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Work in Progress.  Caproni Ca.3 by Ivan Berryman.

The Italian Caproni series of bombers were the first to carry out long range missions during World War 1, frequently making round trips of over 150 miles in freezing conditions to deliver their meagre 1000lb bomb load on Austro-Hungarian targets. Here, a pair of Ca.3s return home, their gunners keeping a watchful eye for enemy fighters. The aerial gunners were particularly exposed to the sub-zero slipstream and often found it almost impossible to operate their guns because they were so cold, the rear gunners position being especially unpleasant due to his proximity to the mid engine and propeller that was just inches from his feet.

Italy was the first country to see the potential of aerial bombing and carried out pioneering trials as early as the Winter of 1911-12. The Corpo Aero Militare was formed and, at the outbreak of the war between Italy and Austria-Hungary in mid 1915, the first strategic bombing raids took place. Both the Ca.2 and the improved Ca.3 were pressed into service in this role and, although their payload was small by today’s standards, they proved effective and reliable.

I became particularly interested in these early bombers because of the human element of their operations. The conditions must have been horrendous for the crews who frequently flew round trips of over 150 miles in sub-zero temperatures. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they were expected to negotiate the perilous Alps where there were precious few places to set down an ailing aircraft and virtually no possibility of rescue if they survived a forced landing.

Whilst the two pilots sat side-by-side in the cockpit of a central nacelle, relatively protected from the elements, the nose gunner’s position was completely exposed and, when standing to operate his Revelli guns, he would have been buffeted by the headwind and frozen stiff. At the rear of the nacelle, the aft gunner had an even worse ‘office’ – set immediately above the central, rear-facing engine, completely exposed to the slipstream and with only a fine mesh between himself and the pusher propeller. His twin, or sometimes triple, Rivelli’s were mounted in such a way as to prevent being thrust downward into the propeller arc, or to shoot off their own tail. If the movement of the guns wasn’t limited enough, the fact that he was barely able to operate the guns because of the extreme cold meant that these comparatively large aircraft were quite vulnerable to fighter attack. These guys were made of strong stuff!

It was with this information that I began to put the painting together, knowing also that it would make a good companion to my other paintings of the Gotha G.V and Handley-Page 0/400.

Picture 1

As ever, I carefully masked out the main components of each aircraft so that I could work in an uninhibited way on the background. I first painted in a plain sky that darkened toward the horizon so that the mountains would stand out in the low evening light. The most distant mountain tops were painted in first and capped in a pinkish colour to illustrate the low light and to give some aerial perspective. The nearest peaks were then blocked in and the rocky fissures applied using a variety of brushes. The snow was added using an off-white for the lit side of the mountain and a cobalt blue for the shadowed side.

Picture 2

A lot of texture can be added both to the rocks themselves and to the snow that has drifted onto the sheer face by using a long-bristled brush and keeping the paint quite dry and thick. By simply dragging the brush sideways across the surface, the ‘snow’ clings to the texture of the canvas and the rough brown paint that I have already applied and leaves a fine dusting of snow. Again, the off-white is used where the snow is in sunshine and the blue in the shadowed areas. This needs to be done when the rocks have been allowed to dry, or at least, partly dry.

Picture 3

The mountains are more or less complete, but the aircraft still masked.

Picture 4

Always an exciting moment – removing the masking reveals, for the first time, how it’s all going to come together.

Picture 5

Work begins on the furthest aircraft. The mistake a lot of artists make is to simply reach for the red paint and apply it straight to the painting. For some reason, it’s always the reds that end up glaring out of a painting at you! My trick is always to mix a little of one or more of the colours that I have used in the background – a pale blue or a grey – to dull the red a bit. This trick works with any bright colour and helps to key the whole thing together. Bear in mind too that these fins are flat-on to the sun, so the colours will be paler anyway as they reflect the light. Next is some research to check the colour order of the red, white and green undersurfaces of the lower wings. There seems to be some confusion among some sources as to whether the port wing is red and the starboard green or vice-versa. The best evidence suggests that the starboard wing is green, so I go with that. (Someone, somewhere, is going to tell me this is wrong!)

Picture 6

This is the smaller of the two aircraft finished. The great thing about working this way is that the first aircraft becomes a kind of blueprint for the second. If I’m going to hit problems, I’ll hit them here first and can change the order or the technique when I’m working on the closest aircraft.

Picture 7

Work now shifts to the larger Caproni. The tail assembly and its ribbing is painted first, then the underside of both wings and the twin fuselage booms. It is at this stage that I take the plunge and add the shadows of the wing struts and wires. This is all guesswork but, so long as it looks right…   The undersides of both wings are first blocked in with a dark colour and then some reflections are added – the blue of the sky and some light being thrown up by the snowy background. Some suggestion of the wing ribs can be added

Pictures 8 and 9

These show the wing painting underway. Note how the far side of the top wing has almost disappeared against the background where I have added the reflection of the mountain. Don’t panic – it’ll all come good in the end when the struts and their reflections are added in.

Picture 10

A bit more masking helps me to paint the furthest struts without interfering with the fuselage. The struts are first painted in the same light ochre colour as the fuselage, then their darker trailing edge painted. The strut tops are ‘rooted’ to the wing, then their reflections added.

Picture 11

Now a thin glaze of Burnt Sienna is dragged along each strut. This gives a wonderful impression of varnished wood, especially if you leave some brush lines. The struts will have a wonderful, woody glow about them.

Pictures 12 and 13

Rudimentary detailing now. The rear gunner is placed in his cage above the engine and the huge radiators and his Revelli guns are added. Tiny highlights help to pick out the many details. The undercarriage has been attached also and the engine details carefully painted. The fuel tank and its breather tube can be seen now and, in there somewhere, are the pilots and nose gunner. All that is necessary now is the addition of the nearest wing struts, using the same technique as before, and a mass of bracing wires between the wings, from the undercarriage, and some control wires from the tail unit. There’s a final overall tinkering of details and some pure white highlights to pick out those points where the sun is glinting – and that’s about it.

Picture 14

The end result.

The Completed Painting..


Caproni Ca.3 by Ivan Berryman.


Caproni Ca.3 by Ivan Berryman.

The Italian Caproni series of bombers were the first to carry out long range missions during World War 1, frequently making round trips of over 150 miles in freezing conditions to deliver their meagre 1000lb bomb load on Austro-Hungarian targets. Here, a pair of Ca.3s return home, their gunners keeping a watchful eye for enemy fighters. The aerial gunners were particularly exposed to the sub-zero slipstream and often found it almost impossible to operate their guns because they were so cold, the rear gunners position being especially unpleasant due to his proximity to the mid engine and propeller that was just inches from his feet.
Item Code : DHM1738Caproni Ca.3 by Ivan Berryman. - Editions Available
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PRINTSigned limited edition of 20 giclee art prints.
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Image size 26 inches x 17 inches (66cm x 43cm)Artist : Ivan BerrymanAdd any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout!£150.00

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Limited edition of 10 artist proofs.
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Image size 26 inches x 17 inches (66cm x 43cm)Artist : Ivan BerrymanAdd any two items on this offer to your basket, and the lower priced item will be half price in the checkout!£180.00

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Small limited edition of 15 artist proofs.
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Size 36 inches x 24 inches (91cm x 61cm)Artist : Ivan Berryman
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Size 30 inches x 20 inches (76cm x 51cm)Artist : Ivan Berryman
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Original painting, oil on canvas by Ivan Berryman.
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REMARQUE Remarque edition - limited edition of 10 giclee prints featuring an original pencil remarque.
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Image size 26 inches x 17 inches (66cm x 43cm) plus border with text and remarque drawing.Artist : Ivan Berryman£350.00

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