The De Havilland Aircraft Company DH72 Canberra was initially designed to meet the 1927 Air Ministry Specification B.22/27, which called for a three-engine night-bomber to be powered by Bristol Jupiter engines.
Defensive gunner positions were required in both the nose and the tail of the aircraft, although the nose-gunner position prevented nose-mounting of the third engine so it was mounted on the wing centre section, high above the fuselage.
De Havilland had selected the name 'Canberra' for the type although it is not clear that this name was ever officially recognised by the Air Ministry. The fuselage construction was predominantly of wood, with fabric-covered metal wing structures. De Havilland were unfamiliar with metal construction methods and this was the main reason why production of the prototype took 3 years.
A single prototype (J9184) was finally completed by the Gloster Aircraft Company factory, Brockworth, having been the subject of long delays at Stag Lane. Gloster had an ongoing agreement with De Havilland to produce military designs thus allowing Hatfield to concentrate on lucrative civilian types - this often meant that other work took second place in many departments.
The large, three-bay biplane (with a wing span of 95 feet) was flown for the first time on 27th July 1931.
It visited the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough in November before undergoing competitive trials at RAF Martlesham Heath during the winter and early spring of 1932. Delays in producing the prototype had led to the original Air Ministry Specification being withdrawn and then re-issued (B.19/27) calling for a twin-engine night-bomber.
Although trials were conducted alongside the Boulton Paul P.32, neither aircraft went any further than the prototype stage.
|Powerplant||Three 595 hp Bristol Jupiter XFS|
|Span||95 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||21,462 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Three crew, nose and tail Scarff-mounted defensive Lewis guns and up to ten 250 lb bombs carried externally under the fuselage.|
|Maximum Speed||Not known|
|Number built||Single prototype only J9184|