Similar work was taken on from a number of other aircraft manufacturers from around the world. Indeed, by 1960, Bill Roberts reported that 50 per cent of the company’s output was for international clients.
Shawcraft were also busy making model aircraft for advertising, display and exhibition uses. This work began to get the company’s name noticed and they were offered commissions to build models for the film industry. The largest model aircraft they are know to have built was a replica Vickers Vimy, built in 1954, with a wing span of 67 feet. This was built for the film company British Lion for The Long Hop, a film about Alcock & Brown’s transatlantic flight. Despite some considerable investment in pre-production, this film seems to have been abandoned. There is little information available but The Long Hop does not feature among the 349 films made by British Lion. However, the model was made and paid for. As part of the brief, the model was required to be able to taxi under it’s own power at speeds of up to 25 mph. This was achieved by fitting two Ford V8 engines which drove the large (10.5 ft) propellers.
It appeared on a static display at the Battle Of Britain air display at RAF Biggin Hill in 1955. Twelve years later, the nacelles and engines from this model (minus the propellers) turned up as set dressing, placed on the backlot at Shepperton Studios for the Dalek mine scenes in the 1966 film Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. The fate of the aircraft remains a mystery, though it is possible that it remained stored in a dismantled state until the late 1980s.
Shawcraft's replica Vicker's Vimy engines, used as set dressing at the Daleks' mine.
Difficult projects like the Vimy proved how invaluable Shawcraft’s experience with real military engineering was. The gigantic model was test assembled near the Shawcraft workshops, on waste land that separated the local shops from Hoey’s haberdashery.
Smaller scale aircraft work included a BOAC Argonaut with a wing span of only 2.5”, complete with working electrics which illuminated the cabin and powered the navigation and landing lights. This model was used as part of a scale model of London Airport.
Numerous other scale aircraft were produced, mainly for export. Some were commissions for museums but many were built as demonstration pieces for aircraft industry representatives. A number of these planes have survived, in private collections.
In 1955 new employee Ken D'Maurney Gibbons, freshly demobbed from the RAF began work at Shawcraft. He was involved in making the master patterns for the 1.72nd scale model Hawker Hurricanes and Vickers Supermarine Spitfires, cast in bronze for the film Reach For The Sky - the story of Douglas Bader. Other work carried out by Ken included repairing illuminated landscape models for the British Transport Commission and illuminated 1/16th scale cutaway models of Elizabethan, Viscount, Britannia and Trident airliners for travel agents to promote BEA, BOAC, and Aer Lingus. Ken's recollections of his time with Shawcraft were recorded in the Richings Park Gazette and form the basis for much of the information published here. Ken died in 2014, in Devon.
In 1956, Reg Haynes retired. He left the business to run a craft shop in Keswick. Bill Roberts bought out both Reg and Stan and formed Shawcraft (Models) Ltd, becoming the sole managing director. Ken D'Maurney Gibbons became his assistant and later (1959) went on to become the general manager
Fibreglass and other plastics were being used as Shawcraft’s primary raw materials from the early days. Their first all-fibreglass model is reported to have been a scale model of a de Halilland Mosquito, with a 6ft wing span, built for the film industry.