By Tally One Assistant Editor P. Wilhelm
Probably one of the most known and best-loved examples of aviation art is this beautiful, and classy painting by Barrie A. F. Clark: “Spitfire”, painted circa 1982. This painting/print has been sold by many different galleries, from many different locations – framed and unframed – in many different sizes, to countless numbers of aviation art lovers, located in many different countries around the world. As fast and deadly as an airborne shark, “Spitfire,” depicted amid plumes of bomb-blasted smoke in this painting, is an iconic symbol of victory over daunting odds.
A champion dueler, the legendary fighter was piloted by England’s Royal Air Force during World War II’s Battle of Britain. That battle, the first completely airborne clash in the world, was the first defeat of Hitler’s military forces. According to online sources, it has been postulated airplane in this painting is a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mark VB of the 243d Squadron. While it would be nice to satisfy one’s curiosity as to the exact origin of this specific aircraft, it is not required. “Spitfire” is one of those rare works of art that transcends the question of whether true art has to be something other than an airplane.
Born in Hampshire on 18th September 1943, Barrie Clark (the artist) spent his childhood in the New Forest. His first memories are of steam locomotives and model aircraft as his father was an enthusiast and had served as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps. Although Barrie yearned to enter the RAF to fly, his parents persuaded him to follow a career in art. In 1958 he commenced full time art education at Dover and Folkestone Schools of Art. Having transferred in 1950 to the Northampton College of Art and finished his studies there in December 1962, he initially followed a career in shop-fitting design. In 1967 he took a position designing and building prototype toys, yet throughout all these daytime jobs Barrie was producing a steady flow of pictures, all of which he sold immediately. In 1967 he became a signalman on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway, and between 1968 and 1970 he drove the Winston Churchill engine. With such a long-standing involvement with different engines and such a great talent for painting, it came as no surprise when Mr. Clark began painting full time, in 1970 selling his first batch of work within a fortnight. He now paints pictures of every subject imaginable, but remains most renowned for his brilliant aircraft images, the most famous of all being his “Spitfire”. Despite his international career, Barrie Clark still finds the time to play blues guitar as well as looking after six cats. (SOURCE: “Barrie Clark”)
During the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire was perceived by the public as the RAF fighter, though the more numerous Hawker Hurricane shouldered a greater proportion of the burden against the Luftwaffe. The Spitfire units had a lower attrition rate and a higher victory-to-loss ratio than those flying Hurricanes.
The Spitfire became the backbone of the RAF Fighter Command, and saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific, and South-East Asian theatres. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, carrier-based fighter, and trainer. It was built in many variants, using several wing configurations. Although the original airframe was designed to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine producing 1,030 HP, it was adaptable enough to use increasingly powerful Merlin and later Rolls-Royce Griffon engines producing up to 2,035 HP.
We hope you like this piece of art as much as we do! Here are some specs on the Spitfire. Enjoy!
- Crew: one pilot
- Length: 30 ft (9.14 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
- Height: 10 ft (3.05 m)
- Wing area: 242.1 ft2 (22.48 m2)
- Empty weight: 6,578 lb (2,984 kg)
- Loaded weight: 7,923 lb (3,593 kg)
- Max. Takeoff weight: 8,488 lb (3,850 kg)
- Maximum speed: 448 mph
- Combat radius: 459 mi
- Service ceiling: 43,500 ft
- Rate of climb: 3,650 ft/min
- Wing loading: 32.72 lb/ft2
- Guns: 2 × 20 mm cannon, 4 x 7.7 mm Browning machine guns
- Bombs: 2 x 250 lb.