Russell Smith

Russell Smith

Russell Smith
Artist Fellow

Biography and Works

Russell's love of drawing was evident at a young age. After majoring in art at Augusta State University, he spent nine years working in the prepress industry while creating and selling his artwork on the side and most recently he has realized his dream of becoming a full time artist. Over the past few years Russell has self published several open and limited edition prints.

His work can be seen in many collections around the country and has been recognized by several international publications including Aviation History, Flight Journal, Flying, and Aviation Art. In addition, Russell's work has been included in many national and international exhibitions including the Icarus Art of Flight Exhibition, the Simuflite/Flying Magazine Horizons of Flight Art Exhibition. Russell has been the recipient of several awards and honors including an Honorable Mention in the Experimental Aircraft Association 1999 Art Exhibition.


Artist's Work 1
Stan's Colorful Steed features SE 5a's of 40 Sq RAF in May of 1918. The scene depicts the SE 5a's as they are getting ready to pull the chocks for a sortie. The Se 5a in the foreground is that of Major Stan Dallas, the highest scoring Australian Ace of WWI. Dallas flew this SE 5a, D3511, late in the war. It bore a distinctive camouflage pattern which was not used on other SE 5a's.

The actual tones used on D3511 are speculative at best. Those used here are based on the work of WWI aircraft profile artist Ronny Bar.
Artist's Work 2
The Airco DH2 was designed in 1915 as a single seat scout by British aircraft designer Geoffrey de Havilland. Powered by a 100hp Gnome rotary engine, the DH2's pusher design was de Havilland's answer to the problem of firing through the propeller - place the pilot and gun in front of the engine. Although inadequate when compared to later scout designs, the DH2 was a successful fighter for its day and played a major role in bringing and end to the reign of the German Fokker Eindekkers.
The machine seen here was assigned to 32Sq based at Vert Galand, one of the best known British aerodromes on the Western front. This field saw continuous use from 1915 until 1919, and many of the WW1 era buildings can still be seen there today.
Artist's Work 3
God of the North Wind depicts Fokker triplane 450/17, one of several flown by Ltn. Josef Jacobs, Staffelführer of Jasta 7. Jacobs was perhaps the biggest proponent of the Fokker triplane, and he flew it operationally longer than any other pilot, including Manfred von Richthofen. Although he is known to have flown at least two, and perhaps three black triplanes while serving with Jasta 7, 450/17 is his best known due to the description given in his wartime diary.
Although it is uncertain how frequently Jacobs flew 450/17,in his wartime diary he definitively attached that aircraft to one event - a balloon claim for May 14,1918. His combat report for that day reads as follows:
Fok. Dr I 450/17: black triplane with a devil's head on both sides of the fuselage behind the pilot's seat. At 0410 hours I started with my Staffel for a patrol to the front - because there was little aerial activity, and I noticed some English balloons through the clouds, I decided for a balloon attack. With my whole Staffel I raced down through the clouds, immediately opening fire at the first which ignited at once, burning fiercely.
Artist's Work 4
By the Dawn's Early Light is a tribute to the men and machines of the famed Lafayette Escadrille. Here we see three famous pilots from the escadrille - Lufbery, Thaw and Hill - on a morning patrol over the Western Front sometime during autumn of 1916.
The Lafayette Escadrille was formed in April of 1916, prior to the US entry into WW1. It had the unique distinction a French Sqaudron made up almost entirely of American Volunteers. The escadrille flew several different types of single seat fighters during its span and was officially known as N124 (during the period that they flew Nieuports) or SPA124 (during the period that they were assigned SPADs).

The machine that is perhaps most associated with the Escadrille was the Nieuport 17. The 17, an improvment on the earlier Nieuport 11 and 16 designs, carried a Vickers machine gun mounted to fire through the propeller arc and often carried a Lewis gun mounted on the top wing. The fabric surfaces of N17 were usually covered in an aluminum-based dope, giving the machine a silver appearance.

In the foreground we see Raoul Lufbery, the highest scoring and most well-known pilot of the Lafayette Escadrille. Lufbery is at the controls of Nieuport 17 N1844, a machine assigned to the group's Captain, Georges Thennault, but usually associated with Lufbery. A quiet man of mixed French and American decent, Lufbery took great care of his equipment. His plane was always the best in the squadron, as noted by fellow pilot Edward Hinkle, “Anyone would rather have a secondhand Lufbery machine than a new one anytime”.

In the lead, flying N1803 is Lt William Thaw. Thaw was one of the original founders of the Lafayette Escadrille and is credited with the idea of using the famous Seminole Indian head as the group's logo (see Mark of Distinction).

Finally, below and beyond Lufbery is Dudley Hill, flying N1950. Hill, the 12th man to voluteer for the escadrille was blind in one eye but never the less passed his physical exams by memorizing the eye chart. He was a well-liked pilot and managed to log more flying time than any other escadrille member.
Artist's Work 5
Home Field Advantage depicts Lt. Doug Campbell's victory on April 14, 1918 which would go down in history as the first official victory of the famed USAS 94 (Hat-In-The-Ring) Squadron. The action occurred right over the 94th's aerodrome at Gengoult and is very well documented. Campbell’s victim was a Pfalz DIII bearing the red and black tail stripes of Jasta 64w. Its interesting to note that on April 14 Campbell’s N28 still bore French cockades and tail stripes. The black fields had not yet been applied to the distinctive tulip pattern which his aircraft bore, nor had the number "10" been applied either. The machine did carry the Hat-In-The-Ring logo.
The Pfalz crashed about 100 yards directly behind the 94th’s hangars.
Artist's Work 6
This painting features the Italian Ace Michele Allasia. Allasia was born in Ferrara, Italy, and served with 80 Squadriglia and Sezione. He claimed 6 victories, 5 of which were confirmed, but sadly he lost his life in a flying accident in July of 1918. The piece is simply meant to be an aircraft portrait, but the 3 enemy aircraft in the background are based on a combat in which Allasia described taking on 3 Austrians.
The fuselage of Allasia’s Nieuport 11 was marked carried the image of Fortunello, a cartoon character poplar during that period. Each aircraft on his unit, 80 Squadriglia, carried a variation of the figure.
Artist's Work 7
Of all of the German aerial units which served during World War I, Jastas 15 and 18 shared the most unusual history. After assuming command of JGII in March, 1918, Hptm Rudolph Berthold tried to have his old unit, Jasta 18, attached to JGII. After failing to do so, he then arranged to have all of Jasta 18’s flying personnel, aircraft, and unit markings swapped out with those of Jasta 15, a unit already attached to JGII. Jasta 18 became Jasta 15, and Jasta 15 became 18.
After the transition, Jasta 18 was commanded by Ltn August Raben and the unit became unofficially known by its commander's name - Jasta Raben (German for "ravens"). The unit's new colors featured a distinctive red and white color scheme with a black Raven emblazoned on the fuselage.
Though the unit was mostly made up of Albatrosses, and later, DVII's, this particular Pfalz DIIIa was also assigned to the unit. Ltn d R Hans Müller, a 12 victory ace, is known to have flown this aircraft during the spring of 1918. Müller's personal insignia included diagonal fuselage bands and a chevron striped tailplane, however no photographic evidence is known to exist to suggest that this aircraft carried those markings.
Artist's Work 8
This piece is a little bit of a departure from my usual fare. My wife and I were planning to go out one morning to take reference shots for an upcoming painting. I decided that perhaps I should maximize my time in front of the camera and see if I could get reference shots for multiple pieces. I began to think of how fun it would be to do a painting of myself in full period gear. It only made sense - most artists create self portraits during their careers, and painting myself in the same type of uniform that many of my subjects would have worn seemed quite appropriate.
This was not simply just a case of me painting directly from a photo. To give an even better sense of time and place, I pulled out a good shot that I had of a DVII taken from waist level. I did some quick number crunching and figured out approximately how far from the airplane I was when I took the photo, how far in front of the aircraft the figure needed to be (in theory) to fit proportionally and finally, how far I needed to be from the camera to get the proper reference shot.
Artist's Work 9
Barker's Revelation depicts William Barker's victory over an Austrian scout near the Piave River in Italy on Sept. 18, 1918. The victim was Sergeant Ludwig Thaler of Flik 14D. As Thaler's Albatros began to burn he bailed out and deployed his parachute, a device which had only recently been introduced into the Austrian squadrons. The sight of the Austrian pilot floating safely to Earth helped to convince Barker that parachutes should be necessary equipment for all pilots.
Artist's Work 10

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