www.spiritofbritons.uk


 

The Spirit of Britons collection

 

‘One of the Few’

 

   

                                                HMS Victory      Supermarine Spitfire   – J Class Yacht Velsheda

 

The ‘One of the Few’ sculpture from the ‘Spirit of Britons’ collection was created from combining original material from two of the most iconic British Weapons of War. Lord Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory and a 1940’s Supermarine Spitfire.

 

 

 

 HMS Victory; the only surviving 18th century first-rate ship of the line. The 104-gun ship was launched in 1765 and she is best known for her role as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.

The Battle of Trafalgar; The battle that changed the world, was one of the greatest sea battles in British Naval history and gave birth to a legend. Off the coast of Spain's Cape Trafalgar, the British Fleet, led by Lord Horatio Nelson, took on the larger combined French and Spanish force to determine who would be the master of the waves. France's Napoleon Bonaparte was poised to send his powerful army across the English Channel to conquer the island and the only obstacle standing in his way was the British fleet, led by Nelson on Victory.

Supermarine Spitfire.  

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft and today nearly 60 Spitfires remain airworthy worldwide.

 

J Class yacht Velsheda.

 

The J-class yacht Velsheda was built in 1933 by Camper and Nicholsons at Gosport, Hampshire and restored in 1984. She won many races and competed with other great J class yachts such as Britannia, Endeavour and Shamrock V the world's most beautiful fleet of classic racing yachts – the J Class.

 

 

 

This original 1940’s Supermarine Spitfire armoured windscreen has been set in an oak frame carved from original timbers removed from Victory’s lower gun deck and has been placed upon a mahogany base which was once part of the mahogany timbers in 1984 Ian used to build the Galley for the J Class Yachts Velsheda. (17 inches high)

 

 

 

After having this rather special windscreen in Ian's studio for over twenty years he decided to finally do something with it and carved an identical setting to hold the windscreen which would have originally been made from aluminum, but this time I made a replica from After having this rather special windscreen in Ian's studio for over twenty years he decided to finally do something with it and carved an identical setting to hold the windscreen which would have originally been made from aluminium, but this time I made a replica from original centuries old oak removed from the lower gun deck of HMS Victory. Both windscreen and frame were then placed onto a piece of mahogany that was once part of the mahogany I used to build the galley of the J Class yacht Velsheda in 1984. (17 inches high)

 

 


 

 ‘One of the Few’ Background Information

In 1984 a friend of Ian’s Mo gave him an original laminated armoured 32cm x 30 cm windscreen he had owned since 1953 which had been removed from an old damaged 1940’s Supermarine Spitfire which was one of various former WW2 aircraft, trucks etc that they had been breaking decades earlier in their scrap yard. This first sculpture on the ‘Best of British’ theme was created from combining original pieces of two of the most iconic British weapons of War, Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory and the WW2 Supermarine Spitfire.

In the early mid 1950’s Mo helped run a scrap yard near Gosport in Hampshire and over a number of years they scrapped many WW2 aircraft some of which were airworthy or very nearly. There was many of these old aircraft cluttering up airfields all over the UK and most were eventually simply disposed of, some were displayed  in museums, retained for the’ newly formed RAF ‘Battle of Britain’ flight, or  simply used as RAF airfields ‘Gate guardians’ and some other ended up in less flattering rolls, but generally most were sold off by the MOD; if they could find a buyer and some simply scrapped.

Apparently, Hawker Hurricane’s in the late 1940’s and early 50’s was worth less to Mo and others in the scrap yard business than a Spitfire, as Hurricane’s had a lot of wood and canvas in their construction. However, both these historic aircraft, the real stars of the Battle of Britain a decade earlier, were at the time to many were deemed virtually worthless due to the new Jet fighters being deployed by the RAF.

Apparently, Hawker Hurricane’s in the late 1940’s and early 50’s was worth less to Mo and others in the scrap yard business than a Spitfire, as Hurricane’s had a lot of wood and canvas in their construction. However, both these historic aircraft, the real stars of the Battle of Britain a decade earlier, were at the time to many were deemed virtually worthless due to the new Jet fighters being deployed by the RAF.

Mo recalled that each Rolls Royce Merlin engines used by most of these old WW2 aircraft were worth just £27.00 to him as scrap metal and a Spitfire itself worth just £97.00 in scrap. However, the only part from a Spitfire that was of no use as far as the scrap yard was concerned, was the armoured laminated glass windscreens, which were often simply thrown into a skip.

Mo rescued a couple of them and placed them in his garden shed and then over time simply forgot  about them, until during a tea break in Ian’s workshop over a cupper ,a few days after Ian had been to an Air Show he mentioned his admiration of the Spitfire, the following morning Mo kindly presented him with an original Spitfire windscreen.

Ian said I appreciate that hindsight is a wonderful thing, but wouldn’t it have been great if Mo he had decided to get a much larger shed and store one or two of those ‘worthless’ Hurricanes or Spitfires in!!

 


 

In 1989 Ian spent many months carving from lime wood ,a life size ‘Harrier in flight’ which would be auctioned off to raise funds for the RAF benevolent who were raising funds for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

 

 

 

During this period Ian was invited to RAF Manston a few miles down the road from were Ian's relations lived to set up a temporary studio to work on the Harrier along with exhibit his work. RAF Manston; The former Battle of Britain airfield in Kent and during his lunch break was able to spend some time sitting in both the Hurricane and Spitfire aircraft.

 

 

 

 

During 1989 Ian spent many months carving from lime wood a life size ‘Harrier in flight’ to be auctioned off to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent who were raising funds for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

During this period Ian was invited to RAF Manston to set up a temporary studio to work on the Harrier along with exhibit his work. RAF Manston; The former Battle of Britain airfield in Kent and during his lunch break spend some time sitting in both the Hurricane and Spitfire.

 The carving of the full size one piece wood carving of the ‘Harrier in flight’ before polishing and Ian alongside a Hawker Hurricane in the museum presenting the completed ‘Marsh Harrier’ sculpture to the RAF which was later auctioned and raised several thousand pounds for the RAF Benevolent Fund on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 1990.

 


 

                                                                                    Taking a lunch break

Climbing into a Spitfire is an awe expiring experience, I sat a bit lower down than your average Spitfire pilot would normally have sat as there was no parachute which he would normally be sitting on, to enable them to see clearly all around them. I found the Hurricane had slightly more room in the cockpit than the Spitfire but both were still a rather tight fit even for a tall, skinny 10 stone guy like I was at the time. It was kind of like sitting in a bath, but everything you need to fly the machine was easily in reach. They used to say that especially with the spitfire you sit inside and kind of strap the machine on and you then become part of it. I was given a quick instruction over the Spitfires controls and then told I could move any of the controls I wish, but best not touch than one he said, pointing to the the control that lifted the undercarriage.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled the canopy closed was the strong smell of leather and oil. looking around you at the rather basic instruments panel considering what the aircraft was capable of, but obviously all you needed. Looking forward through the thick armoured windscreen in front of me, identical to the windscreen I had back in my studio, I began to think what sights the pilot had seen through it flying this very machine in combat and begin to realise I had nothing but admiration for all the pilots who flew and fought in these machines, especially as your average Spitfire pilots most of which were only in his teens and early 20’s. I was told that some of these old RAF pilots, Churchills ‘Few’ that sacrificed so much for Britain in the 1940’s, of those that were still alive today may now in their old age perhaps one or two may well be going through hard times financially, but can and will be being helped by the RAF Benevolent Fund, something I was hoping to be contributing in my own small way, by spending my time over the comming months by creating the wooden Harrier sculpture to raise some money for the Fund.

Looking through the windscreen in front of me all you can see is the long wide nose of the Spitfires leading up to the huge propeller and nothing else looking forward. You can understand why  the taking off was always a bit tricky and you had to rely on looking through the side window’s in the cockpit as they started down the runway preparing to take off until you quickly get the Spitfire up to speed, the tail lifts of, the nose drops and you can then finally clearly see the road and a few moments later the clear sky along with the anticipation of whatever that the day and occasionally night ahead might bring.

 


 

 

 

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