Airfix artist Roy Cross “Swift” covers on eBay

Swift Volume 9 Number 34 (i.e. the 34th week of 1962), at top of article, is a Republic F-105 Thunderchief, a fighter-bomber of the US Air Force
The cover of Swift Volume 9 Number 34. Art by Roy Cross

Four lovely covers for Swift, the younger readers stablemate to Eagle, are currently on offer on eBay (at eye-watering prices).

Published in 1962, they’re all by artist Roy Cross who’s perhaps best known for his work illustrating Airfix Model box art.

Roy was a regular box top artist for some ten years during the 1960s and 1970s. Prior to this he had illustrated many covers for both Eagle and its junior title Swift, as well as providing 23 cutaways for Eagle centrespreads which were signed with his distinctive “-CROSS-” signature.

During his time working for Airfix the company had 75 per cent of the model kit market in the United Kingdom and his painted box tops adorned toy and corner shops windows the length and breadth of the country. Indeed, Airfix still use many of his illustrations today.

Launched in 1954, Swift was published in the UK as a junior companion to the Eagle. As well as Roy Cross, artists who worked on the title included Frank Bellamy and Don Lawrence. The title ran for some 477 issues, absorbing Zip during its run, and finally merging with Eagle in March 1963.

Swift Volume 9 Number 29 - Cover
Swift Volume 9 Number 29

Swift Volume 9 Number 29 (i.e. the 29th week of 1962) featured a Boeing 727 airliner (banking at a coffee spilling angle) in a paint scheme similar to the 727 prototype’s. This cover was painted on a 15×20 inch Oram and Robinson board.

Swift Volume 9 Number 32
Swift Volume 9 Number 32

Swift Volume 9 Number 32 (i.e. the 32nd week of 1962) is a North American A-5 Vigilante, a US Navy carrier based bomber. Carrier Vessel 36 in the background is the USS Antietam.

This is possibly A-5A BuAer registration 147856 of VAH (Heavy Attack Squadron) 3.

Swift Volume 9 Number 34 (i.e. the 34th week of 1962), at top of article, is a Republic F-105 Thunderchief, a fighter-bomber of the US Air Force.

The plane is, possibly, Air Force registration 61-0171 (355th Tactical Fighter Wing, 563rd Flying Training Squadron) which was shot down 17th April 1965 over the Mu Gia Pass in North Vietnam with the loss of the pilot.

Swift Volume 9 Number 35 - Cover
Swift Volume 9 Number 35

Finally Swift Volume 9 Number 35 (ie the 35th week of 1962) and a Folland Gnat T1 jet trainer of the RAF’s pre-Red Arrows display team the Yellowjackets.

In fact this airframe, XM698, became a Red Arrow and eventually survived RAF decommissioning to be sold into civilian life in Florida under the rather appropriate US civil registration of N698XM.

View all Seller “Wishing on a Rainbow” items, which include artwork, comics and vintage photographs

• There are more details of Roy Cross’ career in general on the Hatfield-Herts website

Roy Cross was interviewed about his career back in 2014

There’s a retrospective of Swift here on the 30th Century Comics web site by Win Wiacek

Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.

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