Thursday, August 13, 2015

Up Close: R.G. Smith's Aviation Art

I visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida near the end of April. It's a must-see attraction for airplane buffs. Besides aircraft, the museum displays aviation-related artwork, including that of R.G. (Robert Grant) Smith (1914-2001).

Smith was an engineer at the Douglas Aircraft Company, working in general arrangement design under Ed Heinemann. I mentioned Smith here. More regarding Smith can be found here and here. I regard R.G. Smith as one of the all-time best aviation artists.

Below are photos I took in several areas of the museum that featured Smith's artwork. Click on the images for substantial enlargements.  (Well, that's what I get on my iMac.)


R.G. Smith painting shown as hung. As is usually the case with this sort of photo, lighting conditions are not ideal; here the main light source shines from above the painting. The scene is a Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bomber attacking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho during the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, 1942.

  A detail of the painting shown above. Many Smith paintings featured Douglas-built naval aircraft, no doubt because he worked in that branch of Douglas.

Below are details from other paintings that allow you to see Smith's painting style up close.

A North Vietnamese MiG-17 damaged by a F-4 Phantom.

Northrop BT-1 dive bombers and the carrier Enterprise (CV-6) pictured at some time in the late 1930s.

Douglas SBD dive bomber shown in markings adopted after summer, 1943.

Another overall view of a painting.  This pictures Douglas SBDs attacking Japanese aircraft carriers at about 10:30 a.m. on 3 June, 1942 during the Battle of Midway.  In the foreground is the Kaga, above it is the Akagi, and the damaged carrier in the distance is the Soryu.

Close-up of the front part of the Kaga. It might not be in perfect focus (a chancy thing to achieve when using a digital camera's auto-focus feature). Still, you can get a feeling for Smith's skill in color selection and brushwork.

No comments: