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Suez Sea Venom

My youngest child recently said that my next painting needed 'more action!' So I showed him a few ideas that were still in my preliminary stages and this one imagining a Fleet Air Arm Sea Venom attack during the Suez Crisis of 1956 jumped out for him:

The scene depicts a de Havilland Sea Venom of 893 Royal Navy squadron on operation Musketeer during the Suez Crisis. Whilst attacking an Egyptian airfield, it suffered flak damage, but thanks to some skilful flying from pilot Lt Cdr John Willcox, made a belly landing on return to HMS Eagle.

The aircraft’s navigator, an RAF officer- Robert Olding was an experienced RAF night fighter navigator on an exchange tour with the Fleet Air Arm. He suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his legs but continued with his duties when this Sea Venom was hit under the forward fuselage, blasting a large hole in the floor of the cockpit.

He was awarded a DFC, but sadly had to have a leg amputated from the shrapnel injuries.

After returning from Suez, Olding spent three months having treatment and learning to walk with his false leg. He refused to use a stick (he walked unaided throughout his life) and even tried to ride a bicycle, but came off, breaking his arm. He returned to duty, and a year later started flying again, this time on the Javelin night fighter. He continued a successful career, eventually becoming a Group Captain.

Some admittedly artistic license in the imagining of the drama set against the background of the Suez Canal, the Sea Venoms and accompanying Hawker Seahawks dive through the (unfortunately for Olding, accurately aimed) flak in an attack run, the high angle of the viewpoint above the Sea Venom shows-off the unmistakable twin-boom layout with the extended pod to hold the arrestor hook.

The lovely old matchbox 1/32 scale kit of the Sea Venom and the example in the carrier exhibit at Yeovilton Air Museum provided useful reference for the digital photo mockups and preliminary.


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