by Philip E. West
Approx. overall print size: 18” x 28”/ 46 x 71cms
Pictured during her final call to duty. The majestic, Royal Navy HMS Ark Royal, sailed into wind to recover Phantom's returning from a cap mission. In operational service the Phantom provided immense additional capability to the Fleet Air Arm. Mach 2 performance, impressive range, all-weather, strike and air defence. In the 1970's. Ark Royal had a complement of 2250 crew, 2640 including air staff. 39 aircraft comprising 892 Sqn Phantom's, 809 Sqn Buccaneer's, 849 Sqn Gannet's, 824 Sqn Sea King's. Two Ship's Flight Wessex helicopters one Gannet for Carrier Onboard deliveries. She entered HMNB Devonport for the last time on 4 December 1978 and decommissioned on 14 February 1979 when the White Ensign was lowered for the last time. So ended the illustrious career of R09. A much loved and respected ship.
The Primary Edition is signed by a Royal Navy Phantom pilot.
Artist Proof and Remarque editions are signed by an additional pilot and a Senior Observer.
Further details of the print signatories can be found below.
The Primary Edition is signed by the artist and:
Lt Cdr David Braithwaite MBE MRAes MCIM (Pilot) started flying in 1964. He was with Front Line Sea Vixens from 1966 in 890, 892, 893, 899 Squadrons, before flying F4 Phantoms from 1971 to 1984 off Ark Royal and for 2 tours with the USN as a Warfare Instructor and Operational Test Director.
He became Top Gun Qualified in 1972 and flew 6 types of F4 and 2 types F14 jets. David continued as the Senior Pilot on 809, 800 and 801 Squadrons Sea Harrier, having completed Weapons Evaluation on IFTU at Yeovilton.
Greenwich and Aviation Staff trained and MOD Warrior in 1985. He has accrued over 1000 hrs in three operational types with in excess of 1400 fixed wing day and night deck landings. - and survived!
The Artist Proof and Remarque editions are also signed by:
Commander Neville Featherstone RN (Pilot) did National Service in the Royal Navy, ending up as a Sub Lieutenant aboard a minesweeper.
He then read Law at London University for a year at the end of which his tutors advised that they saw little future for him as a lawyer – a blessing in disguise, as he rejoined the Navy and trained as a fixed wing pilot. He did two front-line tours east of Suez flying Sea Vixens from the carrier HMS Centaur. On return to the UK he qualified as a Flying Instructor (QFI) and spent two years at RNAS Brawdy in Wales teaching ‘pipe-line’ pilots to fly the swept wing Hunter.
Towards the end of this appointment he was invited to go to the US Naval Air Station Miramar at San Diego, California to fly the F4 Phantom. This was at a time when the USN was suffering heavy losses in Vietnam and was fully stretched to train sufficient replacements. More importantly it provided invaluable experience on the Phantom which had been ordered by the Royal Navy as a replacement for the Sea Vixen.
In 1968 when the first RN Phantoms arrived at RNAS Yeovilton he joined 700P, the Intensive Flying Trials Unit. This metamorphosed into 767 Squadron where as QFI and Senior Pilot he was responsible for training naval crews for the front-line 892 Squadron and RAF crews for the first Squadron to re-equip with the Phantom.
During these happy times he was the Navy’s aerobatic display pilot in that most exciting of aircraft, the Phantom. Subsequently he flew the Hawker Siddeley 125 in the joint service VIP squadron at Northolt. He commanded 750 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose and, after completing the Canadian Staff Course, carried out staff jobs in MOD and SHAPE Belgium, before retiring as a Commander in 1987.
Commander Peter Rickard RN (Senior Observer) joined the Royal Navy in 1956 and after general naval training qualified as an Observer. In his flying career he served world-wide in four front-line and two second-line Naval Air Squadrons in Sea Venom, Sea Vixen, Buccaneer and Phantom aircraft.
Qualified as an Electronic Warfare specialist, after his first two front-line appointments he was appointed to 700Z Flight which was charged with bringing into service the new Buccaneer SMk1 and then served ashore and afloat in the first front-line squadron to operate the aircraft.
He was later the Senior Observer of 767 Naval Air Squadron flying the Phantom F4K, the squadron responsible for the training and conversion of all Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aircrew to the fighter variant of the Phantom.
In general service he served in two appointments as the Executive Officer to the Captains 2nd and 8th Frigate Squadrons. In 1981 he took command of the frigate HMS PENELOPE and was part of the Task Force in Operation Corporate, the Falklands War of 1982. Staff qualified at the Royal Naval College Greenwich; his other appointments were as the Naval Aviation Officer at the Joint Warfare Establishment Old Sarum, as an Instructor at the Naval Observer School, and on the Staff of the NATO Commander in Chief Channel and the National Commander in Chief Fleet at Northwood.
Other posts held were at the Ministry of Defence London in the Directorate of Naval Plans and with the Flag Officer Naval Air Command. He retired in 1988.