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Piers Dowell - Airbrush Master

Enth Degree


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Battle of Britain Propeller Blade

A beautifully crafted replica of a genuine Spitfire prop blade, this piece is close Piers heart. He is fortunate enough to own a Rolls Royce Merlin 66 from a Mk 9 Spitfire and together with his passion for historic aviation in general the motivation was here to produce a really stunning piece. The engine Piers owns was built at the Rolls Royce Hillington plant in Glasgow in September 1944. It was installed in Mk9 Spitfire RK858 which was crashed in December 1944 in the Russian theatre sadly killing the pilot. The airframe now somewhat banana shaped was retrieved from Russia in the late 1990s by Stephen Grey of The Fighter Collection at Duxford. It was from here that Piers brought the engine as it was surplus to requirements. Although he has an engine Piers does not have a prop assembly or even a blade suitable. So he utilized his contact at the TFC, Peter Russian, to borrow one from which to make a mould. Peter kindly volunteered one of their restorers Dave Lees who had a genuine non airworthy blade. Airworthy Spitfire prop assemblies are £50k and upwards so borrowing one of those probably wasn’t possible or necessary. Piers Thanked Dave for his kindness and assured him the blade wouldn’t be damaged during the moulding process. After mounting the blade on a base and making the mould split line lines the piece was then shipped to Dillon at Hereford glass fibre to have a mould taken from it. This was successfully achieved except for the fact that when releasing the original blade from the mould it took half the shaky paint with it as it had been badly resprayed at some time since its manufacture in the ‘40s. Well Piers had promised Dave it wouldn’t be damaged so had to then set about a full restoration of the original paint but still using the original Rotol decals before returning the prop. Anyway this was achieved and the blade return to Dave who was very grateful that it was is better condition that when it left his custody.With a mould at the ready Piers set about laying up 2 replicas, one for his Battle of Britain project and the other for his Reno Air Races Prop. Piers based the paint design in the proper satin finish black with its yellow warning tip and complete with Rotol (the original prop manufacturer) logo airbrushed on. On the one side the black fades to a quadrant of the Union Jack with Winston Churchill’s immortal words about the few, scripted in 24k gold leaf over it. Also on that side Piers has rendered the human face of the few, Winston Chuchill, chief Air Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding and a famous image of the few awaiting the call to scramble. These images are all rendered in black & white and Piers has even added dust & scratches to the scramble scene to add to its authenticity as a photo from the era. On the other side of the prop is a colour image of a Mk 9 Spitfire & a Hurricane flying in formation over the English countryside. Also a black & white image of a Hurricane which was especially tricky to get the effect of canvas stretched over the stringers of the fuselage. Also on this side is an image of contrails from a dogfight over St Pauls Cathedral. This image perhaps epitomises more than any other the peril faced at our doorstep and how close we really were to losing it all. Next to this image is a rendition of the cover of Picture Post Magazine. Again Piers has distressed it so apart from its size it looks like the real thing from 1940. On the cover is an iconic image of Keith Gillam who was picked as a poster boy for the brave young pilots at the time. Keith is also one of the pilots depicted in the scramble scene. Sadly he was killed in action before the issue of Picture post went to print. Atop the prop blade is a pre war recruitment poster which perhaps epitomises the attitude of these brave men. Finally, and perhaps the most technically difficult image to render, was the painting of Sir Henry Royce and RJ Mitchell. Those who know their aviation history know that Sir Henry died in 1933 and RJ Mitchell in 1937. The original photo was taken when the 2 met during the epic Schneider Trophy races of the late 20’s and early ‘30s. Piers has even rendered the tweed on Sir Henrys Jacket and this whole image is only 20 cm wide. A testament to the accuracy to which he can get his Iwata airbrush and Com Art paint to work. The prop is bonded into a stainless exact replica, threads and all, of the screw in prop root. This fitted into the 3 way prop hub on the originals and such is Piers attention to detail that this replica would fit exactly. The piece sits atop its own bespoke 2.5rpm rotating base, finished in a satin black, so the prop can be easily viewed from all angles. The realism achieved in not only the action shots of the aircraft but the likeness of the portraits is simply faultless. The photo-realism is complete and Piers is justifiably proud of this piece which took a total of 140 hours of painting . Although the piece is for sale it is currently on loan to the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford run by John Romain. They are the worlds premier restorers of Spitfires and the prop proudly sits in the foyer.

You won't find an airbrush painter like this...
PDP: High end bespoke paint for Helmets & Custom Bikes in Great Britain. A business started by Piers Dowell in 1991 that runs with the motto ”it costs what it costs to make the job as good as we can make it”. A passion run on quality first and foremost.

Enth Degree: Exquisite customised pieces and fine art airbrushed to a level not available anywhere else in the world. A development of the hyper real mural work on Bikes Piers has perfected over 20 years and has a world wide reputation for. These pieces are unsurpassed in their quality and are totally unique.
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Piers Dowell Little Grafton, Bockleton,
Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire,
WR15 8PT

Tel: 01568 750477
[email protected]