War Art Piece 3

War Art Piece 3

Action Over Italy, 1918

1) What aspect of war, or event, does this piece of art depict? (Karrie Lynn Bedford)

Action over Italy, 1918 created by V. Fitzgerald represents the advancement and requirements on the way aircraft was used. At this point, military believed that aircrafts could be used for even more then the aerial photographs. At the end of the First World War, aircraft was very basic and yet by the time the Second World War was underway, it became very differentiated. Air forces included fighters, bombers and long-range bombers, types that were beneficial to the requirements needed for war.

This particular war art notes that about this picture, Lieutenant Clifford “Black Mike” McEwen is the one shooting down the German aircraft while over the Italian front. During a critical point when the allies were in favor, McEwen took command and enforced a program of flying training, which ultimately resulted in a lower casualty rate. Shooting down 27 enemy planes and commanding Canada No. 6 group in the Bomber Command of 1944-1945 was known to be Clifford “Black Mike” McEwen.

3. Where was this piece of art created? (Kayla Tidd)

This piece of art was created in Italy during the First World War in 1918. V. Fitzgerald observed the pilot to be shooting down a German aircraft, while patrolling the Italian front. The Italian front runs along the boarder of Italy, starting from Switzerland, moving south of Trentino, and then along the Carnic Alps.The aircraft is labeled with circles and stripes painted in blue, orange, and white. These colors resemble the British military, and the Canadians fighting in the location of Italy at the time of the painting.

4) For what purpose was this art created? (Lauren Foote)

The purpose of  this war art seems to be to show success in fighting against the Germans. The painting  clearly depicts the German aircraft going down. The German symbols are in full view as smoke pours out the back and the plane is angled downwards, while the Canadian plane stands proud in the sky. Public perception of war at home is very important, and this painting is important to show Canada as a strong and important presence in World War I.  Lieutenant Clifford “Black Mike” McEwen, who is depicted in the painting, actually shot down 27 enemy planes in the First World War, and the painting celebrates his victory, showing Canada as an important military presence in World War I.

5. What does this piece of art tell us about the experience of war? (Tyler Salsman)

This piece from a general perspective tells us decidedly little about the overall experience of the great war from the soldiers perspective. it is only after contemplation that the connections between this world and the infantrymen s world come out. It shows a different world from the mud and sorrow that men on the ground would be familiar with. this aspect of the world is more formless and shifting. The tone of the piece is rather lonely, it expresses the aftermath of combat in a one on one context. With the danger sent screaming to its death in the burning enemy plane comes a calm that would allow the gravity of what had to be done to weigh heavily on the pilot. This piece is a complicated combination of bleak horizons and burning reality, the immediate danger has passed but within that formless cloudscape lies the potential for new terrors. This is very much the spirit that drives war, that immense unknown that might bring a new experience in pain and terror or it might bring nothing. What we see in this image is a new and infinitely more vast type of no mans land. The pilot is no more safe from harm than the infantrymen but his hell is internal.

6) How accurate is this depiction of war? (Alexander Fletcher)

This is a fairly stylized depiction of aerial warfare during WWI. It is an image of white, shining aircraft dueling in the lightly cloudy skies. This is a romanticised version of WWI aerial combat. This plays into the myths of aerial warfare, which surrounds the aces of the First World War. To many, aerial warfare was seen as the last bastion of honorable one-on-one combats. This image seems to give credit to that myth.

In reality, aerial warfare was extremely similar to the fighting below. It was based less on one-on-one duels, and more on squad-based campaigns of attrition. Aces found themselves in control of squadrons, instead of dueling other planes in the air. By 1917, large numbers of multi-purpose aircraft were constructed on both sides. The aerial war of attrition culminated in the infamous “Bloody April,” in which a combination of skilled pilots and superior fighter technology temporarily handed the skies to the Central Powers, and led to the death of several hundred Allied fighter pilots.

The location of the fighting is quite typical. Airplanes were extremely active on the Italian front.


This piece of war art is important in furthering our understanding of Canadian history for several reasons. For one, World War I was a time for Canada to prove itself on the international scene. Canada’s participation in the war, and some of the success they achieved, like the battle of Vimy Ridge, helped bring the nation together and secure Canada a place on the world stage. The war piece demonstrates this Canadian success in war, with the shooting down of a German plane.  Also, the art piece furthers our understanding of Canadian history by being able to apply it to the timeline, from confederation up until the Second World War. The First World War was on a larger scale with  many new technologies, separating it from wars past. It shows how society developed, through urbanization and industrialization and how specific advances, like aircraft, contributed to the war effort.

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