2 Squadron Commision

I was asked by the R.A.F Benevolent Fund to create an image for 2 squadron R.A.F.Regiment based at Honnington in Suffolk. I was given the loose remit that it was to illustrate  the invaluable services of the Regiment to operations in Afghanistan. I had no clear idea of what the Squadrons role involved so I headed off to Honnington where I was introduced to Sqn. Ldr. Matt Carter Commanding Officer of the unit. (He is the only contemporary R.A.F Military Cross winner; definitely worth a google)

I was sat down and given a presentation outlining the work of the Regiment and an idea of how the painting should look started to form. One of the most striking impressions I was to get was the ‘air aware’ nature of the unit and how they coordinate with the air assets available in theatre. I decided that this would be the essence of the picture I was to paint.

The idea occurred to me to show a ‘medevac’ operation and men of the Squadron calling in a chinook to evacuate a casualty. I wanted to show not only the ‘comms’ guys but some of the other men who would be involved in the security of the landing zone.

You can just see the chinook drawn in at top left of centre. The idea is to show it on approach to the landing zone. One of the specialist snipers is shown with his Quad bike. I made a mistake with this guy in that I hadn’t shown his pack on the front of the bike where it would normally be. I will be adding this later. The second figure is a normal rifleman looking along the top of his sight to better take in the area he is defending. The nearest figure is the Lance Corporal responsible for ‘comms’.

A little more detail now with the near completion of the Quad bike. The reference photos I took at Honnington were a great help, but as usual with the military, everything was spotlessly clean, so it was necessary to distress the bike a little. You can also see that I have expanded a little on the detail in the foreground, showing the typical arid and stony ground with a few blades of dessicated grass.

You will notice quite a bit of distressing on the bodywork of the quad bike. The reference photos I took whilst at Honnington were of kit that was beautifully looked after. In the harsh conditions of Afghanistan the vehicles don’t look like that for long; neither do the men for that matter. I was careful to look at photos of the vehicle in theatre to get an idea of how they show wear and tear. I am going to need to add E.C.M equipment as well.

It was at this stage that I found out that the union flag on the helmet of the nearest man was unlikely to be something seen on operations. You will see in the next picture that I have painted this out.

The camel pack on the nearest figure was broken in the reference photos and needs to be corrected, which is why it ends so uselessly. I made the conscious decision to have both men wearing the ‘Oakley’ gloves, which are commonly purchased by the guys. I gather that the new design of British Army glove is based upon this product. The figures in the picture are looking a bit pristine at the moment and I will ‘distress’ them as I go along; I will probably need to increase the contrast on both figures as well. You’ll note that the wristwatch is not done as using the reference I had would have meant both men wearing the same watch, I used a watch worn by a Royal Marine in the end.

The main figure is pretty well finished now with a few rips and tears in his uniform and a little dirt added. You can see the mouthpiece added to the camel pack and the wristwatch added. Note also the swirl of dust and debris now in the background, heralding the arrival of the chinook. This will need more work when I do the mountains.

Pretty near finished now….but it was at this stage that I was to find that there were one or two factual inaccurracies. For instance, I hadn’t included personal radio for the rear of the two main figures. I also needed to add the’ blast protection’ specs that by this stage the guys are all supposed to wear (I hate these because they tend to obscure eyes). I was also asked to include a Merlin escort helicopter in the background

Oh well…back to the easal


My efforts would appear to have been successful. A charming couple, the Andersons paid £5000 for the picture when it was auctioned at the Banqueting House in Whitehall. Proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent Fund: I couldn’t be happier.

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13 Responses to 2 Squadron Commision

  1. Stuart Downs says:

    I think this a great portrayal of day to day life on the ground in Afghanistan, David.
    Regards Stuart

  2. Gary Horsfield says:

    Hi Dave just going through your fantastic images of our Corps and was taken back at how precise they catch the mental capacity of an RAF REGIMENT GNR especially in the theatre of war and i have to say i would gladly see all of them hanging from my wall but i would have a job getting past the wife first but on the whole Congratulations with your fabulous Art Work Gary Horsfield from Oldham Manchester Ex Q.C.S. & 2 Sqn

    • david says:

      Hi Gary Thanks Mate. I do a fair bit of work for the military now, but particularly enjoy the work I do for the RAF who have been heroes of mine since I was a boy. I don’t do this for a living so I am lucky enough that the majority of my work is in aid of the various military charities. If you want Hi Res photos of the Raf Regt trooper I am happy to send them…just send your email. Some guys are having prints made from the photos….regards

      Dave Bryant

      • Paul Meldrum says:


        I would like the hi res images, if you could e-mail them. The work is outstanding. Wish I could afford one. Ex 2 Sqn.

  3. Andrew Cullen MBE says:

    Hi Dave the image of the II Sqn Lads is first class work i served on the unit from 89 until 96 and Loved every minute of it are prints available etc all the best your art work is capturing to say the least – NQNP

    • david says:

      I’ve had a lot of interest in these two images of late. Unfortunately, neither went to print. What I have been doing is sending Hi Res. photos of the originals and I think some are having their own copies made up. If you want the images, please contact me on kardavbryant@yahoo.co.uk Have a look at my web site and you will find a II Sqn. blog which may be of interest. It describes the process required to get the final painting. Feel free to leave a comment.

      • Andrew Cullen MBE says:

        Dave tried the e-mail no joy kept coming back ? you have mine can you send me some images ,many thanks Andy

  4. Peter Maskell says:

    Dear David,
    I have just seen the picture of a 2 Sqn RAF Regiment Gunner on facebook, what a fantastic picture, you have captured this young gunner to a T. Perfect in every way, could I be able to purchase a copy of this picture.
    Thank you for your time,
    Peter Maskell

  5. Hi David

    Like others, I’m hugely impressed by your images depicting our Corps. As II Sqn DSC, I deployed us to the first gulf war on 3 Sep 1990, the day of my son’s first birthday & a poignant one indeed.

    I too would like to know if they are available for purchase.

    Kindest regards

    David Williamson

  6. Hello David, thank you for your call today and access to this website. I am so grateful that my casual enquiry about this particular painting of yours, which I saw in the Spitfire Museum at Manston Kent, has brought me to see so much more. On the site I particularly like the painting progression photos, something a viewer never gets to see under normal circumstances. The detail you give doesn’t stop with the painting as your explanations of the stages bring in facts about the subject which you can’t possibly get wandering around in an art gallery. Your work truly captures more than just visual detail; it stirs emotion in the viewing and gives an impression of being able to step into the moment captured.
    Sincere regards Martin Han-de-Beaux

    • david says:

      Hi Martin
      Enjoyed our chat mate and thanks for the comment which can make it all worth while. I nearly deleted your comment by accident because it came through your company and the site spammed it. Just noticed in the nick of time.

      Dave B

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