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Wrestling with Mars


24" x 36"
Oil on Linen - 1999

Wrestling with Mars - A Fine Original Painting by Michael O'Neal

$4500 USD

Wrestling with Mars
(24”x 36“ Oil on Linen 1999)

Under attack by 6 French single seat SPAD fighters, a lone German Albatros C.7 two seater races for it’s lines. By April of 1917, the German fighters were sweeping the skies of British reconnaissance aircraft, but the German two seaters flew without fighter cover and as a result were often harassed by Allied fighters.

“Wrestling with Mars” depicts the 23 April 1917 struggle of Ltn. Friedrich Feldmand and Vizefeldwebel Mertens of Flieger Abteilung 252(w) near Prosnes. France. Alone on a photographic reconnaissance mission, they were attacked by 6 SPADs of French Escadrille 102. The SPADs were led by Captain Jean DeRhode. An ace and squadron leader, DeRHode led the attack and in the ensuing running fight, Mertens and Feldman hand their hands full racing for home while tryinf to fight off the aggressive Frenchmen.

Near Prosnes, Feldman managed to put a burst of fire into DeRhodes engine, but before he dove away from the fight, DeRhode turned on the Albatros and put a burst into the rear cockpit, killing Feldman. DeRhode’s engine failed and he glided to a landing behind his own lines. The Albatros contiuned on without a rtear gunner, but managed to outrun the remaining SPADs. When Mertens finally landed behind his own lines, he counted over 80 holes from French bullets in his airplane.

DeRhode was credited with a victory this day and for his coolness in attacking after being severely hit, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor.

Wrestling with Mars depicts the moment DeRhode crosses Felmans sites just before turning towards the two-seater and fatally wounding Feldman.

“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.

  • Cover artwork on Over the Front Magazine, 1997, Volume 4Wrestling with Mars was featured on the cover of Over The Front magazine in 1997, volume #4