Albert Ball was a young English fighter ace of the First World War, responsible for shooting down forty-four enemy aircraft in just over two years with the Royal Flying Corps. Known for his lone-wolf sorties in either a Nieuport or S.E.5 fighter, Ball would usually stalk an enemy aircraft from below and fire the wing-mounted Lewis gun up into the fuselage of his foe.
Often outnumbered during these attacks, Ball was highly decorated for his bravery, being awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) three times. After his death in battle over occupied northern France in May 1917, Ball was then awarded the Victoria Cross - the United Kingdom’s highest military honour - for his conspicuous and consistent bravery in the face of the enemy over the preceding two week period. He was just 20 years old.
‘Knights of the Sky’ by sculptor Gregory Percival was first commissioned as a trophy for the Goodwood Aero Club’s Vintage Fly-in Concours d’Elegance in 2008. The resultant sculpture was then exhibited at the Guild of Aviation Artists Annual Exhibition in 2009 and was Highly Commended by the Guild for the Qantas Trophy and the Arthur Gibson Trophy.
The sculpture is cast in solid bronze and mounted on a slate base. An edition of 50 pieces, each is individually numbered and signed by the artist.
On first seeing the sculpture television presenter, paralympian and former Royal Marine Arthur Williams said of it:
“What struck me was the energy of the sculpture, Greg had managed to capture the speed, and adrenaline of the aeroplane’s action in its form. It focused on the cockpit section and was contained in this perfectly proportioned bronze. I could picture it in my home, and for many years thereafter wished it was!”