Born in Essex in 1936, John Henry Batchelor has been one of the leading technical illustrators of hardware for five decades. Growing up in Leigh-on-Sea during the Second World War, he witnessed dogfights between British and German aircraft in the Essex skies and, even at the age of four, put pencil to paper to draw scenes of aerial combat. The Essex coastline was one of the expected invasion points in Hitler's planned attack on a Britain softened up by the Luftwaffe, and Batchelor's early years were spent surrounded by fascinating military hardware, from tanks to machine guns. By the age of seven he could strip and reassemble a .303 Lewis machine gun and draw its constituent parts.
He left home at 16, travelling for two years before performing his National Service with the R.A.F. Batchelor began drawing for the technical publications of Bristol Aircraft Co., Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. and Saunders-Roe Ltd. One of his last jobs for Saunders-Roe was on the plans for a nuclear-powered version of the (ultimately cancelled) ten-engined Princess flying-boat.
In the early 1960s he turned freelance, contributing to Model Maker and Model Cars. Some of his earliest drawings were cutaways for the Eagle comic; in all he produced 44 episodes (making him the joint fourth most prolific contributor). His illustrations also appeared in Ranger and Tell Me Why. He also worked for the far more prestigious markets, including Time-Life Books, which led to his involvement in one of the most ambitious projects in publishing history: Purnell's History of the Second World War. Launched in 1966 under the overall editorship of Sir Basil Liddell-Hart, this massive partwork--for which Batchelor producing a total of 1,163 illustrations--had sold 10 million copies by 1976. To celebrate this momentous achievement, Batchelor was presented, by Douglas Bader, a solid silver model of a British Saladin armoured car from his grateful publisher.
He continued his association with Purnell as they launched History of the First World War and Encyclopedia of Modern Weapons and Warfare, which added to a total of almost 20 million copies sold. Many of the illustrations were reprinted in book form during the 1970s (the bibliography below is likely to be incomplete) and has also illustrated a wide range of other books--and continues to do so. He has also drawn countless illustrations for the American magazine, Popular Science and has had his paintings exhibited around the world.
Since the mid-1980s, he has also produced artwork for postage stamps via the Crown Agency for 40 countries around the globe, including many for the British Commonwealth. In 2003 he launched his own company, Publishing Solutions, to reprint selections of his work.
Some of Batchelor's artwork can be found for sale here.
Tank. A history of the armoured fighting vehicle, with Kenneth Macksey. London, Macdonald & Co., 1970; revised, Macdonald, 1973.
Fighter. A history of fighter aircraft, with Bryan Cooper. London, Macdonald & Co., 1973.
Rail Gun, text by Ian Hogg. Broadstone, John Batchelor Ltd., 1973; New York, Scribner, 1973.
Fighting Aircraft of World War One and Two, compiled by Susan Joiner. London, Phoebus, 1976.
Fighting Ships of World War One and Two, compiled by Anne Maclean & Suzanne Poole, 1976.
Battleships, 1856-1977, text by Antony Preston. London, Phoebus, 1977.
Fighters, 1914-1945, text by Bill Gunston. London & New York, Hamlyn, 1978.
Air Power. A modern illustrated military history, text by Bill Gunston. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Airborne Warfare, 1918-1945, text by Barry Gregory. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Land Power. A modern illustrated military history. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Illustration in Action, with Geraldine Christy. Poole, Blandford, 1985.
Flight, with Christopher Chant. Limpsfield, Dragon's World, 1990.
Historic Sailing Ships Postcards; 24 full-colour paintings. London, Constable, 1992; New York, Dover, 1992.
North American Lighthouses. Colouring book. London, Constable, 1995; New York, Dover, 1995.
World War II Allied Aircraft Planes [trading cards], text by Philip Smith. London, Constable, 1995; Mineola, N.Y., Dover, 1995.
100 Historic Aircraft in Full Colour. Mineola, N.Y., Dover Publications, 2000.
World War II Warships. Mineola, N.Y., Dover, 2006.
De Havilland Mosquito, text by Malcolm Lowe. Wimborne, Publishing Solutions in association with Minster Press, 2008.
B-17 Flying Fortress, text by Malcolm Lowe. Wimborne, Publishing Solutions in association with Minster Press, 2008.
Fairey Swordfish, text by Malcolm Lowe. Wimborne, Publishing Solutions in association with Minster Press, 2009.
Aircraft by Kenneth Munson, illus. with others, 1971; adapted for easy reading by Louise M. Moyle, London, Macdonald & Co., 1975.
Ships by Brian Benson, illus. with others. London, Macdonald & Co., 1971; adapted for easy reading by Jim Rogerson, London, Macdonald & Co., 1975.
Arms and Armour by Frederick Wilkinson, illus. with Arthur Gay. London, Hamlyn, 1971.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles by John F. Milsom. London, Hamlyn, 1972.
Artillery by Ian Hogg. London, Macdonald & Co., 1972.
Spotlight on Soldiers by Frederick Wilkinson, illus. with others. Feltham, Hamlyn, 1973.
Richard's Bicycle Book by Richard Ballantine. New York, Ballantine Books, 1972; London, Pan Books, 1975; revised, Pan Books, 1976; new revised ed., Pan Books, 1977.
Sail Racer by Jack Knights. St. Albans, Coles, 1973.
A Historic Artillery by Ian V. Hogg. London, Hamlyn, 1974.
The Story of the Bomber by Bryan Cooper. London, Octopus Books, 1974.
Weapons and Armour by A. J. Barker, illus. with others. London, Hamlyn, 1974.
Armies of the American Revolution by Ian V. Hogg, edited by S. L. Mayer. London, Leo Cooper for Bison Books Ltd., 1975.
German Fighting Vehicles 1939-1945, with Peter Chamberlain & Chris Ellis.London, Phoebus, 1975.
German Tanks 1939-1945, with Chris Ellis & Peter Chamberlain. London, Phoebus, 1975.
Jet Fighters by David A. Anderton, ed. Bernard Fitzsimons. London, Phoebus, 1975.
The Navies of the American Revolution by Antony Preston & David Lyon, ed. S. J. Mayer. London, Leo Cooper for Bison Books Ltd., 1975; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Submarines. The history and evolution of underwater fighting vessels by Antony Preston. London, Octopus Books, 1975.
Weapons and Uniforms of the U.S.S.R. by Fred Stevens & Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus/BPC Pub., 1975.
German Tanks and Fighting Vehicles of World War II by Chris Ellis & Peter Chamberlain (contains German Fighting Vehicles 1939-1945 and German Tanks 1939-1945). London, Phoebus, 1976)
German & Allied Secret Weapons of World War II by Ian V. Hogg & J. B. King. London, Phoebus, 1976; Seacaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books in association with Phoebus, 1976.
Jet Fighters and Bombers by David A. Anderton, ed. Bernard Fitzsimons. London, Phoebus, 1976.
An Illustrated History of the Navies of World War II by Antony Preston, introduced & edited by S. L. Mayer. London, Hamlyn, 1976.
The Machine Gun, 1976; combined with The Submachine Gun as The Complete Machine Gun by Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Weapons & War Machines by Andrew Kershaw & Ian Close. London, Phoebus, 1976.
Helicopters at War by Bill Gunston. New York & London, Hamlyn, 1977.
Naval Aircraft 1914-1939 by Louis S. Casey. London, Phoebus, 1977.
The Tank Story by Ian Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1977.
Naval Gun by Ian Hogg. Poole, Blandford Press, 1978.
The Complete Handgun: 1300 to the present by Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1979.
The Submachine Gun, 1978; combined with The Machine Gun as The Complete Machine Gun by Ian V. Hogg. London, Phoebus, 1979.
Sea Power by Antony Preston & Louis S. Casey. London, Phoebus, 1979.
The Illustrated History of Seaplanes and Flying Boats by Louis S. Casey. London, Hamlyn, 1980.
The Airborne Soldier by John Weeks. Poole, Dorset, Blandford Press, 1982.
The Fighting Ship by Bernard Brett, illus. with Ivan Lapper. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985.
Fighter by Chris Chant. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1988.
Handgun by John Walter. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1988.
Richard's New Bicycle Book by Richard Ballantine, illus. with Peter Williams. London, Pan Books, 1990.
Twentieth Century War Machines: Land by Christopher Chant. London, Chancellor Press, 1999.
A Century of Triumph. The history of aviation by Christopher Chant. New York & London, Free Press, 2002.
Soul of the Sword. An illustrated history of weaponry and warfare from prehistory to the present by Robert L. O'Connell. New York, Free Press, 2002.
(* Some background material has been derived from Batchelor own website here.)