The History of Vector Fine Art Prints

Having been a collector of aviation art since the late 1970's, and being introduced to Frank Wootton in the early 80's, my interest just grew and grew. I had a call one day from Frank asking whether I would like to meet a Battle of Britain pilot, of course I said yes and on arriving there was Wing Commander Geoffrey Page DSO DFC; from then on I was hooked.After getting to know Frank over the years and meeting some of the aviation legends that I had only read about in books, Frank suggested in 1989, that we publish a print 'Down On The Farm' on which it was also signed by Wing Commander Bob Doe DSO, DFC.

In 1990 Vector Fine Art was set up as a company and the first airshow was North Weald Fighter Meet. Shortly after this event, Vector became stockists of the aviation art of Robert Taylor, and have become firm friends ever since, launching three aviation books at Duxford and his Maritime book at Plymouth Navy Days. Robert's volume IV raised £1500.00 in the memory of the late Dennis David for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.

At signing events held at the Duxford airshows, we have raised over £4,000 which goes directly to
The Battle of Britain Fighter Association. At the last Battle of Britain Fighter Association AGM a nomination was made and agreed by all veterans present that Colin would become an honouree member of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association.

Robert Taylor Book Launch

Robert Taylor's book launch with Vector at Duxford with no less than 15 Battle of Britain pilots.

In 1991 Vector got involved with fundraising for The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust by donating a multi signed print to the auction which was held at the Savoy hotel  in London and astounded everybody by raising the sum of £3400.00 for the trust and this set the standard of how collectable the multi signed prints have become. During 1991, I first met Group Captain Sir Leonard Cheshire of 617 squadron fame, making several visits to him and fundraising for the Cheshire Foundation. One of the visits were highlighted when I took Warrant Officer Frank Appleby DFM of the famous Dambuster's Raid, who gave up his seat to Leonard Cheshire on D-Day dropping window, as Group Captain Leonard Cheshire could not get a serviceable aircraft.After writing to Group Captain Peter Townsend, I was amazed to receive a phone call from him and was very honoured to meet him several times when he stayed in London, with his donations going to Save The Children.In 1992, I met Nicolas Trudgian at the Fairford International Air Tattoo, and was asked why I was not stocking his work. From then on, I did. We have become good friends over the years and have assisted Nick with research for paintings and organised trips into Germany (the Ardennes) and D-Day Beaches. The highlight so far was Nick's book launch at Duxford with Group Captain Dennis David and General Leutenant Gunther Rall.

The business has progressed far since being established. It has become one of the main exhibitors at all major air shows. I have travelled many thousands of miles meeting some of 'The Few' including driving to Poland (4000miles round trip) to meet General Skalski, flying to Canada to meet the heroic aircrew for the Dams Raid and finally all over Germany and Austria meeting Luftwaffe Aces.

Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Signing 13th April 2008

All of us here at Vector Fine Art would like to thank the following Battle of Britain aircrew which attended the signing event:

Flight Lieutenant A N R L Appleford
Air Commodore P M Brothers CBE DSO DFC*
Flight Lieutenant Owen Burns
Flight Lieutenant John Down
Group Captain B L Duckenfield AFC
Air Commodore J L W Ellacombe CB DFC*
Wing Commander R W Foster DFC AE
Wing Commander J C Freeborn DFC
Flight Lieutenant Trevor Gray
Flight Lieutenant A E Gregory DFC AE
Squadron Leader N E Hancock DFC
Flight Lieutenant Richard Jones
Mr J Keatings
Flight Lieutenant K A Lawrence DFC
Squadron Leader Jocelyn Millard AE KSG
Squadron Leader T G Pickering
Squadron Leader S N Rose
Wing Commander R G B Summers OBE OstJ AFM
Squadron Leader Michael Wainwright AFC
Flight Lieutenant W L B Walker
Squadron Leader G H A Wellum DFC
Flying Officer K A Wilkinson

We would like to announce that we raised the staggering amount of £11,172 which will be split between the Battle of Britain Fighter Association and The Bently Priory Battle of Britain Trust. We would also like to say a big thank you to all the customers and friends who helped to raise this staggering amount and also for being very patient in the queue.

On a more light hearted note, I have never seen our customers look so smart!

With talking to the secretary of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, the sum raised on Sunday has risen to £12,700, so a big thank you to everybody.

The final tally from this outstanding event raised is £14,800.

Memorial to George 'Grumpy' Unwin

On behalf of Vector we would like to thank everybody for their support of the bench unveiling in the memory of Wing Commander George Unwin. As you can see I think it is a fitting tribute to one of the legendary Battle of Britain pilots.

Ken Wilkinson and Bill Wratten
unveiling the benches Ken Wilkinson
Ken Wilkinson and Bill Wratten
unveiling the benches
Ken Wilkinson


'Grumpy' enjoying a well earned beer with Vector at the 60th Anniversary Battle of Britain Airshow at Duxford.
One of my lasting memories was after arriving back at the hotel and I was about to retire I left George and Ken Wilkinson still in the bar reminiscing, it was an absolute pleasure to have known George.

Cheque presentation at IWM Duxford 2006

Vector Fine Art and Veterans presenting a cheque for £2,160 to Duxford IWM for the George Unwin Memorial at the October 2006 airshow.

Colin talking to Ben Bennions and Stapme Stapleton

Colin talking to the late Squadron Leader Ben Bennions and Squadron Leader (Stapme) Stapleton.
The two pilots credited with shooting down Von Werra.

Colin with Stapme

Vector was very proud to present Stapme with a replica set of his medals after he lost the originals many years ago. It was a small token for all the support that Stapme has given us over the years.

Sir Harry Broadhurst

Signing with the legendary pilot Sir Harry Broadhurst.

Frank Wootton and David Shannon

Taken at the Petworth Hotel, Frank Wootton chats with David Shannon.

Vector's marquee

Vector's marquee at Duxford.

Nicolas Trudgian and 4 Dambusters

At the signing of Nick Trudgians' print Breaching the Dam with four legendary Dambusters.

Nicolas Trudgian with Dennis David and Gunther Rall

Nick with Dennis David and Gunther Rall signing copies of Nicks book Air Combat Legends 1997.

Nicolas Trudgian with Coastal Command veterans

Coastal command veterans Sir John Barrowclough, John Cruickshank VC, Terry Bulloch, Ted Tillman, Gron Edwards at the launch of Nick's Air Combat Legends Vol II.

Colin with John Cruickshank VC

Chatting with Flight Lieutenant John Cruickshank VC at the launch of Nicolas Trudgian's Air Combat Legends Volume 2 book, which we raised a substantial amount of money for the Coastal Command Memorial in Westminster Abbey.

Colin with Sir Dennis Crowley-Milling

Colin signing with Sir Dennis Crowley-Milling.

Frank Wootton with Bob Doe

Frank Wootton in his Studio with Wing Commander Bob Doe.

Group Captain Frank CareyGroup Captain Dennis David

Signing with Group Captain Frank Carey (l) and Group Captain Dennis David (r)

First show with Robert Taylor, 'Birdy' Wilson and John Cunningham

Our first show with Robert Taylor, signing with 'Birdy' Wilson and John Cunningham.

Signing in Canada with Joe McCarthy and David Rodger

Signing in Canada with Joe McCarthy and David Rodger.

Vetereans of 156 Squadron

Colin presenting a substantional donation to 156 Pathfinder squadron, which will be forwarded on to the Bomber Command Association.
Everyone at Vector would like to thank all at 156 for their kindness and hospitaltiy, an enjoyable time had by all.

Jack Watson and Harold Hernaman presenting a framed  "We Guide to Strike" to The Pathfinder Museum

Jack Watson and Harold Hernaman presenting a framed  "We Guide to Strike" to The Pathfinder Museum at Wyton on behalf of Vector Fine Art.

Colin with Erich Rudorffer

Erich Rudorffer

617 Squadron veterans signing

617 Squadron veterans with Nicolas Trudgian

617 Squadron veterans with RAF re-enactors

617 Squadron veterans at Duxford Flying Legends 2007

Ulrich Steinhilper signing Nick's pencil print 'Achtung Spitfire'

Ulrich Steinhilper signing Nick's pencil print 'Achtung Spitfire'.

352nd FG pilots signing Nicolas Trudgian's The Battle for New Years Day352nd FG pilots signing Nicolas Trudgian's The Battle for New Years Day

352nd FG pilots signing Nicolas Trudgian's The Battle for New Years Day

Pilots of the 352nd fighter group signing Nick's stunning new print The Battle For New Years Day, Alden Rigby who had four victories in this action spoke about the print 'as the best he has ever seen'. Vector and Nick would like to send  their personal thanks to the pilots and their families for all their hospitality and kindness in the project.

Colin with Gil Cohen and Nicolas Trudgian

The Gathering of Legends Airshow at Columbus, Colin seen here with the artists Gil Cohen and Nicolas Trudgian.
What a weekend we had! (boys and their toys).

Colin with AC Al Deere

A not so grey Colin chats with Air Commodore Alan Deere when he visited Vectors stand at West Malling Airshow.

The launch of Tail-End Charlies

Author John Nicholls with Bomber Command Veterans at Vectors' launch of his new book Tail-end Charlies, held at the American Air Museum at Duxford.

Frank Appleby

In 1990 we took Warrant Officer Frank Appleby to Hendon for a days visit and surprised him by a tour inside 'S' for Sugar, he sat at the Flight Engineers seat and went through his engine checks as if it was the 16th May 1943, sitting next to his pilot Les Munro preparing for the Dams raid.

Colin with Bill Reid VC

In the early days of Vector Fine Art Prints, being visited by Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid VC.

Colin with Mick Shand

Colin and Mick Shand

Colin with the legendary Battle of Britain Pilot and Great Escaper Mick Shand.

Official opening of the new Vector Fine Art studio by Colin Smith

Colin and Annabelle cutting the tape at the grand opening of Vector's new Studio - December 2015.

In recent years Vector has become very prominent in presenting fantastic book launches at Duxford and managing to encourage some very rare aircrew to come and join them for the weekend. There are many more events on the way, so just keep checking the website. 

With best regards Colin and Rose

Exhibiting at Duxford for 25 Years

Colin with Flight Lieutenant AndersonDuxford 1990

1990 This is where it all started, we set up trading at Duxford and Flight Lieutenant Anderson popped in to wish us good luck, he was a Battle of Britain pilot flying Blenheims

Duxford 1991

At the start of 1991 we began to expand  the business needing more and more room to exhibit our ever growing range of prints.

Duxford 1992

This was taken from the back of our van with the enormous crowds that would gather

Duxford 1994Duxford 1994

This was our first major launch in 1994 which was Air Combat paintings volume 2 by Robert Taylor, with us was Sir Ivor Broom and
A V M 'Birdy' Wilson, we blocked the isle twice with queues.
On the Saturday evening we had to drive and pick up more stock of the books

Duxford 1995 with Bill Reid VC

Colin is seen here getting a signature from Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid VC

Duxford 1995 with John Cunningham

In 1995 Robert Taylor joined us for the Flying legends air show seen here with Group Captain John Cunningham

Duxford 1996

1996 -  can't believe that Pete and Phil all these years later are still our closest friends.

Steak and Beer!

The end of a hard day – steak and beer!

Duxford 1996 with Dennis David, Peter Parrott, Birdy Wilson and Raymond Puda

What a line up of Battle of Britain pilots, Dennis David, Peter Parrott, 'Birdy' Wilson, Raymond Puda

Duxford 1996 with Roland Beamont and Johnnie Johnson

1996 The launch of Robert Taylor's Air Combat Paintings book Volume III with Roland Beamont and Johnnie Johnson

Duxford 1997Duxford 1997

1997 at Duxford with our dear friend Nicolas Trudgian and Dennis David

Duxford 1997

Duxford 1997

Our two daughters sitting in the cockpit of the Messerschmitt 109, perks of the job!

Duxford 1998Duxford 1998

Over the years Vector have hosted some of the worlds most famous Battle of Britain pilots and become friends with so many. With their help we have managed to raise enormous sums of money for they charities.

Duxford 1998 with Nicolas Trudgian, Dennis David and Gunther RallDuxford 1998 Invitation

We hosted our dear friend Nicolas Trudgian's first book launch with Dennis David and Gunther Rall

Colin with Gil Cohen and Nicolas Trudgian

We have also been honoured to have Gil and Alice attend Duxford producing many great works of art, we have truly become good friends over the years.

Colin with Lez

Colin with his biggest supporter and best friend 'the old chap'
Sadly at the end of last year he passed away, but still looking down telling me where to hang the pictures.

Reminiscing a small piece of Vector's history.

Duxford 2015 the queue for signing!Duxford 2015 veterans signing

Duxford 2015 - Another successful signing event!

Duxford 2015 the veterans with AnnabelleDuxford 2015 with the family

The next generation! Not many two year olds can say they met Battle of Britain veterans.