The central stature was carved by Harry Gray of the Carving Workshop in Cambridge.
He later revealed that after being asked by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust to create the focal point of the site, he settled on the idea of a pilot but found it difficult to come up with a design he was happy with.
Then one day, during a break, Harry’s trainee sat down and adopted a contemplative pose that provided the sculptor with the inspiration that had previously eluded him.
That lunchtime pose was the blueprint for the statue of the seated airman looking out to sea that is striking in its simplicity and yet so moving in its context.
The figure wears an Irvin jacket for a very important reason; by hiding the airman’s uniform it disguises both his nationality and his rank. Is this a British officer with half a dozen kills to his name or an NCO gunner from another country? Both played their part and the Memorial reflects that fact. It is for that same reason that the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall reveals neither rank nor decoration.
That central figure sits on a propeller boss surrounded by the badges of all the Allied squadrons and other units that took part in the Battle. The blades of the propeller are set into the ground, making the memorial as striking from the air as it is for the visitor on the ground.
On 9 July 1993, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother flew in by helicopter to perform the official unveiling ceremony in wet and windy conditions that were again in evidence when her daughter, Her Majesty The Queen, unveiled The Wing on 26 March, 2015. There is a story that in 1993 the helicopter pilot suggested that they should turn back because conditions were so poor. “My boys never turned back,” The Queen Mother is reported to have said. “We will carry on.”