Basingstoke photographer Chris Jones compiled a 1940s calendar for Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund

Basingstoke Gazette: Calendar girls at a promotional event at the British Military Tournament at Earls Court, in London Calendar girls at a promotional event at the British Military Tournament at Earls Court, in London

A SPECIAL edition 1940s pin-up calendar – featuring World War Two RAF fighter and bomber aircraft and glamorous Basingstoke beauties – will hopefully really take off with the public.

The calendar has been brought to fruition thanks to local professional photographer Chris Jones, who last year started the project with the aim of raising funds for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Chris, who lives in Beggarwood, Basingstoke, said the project was close to his heart as two of his great uncles, who were in the RAF, were killed during the Second World War.

“Creating this calendar has opened my eyes to the dangerous and challenging environments that RAF crews operated in during the Second World War,” explained Chris.

“They endured freezing conditions for hours on end and cramped gun turrets, often in pitch dark, with the certainty that either heavy flak or enemy fighters would threaten their lives on every sortie.”

Among the calendar girls, five are from the Basingstoke area, and they were selected after taking part in public auditions.

Among them is Zarla Fowler, 32, who runs Zarla Hairdressing, and styled all of the models hair for the calendar, and whose husband Jim Fowler, is a Chinook Loads Master at RAF Odiham.

Other models from Basingstoke included 19-year-old Melissa Gibbons, Jodie Mitchell, 26, and Laura Lockyer, 22.

“None of them are professional models, and it gave them an opportunity to feature in something they probably would never get a chance to,” said Chris.

They took part in studio shoots in 1940s-style clothes and their images have been incorporated alongside Second World War aircraft including the Mk V Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster, Avro Anson, and Bristol Blenheim.

Chris picked appropriate background scenery to match the different months as with May showing a Lancaster Bomber, which is associated with the famous Dam Busters raid, which took place that month in 1943.

In a similar vein, the heat of July, depicts the Battle of Britain, while September shows the Blitz, with a night fighter and a raid going on in the background.

Delighted with the final product, Chris, who has links with the RAF and has family and friends currently serving in Afghanistan, said: “To be honest, I have worked every day for a year – a huge amount of work has been involved.

“RAF Odiham have been involved quite a bit as a couple of the guys from the station have helped with the historic accuracy side of things.”

The calendar which costs £12.99, including postage and packing can be ordered from pinupcalendar.co.uk.

For each calendar sold, £1.50 will be donated to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

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