'Tripehounds' by Biggles author WE Johns, a watercolour which sold for £3300 at Sworders.

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Unseen on the market for over 30 years, the six pictures of soaring and swooping biplanes sold for £11,800, some at multi-estimate sums.

“These paintings display remarkable draughtsmanship and all the energy and thrills any Biggles fan would associate with Johns,” said Sworders’ managing director Guy Schooling.

The top-seller at £3300 was Tripehounds, a 7 x 11in (18 x 28.5cm) watercolour, which bettered a £500-700 guide to sell for £3300.

A pilot himself, Johns was shot down and captured while on a bombing mission to Mannheim in Germany in 1918, remaining a prisoner-of-war until the Armistice.

He started his writing career after the war, publishing more than 160 books, including almost 100 on the fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles, and launching the magazine Popular Flying in 1932.