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 1950s and by 1958 it had set nineteen point-to-point speed records and three height records, including one 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 was Lancashire-based English Electric Company. At the time, the company had little experience in the design of military aircraft, having spent most of their formative years during WW2 building aircraft for the likes of Handley Page and De Havilland.  This all changed when Petter arrived from Westland Aircraft and he 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 issued Specification 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 (VN799) 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 formally named Canberra on 19th January 1951, by The Rt Hon R.G Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia and the first export customer for the new jet.
 
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 B.2, which took to the air at Warton on 21st April 1950 in the hands of EE Chief Test Pilot Roland (Bea) Beamont. 
 
English Electric Canberra B(I)56 English Electric Canberra B(I)56 of the Peruvian Air Force, formerly a B.2 with the RAF
 
Such was the ease of transition from propeller aircraft into the English Electric Canberra, that the first aircraft was delivered to RAF101 Squadron at Binbrook on 25th May 1951.
 
The success and adaptability of the design was such that it was built in over 40 versions and equipped 65 RAF squadrons. It was exported to 15 countries: Australia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, India, New Zealand, Peru, Rhodesia / Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sweden, USA, Venezuela and West Germany. A total of 925 English Electric Canberra aircraft were built in the UK.
 
451 'Canberra' aircraft were also built under licence in the USA: 403 in the USA by the Glenn L Martin Company and designated as the B-57 ‘Canberra’ in many versions. A number of these were transferred from the USA to Pakistan as well as the Republic of China (Taiwan). 
 
A further 48 English Electric Canberras were built under licence by the Government Aircraft Factory, Australia as the Mk.20. 
 
In total 1,376 English Electric Canberra aircraft were built.
 
The aircraft was eventually retired by its first operator (the RAF) in June 2006, some 57 years after its first flight.  Meanwhile, 3 of the Martin B-57 variants remained in service, performing meteorological work for NASA.
 
EE Canberra Image Gallery

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EE Canberra B Mk1 (VN799) prototype on ground with Roland Beamont in cockpit
EE Canberra B Mk1 (VN799) prototype

EE Canberra B Mk1 (VN799) prototype on ground with Roland Beamont in cockpit

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EE Canberra B (I) Mk 8, B Mk6 & T Mk4 production at Samlesbury
EE Canberra production at Samlesbury 

EE Canberra B (I) Mk8, B Mk6 & T Mk4 production at Samlesbury

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EE Canberra B Mk2 WH657 RAF ground view
EE Canberra B Mk2

EE Canberra B Mk2 (WH657) RAF ground view

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra B Mk2 (WD934, WD936 & WD938) lined up with other aircraft
EE Canberra B Mk2's

EE Canberra B Mk2's (WD934, WD936 & WD938) lined up with other aircraft

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra B Mk2 WH657 RAF ground view
EE Canberra B Mk2

EE Canberra B Mk2 (WH657) RAF ground view

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra B Mk2 (WD933) RAF climbing during AS Sapphire engine trials 1952
EE Canberra B Mk2

EE Canberra B Mk2 (WD933) RAF climbing during AS Sapphire engine trials 1952

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra (WK163) low pass over runway in 1957 at Farnborough with belly-mounted Napier Double Scorpion rocket motor ignited
EE Canberra low pass over runway at Farnborough with belly-mounted rocket motor ignited 1957 

EE Canberra (WK163) low pass over runway in 1957 at Farnborough with belly-mounted Napier Double Scorpion rocket motor ignited

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra B (I) Mk 6 RAF WT307 air to air
EE Canberra B (I) 

EE Canberra Gallery B (I) Mk6 RAF WT307 air to air 1956

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra PR Mk7 (WH799) RAF air to air and signed by Roland Beamont
EE Canberra PR Mk7

EE Canberra PR Mk7 (WH799) RAF air to air and signed by Roland Beamont

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra B (I) Mk 8 (VX185) prototype RAF air to air
EE Canberra B (I) Mk 8

EE Canberra B (I) Mk 8 (VX185) prototype RAF air to air

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra B (I) Mk8 (WT341) RAF, Canberra B (I) Mk6 (WT318 & WT325) RAF air to air 1960
EE Canberra B (I) Mk8 & Mk6

EE Canberra B (I) Mk8 (WT341) RAF, Canberra B (I) Mk6 (WT318 & WT325) RAF air to air 1960

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra PR Mk9 (XH134) air to air
Canberra PR Mk 9 XH134 air to air

EE Canberra PR Mk9 (XH134) air to air

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)
EE Canberra (Short) SC9 XH132 DRA trials aircraft with modified at Greenham Common
EE Canberra SC9

EE Canberra (XH132) redesignated SC9 by Short Bros, seen here with its modified nose during DRA trials at Greenham Common in 1983

The images on this site are the property of BAE Systems (Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems. All rights reserved)

Variants


Aircraft variants have been split to distinguish new build production from later conversions. Note that refurbished ex RAF aircraft that did not change mark number have been excluded from the lists.
 

New Build:

Canberra B.1
4 Built
Prototypes for type development work and research, at first known by the company designation A.1.
Canberra B.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). RAF and export to Venezuela (6) plus Australia (2) and USA (2) as pattern aircraft for licence production.
Canberra PR.3
36 Built
Photo-reconnaissance version of B.2 with 14" added to the fuselage for Camera Bay - 2 crew. RAF
Canberra T.4
75 Built
Trainer variant, RAF and export to India. 16 additional aircraft converted from B.2
Canberra B Mk.5
1 Built
Prototype of second-generation with fuel tanks in the wings and Avon RA7 engines. Intended for the specialist role of target marking with bomb aiming radar. No production orders placed. Converted to B(I)8 prototype.
Canberra B.6
104 Built
Based on B.2 with new features introduced on the B.5, including RA7 engines and wing integral fuel tanks. Built by English Electric (55) and Short Bros & Harland (49) RAF and export to Ecuador (6) and France (4).
Canberra B(I) 6
24 Built
Interim interdictor variant for RAF based on B.6 with a detachable ventral pack in the bomb bay housing four 20 mm Hispano cannons or , provision for two wing hard points and LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for delivery of nuclear bombs. RAF and export to France
Canberra PR Mk.7
74 Built
Photo-reconnaissance variant of B.6, similar equipment to the PR.3 but uprated engines of the B.6 and increased fuel capacity. RAF and export to India (3)
Canberra B(I) 8
106 Built
Interdictor derived from B.6 with a new forward fuselage with offset teardrop canopy and navigator station ahead of pilot. 4 Hispano cannons in bomb bay gun-pack, single hard-point under each wing for bombs or unguided rockets, LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for nuclear and / or conventional bomb delivery. 12 of the 106 built were by Shorts. RAF and export to India (11), Peru (9) and Venezuela. (8)
Canberra PR.9
23 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. RAF.
Canberra B(I) 12
16 Built
B(I)8 with autopilot and enhanced navigation equipment built for New Zealand and South Africa. Plus one converted from ex RAF B(I)8 for New Zealand
Canberra T.13
1 Built
Version of the T.4 for New Zealand , one built new and one conversion from RAF T4.
Canberra Mk.20
48 Built
Licence built B.2 in Australia by Government Aircraft Factory with wing integral fuel tanks and improved navigation equipment.
Canberra PR.57
5 Built
PR.7 upgraded for India with autopilot, additional navigation equipment, radio altimeter and re-worked electrics. Plus conversions from RAF and Indian PR.7s
Canberra B(I) 58
38 Built
B(I)8 upgraded for India with autopilot and additional navigation equipment. Plus conversions from Indian B(I) 8s pre- and post- delivery
B-57A/B/C/E
RB-57A/D Canberra
403 Built
Licence built aircraft in USA by Glenn L. Martin Co. Many converted to further versions. Some aircraft transferred to Pakistan and Republic of China (Taiwan).

Conversions

Canberra B(I)2
Interdictor version of the B.2 for Venezuela
Canberra B.6(BS)
25 Conversions
B.6 aircraft fitted with Blue Shadow sideways-looking radar.
Canberra B.6(RC)
4 Conversions
B.6 converted for Radar Countermeasures - Specialist ELINT aircraft with enlarged nose and Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR)
Canberra U.10 / D.10
18 Conversions
Remotely controlled target converted from B.2  Utilised for missile trials at the Weapons Research Establishment, Woomera, Australia.
Canberra T.11
9 Conversions
 B.2s converted with nose radome. Trainer for pilots and navigators of all-weather interceptors to operate the Airborne Intercept radar, crew of four. Also Target Facilities.
Canberra U.14/ D.14
6 Conversions
Remotely controlled target converted from B.2 for Royal Navy.
Canberra B.15
39 Conversions
Upgraded B.6 for low level tactical strike. Fitted with underwing hard-points for bombs or rockets and updated avionics and camera fittings. LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System)
Canberra E.15
8 Conversions
B.15 Converted with enhanced electronics fit as interception targets for air defence training and radar calibration.
Canberra B.16
19 Conversions
Low level tactical strike role converted from B.6(BS). LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System)
Canberra T.17
24 Conversions
B.2 converted as electronic warfare training variant for surface-based missile operators, airborne fighter and airborne early warning (AEW) crew training of  handling jamming aircraft.
Canberra T.17A
6 Conversions
Updated T.17 with improved navigation aids, a spectrum analyser and a powerful communications jammer
Canberra TT.18
22 Conversions
Target tug conversion of B.2 for the RAF and Royal Navy.
Canberra T.19
8 Conversions
T.11 with radar removed for Target Facilities.
Canberra Mk.21
7 Conversions
Trainer conversions from B.2 and Mk.20 in Australia
Canberra T.22
7 Conversions
Conversion of PR.7 for Royal Navy Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit with Buccaneer S.2 radar and avionics. Used for training Buccaneer navigators
Canberra B.52
4 Conversions
Refurbished ex RAF B.2 bombers for Ethiopia
Canberra B(I) 56
6 Conversions
Refurbished ex RAF B.2 and B.6 bombers converted to Interdictors
for Peru
Canberra B.62
10 Conversions
Refurbished (ex-RAF) B.2 bombers for Argentina.
Canberra T.64
2 Conversions
Refurbished (ex-RAF) T.4 trainers for Argentina.
Canberra B(I) 66
10 Conversions
Refurbished (ex-RAF) B.15 & B.16 bombers converted to Interdictors for India.
Canberra PR.67
2 Conversions
Refurbished and upgraded ex RAF PR.7s for India.
Canberra B(I) 68
12 Conversions
Refurbished ex RAF B(I)8 bombers for Peru. 11 supplied by Marshalls of Cambridge, 1 by BAC.
Canberra B.82
8 Conversions
Refurbished and upgraded Venezuelan B.2s
Canberra B(I) 82
4 Conversions
Refurbished and upgraded Venezuelan B(I)2s
Canberra PR.83
1 Conversion
Refurbished and upgraded Venezuelan PR.3
Canberra T.84
2 Conversions
Refurbished and upgraded Venezuelan T.4s
Canberra B(I) 88
5 Conversions
Refurbished and upgraded B(I)8 for Venezuela
Canberra B.92
Ex-RAF B.2 for Argentina. One aircraft ordered but not completed.
Canberra T.94
Ex RAF T.4 for Argentina. One aircraft ordered but not completed.
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 missile in trials for the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Canberra Tp52
2 Conversions
Ex RAF B.2 aircraft modified with extended T.11 style nose for ELINT duties with the Royal Swedish Air Force
 

Specification (Canberra B.2)


Powerplant                           
2 × Rolls-Royce Avon RA3 engines of 6500 lbf (28.9 kN) each        
Wingspan
63 ft 11 in (19.49m)
Length  (MOVED UP)
65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)
Weight
Max take off 46,000 lb (20,860 kg)  Max payload 6,000 lb. (2,720 kg)
Crew
3
Length
65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)
Max speed
518 mph (833 km/h) at sea level, 570 mph (917 km/h) at high altitude
Normal maximum range
2,660 miles (2,310 nm, 4,280 km)

 

Number built


  925  
Built in the UK: English Electric (631), Short Brothers & Harland (144), Avro (75), Handley Page (75)  [Delivered: 1951-64]
  403
Built in the USA by Glenn L. Martin Co. [Delivered: 1953-57]
    48
Built in Australia by the Government Aircraft Factory [Delivered: 1953-58]
1376
Total Built

 

Survivors


Canberra B.2                       
(WH725)
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK
www.iwm.org.uk
Canberra B.2
(WJ677)
Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, UK
www.fleetairarm.com
Canberra B.2
(WK138)
West German AF Museum (Luftwaffenmuseum) Berlin-Gatow, W Germany
www.kommando.streitkraeftebasis.de
Canberra B.2
(WK163)
Classic Flight (now defunct), Air Atlantique, Coventry Airport, Warks, UK
Canberra B.(1)8 
(WT327)
AirPlatforms Inc, Lakeport, California, USA
Canberra B.(1)8 
(WT333)
Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire, UK
www.on-target-aviation.com/heritage
Canberra B.(1)8 
(WT327)
Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Christchurch, NZ
www.airforcemuseum.co.nz
Canberra B.(1)8 
(WV787)
Newark Air Museum, Newark, UK
www.newarkairmuseum.org
Canberra B.20
(XM264)
Alex Campbell Park, Brymaroo, Queensland, Australia
www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Canberra B.(1)8 
(XM264)
Flugausstellung Aircraft Museum, Hermeskeil, Germany
www.flugausstellung.de
Canberra B.20
(A84-223)
Temora Aviation Museum, Western Australia
www.aviationmuseum.com.au
Canberra B.20
(A84-226)
A84-226  -   Heritage Centre, RAAF Wagga, Australia
www.airforce.gov.au
Canberra B.20
(A84-225)
Queensland Air Museum, Australia
www.qam.com.au
Canberra B.20
(A84-230)
Air Force Association Museum, Bull Creek, W Australia
www.raafawa.org.au/museum
Canberra B.20
(A84-236)
RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria, Australia
www.raafmuseum.com.au
Canberra B.20
(A84-238)
RAAF Base Amberly, Australia
www.airforce.gov.au/displays/raaf-museum​
Canberra B.20
(A84-240)
Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Christchurch, NZ
www.airforcemuseum.co.nz
Canberra B.2
(WK165)
South Australian Aviation Museum, Port Adelaide, South Australia
www.saam.org.au
Canberra B.20
(A84-245)
D.S.T.O. (Fisherman's Bend), Melbourne, Australia
Canberra B.20
(A84-247)
Defense Munitions Depot, Kingswood, NSW, Australia
www.users.tpg.com.au
Canberra B.(1)58 
(IF907)
Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, Delhi
www.indianairforce.nic.in/content/air-force-museum
Canberra B.62
(B-102)
Olivia City Railway Station, Cordoba Province, Argentina
Canberra T.4
(WD954)
South Australian Aviation Museum, Port Adelaide, South Australia
www.saam.org.au
Canberra T.4
(WE188)
Solway Aviation Society, Carlisle
www.solway-aviation-museum.co.uk/
Canberra T.4
(WH840)
Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton, Suffolk
www.aviationmuseum.net
Canberra T.4
(WH846)
Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington, N Yorkshire
www.yorkshireairmuseum.org
Canberra T.4
(VN799) 
 Classic Flight (Now defunct),Coventry Airport 
Canberra T.4
(457)
South African Air Force Museum, SAAFB Swartkop, South Africa
Canberra T.17
(WD955)
Norwegian Aviation Museum,  Bodoe, Norway
www.luftfartsmuseum.no
Canberra T.17
(WH740)
East Midlands Aeropark, East Midlands Airport, UK
www.eastmidlandsaeropark.org
Canberra T.19
(WH904)
Newark Air Museum, Newark, UK
www.newarkairmuseum.org
Canberra Tp.52
(001)
Ugglarp Museum, Sweden
www.svedinos.se
Canberra Tp.52
(002)
Swedish Air Force Museum, Linkoeping, Sweden
www.flygvapenmuseum.se
Canberra TT.18
(WJ574)
Valiant Air Command Museum IN Titusville Florida, USA
www.valiantaircommand.com
Canberra TT.18
(WJ639)
North East Aircraft Museum, Sunderland, UK
www.nelsam.org.uk
Canberra TT.18
(WJ680)
Temora Aviation Museum, Australia
www.aviationmuseum.com.au
Canberra TT.18
(WK126)
Jet Age Museum, Meteor Business Park, Gloucester, UK
www.jetagemuseum.org
Canberra PR.3
(WE139)
RAF Museum, Hendon, London. UK
www.rafmuseum.org.uk
Canberra PR.3
(WF922)
Midland Air Museum, Baginton, UK
www.midlandairmuseum.co.uk
Canberra PR.7
(WH773)
Royal AF Museum Laarbruch, Flughafen-Ring 6, 47652 Weeze, Germany. www.laarbruch-museum.net
Canberra PR.7
(WH791)
Newark Air Museum, Newark, UK
www.newarkairmuseum.org
Canberra PR.7
(WJ821)
WJ821  -   Bassingbourn Barracks, Royton, Hertfordshire, UK
www.towermuseumbassingbourn.com/
Canberra PR.9
(XH166)
National Air and Space Museum, Cerrillos Santiago de Chile.
www.museoaeronautico.gob.cl
Canberra PR.9
(XH171)
RAF Museum, Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire, UK
www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford
Canberra PR.9
(XH173)
National Air and Space Museum, Cerrillos Santiago de Chile.
www.museoaeronautico.gob.cl
 
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'.