His Books

Due no doubt to his work in the Air Training Corps Gazette, he received a commission from Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd in 1943 to illustrate a book “The Birth of the Royal Air Force” and twenty four pictures of WW1 aircraft were required.

Later dad turned to a career in aero journalism taking advantage of the freedom of access to manufacturers and operational aerodromes. This came in useful when he later left the Gazette and went freelance. He visited de Havilland’s a number of times to do articles on the DH 103 Hornet, and did cutaways of the Vampire and Chipmunk, and later was commissioned by them to do a cutaway of the Dove.

A camera would have been useful, but the family didn’t even have a Box Brownie. New cameras weren’t available during and after the war, but he acquired a horrible plastic Japanese 35mm camera (even the lens was plastic), which he took to some of the post-war Farnborough Air Shows with dismal photographic results. Later buying a second hand German Super Ikonta (still expensive) and then, when decent Japanese cameras were being imported, a 2¼ 1/2mm Yashica twin lens reflex.

Getting work into print dad realised was the best way to get known and it led to an approach from Shell-Mex and BP Ltd to illustrate a colour book written by John W.R. Taylor called ‘Know your Airliners’.  He went on to write his own on the theme ‘Supersonic Aircraft’, also illustrating one of a series ‘Golden Token Books’ entitled ‘Speed’.

In 1960 dad did his first job for the ‘Eagle’ boys comic, a cutaway, and was to do a further 23 over a period of 3 or 4 years as well as full colour covers for both ‘Eagle’ and sister publication ‘Swift’ which brought in extra work as each publication was a weekly.

The publications were run just like newspapers, timed to the minute.  Sometimes dad had to finish the artwork, wrap it up, take it to the railway station to be delivered and collected by a messenger at the terminus well before midnight to catch the edition.  There were also a few centre spreads including one on the ‘Century Series’ American jet fighters.

The ‘Swift’ covers were on the theme ‘Famous Flyers and their Planes’ while for ‘Eagle’ it was ‘Kings of the Road’ with famous road racers and their cars or rally-sport cars.  Dad’s work was diversifying from aircraft subjects and the cars brought a distinctive style for his brush with wheels revolving at high speed and ‘streak lines’ to denote speed.

At this time dad did a commission for London Transport on the new ‘Routemaster’ bus but this was not a new venture as he had previously undertaken commissions in the ‘Fifties for bus body manufacturers, some of them supplying London Transport.

Dad continued to write and produced two titles for Batsford in a handy pocket sized format – one on fighter aircraft, the other on bombers with colour artwork to the covers. Success with these lead to a vast coffee table book by publisher Hugh Evelyn entitled ‘Early Aeroplanes’ with 12 full colour plates in the style of prints suitable for framing. Colouring the illustrations presented particular problems because few of the pioneer aircraft are now with us in museums and collections and with only black & white photographs and eye witness descriptions to go on, the correct colour schemes were only arrived at after painstaking research. Another followed by Hugh Evelyn entitled ‘Military Aircraft 1938 – 1945’ which proved somewhat easier as he had actually seen and examined some of the aircraft described and colour photography was becoming more widely adopted.

‘Great Aircraft and their Pilots’ was another book for Hugh Evelyn, not a large picture book this time, but based on the illustrated articles on a similar theme that dad had done over the years for ‘Model Airplane News’.

Three more books were completed later based on the Airfix range of super-scale model aircraft.

Finally there were the large format books for Crowood Press, firstly ‘Celebration of Flight’, then ‘Celebration of Sail’ featuring his marine work and perhaps the most well known, the ‘Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art’ and ‘More Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art’. His latest publication which should be in the shops before Christmas 2019 is ‘The Art of Roy Cross’ which draws together all the various themes of his work and influences.