No Room For Error
by Philip E West
Approx. overall print size 17½” x 27½ ” / 46cms x 69cms
Capt Eric (Winkle) Brown launches his Seafire TM379, from the deck of the trials carrier HMS Pretoria Castle in July 1945. Unlike other carriers, those used for trials, usually had their decks clear of other aircraft. On this day, once the aircraft is launched the carrier’s crew streamed onto the deck to check the surface and clear anything that may obstruct a landing. TM379, was the first prototype, Seafire Mk 45 and was fitted with a Rotol contra prop, modified fin, rudder and tail hook.
*Signed by the artist and three former Seafire pilots;
** Signed by five former Seafire pilots, including the legendary Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown CBE, DSC, AFC. KCVSA. (Capt. Brown holds the world record for the most carrier landings and for flying the largest number of different aircraft including the Me 262, Me163 rocket plane as well as all of the first British jets.
Please see below for details of the signatories of this edition.
As with all our prints, this edition was signed in the presence
of Sean Whyte, owner and publisher of SWA Fine Art Limited.
Philip West is recognised as one of the world’s finest aviation artists. Collectors of his original oil paintings span the globe, many waiting patiently for his next breathtaking canvas to appear. Self taught, Philip has won many accolades for his paintings, not the least of which was the prestigious Duane Whitney Award for Excellence at the 1997 American Society of Aviation Artists Exhibition.
We do hope you will find the following biographies of interest. We think that by knowing a little about the men behind the signatures, it will help you get the most from your copy of “No Room For Error”. We ask you not to reproduce the following personal details in any format without our permission.
Please bear in mind that the notes have been prepared by the pilot and copied, with virtually no editing by SWA Fine Art.
Commander Tommy Handley joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet in 1940. During his first two years he served in many ships varying from destroyer to battleships, mainly on escort and convoy duties in the South Atlantic, but including two Russian convoys. After promotion to Sub Lieutenant he was in Combined Operations in landing craft and served in MV Durban Castle for Operation Torch, landing US Troops in North Africa.
He started flying in 1943 and after training in Canada joined 885 Squadron flying Hellcats in the Woolworth carrier HMS Ruler. In early 1945 he was transferred to 1844 Squadron in HMS Indomitable and took part in Operation Iceberg against Japanese offshore islands.
After the war he was a flying instructor with the Royal Air Force before becoming an Air Weapons Officer and joining 800 Squadron as senior Pilot, later commanding officer, flying Seafire 47s in HMS Triumph. She was the first British carrier to be involved in the Korean War and Tommy was the last pilot to fly an operational mission in a Seafire/Spitfire. He was therefore the “Last of the Few”.
On promotion to Commander he was appointed to command HMS Bramble on fishery protection duties and employed in and around Norway and Iceland, as well as home water. Then he was off to flying duties again as Commander (Air) of HMS Centaur. Later he was appointed the Commander of the Naval Air Station Hal Far in Malta, before taking up further duties abroad as Naval Attache Istanbul, Naval Attache Tehran and finally Resident Naval Officer in Mombassa and Adviser to the Kenya Navy. He retired from the Navy in 1976.
Captain Alan Leahy CBE DSC RN joined the Royal Navy in 1943 as Naval Airman 2nd Class. He was trained by the US Navy as a fighter pilot flying Corsairs. Later he qualified as an Air Weapons Officer. He has served on the aircraft carriers Implacable, Illustrious, Theseus, Vengeance, Glory, Bulwark, Ark Royal, Victorious and Hermes. He commanded 738 (Seahawks), 803 (Scimitars) 700 Z and 809 (Buccaneers) and has flown 35 different types of aircraft.
In 1953 he was awarded the DSC for operations over Korea flying Sea Furies in 801 Squadron from HMS Glory. He was the leader of the all red Royal Navy Seahawk aerobatic team of five aircraft at the 1957 Farnborough Air Show. He was made MBE in 1958.
Amongst a variety of appointments he was Director of the Naval Air Warfare Division of the Naval Staff when the Royal Navy got approval for the Sea Harrier. His final appointment was as Commodore Clyde in command of HMS Neptune and the Fastlane Submarine Base. He was appointed ADC in 1977 and promoted to CBE in 1978.
Cdr. Lionel G Hooke VRD* RNR joined the Navy at HMS Ganges in August 1940. On completion of the fighter course at Yeovilton he became a fighter pilot in the Eastern Fleet Fighter Pool as well as on the Staff of S.E.A.C. and 26th Indian Division for the capture of Akyab. Post war he served in the Reserve and on disbandment of the Northern Air Division in 1957 he transferred to M.O.D. (Navy) in the logistics department, with the non-substantive rank of Commander, being awarded a Bar to the V.R.D. in 1972.
The following two men have also signed the Artist Proof and Remarque editions:
Rear Admiral Ray Rawbone CB AFC RN joined the Royal Navy in 1942 under the “Y” scheme. He was trained by the RAF as a fighter pilot and joined 809 Squadron flying Seafires in 1943. Embarked in HMS Stalker he took part in operations in the Atlantic, the invasion of the South of France, Italy, Greece, Burma, Sumatra and Malaya. He served as Senior Pilot for the last six months of the war and remained with the Squadron until the end of 1945.
Later qualified as a Flying Instructor, he was awarded the AFC whilst loaned to the RAF on the Staff of the Central Flying School. He has served in the aircraft carriers Stalker, Bulwark, Eagle and Ark Royal and was a member of the first Naval jet Squadron (800 Attackers). He commanded 736 (Attackers, Seahawks) and 897 (Seahawks) squadrons and the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton. He has flown over 40 different types of aircraft.
He was the Captain (Air) on FONACs staff during the re-structioning of the Naval Air Command and his sea appointments included the command of HMS Loch Killisport, HMS Dido and HMS Kent. His final post was as DACOS (ops) in SHAPE. He was appointed ADC in 1973 and CB in 1976.
Captain Eric Brown R.N. had a 31-year career in the Royal Navy, and is the Fleet Air Arm’s most decorated pilot. After a distinguished operational tour flying from Britain’s first escort carrier, he was selected as a test pilot in 1942 and then served at A&AEE Boscombe Down before being appointed as Chief Naval Test Pilot at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, where he remained for six years. During that time he commanded the Enemy Aircraft Flight, the High Speed Flight and finally the prestigious Aerodynamics Flight.
During the Korean War he served as a test pilot at the US Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River for two years. While in his appointment as Head of the British Naval Air Mission to Germany from 1957-60 he was seconded to the Focke-Wulf Co. for a spell as their test pilot.
In his test-flying career he has flown a world record 487 basic types of aircraft, and made a world record 2,407 aircraft carrier landings in fixed-wing aircraft. He is a past President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a Master Pilot of Russia. In 1995 he was inducted into the US Navy’s Carrier Aviation Test Pilot Hall of Honor, the only non-American to have received this accolade.