The Crafting of The Bronze War Memorial Plaque Dedicated to RCAF Lancaster DS837 OW/Q

The client, GH Smiths and Son Ltd commisioned us to craft a bronze war memorial plaque dedicated to the seven crew of the Royal Canadian Air Force Lancaster bomber aircraft DS837 OW/Q which crashed on December 16th 1943 in the village of Yearsley, North Yorkshire while returning from a raid on Berlin to its Linton-on-Ouse base. The following tells the story of how the plaque was made.

A close up of a bas-relief sculpture of an Avro Lancaster MkII on a bronze war memorial plaque dedicated to the RCAF crew of the aircraft. A close up of the Lancaster bomber bas-relief.

The Concept

The brief was to create a plaque based on the clients original Church of England approved artwork. The plaque had to be easily read, sometimes difficult to do on a classically patinated bronze plaque. A patinated background with bright metal lettering, border and sculpture was the solution. It was very important that the emblem and aircraft sculptures be historically correct. The emblem was the WW2 version. The Lancaster bomber was a MkII with radial Bristol Hercules engines rather than the more common V-12 Rolls-Royce Merlin piston engines. It was also agreed early on that we would hand-craft low relief sculptures for the RCAF emblem and the 'Lanc' rather than having a flat engraved graphic as originally planned.

The Artwork

The print artwork scaled slightly larger that the final plaque size was used as the basis for 3d virtual concept sketch of the plaque. Once this was approved we started to sculpt and carve the 'Lanc' and the emblem.

The Sculptures

A bronze war memorial plaque dedicated to the RCAF crew of Lancaster DS837 OW/Q which crashed in Yearsley, North Yorkshire December 16th 1943. The plaque measures 600mm x 380mm x 6mm and weighs 15kg.

"Dear Carl, This Email is to thank you very much for all your skill and patience in producing the superb Memorial Plaque to the Lancaster crew who crashed in the village of Yearsley in 1943. The plaque was dedicated and unveiled in Yearsley on Sunday, 8th May, 2011. There was nothing but approval from the hundred plus congregation. On a personal level I was amazed at how much work went into the Squadron Badge and the sculpting of the Lancaster. Very well done. I would have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone contemplating a similar plaque. Once again, many thanks. "

David and Margery Smith

We used traditional medalist techniques to sculpt the emblem crown and Thunderbird. The emblem lettering was made from resin parts cast from moulds of plaster carvings. The final emblem pattern was assembled from individual parts giving a 3d multi-layered design.

The Lancaster aircraft bas-relief was sculpted in epoxy putty. It was built up and refined using a combination of filling, carving and sanding until the sculpture was reproducible using the sand casting process.

The Cast and Finish

The plaque was cast using the sand casting process. A sand mould is made of the bronze plaque pattern. Molten bronze is poured into the mould and allowed to cool. Once cool the casting has any excess metal removed. At this stage we chased in new details and replaced any small details lost in the casting process. Next we drilled and countersunk four corners ready for fixing the plaque on the interior church wall. Once machined we started the patination process. This involved chemically aging the bronze to give it an antique look. Areas of the patination coating were removed to revealing bright metal, adding contrast. Finally the plaque was waxed, protecting it and imparting a luxurious satin gloss finish.

If you'd like to find out more about our cast bronze war memorial plaques then please contact us or call us directly on +44(0) 1274 572240

"I am totally delighted with the plaque and have sent photos to all and sundry. You have done a brilliant job Carl. I am so glad I found you! I will certainly be recommending you to anybody in need of your services in the future. Thank you so much. It was wonderfully packed but I could not wait to open it!"

Pat Henry, Chair of St Joseph & The Helpers Charity

"We were commissioned by Cameron Mackintosh Limited to create a commemorative bronze plaque for the 25th Anniversary of Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre in the heart of the West End, we turned to Carl Huxley at Specialist Metalwork Skills to get this iconic installation created. From initial discussions through to the on time and on budget installation of the piece Carl and his team guided us through the process and delivered a truly stunning end result".

Mark Hollington, Newman Displays Ltd.