Artist depicts Cyclone’s brush with Russian Sub

Raptor Meets Russians by Peter Robichaud is currently on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum.

Raptor Meets Russians by Peter Robichaud is currently on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum.

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

A Halifax-based artist has captured the high-tension moment when a Cyclone helicopter encountered a Russian submarine.

It was early 2019 during Operation Reassurance when HMCS Toronto and its embarked helicopter escorted a Russian submarine in the Mediterranean. 

The acrylic-on-canvass painting, entitled Raptor Meets Russians, is the work of acclaimed artist and military veteran Peter J. Robichaud.

Robichaud says it is the first painting of a Cyclone in action.

It was commissioned by Major Matthew Dukowski, a member of the 12 Wing Shearwater helicopter detachment on the deployment.

“We were looking at them and they [the Russians] were looking at us, and the painting is a likeness of how I described the situation to Peter,” says Maj Dukowski. “The painting shows the chopper and the submarine in great detail, including our detachment’s Raptor decal on the side of the aircraft, which to me symbolizes the whole team I had on the detachment.”

Raptor Meets Russians is currently on display as part of an ongoing art gallery exhibit at the Shearwater Aviation Museum. Limited edition prints of the painting are available at the museum gift shop.

Robichaud and Maj Dukowski have been friends since they worked together at 12 Wing when Robichaud was still in the military. They were deployed together in 2012 aboard HMCS Saint John’s.   

Maj Dukowski is amazed by Robichaud’s art skills and has a number of his prints at his home.

“Peter is unique in Canada, if not the world. Nobody else is creating military artwork to the quality and accuracy and meticulous attention to detail as Peter; he is truly gifted.”

Robichaud’s passion for both aviation and art developed in childhood. As a youth, he joined the Air Cadets in his hometown of in Chatham, N.B, with a dream to become a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot. However, less than perfect vision kiboshed that aspiration.

Instead, he embarked on a career in the Canadian Army in 1987, working in tanks instead of airplanes. In 2004, he transferred to the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch before his retirement in 2015.

At age 12, he put brush to canvass, and over those formative years developed his style and skill.

Peter J. Robichaud in his studio.

Peter J. Robichaud in his studio.

“I paint because I love to put a smile on someone’s face, and also to leave a legacy since I have no children,” says Robichaud. “I suppose I also paint to make the long-gone subjects of fascination from my own childhood fly again.”

Detail is at the heart of his work. Each painting requires hours of research, reviewing imagery until he fully understands the subject – as he puts it “rivet counting.”

“Most military folks demand accuracy of the subject. I fully understand it and include myself in that category. You can be an artist in the design of the painting but the subject matter must be correct.”

Once the Shearwater Museum is finished with Raptor Meets Russians it will be returned to Major Dukowski, who says he has no plans to sell the artwork.

“I will ask for it back from the museum when I can’t stand being without it any longer. It will be displayed prominently in my home for the rest of my life.”

To see more of Robichaud’s work go to Peter J Robichaud Studios on Facebook or the Canadian Aerospace Artist Association website:


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