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Beautiful Ugly - Painting the Fairey Gannet

Standing next to a Fairey Gannet, everything about it just looks odd - the Double Mamba engine (a gas-turbine engine that incredibly could run on kerosene, wide-cut turbine fuel or diesel fuel) with its huge exhaust ports powering the contra rotating props. The bird-like stance of the double-folded distinctive Z-shape wings, the long arrestor hook and the small stabiliser fins in the tail and the substantial climb to enter the multiple cockpits.

Its an aircraft that really draws the eye its its standard Anti Submarine variant, but the AEW version takes the beautifully ugly Gannet to the next level with its massive pelican-like bulge under its chin.

Fairey Gannet AEW 3 XL502 Photo credit: Ian Gratton

Although I definitely want to tackle a parked-up Gannet with wings folded on deck sometime, I like the idea of painting this busy-looking aircraft against an uncluttered background, perhaps in flight or landing to show-off the long arrestor hook and bird-like landing gear.

So after the usual flurry of research, sketches and digital test collage shuffling, I finished on painting a

Gannet from Ark Royal about to catch a wire on the deck. I find the colour scheme references on model kit websites such as wings pallette really useful for this stage to find correct markings for a particular aircraft. This one from Alley Cat models was used for my painting of the Gannet:

I found some nice carrier snapshots taken by a crew member on HMS Victorious along with some screengrabs from the archive documentaries of Royal Navy carrier operations that gave me some nice angles to work from and got to work on a small 18" x 14" canvas board.

A nice simple painting to work on - no rough seas or skies and no shiny metal. Just a beautiful ugly aircraft taking centre stage. I need to do more like this, painting has got to be good for your well being.


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