December 2016 marks a major milestone for the Royal Air Force (RAF): the 50th anniversary of the arrival of its first C-130 Hercules airlifter and famed Swindon artist David Bent has been commissioned to create a piece of art that celebrates the relationship between the RAF, Marshall Aerospace & Defence, and aircraft maker Lockheed Martin
The RAF’s C-130 fleet evolved over those 50 years, transitioning from C-130Es to C-130Ks. In 1998, the RAF made Hercules history when it became the launch customer for the C-130J Super Hercules, which is the current production variant of the C-130. Today, the RAF operates 24 C-130Js.
They were once a common sight over Swindon, as they made the approach to RAF Lyneham before it closed as transport command’s main base in 2012 and the Hercules squadron’s transferred to RAF Brize Norton.
The arrival of that very first C-130E represented both a new era in airlift operations and the start of a pivotal relationship between the RAF, Marshall Aerospace and Defence, and Lockheed Martin. Marshall first began working with Lockheed Martin with the arrival of the first RAF C-130 delivery in 1966. Since then, Marshall has supported the conversion, modification, maintenance and support of C-130s for more than 35 countries. Today, Marshall and Lockheed Martin work with the RAF and engine maker Rolls-Royce to support its C-130J fleet through the Hercules Integrated Support (HIOS) program.
With so much to recognize and celebrate, the Marshall team began working with David more than a year ago on the project. Large in sentiment and size, the artwork uses the iconic logos of each organisation applied to the silhouette of the C-130J Super Hercules’ trademark propeller blades.
“I had the propeller design in mind almost straight away,” said David. “I presented several different options, but the propeller design was the clear favorite.”
The C-130’s propeller blades, manufactured by UK-based Dowty Propellers, are a defining and differentiating feature for the Hercules since its inception. In David’s print there are 24 blades to represent the 24 C-130Js operated by the RAF as well as the 24 propeller blades that are part of each and every C-130J Super Hercules.
Marshall’s began the celebration of the arrival of the RAF’s first C-130 a few months early at the Royal International Air Tattoo on 9 and 10 July at RAF Fairford near Swindon by presenting leaders from the RAF and Lockheed Martin with prints of David’s artwork.
He said: “I hope people are pleased and uplifted by this artwork, and that it is a positive reflection of all the hard work and ingenuity put into the C-130 through 50 years of collaboration. Pieces of art have their own lives and I hope this one has a long and happy one.”
David Bent is viewed as one of the world’s leading modern aviation artists. His awards and recognitions are expansive, ranging from a year long solo exhibition at the Royal Air Force Museum, to being awarded an Honorary Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the organization’s highest distinction to those who have made a significant contribution to the aerospace profession.
He has also been closely associated with the Red Arrows, the RAF’s Aerobatic team.