Canberra Types - UK

Canberra B.Mk1
(Photo : Unknown)

Designed by WEW Petter to B.3/45 as English Electric A1. Two seat, high altitude jet bomber with a proposed radar bomb-sight. Four protoypes were produced with VN799 (right) being the first to fly on Friday 13 May 1949. The others were VN832 and VN850 with RR Avon engines and VN813 with RR Nene engines.


Canberra B.Mk2
(Photo :

Three seater with visual bomb aiming because the radar system couldn't be developed in time. Two prototypes, VX165 (right) and VX169 powered by RR Avon 101s.

Production began with WD929 which was named "Canberra" by Australian PM, the Hon R G Menzies on January 19, 1951 at Biggin Hill.

Canberras were built by EE, Avro, Handley Page and Shorts Bros. Entered service with 101 Sqn, Binbrook, May 1951. Total of 416 B.2s produced.


Canberra PR. Mk3
(Photo : Unknown)

Two seater photographic reconnaissance version of B.2. Prototype VX181 (right) first flew on March 19, 1951.

Fuselage lengthened by 14 inches to accomodate foward camera bay. Carried one F49 vertical camera and six F52 oblique cameras.

Joined 540 Sqn at RAF Benson, December 1952, followed by 58 Sqn and 82 Sqn. PR.3 production totalled 35 aircraft.


Canberra T.Mk4
(Photo : British Aerospace)

Dual control trainer version designed to meet Spec T2/49. Prototype WN467 (right) first flew June 12, 1952. Picture shows the prototype being demonstrated at Farnborough in 1952 by Roland "Bee" Beamont, EE Test Pilot.

Pilot and student on ejection seats in the front under the "bubble" with navigator on an ejection seat in the usual place in the back. The T.4 is distinguished by having a solid nose - no bomb-aimer glazing.

Entered service in August 1953 with 231 OCU at Bassingbourne. T.4 production, 66 aircraft.


Canberra B. Mk5
(Photo : Unknown)

Target-marking variant to Spec B22/48. The prototype, VX185 (right) was a converted PR.3 and powered by Avon 109s. It first flew on 6 July 1951. See the Survivor page for this Canberra.

VX185 made a record-breaking double crossing of the Atlantic on 26 August 1952 in the B.5 configuration.

The Target-Marking version was never taken up and VX185 was converted in 1954 to become the prototype B(I)8.


Canberra B. Mk6
(Photo : MAP)

Three seater tactical bomber version, successor to the B.2. The B.6 was a more powerful aircraft equipped with Avon 109s.

First production aircraft was WH945 which first flew on 26 January 1954 with initial service deliveries in June 1954 to 101 Sqn at Binbrook. WH952, shown in the photo, was the eighth production aircraft. Note that the B.6(BS) was a two-seat version fitted with Blue Shadow radar.

Canberra B.6s were built by EE and Shorts Bros with a total production run of 97 aircraft.


Canberra B(I) Mk6
(Photo : Unknown)

Interim interdictor/bomber variant with a crew of three and powered by RR Avon 109s. Produced to provide an Interdictor variant whilst the B(I)8 was being designed, the B(I)6 could be fitted with a ventral gun-pack containing 4x20mm canon as well as underwing bomb pylons for the ground attack role.

B(I)6s were operated, from July 1953, solely by 213 Sqn of the 2nd Tactical Airforce, Germany with a total of 22 aircraft being produced.


Canberra PR. Mk7
(Photo : 88Sqn Archives)

Two-seat photographic reconnaissance version of the B.6 powered by RR Avon 109s with the first production aircraft being WH773 which flew on 16 August 1953.

Initially delivered to the RAF's 542 Sqn at RAF Wyton in June 1954, the PR.7 went on to became the mainstay of the PR squadrons in its years of service. The photo (right) shows WH797 with 81 Sqn, Tengah. Note the two camera ports just visible in the lower fuselage forward of the wing.

A total of 74 PR.7s were produced.


Canberra B(I) Mk8
(Photo : Unknown)

Two-seat night interdictor/tactical bomber with distinctive non-opening offset fighter-type canopy to improve visibility in the ground attack role. Prototype was VX185 (former B.5) with its first flight 23 July 1954. Only the pilot had an ejector seat.

The B(I)8 could be fitted with a ventral 4x20mm gunpack and underwing bomb pylons. The B(I)8 was also fitted to carry a nuclear weapon. The photo shows XM936 with gunpack and in 3 Sqn markings. B(I)8 Galleries here.

The first production aircraft, WT326, joined 88 Sqn at RAFG Wildenrath in May 1956. Total production run was 82 aircraft.


Canberra PR. Mk9
(Photo : Ray Deacon)

High altitude, two seat PR variant with opening off-set canopy, power flying controls, longer wing, increased wing chord on centre section and larger tailplane. Powered by two RR Avon 206s it is the most powerful of the Canberra variants.

Napier converted a PR.7, WH793, with the new wing configuration which first flew 8 July 1955. Short Bros produced the "final shape" PR.9 starting with XH179 which first flew on 27 July 1958. A total of 23 PR.9s were built by Shorts Bros.

PR.9s joined the RAF with 58 Sqn at RAF Wyton in February 1960 and continue (until 2006) in service with 39 (1 PRU) Sqn at RAF Marham. Photo shows XH134 at Khormaksa in 1964 with 39 Sqn.


Canberra U. Mk10
(Photo : Shorts Bros)

Pilotless target version converted from B.2s by Short Bros. The trials aircraft, WJ624, was first flown 11 June 1957. The U.10s were built for and used as target drones on the Austrailian weapons ranges (Woomera).

Photo shows WJ987 which was destroyed by a missile on 17 October 1959. Shorts produced 17 of these radio-controlled Canberras.

A further 6 conversions were made to a U.14 standard, (later termed D.14), for use as targets by the Royal Navy. The U/D.14 was similar to the U.10 except that hydraulic servo-assisted controls were fitted.


Canberra T. Mk11/19
(Photo : Unknown)

Radar target conversion of B.2 fitted with special nose radome containing Airborne Interception Radar and Pilot's Attack Sight System (AIRPASS); trials aircraft - WJ734.

Eight further conversions were carried out including WH904 (right) which flew with 85 Sqn.

Later the AIRPASS radars were removed leaving the special nose radome, these Canberras were designated T.19. WH904 (right) became a T.19 and is preserved at Newark Aviation Museum - see here.


Canberra B. Mk15/16
(Photo : BigBird Collection)

Modified B.6 for low-level ground attack role armed with underwing un-guided rockets, mainly for the Akrotiri Strike Wing. First B.15 (WH967) was converted by Marshalls of Cambridge. English Electric and Bristol converted 38 in total to B.15 standard.

The B.16 differed with the fitting of Blue Shadow radar in place of one of the rear crew ejection seats. Photo shows WT369 as a B.16. Eight B.15s were later modified to E.15 standard with a more comprehensive navigation standard.

The B.15s of 32 and 73 Sqns were fitted firing Nord AS.30 air-to-ground missile. Marshalls converted a total of 19 B.6s to B.16s.


Canberra T. Mk17
(Photo : Nick Challoner)

Electronic counter measures/electronic warfare variant converted from B.2s. Produced for use only by joint RAF/RN unit, 360 Sqn.

The T.17's ECM/ECW equipment electronics were housed in a special solid nose configuration and in bomb-bay.

The prototype conversion, WJ977, first flew on 9 September 1965. In total, 22 examples were produced. Upgraded equipment produced the T.17A.

Photo shows WH664 of 360 Sqn in pre-hemp colour scheme.


Canberra TT. Mk18
(Photo : Unknown)

Target-tug variant of B.2 converted by EE and Flight Refueling. Fitted with underwing pylons for Rushton winches employing sleeve or Rushton Mk 2 targets. TT.18s are very distinctive with yellow and black stripes on the underside.

First conversion flew on 14 April 1970 and joined the RAF's 7 Sqn in the July. The TT.18 conversion was also used for a number of years by the Royal Navy's Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) based a Yeoviltion. TT.18s were also used by civilian establishments.

The photo shows WH718 "CW" of 100 Sqn. In total, 23 conversions were undertaken.


Canberra T. Mk22
(Photo : Unknown)

Modified PR.7 exclusively for the Royal Navy's FRADU. Used for radar training with the Buccaneer's Blue Parrot radar system housed in special nose radome.

Seven examples produced with the first flying at Samlesbury in September 1973. All T.22s retired from service in September 1985.


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