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Lt Col Stafford, CO 846, Chris Shaw and 846 NAS personnel  unveiling painting
Lt Col Stafford, CO 846, and Chris Shaw
Lt Col Stafford, CO 846, and Chris Shaw


Published: 02 Oct 2015

Exactly one year to the day of 846 Naval Air Squadron reforming as a Merlin Squadron, Commanding Officer Lt Col Derek Stafford – on behalf of the Squadron – was presented with a specially commissioned painting of a Merlin Mk3 and Sea King Mk4 by local artist Chris Shaw.


The painting was commissioned by WO Steve Woods and CPO Al Wilson to mark the first anniversary of 846 NAS standing up, reflecting the retirement of the Sea King and the formation of the Merlin Squadron.


CPO Al Wilson, 846 NAS, said, “


“The reason WO Steve Woods and I decided to commission this painting was because we’ve been a fan of Chris Shaw’s work for many years now and we thought it was befitting to commission a painting by him of the two aircraft combined to reflect the transition from the Sea King to the Merlin. The painting is incredibly impressive and to see everyone’s reaction to it when it was unveiled was a great moment.”


Artist Chris Shaw from Yeovil said,


“I have loved painting and drawing aircraft from a young age, especially as my father worked at RNAS Yeovilton, so I was excited to receive this commission from 846 Naval Air Squadron. From the initial photographing the Merlin to finally completing the painting took two months and it was overwhelming to see so many people from the Squadron here for the unveiling, very humbling.”


It has been a busy time for 846 NAS personnel. Training in the Arctic, the desert and the maritime environments, and moving from RAF Benson to RNAS Yeovilton all within 12 months has challenged the Squadron who have once again shown the spirit, skill and ‘can do’ ethos the Commando Helicopter Force is renowned for.


Lt Col Derek Stafford, Commanding Officer of 846 NAS said,


“Today has been incredibly special for the Squadron, literally a calendar year to the day that 846 stood up. It has been great having artist Chris Shaw down with us to present such a special picture, commemorating all the hard work that’s gone in over the last 12 months.”


“It’s been fantastic to mark our first anniversary with a really incredible piece of art that will hang and endure in the Squadron building, so when we’re long gone the people that take up the 846 reins after us will have something to look at and remember us by.” He added.


Following the presentation, Lt Col Stafford took the opportunity to commend the 12 Squadron personnel who were the first to make the move to RAF Benson beginning the transition to the Merlin helicopter.


WO1 RM Jamie Kinniburgh, 846 NAS EWO, said,


“For me personally it’s been a remarkable five years. I was one of the first to go to RAF Benson and since then we’ve steamed ahead, we’ve done a huge amount and changed a lot in the training pipeline. I am very proud to be here with 846 celebrating their first year with the Merlin.”


CPO(AET) Matty Moore, D flight 846 NAS, said,


“It was a privilege to be chosen as one of the original 12 people to go up to RAF Benson five years ago and we’ve crossed a lot of bridges in that time. It’s been good to have been involved all the way through, seeing the milestones achieved and to have got the Squadron ready to bring back to it’s home here at Yeovilton.”


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