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John de Severne
|Air Vice-Marshal Sir John Severne, who has died aged 90, was a Cold War fighter pilot before becoming Equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh; after a series of senior command posts in the RAF he was appointed Captain of the Queens Flight. Ever since he was a small boy building model aeroplanes, Severne had been passionate about flying. His career in the RAF ranged from post-war fighters and jet trainers to the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft. He won the Kings Cup Air Race in 1960 and became the British Air Racing Champion the same year, flying a Turbulent aircraft entered by the Duke of Edinburgh. In addition to the 32 service aircraft types, he flew 39 different civilian light aircraft. The son of a Royal Flying Corps observer and doctor, John de Milt Severne was born in London on August 15 1925 and educated at Marlborough, where he served in the Officer Training Corps and Home Guard. He was a light aircraft enthusiast from his first flight in a Gipsy Moth at the age of 10. He joined the RAF in April 1944 and completed his training as a pilot in October 1945. He first flew the Mosquito night fighter with 264 Squadron for two years, before leaving for the Central Flying School (CFS) . He trained as a flying instructor and spent the next few years teaching student pilots before returning to CFS to train instructors. In 1952, while still serving at CFS, Severne was able to participate for the first time in the Kings Cup Air Race, an annual event that had fascinated him from his school days. In January 1954, he joined No 98 Squadron, flying Venom day fighter/ground attack aircraft based in northern Germany close to the Iron Curtain. He was soon appointed a flight commander. On November 1 1954 he was carrying out a looping manoeuvre when the engine of his Venom caught fire. A few days earlier a colleague had suffered the same failure and had died when he tried to land the aircraft. Severne would have been justified in ejecting from his single-engine fighter but elected to crash land so that investigations into the incident could be carried out. He landed alongside the runway with the wheels retracted as the fire continued to burn, and managed to scramble clear. For his gallantry he was awarded the AFC. He converted to the Hunter fighter and in January 1956 took command of No 26 Squadron, also based in northern Germany. Following the 1957 Defence White Paper, which stated that air-defence missiles would replace manned fighters, Severne had the distasteful task of telling his men that their squadron was to be disbanded. After a year in the personnel department of the Air Ministry, Severne was appointed to be Equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh. Among other duties he was responsible for making all travel arrangements for the Duke and accompanying him on many trips. This allowed him to travel with the Queens Flight and he took the opportunity to learn to fly helicopters. In 1959 Severne entered Kings Cup Air Race flying a Turbulent painted in the Dukes colours. After a creditable performance, the aircraft was entered again the following year. A number of modifications were made, which resulted in Severne winning the coveted Kings Cup while wearing his daughters riding hat as a crash helmet. After two years, and promotion to wing commander, Severne was appointed LVO and returned to RAF service. After completing the RAF Staff College course, he flew Javelin and Lightning fighters during his appointment as wing commander flying at RAF Middleton St George (now Teesside Airport). With the closure of the RAF airfield, he became the chief instructor of the Lightning Operational Conversion Unit at Coltishall in Norfolk. Severnes next appointment was a very different affair. He left for Aden in January 1966 as the political situation in the Protectorate worsened. He was responsible for the operations of fighter and maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and helicopters working in co-operation with the Army. Hunter aircraft, which he flew on operations, were kept very busy patrolling the Yemen border and attacking dissidents. The Shackleton maritime patrol aircraft were heavily engaged in the Beira Patrol, the implementation of the Rhodesian oil embargo. As the dissident and terrorism activity increased, Severne was also heavily involved in the planning for the withdrawal from Aden of British forces scheduled for November 1967. On November 28 he was one of the last RAF officers to leave Aden. For his services he was appointed OBE. Severnes already varied flying career took another turn in January 1971 when he was appointed to command the RAFs largest maritime base at Kinloss in Scotland. His three squadrons of Nimrods patrolled the North Atlantic shadowing Soviet submarines and powerful surface fleets. He accumulated almost 500 hours flying time in two years and once commented: Flying low over the sea at 200 ft, at night, in bad weather, 1,000 miles over the North Atlantic, concentrates the mind no end. He also flew the Shackleton in the airborne early warning role. During his command of Kinloss, the station was awarded the Wilkinson Sword of Peace for 1971, which he accepted from the Duke of Edinburgh. In 1972 he was appointed as an ADC to the Queen. After attending the Royal College of Defence Studies, Severne returned to the Central Flying School as Commandant. This provided him with a wide variety of flying opportunities with the RAF, including having the Red Arrows under his command . After leaving CFS in February 1976 Severne spent two years responsible for all flying training in the RAF before taking over as Commander, Southern Maritime Region, an appointment that also carried two senior Nato war appointments. He controlled all British and Nato maritime aircraft, when operating out of British bases, south of a line from southern Ireland to Greenland. He also controlled the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which included air-sea rescue helicopters. His last flight in the RAF was piloting a Whirlwind helicopter during a training air-sea rescue sortie. He retired from the RAF in 1980. In 1982 he was recalled to be Captain of the Queens Flight and a member of the Royal Household. Severne travelled worldwide with members of the Royal family. After seven years, he finally retired, at which point he was advanced to KCVO. His retirement to Somerset was almost as busy as his service life. He served as a Deputy Lieutenant of the county from 1991 to 2001 and was Honorary Air Commodore of No 3 Maritime Headquarters of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. He was president of the SW Region of the Royal Air Force Association and also president of the Queen’s Flight Association and of the Central Flying School Association. A man of great charm, he was a keen photographer and took a close interest in local affairs. He was Chapel Warden at Ditcheat Church and raised £25,000 for the restoration of the churchs Alhampton Chapel, a project completed in 2011. He wrote his autobiography Silvered Wings in 2007. He never lost his love of flying and a week before his 90th birthday, and 80 years after his first flight in a Gypsy Moth, he took the controls of a Tiger Moth. John Severne married Katharine Kemball in November 1951. She and their three daughters survive him. Air Vice-Marshal Sir John Severne, born August 15 1925, died October 4 2015.|
|Artist Details : Robert Taylor|
|Click here for a full list of all artwork by Robert Taylor|
The name Robert Taylor has been synonymous with aviation art over a quarter of a century. His paintings of aircraft, more than those of any other artist, have helped popularise a genre which at the start of this remarkable artist's career had little recognition in the world of fine art. When he burst upon the scene in the mid-1970s his vibrant, expansive approach to the subject was a revelation. His paintings immediately caught the imagination of enthusiasts and collectors alike . He became an instant success. As a boy, Robert seemed always to have a pencil in his hand. Aware of his natural gift from an early age, he never considered a career beyond art, and with unwavering focus, set out to achieve his goal. Leaving school at fifteen, he has never worked outside the world of art. After two years at the Bath School of Art he landed a job as an apprentice picture framer with an art gallery in Bath, the city where Robert has lived and worked all his life. Already competent with water-colours the young apprentice took every opportunity to study the works of other artists and, after trying his hand at oils, quickly determined he could paint to the same standard as much of the art it was his job to frame. Soon the gallery was selling his paintings, and the owner, recognising Roberts talent, promoted him to the busy picture-restoring department. Here, he repaired and restored all manner of paintings and drawings, the expertise he developed becoming the foundation of his career as a professional artist. Picture restoration is an exacting skill, requiring the ability to emulate the techniques of other painters so as to render the damaged area of the work undetectable. After a decade of diligent application, Robert became one of the most capable picture restorers outside London. Today he attributes his versatility to the years he spent painstakingly working on the paintings of others artists. After fifteen years at the gallery, by chance he was introduced to Pat Barnard, whose military publishing business happened also to be located in the city of Bath. When offered the chance to become a full-time painter, Robert leapt at the opportunity. Within a few months of becoming a professional artist, he saw his first works in print. Roberts early career was devoted to maritime paintings, and he achieved early success with his prints of naval subjects, one of his admirers being Lord Louis Mountbatten. He exhibited successfully at the Royal Society of Marine Artists in London and soon his popularity attracted the attention of the media. Following a major feature on his work in a leading national daily newspaper he was invited to appear in a BBC Television programme. This led to a string of commissions for the Fleet Air Arm Museum who, understandably, wanted aircraft in their maritime paintings. It was the start of Roberts career as an aviation artist. Fascinated since childhood by the big, powerful machines that man has invented, switching from one type of hardware to another has never troubled him. Being an artist of the old school, Robert tackled the subject of painting aircraft with the same gusto as with his large, action-packed maritime pictures - big compositions supported by powerful and dramatic skies, painted on large canvases. It was a formula new to the aviation art genre, at the time not used to such sweeping canvases, but one that came naturally to an artist whose approach appeared to have origins in an earlier classical period. Roberts aviation paintings are instantly recognisable. He somehow manages to convey all the technical detail of aviation in a traditional and painterly style, reminiscent of the Old Masters. With uncanny ability, he is able to recreate scenes from the past with a carefully rehearsed realism that few other artists ever manage to achieve. This is partly due to his prodigious research but also his attention to detail: Not for him shiny new factory-fresh aircraft looking like museum specimens. His trade mark, flying machines that are battle-scarred, worse for wear, with dings down the fuselage, chips and dents along the leading edges of wings, oil stains trailing from engine cowlings, paintwork faded with dust and grime; his planes are real! Roberts aviation works have drawn crowds in the international arena since the early 1980s. He has exhibited throughout the US and Canada, Australia, Japan and in Europe. His one-man exhibition at the Smithsonians National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC was hailed as the most popular art exhibition ever held there. His paintings hang in many of the worlds great aviation museums, adorn boardrooms, offices and homes, and his limited edition prints are avidly collected all around the world. A family man with strong Christian values, Robert devotes most of what little spare time he has to his home life. Married to Mary for thirty five years, they have five children, all now grown up. Neither fame nor fortune has turned his head. He is the same easy-going, gentle character he was when setting out on his painting career all those years ago, but now with a confidence that comes with the knowledge that he has mastered his profession.
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