Matthew Emeny

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Copyright © 2019 Emeny Art


'Thunderbolts over Bentwaters'



The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat, twin turbofan engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic for the United States Air Force (USAF). More commonly known as the Warthog by those who fly and maintain the aircraft. It was designed to provide close air support (CAS) of ground forces by attacking tanks, armoured vehicles, and other ground targets.


The 81st Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) started conversion to the use of the A-10 in June 1979, operating across the twin bases RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. The last two A-10's of the 81st TFW departed in 1993 flown out by Colonel Roger R Radcliff and Colonel Wally Berg.  

The A-10 is still in active service to this day

(Partly taken from Wikipedia)




TITLE: 'Thunderbolts over Bentwaters'


The painting has been created in watercolour and features two 81st TFW A-10 Thunderbolt IIs over their home base RAF Bentwaters, Rendlesham, Woodbridge in 1986. The A-10's are being flown by Wing Commander Colonel William A Studer and Wingman Captain Andy Doyle from 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron. The 81st TFW was made up of six fighter squadrons as shown below. A-10's displayed individual squadron colour stripes on the tail of each aircraft. The Wing Commanders jet displayed all six colour stripes.


•78th - Red

•91st - Blue

•92nd  - Gold

•509th  - Grey

•510th  - Purple (Capt Andy Doyle's A-10)

•511th  - Black


The idea for the painting came about when I was contacted by Sergeant Eric George, POL, 81st Supply Squadron, RAF Bentwaters who suggested a scene combining the A-10 Thunderbolt II and RAF Bentwaters. This scene appealed to me due to the local relevance and history of the base. Many USAF personnel made lifetime friendships with residents in Woodbridge and the surrounding areas, some of whom also found partners; marrying and moving back together to the US at the end of their service at the base.


The project got underway during summer 2015 and a Facebook group was created to follow the paintings step by step progress (PROJECT A-10). The group soon grew and generated interest, especially from members who were stationed at RAF Bentwaters. The painting was subsequently sponsored by Jack Baker, retired USAF, commander of 81st Civil, Engineering Squadron and Base Civil Engineer, RAF Bentwaters, 1985 to 1988. His desire; to have the painting donated and presented to the Bentwaters Cold War Museum.


The group has proved helpful, with members providing reference material and technical details regarding both the base and the aircraft. I would say the hardest part to paint was the base. I was working with an 1986 aerial image as reference looking straight down at the base. I had to translate this into a 3D base at the correct angle, distance and scale!


Without the support of the group and members of the museum the project would have taken much longer. Each new aircraft I paint is a steep learning curve for me and it certainly proves challenging. When creating detailed paintings of military aircraft, there becomes almost an endless list of specifications, markings, and model variations to take into account. And when your work is being viewed and scrutinized by serious aviation enthusiasts and pilots, there is no room for lazy painting and hoping no one notices the five rivets missing from a section of wing!


I have been encouraged throughout every stage of the project and it is clear to me from comments I receive that this scene is bringing back fond memories to many who  were stationed at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. There is nothing better for an artist than knowing how appreciated a painting is.

Thunderbolts over Bentwaters Original Painting & Print