Kerry Lee’s secret aviation drawings of German Luftwaffe aircraft, 1942-1944

Fellow map dealer, Tim Bryars, in his recent blog posts of  Nov 2015 and  Jan 2016, with a little additional assistance and research input from myself, has undoubtedly uncovered much of significance and great interest about the early 20th Century artist and map designer, Kerry Ernest Lee [1902-1988]. Many new works as well as hitherto unknown aspects and details of the long and varied career of this remarkable and hitherto somewhat shadowy figure have now come to light. Tim’s discoveries and my own researches further reinforce the sentiment that Kerry Lee deserves to take his long overdue place in the “Pantheon of Greats” of British 20th Century graphic art, poster design and cartography.

Perhaps one of the least known areas of Kerry’s work was brought to my attention by Donald Nijboer in his splendid book, Graphic War – The Secret Aviation Drawings and Illustrations of World War II [Boston Mills Press, 2005]. I am very grateful for Donald for his helpful and courteous response to my recent inquiries.

As outlined in Chapter I of the book, when war broke out in Europe in 1939, the British magazine, Art & Industry, highlighted the important role that the artist and illustrator might likely play in the coming conflict, in an article entitled The Artist’s Function in Time of War:

“War in Europe must inevitably affect many of those engaged in Art for Industry somewhat adversely. There will be much less advertising; much less call for magazine and newspaper illustrations; industrial design and styling must await the return of peace; and a great many artists, designers, art school teachers and students will be compelled to find some other outlet for their activities and an alternate source of income”

Whilst some inevitably joined up in the Services, others, like self-taught illustrator & artist, Peter Endsleigh Castle [1918-2008] quickly found themselves enrolled in the murky world of British Intelligence.

Endsleigh Castle himself recounted how, shortly after the outbreak of war:

“One Saturday, a buff envelope turned up…it was an invitation to report the following Monday morning….to Air Ministry, Adastral House, Kingsway. When I showed up on the Monday I was asked to take a mapping and lettering test and then told to report to the Whitehall building in Charles Street and go to the Rotunda in the courtyard….This turned out to contain the War Office Map Department with plenty of drawing tables and cartographers and good light from ceiling windows. I was duly allotted my table and drawing board, a boxed set of drafting instruments and shown the blue-tinged  linen tracing paper used for pen and ink work…”

[Graphic War, pp.15-16]

He was now working for the Air Intelligence branch of MI6, A.I.2. (G). Later in 1940, he would be joined by East End-born artist, Hubert Redmill [1916-1998]. Redmill would be awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his invaluable wartime work as a so-called “temporary draughtsman” at the Air Ministry in the January 1946 Honours list. Why Redmill was singled out for this award whilst fellow artists who worked so closely alongside him were not so honoured remains something of a mystery. He would himself flourish in the post-war world of graphic art as an one of the principal illustrators for the popular British comic, Eagle, famed for its Dan Dare cartoon strip. His wartime training with the Air Ministry undoubtedly proved invaluable in this subsequent post-war illustration work. Redmill produced some 40 of the Eagles striking centrefold designs during the 1950’s and early 1960’s – principally cutaway drawings of classic motorcycles and racing cars, such as the Austin Healey 100 [1953] and Aston Martin DB3 [1956]. (See: The Eagle Book of Cutaways by Denis Gifford (Ed.) [Webb & Bower, 1988]).

Peter Endsleigh Castle would also develop a post-war career as a specialist aviation artist, during the 1960’s becoming an established illustrator for both Aircraft Profiles Magazine and the Royal Air Force Flying Review, and subsequently illustrating several notable aviation books.

In February 1941, Kerry Lee joined Endsleigh Castle and Redmill, to form an immensely talented trio of specialist aviation artists and illustrators working for A.I.2. (G).

It is interesting to note that, despite the dire warnings of Art & Industry, with the advent of war, Lee’s work as a commercial illustrator of books and magazines appears not to have dried up and seems to have continued unabated in 1940-41. But perhaps his decision to work for Military Intelligence in early 1941 reflected a more insecure day-to-day working environment or was simply a response to the conscience-call of patriotic duty.

In 1940 Lee had provided illustrations for an important book on Finland [Macmillan, NY, 1940] by left-leaning Cambridge historian, John Hampden Jackson [1907-1966]:

Kerry Lee - Cover Map of Finland for John Hampden Jackson's book 1940

Soon afterwards, he cooperated with the same author again  to illustrate, with detailed pictorial maps and diagrams, the 1941 publication, Problems of Modern Europe- the Facts at a glance [Macmillan, NY, 1941], described by one reviewer as “a treasure chest for the fact finder”:

Problems of Modern Europe - The Facts at a Glance - J Hampden Jackson & Kerry Lee [1941]

Over the next four years, the three men – Castle, Redmill & Lee – would combine to produce an extensive series of large-scale cutaway poster drawings of German aircraft and amongst the first to-scale illustrations of the dreaded V1 flying bomb. Published in their thousands, these would prove of vital importance to the RAF and other military services, to Anti-Aircraft and Observer Corp Posts, and to Air Raid Precaution and Home Guard units. When US forces began to arrive in Britain from early 1942 onwards, and American bomber and fighter squadrons first commenced hostile operations over German-occupied Europe, these posters would be reprinted & recycled again for US aircrew training and enemy aircraft recognition purposes from 1943-44 onwards.  The original posters are now of considerable scarcity, largely forgotten or destroyed after the end of the war. Several examples of Castle’s original artwork are preserved in London’s Imperial War Museum, some of them illustrated in Nijboer’s book.

As the author records, attempts to get the artist trio commissioned into the RAF to ensure they received a living wage were met with bureaucratic excuses.

From 1942 to 1944, which appears to be the period when the three artists were at their most active & productive, much of their work appears to have involved examining crashed and captured Luftwaffe aircraft.

As Peter Endsleigh Castle recounted:

“It was all done the hard way. We had everything from a hole in the ground and nothing but pieces, to flyable aircraft. I had access to all the aircraft and parts that were left over from the crashes. The first thing I did when drawing an aircraft was to make a general three-view drawing. Three of us would go down with a long tape measure and measure the aircraft in order to get the overall dimensions. I would then produce a general line drawing, which was as near accurate as could be. From that drawing, models were made for aircraft recognition. Of course the silhouette illustrations went out straight away for distribution everywhere. We also had a photographer with us, which was a great help. We also had material fed to us from espionage sources and that sort of thing. We had access to German flight manuals. A lot of material came from Spain via Lisbon. Sometimes all we had was a photograph of, say, a new aircraft, and if we knew the dimension of the tail wheel we could then do an approximate overall side-view dimension drawing. Once the sketches and photographs were completed, I would then start the larger master drawing. This drawing would be about 1/24 scale or something of that nature…”

[Graphic War, pp.17-18]

Kerry Lee’s work is represented by four superb large-scale colour-printed drawings, each measuring about a metre across and printed by four different printers for H.M. Stationery Office and the Air Ministry. All are marked “Restricted” / “Official Use Only”.

The first, Air Diagram 1369, dated 10/42,  is a provisional drawing of the Messerschmidt Me 210:

Kerry Lee - A.I.2.(G) - Drawing of Me 210 - AD 1369 - 10-42
Kerry Lee / A.I.2.(G) – Drawing of Me 210 – AD 1369 – 10/42

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

The Me 210 was designed to replace Messerschmidt’s first twin-engine fighter, the Bf 110. A heavy fighter with a secondary role as a fighter bomber/dive bomber/ground attack aircraft, its initial introduction proved highly problematic for the Luftwaffe, the aircraft being dogged by frequent accidents. Its design included a forward bomb bay and unusual 13mm rear-pointing machine gun turrets on each side of the fuselage, just behind the wing, their arc and direction of fire controlled and directed by a gunner seated in the rear section of the canopied cockpit. In June 1941 production of the aircraft was shifted to Hungary, where only 176 of the initially projected 557 Me 210s were actually built. The first operational aircraft were delivered to front-line Luftwaffe squadrons in April 1942 but proved deeply unpopular with German pilots, so that production was stopped at the end of that month, and a further 320 partially completed models completely mothballed. Hungarian-produced models began to be used in early 1943 and proved more successful. Production of the Me 210 ceased in early 1944.

The next of Kerry Lee’s illustrations is of the Junkers Ju 88, Air Diagram 1384, dated 9/43:

Kerry Lee -A.I.2. (G) - Drawing of Ju 88 - AD1384 - 09-43
Kerry Lee / A.I.2. (G) – Drawing of Ju 88 – AD 1384 – 9/43

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

The Junkers Ju 88 was a versatile multi-role combat aircraft of modest range, which evolved through numerous different variants as both night fighter, ground attack aircraft and bomber. Its normal fuel capacity was limited to just under 1700 litres and a range of just 700 or 800 miles held in wing tanks located between the spars either side of the engines, as shown here. To double its range, the Luftwaffe added a further tank at the front of the bomb bay, as evident in Lee’s drawing, which appears to illustrate one of the early versions of the Ju 88A.

It is probable that the aircraft depcited here is in fact one of two Junkers Ju 88As captured by the British in 1941 and to which Lee, as an Air Ministry draughtsman, would almost certainly have had priority access. The second of these planes, Werk Nr. 6073, was captured on 26th Nov 1941 when its Luftwaffe crew became disorientated in an abortive anti-shipping raid over the Irish Sea and landed by mistake at Chivenor in Devon. Re-designated RAF Serial HM509, it subsequently became part of No.1426 (Enemy Aircraft Circus) Flight – the so-called “Rafwaffe” – initially based at Duxford, and then, from March 1943, at Collyweston in Northamptonshire. The captured Junkers remained operational until July 1944:

Ju88 - HM509 - Captured Nov 1941 - Australian War Memorial - Ref SUK15203
Ju 88-A5 – Werk Nr 6073 – RAF Serial HM509 – Australian War Memorial Archives – SUK15203

A third Junkers Ju 88 C (R-1), Werk Nr. 360043, a night fighter, was flown from Denmark to Scotland by its defecting crew in May 1943, landing at RAF Dyce, after being intercepted and escorted to the landing field by a pair of Spitfires from 165 Squadron. This particular Junkers proved of significant intelligence value to the British authorities because it was fitted with a the latest UHF-band FuG 202 Liechtenstein BC A.I Radar, with the distinctive Matratze aerial frame on its nose.

It seems extremely likely that it is this exact aircraft depicted here by Lee – note the same distinctive radar aerial on the aircraft’s nose cone, identified specifically by Lee as the FuG202:

Kerry Lee -A.I.2.(G) - Drawing of Ju 88 C - AD1392 - 03-44jpg
Kerry Lee / A.I.2.(G) – Drawing of Ju 88 C – AD 1392 – 03/44

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Like the previously captured Ju88, it was evaluated by various groups from the Royal Aircraft Establishment and Air Ministry Intelligence and joined No.1426 (Enemy Aircraft Circus) Flight at Collyweston. It proved of great assistance, alongside Lee’s diagram (which is actually dated 3/44), in RAF & USAF aircraft recognition training in the months immediately before D-Day. The aircraft itself took to the air for the final time in July 1945. Restored in 1975, it is now on permanent display at the RAF Museum at Hendon:

Ju 88-R1 - Werk 360043 - Captured May 1943 - RAF Museum Hendon - from wikipedia
Ju 88-R1 – Werk 360043 – Captured May 1943 – RAF Museum Hendon (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The last of Lee’s diagrams, that of the Luftwaffe’s long-range bomber, the Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin)  seems to further reinforce the suggestion that Lee worked very closely No.1426 Flight – “Rafwaffe” – at Duxford & Collyweston in the production of his aircraft drawings, modelling them directly from captured Luftwaffe aircraft.

Kerry Lee -A.I.2 (G) - Drawing of He 177 - AD 1396 - c1944
Kerry Lee / A.I.2 (G) – Drawing of He 177 – AD 1396 – 1944

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

The He 177 drawing is undated, but bears the serial number of AD 1396, suggesting (if the numerical referencing is in date order) a tentative publication date of mid/late 1944. It appears to depict a Heinkel 177 A-5, with Daimler-Benz 610 engines and lengthened fuselage. By early 1944 this version of the He 177 finally began to roll off the German production lines in increasing numbers but, ironically, just as their front-line numbers rose, their long-range bombing operations were curtailed by growing German shortages of fuel. By the late summer of 1944, the Luftwaffe had grounded all of its long-range bomber squadrons. Many KG units returned to rear bases in Germany where their He 177s were left unused & abandoned outside their hangars, to be strafed and destroyed by Allied fighters in the ensuing final months of the war.

It was in September 1944 that the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) was ordered to supply an aircrew for an He 177 that the French Maquis and Allied units in Vichy France would take control of at a former German airfield near Toulouse, where elements of both the He 177A-5 equipped KG40 & KG100 Luftwaffe bomber wings were based. On 10 September 1944, the aircraft was seized and flown back to the UK by Wing Commander Roland Falk. The recently deceased RAF test pilot, Captain Eric Brown [1919-2016], also flew the captured Heinkel shortly afterwards, noting that it was “one of the very few German aircraft of the period that I tested that I did not enjoy flying”! Again it seems possible that it was perhaps this same aircraft which Lee inspected in September 1944 and from which he produced his drawing. A full description of the captured aircraft with illustrations appeared in Flight magazine, 10 May 1945, pp.498-500.

Lee also includes an inset illustration (right background) of some of the additional armaments used by the German KG40 in its anti-shipping operations, notably two small remote-controlled Hs293 glider bombs, released from below the aircraft wings.

As Nijboer notes:

“The work done by Peter and his fellow artists proved a great contribution to the war effort. Their accurate drawings and illustrations provided the British and Americans with a clear picture of German aircraft development and provided Allied aircrews with valuable information regarding performance, armaments, protective armour and arcs of fire. In ready rooms and briefing halls across England, the accurate drawings…were seen by thousands of Allied aircrew. For new and inexperienced aircrew, these illustrations were tools upon which their survival depended, to be closely studied; for battle-weary crew these images were merely glanced at. The jarring reality of combat had taught them another lesson – one that could never be illustrated with a simple poster or drawing in a field manual…”

[Graphic War, p.20]

Whilst Peter Endsleigh Castle remained in Air Intelligence for several years after the War, like Hubert Redmill, Kerry Lee very soon returned to work as a commercial artist and illustrator. In early 1946 he established Pictorial Maps Ltd based at Blandford Studios, 71 Blandford Street, just off London’s Baker Street. Here he soon began to published an attractive series of historical pictorial maps, in conjunction with the British Travel Association. It was on these maps – of London, Oxford, Cambridge, Stratford-on-Avon, and later Liverpool – that the wonderful comic self-portrait of the goatee-bearded artist can usually be found hidden in an obscure corner of the image and easily missed by the less observant viewer. He usually appears floppy hat or artist’s beret on head, seated at easel or with sketch and pen in hand, and with trusty canine companion, Jim, always seated contentedly by his side:

Self-portrait of Kerry Lee & his dog from Pictorial Map of Oxford 1948 edition
Self-portrait of Kerry Lee & his dog from Pictorial Map of Oxford, 1948 edition

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

It is a comic signature motif repeated with great fun & artistic humour on most of Lee’s pictorial posters of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, including this wonderful 1947 poster of Edinburgh. Surveying the City from a viewpoint atop of Arthur’s Seat, with Jim at his side, Lee sits bare-kneed & suitably attired in tam o’shanter & kilt:

Keery Lee & dog Jim - 1947 Edinburgh poster
Courtesy of David Rumsey Collection

An article in the Sunderland Echo of 13th March 1946 highlighted the important value of Lee’s poster work to an economically depressed & financially impoverished post-war Britain:

New Line in Exports

Produced by the Travel Association, a new line in exports will soon be going abroad. Original picture maps, specially designed by Kerry Lee, the London cartographer, are being printed in their thousands to be varnished and mounted and then put on sale in the leading stores in the United States and many other parts of the World. They will serve a double purpose, earning foreign currency for Britain and also enhancing that interest which leads to personal visits by the people of other countries and increases the financial revenue from our “invisible export” of tourism.

So Lee’s work, it seems, did much to foster the first green shoots of the post-war British recovery & her renascent tourist industry!

Nine months later, the Dundee Evening Telegraph of Dec 3rd 1946, revealed that Lee’s large map of London, which had been six months in design and preparation, was also about to be distributed around the World.

This highly decorative and popular map – London The Bastion of Liberty – which appeared in numerous different editions and formats over the ensuing decade, offered both a visual celebration of the City’s historic attractions and a tribute to the indomitable wartime spirit of its citizens through the terrible destruction & devastation of the Blitz…

Detail from Kerry Lee's 1946 Poster Map of London - David Rumsey Collection
Detail from Kerry Lee’s 1946 Pictorial Map of London

Courtesy of David Rumsey Collection

…an aerial bombing campaign delivered with such terrible destructive power & effect by the Luftwaffe’s Ju 88s & Heinkel 177s, aircraft that Lee had come to know in such intimate detail. Both of these aircraft certainly featured prominently in German night raids over London during the so-called “Baby-Blitz” between  Jan and April 1944,  many of these raids comprising more than 400 enemy bombers.

The quote on the map is from one of Premier Winston Churchill’s radio broadcasts in the dark days of 1940:

“We would rather see London in ruins and ashes than that it should be tamely and abjectly enslaved”

The hitherto barely known contributions of Peter Endsleigh Castle, Hubert Redmill and Kerry Lee as Air Ministry draughtsmen during these wartime years undoubtedly helped to ensure that London did indeed avoid enslavement and survive that destructive German onslaught to remain a symbolic beacon of hope and the enduring Bastion of Liberty so wonderfully depicted in Lee’s 1946 Map:

Kerry Lee - Travel Association of GB & Ireland - Poster map of London 1946 - David Rumsey Collection
Kerry Lee – Travel Association of Great Britain & Ireland – London The Bastion of Liberty [1946]

Courtesy of David Rumsey Collection