Captain Robert Little in air combat with aircraft of Baron von Richthofen's Circus

Place Europe: France
Accession Number ART27782
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 82.0 x 67.0 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Maker Hammond, David
Date made 1972
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Unlicensed copyright


Captain Robert Alexander Little flying in combat against the aircraft of Baron von Richthofen's Circus. Having failed to gain a place at the No. 1 Flying School at Point Cook, Victoria, Captain Robert Alexander Little left Australia for England in July 1915 and qualified as a pilot at his own expense. In January 1916 he entered the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) as a sub-lieutenant, and in October went to the Western Front with No. 8 Squadron RNAS, flying Sopwith Pups. He shot down his first enemy aircraft on 1 November, and never looked back; by March 1917 had accounted for nine enemy planes. By August 1917, when he went on leave to England, his tally stood at 37, with many more damaged, and he had been awarded the DSO and bar, the DSC and bar, the Croix de Guerre, and was mentioned in despatches. He returned to France in March 1918, and when the RNAS and RFC were amalgamated to produce the RAF, became Captain Little of No. 203 Squadron. He was killed at the age of 22 on the night of 27 May 1918 while flying solo against enemy bombers. His final score of enemy aircraft stood at 47, making him the most successful Australian ace of the war, and the fourteenth ranking ace from all sides, but his exploits are hardly known in Australia, probably because he flew with a British service.