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Royal Wedding Spitfire

Formidable_e.JPGI turned down my invitation to the wedding, far to busy with great art matters, or behind schedule, take your choice….
I wish the couple well and I did regret not seeing the Spit flying, such a beautiful and heroic plane with a distinctive Merlin engine sound.
I grew up near Biggin Hill the famous air station in Kent from which Spitfires and Hurricanes never failed to ‘scramble’ during the darkest days of the Battle of Britain.
Thus I know well the look sound and smell of a Spitfire and to me the Spitfire and Hurricane represent freedom as to others a dove represents peace.
There have been many very fine planes but none like the Spitfire and Hurricane.
Two beautiful war birds in the right place, right hands and right moment in world history.
Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few“.
You know who said that and about whom?
I’ve never painted a Spit, or flown in one.
The attached though shows the marine version the Seafire and this was the painting that attracted the attention of the gentleman who invited me to exhibit at the European Parliament.
The painting was commissioned by Dr. Michael Baker’s mother who’s husband severed on and later flew from Formidable.
Formidable’s war record is truly formidable.
As she (Sheila White) was a friend of very many years and Michael and I have been mates since 9 years old I did not want to charge but she absolutely insisted in paying. Now that IS a friend.

“HMS Formidable 1942 Seafires returning” is available in print and can be easily and safely ordered via page



What are the Formidable and Hurricanes?

1. Formidable – the name originally entered the Britannique Royal Navy with a captured French ship.
You can find on the Internet how many ships have carried this name.
In the case of “our Formie” she was a fleet carrier and had a very active WW 2.
You can learn more about her by going to http://frickers.co.uk/marine-art/formidable_seafires.html.
Follow the further reading link and the ‘more’ links once you get to the blog.
Let me know please how you get on using the site in this manner. Your feedback may help us improve access to the information.

2. Hurricane in this case means the Hawker Hurricane that is the single seat fighter built for the RAF by Hawker and in service in larger numbers than the Spitfire in 1941.
You can see examples of both machines parked outside the RAF Biggin Hill Memorial chapel and in the excellent RAF museum at Hendon.
There is bound to be lots on the net about ‘Hurries’.
While the Spitfire was the glory of the RAF, the Hurricane was in fact flown in greater numbers than the Spit before (during the retreat to Dunkirk) and during the Battle of Britain.
The Hurricane had slightly less performance than the Spitfire, was simpler to build but not as advanced a design as the Spitfire so gradually phased out after the Battle of Britain.
Hawker introduced the Typhoon as a possible replacement and this rugged aircraft proved particularly effective in ground attack most famously annihilating a major German column including heavy tanks in the Faliase Gap near Caen.
Frank Wootton painted an excellent version of that scene.
It should be remembered that until the Luftwaffe encountered the Hurricane and Spitfire over Belgium and the Netherlands they had enjoyed impunity in the air.

The fate of Europe and certainly civilization as we know it hung in the air.

The outcome was not a forgone conclusion.

Never the less the Hurricane proved a match for the best German aircraft, their 8 browning machine guns when used with determination (and they were) capable of bringing down any German plane in 1942.
The Hurricane was soon battle proven fast and maneuverable enough to meet and match the best German Messerschmitt 109 fighter of those days.
During the battle of Britain in action and heavily outnumbered British fighters were flying as many as 5 or 6 sorties per day.
The British had some advantage having a sophisticated (for the time) radar and ground guidance system to direct their fighters to the most effective place – (not always possible in combat conditions) and gradually under leaders like Mallory and Douglas Barder (a pilot who had no legs) developed very effective tactics to meet the raiders.
The Germans found their Famed Stuka bomber which had terrorized Spain, Poland, The Netherlands and France was being slaughtered piecemeal and their Dornier 17 and Messerschmitt 110 fared little better.
For every RAF Spitfire of Hurricane they destroyed they were loosing 3 or 4 of their own aircraft.
15 Sept 1941 is considered the decisive day of the battle of Britain and the first German defeat of WW 2.
German aircrews with sound reason discovered they did not like Hurricanes and feared the Spitfire to the point of panic.
RAF Biggin Hill is a good read and the film ‘Battle of Britain’ was made with a reasonable level of accuracy using real aircraft.
The Seafire was the marine version of the Spitfire.
Its arrival in in Med on ships like the Formie was a nasty shock for the Germans and for openers the Seafire lifted the siege of Malta by quickly convincing the Germans it was no longer at all safe to bomb Malta or Malta convoys.
The Seafire mark II C type is clearly identifiable in the painting of Formidable which is available as a signed print at