Neil Hipkiss - Aviation Artist

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Harrier Rising Aviation Art by Neil Hipkiss Aviation Artist


Oil on Canvas 24" x 18"

The Harrier has long been one of my favourite aircraft (as I imagine it has been with many aviation enthusiasts) so it was a great pleasure to be commissioned to paint this iconic aircraft by an ex Rolls Royce engineer who worked on the upgraded Pegasus 11-61 engine.

The aircraft depicted in the painting is airframe ZD402 (31), a GR9 flown by No.1 Squadron RAF based at Cottesmore prior to the disbandment of the Harrier fleet.

ZD402 was the 33rd GR5 off the production line and was fitted with the new Pegasus 11-61 engine. The aircraft was painted in a special dark blue and white ‘Pegasus 11-61’ colour scheme and delivered to Rolls Royce at Filton for flight trials. The first flight with the new engine took place on 9th June 1989. In order to boost publicity for the improved engine it was decided to make an attempt on the time-to-height records for Class H (Jet lift) aircraft. On 14th August 1989 four records were set:

36.38 seconds to 3,000 metres – Andy Sephton (R-R Chief Test Pilot)
81.00 seconds to 9,000 metres – Andy Sephton (R-R Chief Test Pilot)
55.38 seconds to 6,000 metres – Heinz Frick (BAe Test Pilot)
126.63 seconds to 12,000 metres – Heinz Frick (BAe Test Pilot)

Following completion of the test programme the airframe was repainted and delivered to RAF Wittering for use by No.1 Squadron. ZD402 was subsequently upgraded throughout its service life to a GR7 and finally to a GR9. In 2010 the whole Harrier fleet was disbanded and ZD402 was containerised and shipped to the USMC as a source for spares for the AV8B fleet.

Harriers would regularly roar over my studio roof at low level until the defence cuts grounded them and sadly I miss seeing them.

 Private Commission