TVAL Sopwith Snipe at Old Warden

Sopwith Snipe, built by The Vintage Aviator Ltd in New Zealand and being assembled at Old Warden in the UK. Here you can see inside the fuselage; wood, metal and fabric. The angular black shape, lower left, is a fuel tank, under and behind the pilot's seat.

TVAL's beautiful Albatros V. To think, that something so beautiful is a machine made for sowing death and destruction.

I claim that Old Aeroplanes magazine is good enough to lick - well this TVAL built Mercedes D.III engine looks really tasty also.


It’s not been ‘blood, sweat a tears’, but rebuilding my ‘web presence’ has been several days work, and with a new web site building program to learn at the same time. Despite repeated checking and link corrections, gremlins are bound to have crept into the site. If anyone is out there and notices a mistake I have missed, please send me an e-mail.

To have a break from sitting at the computer, my wife and I cut down a tree today. Brrrmmm! We are both pretty handy with a chain saw and always very safety conscious. Just like Monty Python!


Philip Makanna, the Maestro of air-to-air photography, gets bounced around in three dimensions while taking his splendid photographs. Phil's glasses show the wear and tear of keeping an 'eagle eye' to the viewfinder of his Nikon camera.

Old Aeroplanes magazine No.3 has an interveiw with Phil and features many of his magnificent photographs.


Last weekend was out the annual Harvest Festival, in the village where I live. It is a small scale affair, but a lot of people turn up to wonder around, eat and have a good chat.

A most interesting exhibit was the cockpit of retired Finnish Air Force Hawk HW-314. This Hawk, with over 5000 hours of flight time, slides out, on rails, from a custom container. Since the beginning of this year, it is exhibited at airshows and trade fairs by the Finnish Aviation Museum Society. Both seats were constantly occupied by visitors 'having a go.'


The air display season is more or less over, but the atmosphere of summer air show's can be rekindled by watching video recordings. I have spent the morning on the 'Western Front', thanks to the Historical Aviation Film Unit , based in New Zealand. British, French and German fighters filmed from the ground, air-to-air and in-cockpit. Re-enactors on the ground battle it out, with duels taking place above.

Have a look: https://www.youtube.com/user/HAFUVideo


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An illustration of Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth that I made for Old Aeroplanes magazine No.2, which is devoted to warbirds seen at Old Warden, home of the Shuttleworth Collection. The family fortune was from Clayton & Shuttleworth agricultural machinery. Shuttleworth's loves were racing horses, racing cars and flying aeroplanes.


While out for a walk, a Finnish Air Force Pilatus PC12 flew over me. The FinAF has six of these Swiss aircraft and uses them as liaison aircraft.

The pitot tube of a Mikoyen Gurevich MiG-21 looks to be going supersonic even when standing still. The small vanes are there to measure angle of attack and yaw.

This Mil Mi-4 at the Finnish Aviation Museum, near Helsinki Airport, is a perfect example of the 'Steam Punk' qualities of 1950's technology. A mechanical beetle spreading its wings.

An old photo of my very good friend of over 40 years, Tutu. An inventive marvel, who comes alive whenever a complex problem come his way. He learned to fly in a Harvard and then flew North American F-86 Sabres in the Pakistani Air Force, until his homeland broke away to become an independent Bangladesh. He visited me last week and we had a fantastic time.

A couple of book cover illustrations I made some years ago. The Junkers Ju-88 is done with airbrush and the Fokker D.XXIs are painted in Photoshop.

An airbrush painting of Finnish Air Force Bf-109s climbing through clouds, looking to make an interception.


You may think I am only interested in Old Aeroplanes. Well, here are some spanking new jets. What! The ubiquitus F-4 Phantom and the 'Jump Jet' Harrier are old hat you say. Oh well, Old Aeroplanes is a concept that gets broader every day.

A Greek Air Force McDonnell Douglas RF-4E Phantom II, at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford 2005.  A photo taken with my second digital camera, a Nikon D40X. I still have it and it works a treat. My wife used it on trips to France and Italy this summer and took splendid photos.

A Royal Air Force British Aeropspace Harrier GR.7A. Photographed at RIAT, 2005, also with the Nikon D40X.  My first digital camera, a Nikon D70, fell out of my bag onto a stone surface and stopped working :-(

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's New Standard D-25, a really old aeroplane built in 1929. Big enough to seat four in the front cockpit, the New Standard makes a wonderful joyride machine.

Tidied my studio today... well, hid piles of papers and banged about with the vacuum cleaner. To recover from my  exertions I watched another HAFU video - 'Dogfight!' Great, a chance to see the wonderful aircraft of TVAL.

The aeromaniacs of New Zealand have had to put up with earthquakes recently. Let's wish them firm ground underfoot and blue skies above.


Multi-camera views of SE 5a fighters, with pilot commentary. HAFU have lots of videos on Youtube.

A pen and ink drawing of Adolf Galland, from a photograph, that I made many years ago. The black dot near the righthand edge is a drop of ink that fell from the loaded pen.

Galland, 1912-1996, served with the Luftwaffe from 1933 until the end of WWII, seeing combat in Spain, Poland, the Battle of Britain, the Western Front and rising to General of the Fighter Force. He flew 705 combat missions, was shot down four times and had 104 combat victories. Post war Galland did consulting and test flying, most notably in Argentina.


Here is a spread from the book showing the beautifully angular Fokker D.VII.

Cold and windy here, all the more reason to settle down with a good book, when not working on my own projects. My friend, Philip Makanna, makes wonderful aviation books. Because of the 100 year anniversary, WWI is very much on my mind. The cover of Phil's Ghosts, the Great War.'


If it flies, I'm interested.

My good friend Alexander Reichstein constructs magical exhibitions all over the world. For the Christmas season, he has an exhibition in nearby Helsinki – 'They Were Here' – showing figures through the ages, in the courtyard of Helsinki City Museum. The angel blowing a horn is certainly flying, as is the cherub in the distance.

Another pen and ink drawing from a photo, from my student days, P-40K 'King Boogie' and pilots of the Flying Tigers. Again a drop of ink, on the collar of the pilot resting his foot on the wheel. Easily enough removed if I ever print the drawing.


Well, I wrote in praise of Philip Makanna's book Ghosts of the Great War and now I see it's on sale! A USD 40.00 book of air-to-air photographs, for only USD 25.00 during December. As the cook said, 'Get it while it's hot!'


Our family Christmas tree usually has an aeroplane in pride of place. This year it is an F-86 Sabre. In recent years there has been a MiG-15 and a blue Spitfire.

When visiting Old Rhinebeck two years ago, I photographed a WWI era Renault tank. Tanks are not my thing, noisy smelly things, so unlike aeroplanes. Well, I was commisioned to illustrate a giant 464 page history book, 'The Finnish Tank War.' The project lasted about a year and now the book is just out. It's a fancy numbered edition that cannot be bought in bookshops, it has to be ordered from special book dealers.