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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Chief Test Pilot Alex Henshaw (deceased)
*Signature Value : £70
|Alex Henshaw perhaps understands the Spitfire better than any other pilot - for he was Vickers Chief Test Pilot on Spitfires at the new Spitfire factory at Castle Bromwich during World War II. By the end of the war he had personally test flown a total of 2360 different Spitfires and Seafires - more than ten per cent of the entire production. It is often stated that those lucky enough to have seen Alex handle the Spitfire in flight, that it is an experience that can never be forgotten, he was acknowledged as a virtuoso in aerobatics. Alex Henshaw died 24th February 2007.|
Squadron Leader Basil Stapleton DFC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £60
|Born in South Africa, Basil Stapleton joined the RAF in Jan 1939, being posted to 603 Sqn flying Spitfires. He first saw action off Scotland, sharing in the destruction of two bombers, before the Squadron was posted south to Hornchurch during the height of the Battle of Britain. By Nov 1940 his tally had risen to 6 and 2 shared victories and 8 probables. In March 1942 he was posted to 257 Sqn as flight commander. In August 1944 he commanded 247 Sqn flying Typhoons, taking part in the Arnhem operations. In December 1944, whilst attacking a train, debris hit his aircraft forcing him to land behind enemy lines where he was taken prisoner of war. Stapme Stapleton had scored 6 victories, plus 2 shared, 5 probable and 2 damaged. Sadly, we have learned that Basil Stapleton passed away on 13th April 2010.|
Squadron Leader Neville Duke, DSO, OBE, DFC*, AFC, CzMC (deceased)
*Signature Value : £75
|Neville Duke flew Spitfires as wingman to Sailor Malan in 92 Squadron. In November 1941 he was posted to 112 Squadron in the Middle East. After a second tour in the Desert, he flew a third tour, with 145 Squadron in Italy. He was the top scoring Allied Ace in the Mediterranean with 28 victories. After the war, in 1953, he captured the World Air Speed record. He died 7th April 2007.|
Wing Commander John Freeborn DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £70
|Wing Commnader John. C. Freeborn was born on the 1st of December 1919 in Middleton, Yorkshire. John left grammar school at 16 and joined the RAF in 1938, where he made 14 shillings a week and shot pheasant in his spare time. He later visited his classmates after flight school by landing his plane on a nearby cricket pitch. In March 1938 John Freeborn was commissioned in the RAFO, and on the 9th of April 1938 went to Montrose and joined 8 FTS, where he completed his training before going to 74 "Tiger" Squadron at Hornchurch on 29th October. He relinquished his RAFO commission on being granted a short service one in the RAF in January 1939. Johnie Freeborn flew Spitfires with 74 Squadron over Dunkirk, and claimed a probable Ju 88 on May 21st 1940. On the 22nd of May 1940 he destroyed a Junkers 88, and a probable Bf 109 on the 24th of May followed soon after on the 27th by a Bf 109 destroyed and another probably destroyed. On one occasion his Spitfire was badly damaged over Dunkirk and he crash-landed on the beach near Calais but managed to get a lift home in a returning aircraft. His squadron flew relentlessly during the Battle of Britain. In one eight-hour period, its pilots flew into combat four times, destroying 23 enemy aircraft (three by John Freeborn) and damaging 14 more. Five kills denoted an Ace and by the end of the Battle of Britain, John had seven to his credit and won the DFC. John claimed a Bf 109 destroyed on 10th July, shared a probable Dornier 17 on the 24th, shot down a Bf 109 on the 28th, destroyed two Bf 110s, a Bf 109 and probably another on 11th August, destroyed a Do 17 on the 13th, destroyed another on 11th September and damaged an He 111 on the 14th. Freeborn was made a Flight Commander on 28th August. He shared a Bf 109 on 17th November, shot down two Bf 109s, shared another and damaged a fourth on 5th December, and damaged a Dornier 17 on 5th February and 4th March 1941. John Freeborn had been with his squadron longer, and flown more hours, than any other Battle of Britain pilot and on the 25th of February 1941 John freeborn was awarded a Bar to the DFC. In January, 1942 John Freeborn was posted to Army Air Force Base in Selma, Alababma which was home to the South East Training Command in America. After two months as RAF liaison officer he went to Eglin Field, Florida where he helped in testing various aircraft, including the new fighters the Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang. He returned to the UK in December 1942 and went to Harrowbear, Exeter, and then to Bolt Head as Station Commander. John Freeborn joined 602 Squadron in 1942, and commanded 118 Squadron in June 1943 at Coltishall, leading it until January 1944. In June 1944 he was promoted Wing Commander (the youngest Wing Commander in the RAF) of 286 Wing in Italy. John Freeborn scored 17 victories and left the Royal Air Force in 1946. Sadly, we have learned that John Freeborn passed away on 28th August 2010. John Freeborn was truly one of the great Fighter Pilots of world war two and his autograph is certainly a major additon to any signature collection, as he did not sign a great deal of art pieces.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Spitfire||Royal Air Force fighter aircraft, maximum speed for mark I Supermarine Spitfire, 362mph up to The Seafire 47 with a top speed of 452mph. maximum ceiling for Mk I 34,000feet up to 44,500 for the mark XIV. Maximum range for MK I 575 miles . up to 1475 miles for the Seafire 47. Armament for the various Marks of Spitfire. for MK I, and II . eight fixed .303 browning Machine guns, for MKs V-IX and XVI two 20mm Hispano cannons and four .303 browning machine guns. and on later Marks, six to eight Rockets under the wings or a maximum bomb load of 1,000 lbs. Designed by R J Mitchell, The proto type Spitfire first flew on the 5th March 1936. and entered service with the Royal Air Force in August 1938, with 19 squadron based and RAF Duxford. by the outbreak of World war two, there were twelve squadrons with a total of 187 spitfires, with another 83 in store. Between 1939 and 1945, a large variety of modifications and developments produced a variety of MK,s from I to XVI. The mark II came into service in late 1940, and in March 1941, the Mk,V came into service. To counter the Improvements in fighters of the Luftwaffe especially the FW190, the MK,XII was introduced with its Griffin engine. The Fleet Air Arm used the Mk,I and II and were named Seafires. By the end of production in 1948 a total of 20,351 spitfires had been made and 2408 Seafires. The most produced variant was the Spitfire Mark V, with a total of 6479 spitfires produced. The Royal Air Force kept Spitfires in front line use until April 1954.|
|Artist Details : Robert Taylor|
|Click here for a full list of all artwork by Robert Taylor|
The name Robert Taylor has been synonymous with aviation art over a quarter of a century. His paintings of aircraft, more than those of any other artist, have helped popularise a genre which at the start of this remarkable artist's career had little recognition in the world of fine art. When he burst upon the scene in the mid-1970s his vibrant, expansive approach to the subject was a revelation. His paintings immediately caught the imagination of enthusiasts and collectors alike . He became an instant success. As a boy, Robert seemed always to have a pencil in his hand. Aware of his natural gift from an early age, he never considered a career beyond art, and with unwavering focus, set out to achieve his goal. Leaving school at fifteen, he has never worked outside the world of art. After two years at the Bath School of Art he landed a job as an apprentice picture framer with an art gallery in Bath, the city where Robert has lived and worked all his life. Already competent with water-colours the young apprentice took every opportunity to study the works of other artists and, after trying his hand at oils, quickly determined he could paint to the same standard as much of the art it was his job to frame. Soon the gallery was selling his paintings, and the owner, recognising Roberts talent, promoted him to the busy picture-restoring department. Here, he repaired and restored all manner of paintings and drawings, the expertise he developed becoming the foundation of his career as a professional artist. Picture restoration is an exacting skill, requiring the ability to emulate the techniques of other painters so as to render the damaged area of the work undetectable. After a decade of diligent application, Robert became one of the most capable picture restorers outside London. Today he attributes his versatility to the years he spent painstakingly working on the paintings of others artists. After fifteen years at the gallery, by chance he was introduced to Pat Barnard, whose military publishing business happened also to be located in the city of Bath. When offered the chance to become a full-time painter, Robert leapt at the opportunity. Within a few months of becoming a professional artist, he saw his first works in print. Roberts early career was devoted to maritime paintings, and he achieved early success with his prints of naval subjects, one of his admirers being Lord Louis Mountbatten. He exhibited successfully at the Royal Society of Marine Artists in London and soon his popularity attracted the attention of the media. Following a major feature on his work in a leading national daily newspaper he was invited to appear in a BBC Television programme. This led to a string of commissions for the Fleet Air Arm Museum who, understandably, wanted aircraft in their maritime paintings. It was the start of Roberts career as an aviation artist. Fascinated since childhood by the big, powerful machines that man has invented, switching from one type of hardware to another has never troubled him. Being an artist of the old school, Robert tackled the subject of painting aircraft with the same gusto as with his large, action-packed maritime pictures - big compositions supported by powerful and dramatic skies, painted on large canvases. It was a formula new to the aviation art genre, at the time not used to such sweeping canvases, but one that came naturally to an artist whose approach appeared to have origins in an earlier classical period. Roberts aviation paintings are instantly recognisable. He somehow manages to convey all the technical detail of aviation in a traditional and painterly style, reminiscent of the Old Masters. With uncanny ability, he is able to recreate scenes from the past with a carefully rehearsed realism that few other artists ever manage to achieve. This is partly due to his prodigious research but also his attention to detail: Not for him shiny new factory-fresh aircraft looking like museum specimens. His trade mark, flying machines that are battle-scarred, worse for wear, with dings down the fuselage, chips and dents along the leading edges of wings, oil stains trailing from engine cowlings, paintwork faded with dust and grime; his planes are real! Roberts aviation works have drawn crowds in the international arena since the early 1980s. He has exhibited throughout the US and Canada, Australia, Japan and in Europe. His one-man exhibition at the Smithsonians National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC was hailed as the most popular art exhibition ever held there. His paintings hang in many of the worlds great aviation museums, adorn boardrooms, offices and homes, and his limited edition prints are avidly collected all around the world. A family man with strong Christian values, Robert devotes most of what little spare time he has to his home life. Married to Mary for thirty five years, they have five children, all now grown up. Neither fame nor fortune has turned his head. He is the same easy-going, gentle character he was when setting out on his painting career all those years ago, but now with a confidence that comes with the knowledge that he has mastered his profession.
More about Robert Taylor
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