They Who Look

Manufacturing-Helliwells-1939-22689In World War Two, the British aircraft parts company Helliwells used a series of images of a nude female model to promote their work – no other evident reason beyond the obvious one!

However it certainly ensured their advertising stood out from the rest. They often (but not always) used the tagline ‘They Who Look Ahead’, among others.

It’s clear they used a limited number of images in multiple composited versions, which is one reason I decided to gather the selection presented here. Based at Dudley, in the Midlands, they were very proud about their origins and home, Walsall Aerodrome.


Both before and after the war their advertising was (for the period) much more conventional.

The first advert dates to 1920, the second, featuring the Vickers Wellesley of the RAF’s Long Range Flight, the latter two are post war, the penultimate advert reflecting the company’s take over by Tube Investments. They also made safes previously, as seen here.

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 10.03.54 pm

This series seem to be roughly contemporary, and would be early war when the Vickers-Armstrong Wellington was one of the heaviest weapons available to hit back at Germany, and thus a icon of the period.

Many of the widgets being promoted seem unlikely to inspire great interest beyond that necessary from their users, let alone the nude excitement depicted. Illuminated by the thrill of an oil tank isn’t a thing that happens.

The adverts reached, clearly, even Canada. I’m sure Helliwells got excellent recognition of their brand by the use of the nude,which also probably gave a lift to many young airmen who wouldn’t have otherwise been familiar with the female figure.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Most images from Grace’s Guide here, and Aviation Ancestry here, here.

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