English Electric Canberra – decals and warning placards as art!
Tags: 'DANGER: Canopy', 'DANGER: Ejection Seat', 'day/night-intruder', 'de-mobbed', 'Debris Guard Lock', 'fighter-style' canopy, 'Fire Extinguisher Here', 'First Aid Here', 'Playboy' logo, 'Playmate of the Month Here', 'Red Beard', 'spreader bar', 'Trestle Here', 15kT to 25kT yield, 1950, 1954, 1972, 3 x 1000 lb bombs, 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon, 4 x 30mm Aden cannon, 40000 ft, 500 lb st, 6000 lbs of conventional bombs, A & AEE, Aden cannon, Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, Air Show, aircraft, airframe, all-over black scheme, Aviation, Avro Lancaster, Avro Lincoln, B-29 Superfortress, B-29A, B. (I) Mk 8, B. Mk 2, B. Mk 6, B. Mk 8, Berkshire, black background, Blackburn Buccaneer, Boeing Washington B. Mk 1, bomb bay, bomb load, bomber fleet, Boscombe Down, bread was rationed, Canberra, Canberra B. Mk 2, Canberra variants, conventional bombs, de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, development of the Avro Lancaster, England, English Electric Canberra, Europe, external hose, extreme manoeuverability, Ferranti, first flown at Warton Lancashire, five long range heavy bomber squadrons, food rationing, fuselage, Germany, Great Britain, heavy bomber, high altitude, Hispano cannon, IAT, IAT 1981, icing, International Air Tattoo, June 1981, Lancashire, last bomber version, loan of re-furbished B-29 aircraft, long-range, low-aspect ratio wing, May 1949, May 1951, mosquito, museum, Museums, Newark Air Museum, no defensive armament, no foreign currency reserves, No.101 Sqn. RAF, nose, Nottinghamshire, nozzles, photo-reconnaissance, port side of the nose, post-WW2 era, radar trials, radome, RAF, RAF Boscombe Down, RAF Greenham Common, RAF's first jet bomber, RAFG, rear-facing TV camera, Rolls-Royce, Rolls-Royce Avon 101 turbojet, Royal Air Force, Royal Air Force Germany, safety notices, Second World War, severe damage to cities, Spec. B.3/45, speed and manoeuverability, spray water onto a trailing aircraft, starboard, Superfortress, surprisingly artistic effect, T.22 Canberra, tactical nuclear weapon, tailplane, top speed of 570 mph, trainer and bomber versions, transferred to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment of the Royal Air Force, trials aircraft, turbojet, twin-engined bomber, underfuselage gun pack, United Kingdom, unusual RAF aircraft, USA, visual bomb-aimer's station, warbird, warning placards, Warton, water tank, Wiltshire, Wing Commander Roland P Beamont, Wing Commander Roland Prosper Beamont CBE DSO and Bar DFC and Bar Croix de Guerre (Belgian) RAF (Ret'd), won the war but lost the peace, worn-out infrastructure, WV787, WW2, WW2 fighter ace
In the immediate post-WW2 era, the United Kingdom was in a terrible situation. Severe damage to various cities, no foreign currency reserves, a worn-out infrastructure, and initially, food rationing more strict even than that imposed during the war (even bread was rationed, for a while) . It would seem that Britain had helped to win the war, but had lost the peace. Hundreds of thousands of service personnel were ‘de-mobbed’ (left the Service), and the Royal Air Force bomber fleet was reduced by 1950 to only five, long-range, heavy bomber squadrons of Avro Lincolns (a development of the famous Lancaster). The situation was so bad that the U.S.A. had to loan Britain 88 refurbished Boeing B.29 and B.29A Superfortress aircraft; these were known as the Boeing Washington B. Mk 1, and bridged the gap until the first of the RAF’s jet bombers, the English Electric Canberra, arrived.
The Canberra was designed to Spec. B.3/45, and the prototype was first flown at Warton, Lancashire, in May, 1949. The pilot was the famous WW2 fighter ace Wing Commander Roland Prosper Beamont, CBE, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre (Belgian), RAF (Ret’d) – I was later fortunate enough to have a long lunch with ‘Bee’, but that is another story! The Canberra was a twin-engined bomber with a very low-aspect ratio wing, which gave extreme manoeuverability at high altitude from where it was supposed to deliver a single ‘Red Beard’ tactical nuclear weapon (15kT to 25kT yield, depending on version), or 6,000 lbs of conventional bombs. Power was supplied by two Rolls-Royce Avon 101 turbojets, each producing 6,500 lbs thrust, which gave a top speed of 570 mph at 40,000 ft. Service introduction occurred on May, 1951, when the first Canberra B. Mk 2 (the first production version) was delivered to No. 101 Sqn., RAF. Like its illustrious predecessor, the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito, the Canberra carried no defensive armament, relying on speed and manoeuverability to survive.
As with the Mosquito, the number of Canberra variants multiplied swiftly. Photo reconnaissance, trainer and bomber versions proliferated, and were joined by a ‘day/night-intruder’ version of the B. Mk 8 (a few B. Mk 6 aircraft preceded them) in 1954. These were known as the B. (I) Mk 8, and carried an underfuselage gun pack containing either 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon, or 4 x 30mm Aden cannon. There was a single ‘fighter-style’ canopy on the port side of the nose, a visual bomb-aimer’s station, and the bomb load could consist of either 3 x 1,000 lb bombs or one tactical nuclear weapon (usually a U.S. produced Mark 7). This were the last bomber version of the Canberra to serve, the final examples being withdrawn from Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) squadrons in 1972.
Some of the B. (I) Mk 8 intruders were converted from B. Mk 2 aircraft, and the example shown above was one of these. WV787 was built as a B. Mk 2 in 1952 at the English Electric factory at Preston, then re-built as a B. (I) Mk 8 for radar trials with Ferranti. The aircraft was fitted with a Blackburn Buccaneer radome to simulate the nose which was eventually fitted on the T.22 Canberra. She stayed a trials aircraft, and was transferred to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment of the Royal Air Force at RAF Boscombe Down, Wiltshire (there have been several name changes since then). A & AEE aircraft were rarely confined to one task, and usually modified on a regular basis. WV787 was fitted with a long external hose connecting a water tank in the bomb bay to a ‘spreader bar’ full of nozzles, just beneath and behind the tailplane. This was used to spray water onto a trailing aircraft; the effect of this icing was recorded using a rear-facing TV camera. In this configuration, it must have been one of the most visually unusual RAF aircraft! WV787 flew into the International Air Tattoo at RAF Greenham Common, Berkshire in June 1981 whilst fitted out with this equipment.
WV787 is now on display at the Newark Air Museum, Nottinghamshire, in its final all-over black scheme. The many warning placards and safety notices on the airframe give a surprisingly artistic effect. ‘Trestle Here’, ‘DANGER: Canopy’, ‘DANGER: Ejection Seat’, ‘Debris Guard Lock’, ‘Fire Extinguisher Here’, ‘First Aid Here’ and many more, produce a rather pleasing pattern on the black background.
However, there is just one sign I am uncertain of…..the ‘Playboy’ logo on the starboard side of the nose!