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Pinnacle Reached - 100th Mission of Major Bob Krone - A Work in Progress report by Brain Bateman.

F-105 Thunderchief of Col Bob Krone. This article is a step-by-step or 'Work in Progress' article by artist Brian Bateman showing the process of creating this painting from rough concept drawings to final completion..

The Decades of Conflict art show has come and gone- it was a well done, professional gathering with a great turn out. On opening night our guest speaker was Col. Robert Krone, (ret), who gave an impressive speech and he had a nice photo montage during his talk regarding his career. We started talking afterwards and Bob mentioned that he flew an impressive 100 missions with the 469th TFS, Operations Officer. Bob was the first acting commander to complete 100 missions in 1967, as the four before him did not make it, who were either shot down and injured or wound up as a POW.

Colonel Robert Krone

Bob earned four DFCs while flying the "Thud", all in less than a year, and two in one month! Now that is skill and leadership at its finest!
Anyway, I have been asked by Bob to do an action of his during "Rolling Thunder" and I have started my research and asking Bob alot of questions. It's always best to go straight to the man who was there mixed with my own research-gathering information as I go. Anyway, Bob has been most gracious as I ask many questions and he has given me numerous reference and first hand information. Reading all the actions and the losses occurred really brings it all home. The NVA really had an arsenal-the most heavily protected area around Hanoi that the US Air Force has ever faced. The flak and SAMS were deadly.

Concept 1

Concept 2 

Concept 3

Concept 4


These four rough concepts were done after extensive reading of particular actions involving Col. Robert Krone of the 469th TAC Fighter Squadron in late 1965 to mid 1966, and operations involving "Rolling Thunder".  Bob loaned me valuable documents depicting actions, including losses of personnel and machines during this time.  In those few months, 1 pilot was killed, one pilot killed in a landing accident, and 8 pilots were declared MIA.  Initially I wanted a tribute painting and started in that direction, but then soon started to lean towards a little action being depicted. Concept 1 I have added action as the group has just hit a target around the outskirts of Hanoi. As they climb out and turn away the smoke from the attack is visible along with anti aircraft fire as they puff around the Thuds as they head for home. Concept 2 and 4 are tribute paintings. I call them this as they portray no particular action, though 2 and 4 are related in the fact that the weather was inclement and cloud was heavy. I decided to go with the great lines of the 105 combined with mood and a feeling of camaraderie on these two.  Concept 3 shows the Thuds at the beginning of an action near Dong Hoi on January 31, 1966.  During this mission the weather was terrible, plenty of rain and ceiling was 500 ft to 1000 ft scattered to broken cloud. Close to the target they were about to call an abort when the cloud had a break in it, long enough to see they were over the target. This sketch depicts the moment when the Thuds realized the mission was on, and they are about to break on their missile runs at the IP.



Progression on the rather large Thud painting is well under way and I have blocked in most of my color. I have started to now go back in with thinned paint and glazes to build up all the detail and points of interest. The trees (I am really sick of trees), are all blocked in and I will add detail to this area once I have the planes in the right tonal values to create depth. So far the main Thud is a little off on the color. but once I get into the form and light and shadow it should begin to come alive. It always amazes me how the piece builds up, I struggle a bit with it all, and then after many hours it begins to get the snap I am after.  Nothing quite like it that I know of.  I love the process and the demanding time frame on this one.



Last weekend was a good one though I did not get to the point that I wanted or have envisioned in my mind.. I'll keep going at it and build those layers of thinned paint and glazes. Overall it is taking on a good form and I am pleased, though in taking the photo I see areas that bother me and that I need to go in and adjust after I get the planes finished! Time is ticking away quickly!


Here are a few quick snaps of the all-but-finished painting.  There was a tight deadline on this one!  My thanks to Bob Krone who gave me the opportunity (and yes, a curve ball was included late in the game but I hit it) and for his passion for making this happen.



The Completed Painting

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