Introduction

Anzeige im Flight Magazin, 20 März 1953 Canberra © via Kate Yates BAE Heritage Center

Anzeige im Flight Magazin, 20 März 1953 Canberra © via Kate Yates BAE Heritage Center

The English Electric Canberra is a British first-generation jet-powered medium bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. The Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber through the 1950s and set a world altitude record of 70,310 ft (21,430 m) in 1957. Due to its ability to evade the early jet interceptors and its significant performance advancement over contemporary piston-engined bombers, the Canberra was a popular export product and served with air forces of many nations.

 

Installing of a Martin Baker Mk 3 Ejection Seat in Canberra B. Mk 2 at the Preston Factory © via Kate Yates BAE Heritage Center

Installing of a Martin Baker Mk 3 Ejection Seat in Canberra B. Mk 2 at the Preston Factory © via Kate Yates BAE Heritage Center

In addition to being a tactical nuclear strike aircraft, the Canberra proved to be highly adaptable, serving in varied roles such as tactical bombing and photographic and electronic reconnaissance. Canberras served in the Suez Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the Indo-Pakistani wars, and numerous African conflicts. In several wars, each of the opposing sides had Canberras in their air forces. The Canberra was retired by its first operator, the Royal Air Force (RAF), in June 2006, 57 years after its first flight. Three of the Martin B-57 variant remain in service, performing meteorological work for NASA, as well as providing electronic communication (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node or BACN) testing for deployment to Afghanistan.

 

Windtunnel trials with a mock-up Canberra © via Kate Yates BAE Systems Heritage Center

Windtunnel trials with a mock-up Canberra © via Kate Yates BAE Systems Heritage Center

Canberra T. Mk 4 Serial WT480

Built in early 1955 by English Electric Co. in Preston, WT480 was delivered to 33 Maintenance Unit based at RAF Station Lyneham/Wiltshire on April 30th, 1955. It was officialy brought into service on May 3rd, 1955. Between Summer 1955 and August 1956 it served as a Training and Checkflight-Aircraft at Royal Air Force Station Gütersloh in the colours of No 102 Squadron belonging to 551 Wing.

Seitenrissdarstellung der Canberra T. Mk 4 im Einsatz bei der No 102 (B) Squadron in Gütersloh ca. 1955. Diese Zeichnung ist auch in unserem Shop als hochwertiger Kunstdruck im Format DinA3 zu bestellen.

Seitenrissdarstellung der Canberra T. Mk 4 im Einsatz bei der No 102 (B) Squadron in Gütersloh ca. 1955. Diese Zeichnung ist auch in unserem Shop als hochwertiger Kunstdruck im Format DinA3 zu bestellen.                      Zeichnung © Chris Sandham-Bailey im Auftrag vom VDLGT.de

Thereafter, it belonged to the Central Flying School (CFS) based at RAF Little Rissington, from 1958 until the end of 1962. It made a demonstration flight (marked with letter code „CC“) on April 1st, 1959, under command of Air Commodore Whitworth via Luqa / Malta, Khartoum / Sudan and Eastleigh / Kenya up to Salisbury / Rhodesia. The aircraft was displayed in the next few days to the Royal Rhodesian Air Forced without a technical failure and very successful. This eventually led the African country to buy a total of 18 Canberra aircraft for its Air Force!

Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480/CC taxying to takeoff at RAF Basis Little Rissington in 1960. Photo © Ray Deacon

Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480/CC taxying to takeoff at RAF Basis Little Rissington in 1960. Photo © Ray Deacon

From 1963 onwards, the Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480 was on strength of No 231 Operational Conversion Unit based at RAF Bassingbourn and served several years in the training role. Subsequently, it was used by No 7 Squadron at RAF St. Mawgan, No 13 Squadron based at Luqa/Malta and back to No 7 Squadron  in 1980. It was then transferred to No 231 OCU from 1981 onwards until the units disbandment on April 23, 1993 (between December 1990 to May 1991 No 231 OCU was briefly renamed Canberra Training and Standardisation Flight). The aircraft made it‘s last documented visit to RAF Gütersloh in the hands of No 231 OCU (using tailcode „BC“) on June 15th, 1989.

Die Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480 der 231OCU aus RAF Wyton trägt bei ihrem Besuch in Gütersloh am 15. Juni 1989, keinen Buchstabencode am Leitwerk und gehörte zu den ca. acht bis zehn Flugzeugen, die in den letzten Jahren des Bestehens der Trainingseinheit für sie im Einsatz waren. Die WT480 war ein alter Bekannter für Gütersloh - sie flog als Trainer bei der 102Sqn des Bomber Command in den Jahren 1955 bis 56 von Gütersloh aus! Die Canberra T4 der 231OCU aus RAF Wyton trägt keinen Buchstabencode am Leitwerk und gehört zu den ca. acht bis zehn Flugzeugen, die in den letzten Jahren des Bestehens der Trainingseinheit für sie im Einsatz waren. Die WT480 war ein alter Bekannter für Gütersloh - sie flog als Trainer bei der 102Sqn des Bomber Command in den Jahren 1955 bis 56 von Gütersloh aus! Foto © Olaf Kestin

Die Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480 der No 231 OCU aus RAF Wyton trägt bei ihrem Besuch in Gütersloh am 15. Juni 1989, keinen Buchstabencode am Leitwerk und gehörte zu den ca. acht bis zehn Flugzeugen, die in den letzten Jahren des Bestehens der Trainingseinheit für sie im Einsatz waren. Foto © Olaf Kestin

In company of three other RAF Wyton Canberras WT480 / BC  took part in the 75th anniversary  fly past of the Royal Air Force as part of „Formation Six“. After a brief use with RAF Wyton Station Flight between May 1993 until the end of June 1993, No 360 Squadron also based at RAF Wyton used WT480 between June 28th, 1993 until  November 30th, 1993.

As the final Canberra Squadron of the Royal Air Force, No 39 (1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit) Squadron based at RAF Marham took charge of WT480 now coded „AT“ from December 1993 until the fall of 2005, only interrupted by several irregular stays in aircraft storage. WT480 was actually one of the two oldest Canberras in active service with the Royal Air Force – she was almost fifty years in constant use!

In October 2005, the airframe was finally scrapped by GJD Air Service and only the cockpit section was saved. Via several owners the Cockpit Section finally found it‘s way back to Gütersloh in July 2015 and is privately owned by various members of the museum staff.

As important the Canberra T. Mk 4 was for training and education of new pilots and crews, it was not very popular. The narrow overcrowded Cockpit with it‘s third auxiliary folding seat for the navigator was disliked by many crews – especially on night flights in bad weather conditions. A No 39 (1 PRU) Squadron pilot was asked on a check-flight training, what he would do if the brakes failedon his aircraft while parking next to another Canberra T. Mk 4 on a crowded flightline – his answer: „give thrust and crash two of them … !“

 

Technical Data

Categorie:  Training Aircraft (two Pilots, one Navigator)
Engines:  two Rolls-Royce Avon RA3 with each 4.760 lbs thrust
Dimensions
Length:  65,48 ft
Wingspan:  64 ft
Height:  15,64 ft
Max. Take-Off Weight:  38.034 lbs
Max. Touchdown Weight:  31.528 lbs
Maximum Speed:
456 mph at Sealevel
Mach 0,75 (max 15.000 ft)
Mach 0,79  (15.000 to 20.000 ft)
Combatradius:  700 Miles
Ferry Range:  2937 Miles
Serviceceiling:  47.900 ft
G-Limits:
4g without Wingtip Tanks
3g with Wingtip Tanks
Fuel Capacity:  1871 br. gal. incl. 2x 249,88 br. gal Wingtip Tanks
Armament:  none

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Die Vereinsmitglieder nach dem erfolgreichen Überführen der Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480 aus Kirchberg an der Jagst nach Gütersloh. Von links nach rechts: Marc Tecklenborg (GF VDLGT), Michael Brand (Kassenwart VDLGT), Hagen Franke, Matthias Birwe (Überführung der Canberra), Mark Richards (VDLGT) und Mario Nowak

Die Vereinsmitglieder nach dem erfolgreichen Überführen der Canberra T. Mk 4 WT480 aus Kirchberg an der Jagst nach Gütersloh. Von links nach rechts: Marc Tecklenborg (GF VDLGT), Michael Brand (Kassenwart VDLGT), Hagen Franke, Matthias Birwe (Überführung der Canberra), Mark Richards (VDLGT) und Mario Nowak.

Marcus Herbote, Marc Tecklenborg und Auszüge aus Wikipedia, im Juli 2015