‘King of the Junglies’ Sea King ZA 298 immortalised on canvas

Superb painting of a true legend.

If you have an hour to watch ‘The Sea King – Britain’s Flying Past’ then you should do so.

King of the Junglies immortalised on canvas

A recently completed painting of Sea King ZA 298 by accomplished military artist and army veteran Tony Byrne from Bideford in Devon was presented to 845 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

Sea King ZA 298, or King of the Junglies as it is colloquially known is no stranger to the world of media.

It was the central focus of a BBC documentary, The Sea King – Britain’s Flying Past presented by the renowned television correspondent Jon Sergeant.

This particular aircraft, which is still fling today, has seen service in all of the major conflicts since the Falkland’s war and has been hit by enemy fire on a number of occasions.

The most recent was in Afghanistan where it was hit and badly damaged by an RPG round fired by the Taliban.

On completion of the presentation to 845 Squadron’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Punch, Tony explained:

“I approached 845 Squadron some time back to see if they would be happy for me to produce a painting of this iconic aircraft.

“It was a tremendous honour and privilege to be told they would be delighted for me to do so.

“The work took over 3 months to create and was an incredible challenge, especially as it was my first painting of a Junglie Sea King.

“The response to the finished product has been fantastic and at times overwhelming.”

Lt Cdr Punch added:

“In many ways ZA298 epitomises the Junglie Ethos.

“She has travelled the world, been to the frontline of most conflict regions over the past 30 years and, when at home, continued to work tirelessly for training and exercises, all this with a smile on her face. There is good reason she has become known as the King of the Junglies.

“Tony is clearly an extremely talented individual doing excellent work for many service charities. We are pleased that he has captured ZA298 in such impressive fashion. I, and 845 Naval Air Squadron, thank him for his excellent gift.

“The Squadron will be using it as a feature in our future charity auction and expect it to bring in a very good price for a good cause.”

Unlike many artists, Tony has considerable first hand experience of painting military aircraft as he had served with the Army Air Corps working on Scout, Gazelle and Lynx helicopters although he has painted a variety of aircraft from Concorde to the Vulcan bomber.

This painting along with 10 limited edition prints signed by Junglie Aviators will soon be displayed within the Squadron before being sold at auction to support a number of Service charities.

Mr Tony Byrne presenting his painting of Sea King ZA298 to 845 NAS’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Punch.


Navy chaplains ‘baptised’ in helicopter dunker

Always good to see men of the cloth getting drenched.

Bish, bash, splash as Naval chaplains get dunked at Yeovilton

Six Navy chaplains were ‘baptised’ as they trained to escape from a helicopter ditched in the ocean.

The chaplains – more commonly known throughout the Navy as ‘bishes’ – were put to the test in the ‘dunker’ which simulates an aircraft crashing in the sea.

The vicars of Dunker are (l-r) Rev Alastair Mansfield (RNAS Culdrose), Rev Ralph Barber (Portsmouth Flotilla), Rev Simon Springett (Commando Training Centre Royal Marines), Rev Martin Evans (RNAS Yeovilton), Rev Andrew Corness (Portsmouth Flotilla) and Rev Tom Pyke RNR (HMS President). Picture: LA(Phot) Caroline Davies, HMS Yeovilton

AND you thought they could walk on water.

This is quite possibly the best photograph of Royal Navy chaplains in uniform in a swimming pool carrying out escape training from a crashed helicopter you’re likely to see all year.

The six chaplains – more commonly known throughout the Navy as ‘bishes’ – were ‘dunked’ together as they underwent training to see whether they can escape from a helicopter should it ditch in an emergency.

Because to do their job, providing spiritual and moral support to sailors and Royal Marines on the front line, they must fly regularly – and any regular flier with the Fleet Air Arm must be able to get out of a crashed helicopter.

To that end at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset there’s the Underwater Escape Training Unit – better known as the dunker (because those on the course are dunked) – for all aircrew and ‘frequent fliers’.

After strapping into the mock-up fuselage, the chaplains were lowered into the pool until completely submerged, then the helicopter turned over. For added realism, some of the exits or windows are blocked or jammed and, as the bishes may be expected to fly at night, the lights are switched off.

“To be honest, I really don’t enjoy the dunker that much,” said the Rev Simon Springett, a commando-trained chaplain who’s served from Antarctica to Afghanistan and Scotland to Sierra Leone.

“The training is essential to ensure I can perform my role, bringing spiritual and pastoral care to the men and women of

The sextet were attending the Anglican chaplains’ conference at Amport House in Wiltshire – the spiritual home of all military chaplains – and made the short trip down the A303 to Yeovilton to ensure they were ‘in date’ for their training.

There are 57 chaplains across the Naval Service – covering the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, Church of Scotland and the Free Churches.

They provide spiritual and moral support sailors and Royal Marines at establishments, air bases and on the front line – seven are deployed or are about to deploy on ships or in Afghanistan.

There are also six ‘world faith chaplains’ across the Armed Forces who advise on the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Jewish faiths.