Fighter Command

Fighter Command

Originally I intended the first series of photographs to be Fighter Command series containing various famous airmen, however having set out on this course it instead turned into a Battle of Britain series due to the circumstances at the time. This series will have some fighter pilots who did not take part in the Battle of Britain. We produced 7 photographs in the set - believe it or not I started this series in 1998!

The photographs are from the 1939-1945 period and each is hand signed by the airman depicted. As before each photograph will be accompanied by a brief career history and are all Limited Editions certified and numbered out of 200.

Here are those currently available:

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SP(FC)01 - Wing Commander Peter Ayerst DFC - 5 victories
Ayerst is probably most famous for shooting down a German bomber during the Battle of Britain while an instructor with 7 OTU, with the launch of his book I am sure he will become even more well known as an accomplished fighter pilot. He flew during the Battle of France scoring two victories and after returning to the UK was an instructor until June 1942 when he was posted to Middle East as part of 243 Wing. During which time he scored a number of victories flying Hurricanes with Nos 33 and 238 Squadrons. He returned to the UK in early 1944 to join No 124 Squadron and provided air cover during the D-Day landings flying Spitfires. Later in the year he worked as a production test pilot for Vickers followed by a posting to HQ Fighter Command. 

SP(FC)02 - Wing Commander John Freeborn DFC* - 13 victories
Freeborn joined No 74 Squadron at Hornchurch in October 1938 and saw action over Dunkirk scoring a number of victories, during which time his aircraft was hit and he was forced to crash land in France. During the Battle of Britain he continued to increase his tally, being awarded the DFC in August and made a Flight Commander. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC in February 1941 the citation of which quoted 12 victories and many more damaged. He left 74 Squadron in June 1941 and became a flying instructor. In December 1942 he was posted as a Flight Commander to 602 Squadron, until he took command of No 118 Squadron in June 1943. In June 1944 he was appointed Wing Commander Flying of 286 Wing in Italy. 

 SP(FC)03 - Squadron Leader Neville Duke OBE DSO DFC** AFC - 28 victories
Probably most known for his Test Pilot years and particularly the Red Hawker Hunter, Duke was also the highest scoring RAF ace in the Mediterranean Theatre. Duke joined No 92 Squadron in April 1941 scoring four victories before being posted to the Middle East to fly with No 112 Squadron. By the end of February 1942 he had 8 confirmed and 3 probable victories and awarded the DFC. He rejoined No 92 Squadron in November 1942, which was now also in the Desert becoming a flight commander and awarded a DSO in March and by the end of his second tour had added a further 14 victories to his total. In October 1944 he returned to the UK in October and became a production test pilot with Hawkers. Post war he flew most of the Hawker experimental aircraft and broke the World Speed Air Record in September 1953 in Hunter WB188. 

 SP(FC)04 - Wing Commander 'Paddy' Barthropp DFC AFC - 5 victories 

Every time one thinks of Douglas Bader it is hard not to associate the name ’Paddy’ - as firm friends there are many photographs and highly amusing stories linking the two. Barthropp volunteered for Fighter Command in August 1940 and after converting to Spitfires joined 602 Squadron. On the 21st he damaged a Do 17, on the 27th shared a He 111 and on 2 October shared a Ju 88. He was posted to 610 Squadron on 20 December 1940 and on 5 February 1941 he went to 91 Squadron. On 27 April he damaged a Do 17, on 4 June he probably destroyed at Bf 109, on the 9th he shot down a Bf 109 and on 17 August he shot down one Bf 109 and damaged another. On 24 August 1941 he rejoined 610 Squadron as ’B’ Flight Commander. He was awarded the DFC (26.9.41) and posted to 61 OTU, Heston on 23 October. He returned to operations with 122 Squadron on 15 May 1942, but two days later, on a Boston escort-operation, he was shot down near St Omer and was captured after baling out and spent time in several PoW camps including Stalag Luft III.

 SP(FC)05 - Wing Commander David Cox DFC* - 8 victories

Cox joined 19 Squadron at Duxford in May 1940 and during the Battle of Britain he scored 3 destroyed and 2 probables. In July 1941 he was posted away to train as an instructor and then went to 57 OTU, Hawarden. In May 1942 he joined 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill and went to North Africa with the squadron in November 1942. In Africa he scored 4 destroyed, 3 probables, 4 damaged and 1 destroyed on the ground. He was made a Flight Commander and awarded the DFC (16.2.43). Tour expired he was posted back to the UK in May 1943, and then became a Tactics Liaison Officer instructing American pilots and awarded a Bar to the DFC (9.7.43). In early January 1944 he was briefly with 130 Squadron before moving to 504 Squadron as a Flight Commander. In March 1944 he went to 84 Group Support Unit remaining there until June when he was posted to command 222 Squadron. He rejoined 84 GSU on July 17 and stayed until October 2 1944, when he was posted to 1 Squadron, later become the commanding officer. He received the C de G (Fr) in September. He was posted away in April 1945 to HQ 221 Group, Burma and led 909 (Spitfire) Wing from May to September 1945. 

 SP(FC)06 - Flight Lieutenant Garry Nowell DFM* AE - 16 victories

Nowell is a pilot who should never be forgotten, as one of the outstanding pilots of the Battle of France he was awarded a DFM, the citation stated that he had shot down four at least, and possibly seven, whilst the citation for the Bar to his DFM stated he had scored 12 victories in one week - one of the very few pilots to achieve such success. After several days of virtually constant action and very little sleep, he was flown back to England. He was then posted to 32 Squadron on 20 May, but three days later he shot down a Bf 109, but was then attacked by several others and was wounded in the right arm and ankle, baling out of his blazing Hurricane over France, suffering severe burns. Evacuated back to England he lingered in hospital, close to death, but after a long recovery he finally resumed service late in 1941 being posted to Biggin Hill in a fighter control role. He had a long battle to obtain a full flying category, but he did manage some non-operational flying with 124 Squadron to which he was attached, and then in a similar capacity with 72 Squadron. He attended a refresher course before being posted as an instructor, and in November 1942 he was pronounced fit for home defence operations and attended 61 OTU at Rednal, before rejoining 124 Squadron, where he claimed two further victories. 

SP(FC)7 Squadron Leader Anthony Gaze DFC* 

Australian Ace and post war F1 driver 

Each photograph is a limited edition of 200.