service with the US Air Service was rejected as too young. He promptly crossed the border into Canada and enlisted with the British and within the year was flying in one of the most active areas along the Western front.

Unger’s first victory in June 1918 was over an all Black Fokker D.7 of Jagdstaffel 7 piloted by German Naval ace Kurt Schoenfelder. Jacobs had been there that day and watched Schoenfelders D.7 disintegrate under Unger’s attack. Jacobs lost his wingman that day but repaid the favor moments later when he shot the wings off a 210 Squadron Camel.

The October tussle was a good match, but Unger gained the upper hand. “I did a right hand turn and fired 100 rounds into (the) Hun at a range of about 80 yards. He stalled sideslipped and went down in a spin. Could not see him crash.” Jacobs was credited as Ungers 11th victory, but Jacobs was an experienced pilot who deliberately threw his plane into a spin to throw off Unger’s aim. He recovered and made it home unscathed.

Both Jacobs and Unger would survive the war, Jacobs finishing the war as one of the top German aces and Unger scoring 14. Unger passed away in 1979, Jacobs in 1986. At the time of his death, Jacobs was the last surviving WW I Aviation recipient of the Pour le Merite – the Blue Max.

“Dance with the Devil” depicts the moment Jacobs throws his black Triplane into a spin to avoid Ungers attack.


  • Cover Artwork for Over the Front magazine Vol 14, #3, Fall, 1999 accompanying the article written by Michael O’Neal about NJ WW I fighter ace Kenneth Unger
  • • Appeared on cover of Daedaluis Flyer Magazine, Vol. XLIII, No 4, Winter 2003