Released to service in 1951 the British Aircraft Corporation Canberra was the Royal Air Force’s first jet bomber. Work had begun on the aircraft’s design back in 1945 when it was realised that the jet engine was going to have a major impact on the balance of world wide military power.
With relations between the West and Soviet bloc countries rapidly deteriorating during the early 1950’s the Canberra was ordered in quantity to replace the RAF’s outdated propeller driven bomber aircraft. Other aircraft companies were also sub-contracted to build the Canberra so great was the need, with Avro, Handley Page and Short Bros also producing the aircraft in their own factories.
With the new jet bomber going into service and being able to fly higher and faster than the fighter aircraft of the time the Canberra proved to be the ideal airframe for development into a photo reconnaissance aircraft, leading to the Canberra PR.3, P.R.7 and finally the PR.9. Other developments of the Canberra design also led to ground attack, target towing, electronic intelligence and specialist research variants.
The Canberra was also exported to other countries with 143 United Kingdom built examples being exported and another 451 Canberra aircraft being built under licence overseas -manufacturers such as Martin supplying the B-57 (as the Canberra was known in America) to the United States Air Force. A total of 1376 Canberra’s were built.
English Electric Canberra
Roland Beaumont & Arthur Reed
English Electric Canberra and Martin B-57
Flight Magazine (various Issues)
The Aeroplane Magazine