Caricature by Fred May, Photograph Ministry of Defence, C1946
Caricature Dimensions: 56cm x 25cm
Photography Dimensions: 38cm x 28cm
Materials: Paper and Photograph
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Within the Museum’s collection are a series of black and white photographs and a series of colour caricatures of former Air Officer Commanders.
Sir Keith Park, Senior Air Staff Officer (or SASO) of Fighter Command 1938-1940 and Air Officer Commanding (or AOC) of 11 Group in 1940, has both a photograph and a caricature.
Sir Keith Park was born in New Zealand and joined the New Zealand, and later the British, army, serving during the First World War. He joined the RAF after becoming wounded and progressed to Air Vice Marshal in 1940, working closely with Sir Hugh Dowding.
Unlike the more formal photographs of the other AOCs, Keith Park is photographed in his flying suit standing next to his aircraft. He is visible from the waist up and his body fills the frame almost completely so there is only a small part of the aircraft and airfield behind him. He is standing at an angle facing to the left of the viewer. He is wearing a light coloured flying helmet strapped under his chin which covers his head so only his face is visible. His goggles are pushed up onto his forehead. He is wearing his Mae West lifejacket which appears light against his flying suit and on his left breast is the Observer insignia: the letter ‘o’ with a single bird’s wing extending from its left hand side. His hands are in front of him holding the straps of his jacket. On his left wrist is a metal chain-link bracelet. His face is relaxed and he has a slight smile; the sun is quite bright and this lights up his face.
Keith Park’s colour caricature was completed in 1946 by cartoonist, Fred May. He is shown from the calves up and is standing in a similar position to his photograph: angled facing to the left of the viewer, his head in profile. He is standing with his hands behind his back in his blue grey RAF uniform. He is not wearing a jacket and his hat and cane are held in his hands behind him. On his left jacket breast above his pocket are his RAF badge and four rows of military service ribbons. He is shown as a very tall and thin figure. His head is drawn quite bulbous; his dark grey hair styled against the oval shape. Behind him is a plain background with an artwork hanging on the wall behind his head.