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English Electric Canberra

The RAF's first jet-powered bomber
English Electric Canberra B Mk 1 English Electric Canberra B Mk 1
A first generation British jet-powered medium bomber, the English Electric Canberra was designed by W. E. W. 'Teddy' Petter. It could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber throughout the 1950’s and set a world's altitude record of 70,310 ft (21,430 m) in 1957.
It all began in 1944 when the Air Ministry issued a requirement for a successor to the De Havilland Mosquito 'with no defensive armament and a high-altitude capability to evade interceptors'.
A number of British manufacturers submitted proposals and amongst those short-listed were Lancashire-based English Electric. At the time, the company had little experience in the design of military aircraft having spent most of their formative years building aircraft for the likes of Handley Page.  This all changed when Petter arrived from Westland Aircraft and immediately set up his own Design Team.
Initial designs produced a centrally-mounted single-engine concept although this was quickly replaced by a two wing-mounted engine concept and on 7th January 1946 the Ministry of Supply placed a contract (B.3/45) for the further development and production of 4 aircraft, project named EE A.1.
After numerous post-war political and economic delays, the initial A.1. prototype (VN499) flew on 13th May 1949 by which time the Ministry had actually pre-ordered 132 production aircraft in various configurations.  The aircraft continued on as the A.1 until it was eventually renamed Canberra in 1950 by the then English Electric Managing Director Sir George Nelson (Australia was the first export customer).
The addition of a glazed nose (for a bomb aimer), twin Rolls-Royce Avon R.A. 3 engines and teardrop wingtip fuel tanks resulted in the Canberra B2 which took to the air at Warton on 21st April 1950 in the hands of EE Chief Test Pilot Rowland Beamont. 
English Electric Canberra B Mk 2 RAF G-27-99 English Electric Canberra B Mk 2 RAF G-27-99
Such was the ease of transition from propeller aircraft into the Canberra that it entered full service with 101 Squadron RAF on 21st May 1951.
The success and adaptability of the design was such that it was built in 27 versions which equipped 35 RAF squadrons and it was exported to more than 15 countries including Australia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Rhodesia, South Africa, Sweden, Venezuela and West Germany. 
Additionally, 403 'Canberras' were manufactured under licence by Martin (Glen L Martin Company) as the B-57 Canberra, again in several versions.
The Canberra was retired by its first operator (the RAF) in June 2006, 57 years after its first flight.  Meanwhile 3 of the Martin B-57 variant remain in service, performing meteorological work for NASA.


English Electric A.1 Company designation for the first four aircraft before being named Canberra.
Canberra B Mk.1
4 Built
Prototypes for type development work and research at first known by the company designation A.1.
Canberra B Mk.2
418 Built
First production version, 3 crew (addition of bomb aimer) Avon R.A.3 engines, wingtip fuel tanks. Built by English Electric (208), Avro (75), Handley Page (75) and Short Brothers & Harland (60) including eight for export (Australia, United States and Venezuela).
Canberra PR Mk.3 Photo-reconnaissance version of B2 with 14" added to the fuselage for Camera Bay - 2 crew.
Canberra T Mk.4 Trainer variant.
Canberra B Mk.5
1 Built
Prototype of second-generation with fuel tanks in the wings and Avon RA7 engines.
Canberra B Mk.6
106 Buiult
Production version of B5, 1 ft fuselage stretch. Built by English Electric (57) and Short Brothers & Harland (49) incl 12 for export
Canberra B6(RC)
4 Built
Radio Countermeasures - Specialist ELINT with enlarged nose and Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) with extended nose.
Canberra B(I) Mk.6
22 Built
Interim interdictor variant for RAF based on B6 with a detachable ventral pack housing four 20 mm Hispano cannons or provision for two wing hard points and LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for delivery of nuclear bombs.
Canberra PR Mk.7
74 Built
Photo-reconnaissance variant of B6, similar equipment to the PR3 but uprated engines of the B6 and increased fuel capacity.
Canberra B(I) Mk.8
72 Buuilt / 1 conversion
3rd generation derived from B6, an interdictor with a new forward fuselage with teardrop canopy and navigator station ahead of pilot. Provision for a 4 Hispano cannons, single hardpoint under each wing for bombs or unguided rockets, LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for nuclear bombs.
Canberra PR Mk.9
32 Built
Photo-reconnaissance version with fuselage stretched to 68 ft, wingspan increased by 4 ft and Avon R.A.27 (Avon 206) engines. Offset canopy with a hinged nose to allow fitment of an ejection seat for the navigator. Built by Short Brothers & Harland.
Canberra U10  / D10
18 Conversions
Remote-controlled target drones converted from B2. 
Canberra T11 Nine B2s converted to trainers for pilots and navigators of all-weather interceptors to operate the Airborne Intercept radar, crew of four.
Canberra B(I) Mk.12 Canberra B(I)8 bombers built for New Zealand and South Africa
Canberra T Mk.13 Training version of the T4 for New Zealand, one built new and one conversion from T4.
Canberra U Mk.14 / D14
6 Conversions
Remote-controlled target drones converted from the B2 for Royal Navy.
Canberra B Mk.15
39 Conversions
Upgraded B6 with underwing hardpoints for bombs or rockets and updated avionics and camera fittings.
Canberra B Mk.16
19 Conversions
Similar to B15 for Germany.
Canberra T Mk.17
24 Conversions
Electronic warfare training variant for surface-based , missile operator, airborne fighter and airborne EAW warning crew training inc handling jamming (chaff dropping) aircraft.
Canberra T17A
39 Conversions
Upgraded B6 for Far and Near East withunderwing hardpoints for bombs or rockets plus updated avionics and camera mountings.
Canberra T Mk.17A
39 Conversions
Updated T17 with improved navigation aids, a spectrum analyser and a powerful communications jammer
Canberra TT Mk.18
22 Conversions
Target tug conversion of B2 for the RAF and Royal Navy.
Canberra T Mk.19 T11 with radar removed as silent target
Canberra Mk.20 B2 with additional fuel tanks in the wings, built in Australia.
Canberra T Mk.21 Trainer conversions from B2 and Mk.20
Canberra T Mk.22 Conversion of PR7 for Royal Navy and Air Direction Unit and used for training Buccaneer navigators
Canberra B Mk.52 Refurbished B2 bombers for Ethiopia
Canberra Mk.56 Refurbished B(I)6 bombers for Peru
Canberra PR Mk.57 Tropicalized PR7 for India
Canberra B(I) Mk.58 Tropicalized B(I)8 for India
Canberra B Mk.62
10 conversions
Refurbished B2 bombers for Argentina.
Canberra T Mk.64
2 Conversions
Refurbished T4 trainers for Argentina.
Canberra B(I) Mk.66
10 Conversions
Refurbished B(I)6 bombers sold to India.
Canberra PR Mk.67
2 Conversions
Refurbished PR7s sold to India.
Canberra Mk.68
1 Conversion
1 refurbished B(I)8 bomber sold to Peru.
Canberra B Mk.92
1 Conversion
Modified B2 for Argentina but not delivered.
Canberra T Mk.94
1 Conversion
Modified T4 for Argentina but not delivered.
Short SC.9
1 Conversion
Modified PR9 by Shorts, fitted with an AI.23 radar and IR installation in the nose for Red Top air-to-air missile trials. 
Short SD.1
1 Conversion
Modified PR3 by Shorts as a launch vehicle carrying 2 variants of the Beech AQM-37A high-speed target missiles trials for the Royal Aircraft Establishment

Specification (Canberra B(I)6)

Powerplant                              2 × Rolls-Royce Avon R.A.7 Mk.109 turbojets, 7,400 lbf (36 kN) each
Wingspan 64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)
Weight Takeoff: 55,000 lb (24,948 kg) Loaded: 46,000 lb (20,865 kg)
Capacity 3 crew
Length 65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)
Max speed                Mach 0.88 (580 mph, 933 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,192 m)
Range Combat: 810 mi (700 nm, 1,300 km) Ferry: 3,380 mi (2,940 nm, 5,440 km)

Number built

900                                       Built by various companies in the UK
403 Built by Martin as B-57


Canberra B.2                          
Lincoln Nitshke Aircraft Collection, Greenock, Australia
No website found   
Canberra B.2
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambs, UK
Canberra B.2
Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, UK
Canberra B.2
West German Air Force Museum ( Luftwaffenmuseum) Berlin-Gatow, W Germany
Canberra B.2
Classic Flight (now defunct), Air Atlantique, Coventry Airport
Canberra B.(1)8
AirPlatforms Inc, Lakeport, CA.
Canberra B.(1)8
Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire, UK
Canberra B.(1)8
Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Christchurch, NZ
Canberra B.(1)8
Newark Air Museum, Newark, UK
Canberra B.(1)8
Flugausstellung Aircraft Museum, Hermeskeil, Germany
Canberra B.20
Alex Campbell Park, Brymaroo, Queensland, Australia
Canberra B.20
Temora Aviation Museum, W Australia
Canberra B.20
Queensland Air Museum, Australia
Canberra B.20
A84-226  -   Heritage Centre, RAAF Wagga, Australia
Canberra B.20
Air Force Association Museum, Bull Creek, W Australia
Canberra B.20
RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria, Australia
Canberra B.20
RAAF Base Amberly, Australia
Canberra B.20
Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Christchurch, NZ
Canberra B.20
South Australian Aviation Museum, Port Adelaide, South Australia
Canberra B.20
DSTO (Fishermans Bend), Melbourne, Australia
Canberra B.20
Defense Muntions Depot, Kingswood, NSW, Australia
Canberra B.(1)58
Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, Delhi
Canberra B.62
Olivia City Railway Station, Cordoba Province, Argentina
Canberra T.4
Solway Aviation Society, Carlisle
Canberra T.4
Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton, Suffolk
Canberra T.4
Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington, N Yorkshire
 Canberra T.4
 Classic Flight (Now defunct),Coventry Airport 
Canberra T.17
Norwegian Aviation Museum,  Bodoe, Norway
Canberra T.17
East Midlands Aeropark, East Midlands Airport, UK
Canberra T.19
Newark Air Museum, Newark, UK
Canberra Tp.52
Ugglarp Museum, Sweden
Canberra Tp.52
Swedish Air Force Museum, Linkoeping, Sweden
Canberra TT.18
Valiant Air Command Museum IN Titusville Florida, USA
Canberra TT.18
North East Aircraft Museum, Sunderland, UK
Canberra TT.18
Temora Aviation Museum, Australia
Canberra TT.18
Jet Age Museum, Meteor Business Park, Gloucester, Gloucs. UK
Canberra PR.3
RAF Museum, Hendon, London. UK
Canberra PR.3
Midland Air Museum, Baginton, UK
Canberra PR.7
Gatwick Aviation Museum, Vallance Byways, Charlwood, Gatwick, UK
Canberra PR.7
Newark Air Museum, Newark, UK
Canberra PR.7
WJ821  -   Bassingbourn Barracks, Royton, Herts, UK
Canberra PR.9
National Air and Space Museum, Cerrillos Santiago de Chile.
Canberra PR.9
RAF Museum, Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire, UK
Canberra PR.9
National Air and Space Museum, Cerrillos Santiago de Chile.
Several ex-RAF machines and RB-57s remain flying in the US for research and mapping work.  It is believed that 10 airworthy aircraft are in private hands today and are flown at air displays.  The list above does not include nose sections, full or part fuselages or 'Fire Training airframes'.

More information

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