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Canberra Quartet

5 August 2011

Canberra Quartet

The Canberra was a remarkable aircraft and is hardly recognized for its achievements. One of the fastest and highest flying of her day with Cold War missions over Russia commonplace for a time. Like the de Havilland Mosquito the Canberra replaced she escaped interceptors by using these qualities. English Electric first designed the Canberra as a bomber with a crew of two in a side-by-side arrangement, but the automated bombing system that was to be included did not come about so a bombardier crewman was added. This made for an unusual crew stationing though, outwardly, the canopy indicated the original side-by-side seating. The pilot was still on the left but the navigator was then stationed behind the pilot. Beside the pilot and stepped down was a jump seat for the bombardier, who would crawl forward to the now clear nose to lay prone when the proper time came to do so.

The USAF would not abide the crew positions and instructed the Martin company, who would build the B-57 under license, to redesign the B-57 to have a tandem cockpit.Later versions would have solo cockpits.

During my travels I have seen four Canberras and each has a story.

The RB-57D Canberra is exhibited within the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force* as she would have looked while flying missions reconnaissance in the Cold War during the 1950s. Underneath the cockpit is a window port for a camera, a single place cockpit and the more powerful engines and longer wings as compared to most other Canberra models.

The Martin RB-57D Canberra at the National Museum of the USAF — photo by Joseph May

The Air Force Museum of New Zealand* displays an English Electric B.20 Canberra bomber which flew in the Vietnam War.

The English Electric B.20 Canberra in the Air Force Museum of New Zealand (note the clear nose section for the prone bombardier) — photo by Joseph May

Lastly, a pair of Martin EB-57 Canberras — one at the Castle Air Museum* and the other at the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum* — these aircraft were employed as aggressor aircraft to train interceptor pilots to fly against electronic countermeasures during their missions.

Martin EB-57E at the Castle Air Museum — photo by Joseph May

Martin EB-57B Canberra at the USAF Armament Museum — photo by Joseph May

* posts have previously published about the museum and aircraft, paste the name into the search window and select ENTER to find them.

Additional information for this post was obtained at:

The B-57 Night Intruder

The USAF Museum fact sheet on the RB-57D

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jason permalink
    5 August 2011 13:02

    There’s an also an B-57 on display at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo on outside display in Kalamazoo MI.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      5 August 2011 17:10

      Cool 🙂 There is also an Ascender there that I would love to see.

  2. shortfinals permalink
    12 August 2011 09:55

    Excellent coverage of one of my favourite types! I particularly enjoyed the ‘night/intruder’ black camouflage schemes. Thanks very much for this.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      16 August 2011 09:17

      Thanks 🙂 Black is always in — isn’t it 😉

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