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  • English Electric Canberra High-Altitude Medium Bomber / Reconnaissance Aircraft

    The record-setting English Electra Canberra progressed much as a medium-to-high altitude bomber - so much so that the U.S. ordered it as the B-57.

     Updated: 5/1/2017; Authored By Dan Alex; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The English Electric Canberra was a strike-minded, jet-powered medium bomber platform that made up Britain's critical bomber/reconnaissance squadrons of the 1950s and 1960s. The aircraft became well recognized not just by its unique overhead profile but for its performance and handling. It was widely exported to various UK-aligned forces around the world and saw considerable operational service into the 2000s. Largely out of service today (2014), some flyable forms still exist and others make up indoor museum exhibits or outdoor showpieces. The Canberra impressed American officials enough to order it as the locally-produced Martin B-57 (detailed elsewhere on this site).

    In the latter war years of World War 2 (1939-1944), the British Air Ministry was already on the lookout for the eventual replacement for its classic, two-man, twin-engined de Havilland "Mosquito". The Mosquito was an outright success - known as the "Wooden Wonder" for its heavy use of wood in its construction - and served in the fast bomber role with distinction since its introduction in 1941. It became a classic British participant of World War 2 and saw production reach 7,781 units from 1940 to 1950. Such was the success of the line that it was further expanded to include dedicated night-fighter, photo-reconnaissance, and maritime strike types in short order. A requirement for a new high-speed bomber was arranged during 1944.

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    English Electric Canberra B.Mk 6 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1951
    Type: High-Altitude Medium Bomber / Reconnaissance Aircraft
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): English Electric - UK
    Production Total: 949

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 3
    Length: 65.49 feet (19.96 meters)
    Width: 64.01 feet (19.51 meters)
    Height: 15.65 feet (4.77 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 21,649 lb (9,820 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 55,116 lb (25,000 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7 Mk 109 turbojet engines developing 7,400 lb of thrust each.

    Maximum Speed: 580 mph (933 kph; 504 knots)
    Maximum Range: 3,380 miles (5,440 km)
    Service Ceiling: 49,213 feet (15,000 meters; 9.32 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 3,400 feet-per-minute (1,036 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    4 x 20mm Hispano Mk.V cannons in ventral gunpack
    2 x 7.62mm machine gun pods
    2 x 37 x 51mm rocket pods OR 2 x Matra 18 x SNEB 68mm rocket pods.
    2 x AS-30L air-to-surface missiles
    Conventional Drop Bombs
    Tactical Nuclear Drop Bombs

    Ultimately up to 8,000lbs of internal and external ordnance.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Argentina; Australia; Chile; Ecuador; Ethiopia; France; Germany; India; New Zealand; Peru; South Africa; Sweden; United Kingdom; Venezuela; Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    English Electric Canberra - Base Series Designation.

    B.Mk 2 - Main Bomber Production Variant fitted with Avon RA.3 Mk 101 turbojet engines.

    B.Mk 6 - Increased fuel capacity; fitted with Avon Mk 109 turbojets.

    B.Mk 15 - Conversion of B.Mk 6 model with underwing hardpoints for external stores.

    B.Mk 16 - Improved B.Mk 15

    B.Mk 20 - Australian-produced version of the B.Mk 6 base model.

    B(I).Mk 6 - Initial Intruder / Interdictor Base Production Model based on the B.Mk 6 with underwing bomb provisioning; fitted with ventral cannon gun pod.

    B(I).Mk 8 - Initial Intruder / Interdictor Multirole Variant.

    PR.Mk 3 - Initial Reconnaissance Production Model based on the B.Mk 2.

    PR.Mk 7 - Reconnaissance Model based on the B.Mk 6.

    PR.Mk 9 - Reconnaissance Model with increased wingspan and high-altitude capabilities; fitted with Avon Mk 206 turbojet engines generating 11,000lbs of thrust; increased center fuselage section.