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A Silver Machine - Painting a Very Shiny Test Plane.

As part of the British supersonic aircraft research programme, the Handley Page HP.115 was a British delta wing research aircraft built to test the low-speed handling characteristics of the supersonic airliner Concorde. Seeing it for the first time as a child I thought it looks like something out of an episode of Thunderbirds - exotic design, covered in rivets and very, very shiny.

Following on from my lockdown museum study of the Supermarine Scimitar (see blog entry) this is a similar Fleet Air Arm exhibit, again painted during COVID 19 lockdown onto a small canvas.

There are of course challenges painting a bare metal aircraft, painting the reflections of surroundings that curve to describe the shape and contours of the aircraft. Light and shade are very contrasting in shiny metal and I usually find these quite straightforward to paint compared to some of the subtler tonal ranges seen in matt finished aircraft, however this being a handbuilt, 1961 aircraft it seemed like ever single rivet and panel was reflecting a slightly different colour and brightness.

Overall I think it turned out as something a little less ordinary, it has quite a pleasing dimension to the finished canvas as I decided to literally lop off some of the top and bottom which complimented the long, sleek lines of the aircraft. Not something I expect to fly off the shelves as a print, but a painting for myself and the other like-minded aero nerds out there.


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