1999 – Third one man show at the Marine Arts Gallery, Salem, Massachusetts, USA.
– Arthur Ward's book, Airfix: Celebrating 50 Years of the Greatest Plastic Kits in the World, published. It revealed Roy's role as the largely unknown artist whose work captivated a generation of youngsters (also that the Airfix product design team visited Hatfield to see then then Hawker Siddeley Trident – which originated as the de Havilland DH.121 – to prepare the kit). Arthur Ward went on to co-author a book on Roy's aviation work, published in 2002.
2002 – The first book dedicated to Roy's career as an aviation artist, Celebration of Flight: The Aviation Art of Roy Cross, co-authored by Arthur Ward, published.
2003 – Fourth and final one man show at the Marine Arts Gallery, Salem, Massachusetts, USA.
2004 – The first book dedicated solely to Roy's career as a marine artist, Celebration of Sail, published.
2009 – Book celebrating Roy's work for Airfix, The Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art, co-authored by Arthur Ward, published.
27 October 2009 – Roy starred in Top Gear presenter James May's Toy Stories. Episode 1 – featured building a 1:1 scale (life size) model of an Airfix Spitfire at the RAF Museum at Cosford (where it has gone on display) – was first broadcast on BBC2.
2010 – Invited to Buckingham Palace for 'Services to art'
– James May's book on the subject of the TV series, The Airfix Handbook, published.
2012 – Roy ended his relationship with Marine Arts Gallery.
– James May, The Airfix Handbook and James May's Toy Stories.
Over the course of his career as an artist and author Roy made several trips to Hatfield for various projects involving aircraft (like the DH.100 Vampire and the DH.106 Comet) and the odd nostalgic visit to Smallford. However, he is understandably hazy on exact dates given the passage of time but does recall dealing with Martin C Sharp (who authored one of the main reference works on the DH.98 Mosquito) at the DH publicity department.
Roy has been a Member of the Fine Arts Guild for several years. Speaking to him one gets the impression that he feels slightly perturbed that he is more recognised in the British public's consciousness for his work for Airfix than for his body of fine art. Although that is perhaps a natural consequence of it appearing on widely distributed products, his fine art work being mainly in the States, and a media that seems obsessed with the work of 'shock' artists. However, there are those in the art world and the legions of young boys who are now adults who hold Roy in high esteem.
Many of the latter, like James May and this author, no doubt still get a thrill from looking at the art of their youth. Indeed, some specialise in collecting old kit boxes (and although they are in a much lower league than bespoke fine artworks regard them with a similar connoisseur's eye and appreciation). For his part Roy accepted the post as honorary president of the Airfix Collectors' Club a few years back. However, he recently had one testament to his standing as an artist which he could have done without – another artist being paid to forge work in his name.
Although, after a lifetime in the business he is scaling back, Roy still paints and regularly exhibits his work at the annual Royal Society of Marine Artists and Guild of Aviation Artists exhibitions at the Mall Gallery in London.
Long may he continue to do so.
Sadly, most of Roy's early books are now out of print. However, copies can still be found in libraries and from second-hand booksellers.
Please note: the underlinked links below will take you to to the Amazon.com site.
Russia's Jets and Other Aircraft by William Green and Derek Wood - illustrated by Roy
The Jet Aircraft of the World (1955) – with William Green
Supersonic Aircraft (1955)
Know Your Airliners (including Dove, Dragon Rapide, Heron series II, Comet 4, Elizabethan (1956)
The Fighter Aircraft Pocketbook (1962) – mainly photographs
Early Aeroplanes 1907 to 1918 (1962) – features side view drawings of 12 aircraft.
The Bomber Aircraft Pocketbook (1964) – mainly photographs
Lockheed P-38 Lightning (Technical manual, ser. 1) - Reynolds Brown cutaway
Military Aircraft 1939-1945 (1971) – 43 pages of text followed by 16 colour plates
Spitfire(Classic Aircraft No.1, Their History and How to Model Them) with Gerald Scarborough (1971)
Bf 109 Versions B-E (Classic Aircraft No.2, Their History and How to Model Them) with Gerald Scarborough and Hans J Ebert (1972)
P-51 Mustang (Classic Aircraft No.3, Their History and How to Model Them) with Gerald Scarborough (1973)
Celebration of Sail (2004)
Clippers, Packets and Men O' War (originally published in 1988, as The Tall Ship in Art; 2nd edition 2005) featuring the work of Roy Cross, Derek G M Gardner, John Michael Groves, Geoff Hunt, and Mark R Myers.
To date Roy has created over 300 marine paintings. The vast majority being in private collections in the States. A list of over 100 paintings included in his books and other more accessible forms (like Collectors plates) is being drawn up and will be added to this site in due course.
First and foremost to Roy himself for his help and patience with answering numerous queries going back to 2008 (and his published works listed above). And for adding colour and excitement to a period of history which was largely shown in black and white when the author was growing up.
ATC Gazette and Air Reserve Gazette
Guild of Aviation Artists website
Royal Society of Maritime Artists website
The Hamilton Collection website
James May's Toy Stories and Airfix Handbook
Back to: Features on Hatfield12 October 2012