Many WarbirdsNews readers will be familiar with the magnificent, highly modified Mustang known as Precious Metal. The Rolls-Royce Griffon-engined Reno Air Race regular always turns heads wherever she flies. Even though the muscular Mustang has yet to win the big trophies at Reno; under Thom Richard’s ownership, she is now approaching contention for those lofty goals. We will soon publish a feature on Precious Metal and Thom Richard, but thought first our readers might like to see some of the magnificent art work that the man commissioned from aviation artist extraordinaire, Ron Cole. We will let Cole tell the story in his own words, but his work speaks for itself. He is at the very pinnacle of his field, and it is always a joy to feature his creations…
I was contacted by the Precious Metal team back in May of 2014. ‘Would I be interested in painting the Precious Metal P-51 for the racing team?’ They’d participated in the National Championship Air Races for years, but they felt that the subject and the participating aircraft had been underrepresented in the genre of aviation art, and art in general. In keeping with their goal of breaking barriers whenever possible, they wanted to change that. I was promised that my name and logo would be featured prominently on the aircraft. Of course I said, Yes! I’ll do that!
The project was certainly a bit of a challenge, and for me that’s always a good thing. Their air- craft was a mix of waxed lacquer and polished aluminum, and with a name like Precious Metal there was no way I’d get away with a painting that didn’t reveal reflections and glare at every opportunity. All the stuff I love to do. Not every warbird offers opportunities to reveal those hard- to-depict attributes. Of course I needed to depict speed, too.
The end product could not have gone over any better, and I was utterly tickled to see my logo on the aircraft. Funny inside secret: The aircraft in my logo is a caricatured Japanese WWII Raiden interceptor. It was my favorite airplane as a kid, and I well remember Steve Hinton open- ing the cockpit of the world’s only Raiden for me when I was too young to drive. Now it can be said that the Raiden has taken to the air again on the side of one of the world’s fastest piston- engined machines!
WN: As you can see from the close-up image of Ron Cole’s rendition of Precious Metal, his attention to detail is second-to-none. WarbirdsNews feels very fortunate to have Ron Cole as a sponsor, and has published some articles of his work previously on other aviation themes, such as Yamamoto’s final flight (click HERE), the Tale of a Zero Fighter (click HERE), and tributes to Amelia Earhart (click HERE) and the late Lou Zamperini (click HERE). All of his creations are available as affordable fine art prints, and some of them even come with original artifacts from the rare WWII aircraft depicted in the image. Please do check out his website HERE to see the full extent of Ron Cole’s talents!