Eric Lock was the highest scoring British RAF Battle of Britain Fighter pilot. “Young Eric Lock” is Simon Atack’s tribute to this magnificent fighter pilot. Eric Lock was a quiet, modest, gifted young man; in the sky he was a loner, a hunter and a magnificent shot.
Eric Lock’s war started slowly but just two days after being transferred to Hornchurch he was in action on 5th September 1940.
Bursting through cloud, he emerged all alone with his No.2 and No.3 nowhere to be seen. In front of him were four Me 109s in formation. Eric Lock brought down two in quick succession before diving away. He had used only 300 rounds of ammunition in achieving this feat.
Simon’s painting portrays this action showing the magnificent Spitfire and its brave young pilot.
“I wanted to show an actual 41Sqn. Battle of Britain Spitfire MkIa fighter, close up and authentically detailed and marked with all its dirt and weathering, being flown in aggressive combat by a young pilot who was to become the leading British RAF Spitfire ace of the Battle of Britain. And to say something of his courage and tenacity without any romantic sentiment. This is how I believe Pilot Officer Eric Lock’s combat of 5th September 1940 would have appeared.
To accomplish this, I drew this Spitfire with only blueprints, plans and a scale model as an aid to define the angle I wanted, with all technical accuracy observed as far as my skills would allow. As with all my aviation and naval paintings, I never use or copy photographs other than as reference for markings and insignia details. I literally build all my aircraft in my paintings from scratch, into an original pose and appearance, exactly as I want to show in my work”.
At the end of the day Eric Lock had four confirmed victories, one probable and was an ace, having almost achieved “ace in a day” status.
The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is currently flying their MkIIa Spitfire in the colours and codes of Eric Lock’s Spitfire as they were on that 5th September day in 1940.
Eric Lock’s tally rose rapidly before he was severely wounded in November 1940. Returning to action in July 1941 he had three more victories, taking his total to 26 destroyed and 8 probably destroyed. He was awarded the DSO, DFC and Bar.
On 3rd August 1941 Eric Lock was killed while flying an operation over France. He was 22.
Copyright Image and Text Simon W. Atack