B.5/8 - VX185
(Photo : BAC SE310)
VX185 - nose
(Photo : Damien Burke)

This record-breaking Canberra was begun as a PR.3 but was completed as the B.5 prototype in 1951. It first flew in August of that year and was transferred to the English Electric Co in the September. It stayed with EE Co for just over a year during which time it captured an Atlantic Crossing record.

VX185 made its record-breaking double crossing of the Atlantic on 26 August 1952. It was flown from RAF Aldergrove (Ireland) to Gander and back by Wing Commander RP Beamont and crewed by Peter Hillwood and Dennis Watson. The flight took 10hours 3minutes 29.28seconds at an average speed of 411.99 mph. [ Roland Beamont became English Electric's Chief Test Pilot with a flair for exciting demonstration flights ]

In 1954, VX185 was sent to BAC Warton for conversion to B(I)8 configuration. In 1955 it was transferred to A&AEE for a while before going to Ferranti as a "target" for their flight trials with AI Radar.

1958 saw VX 185 transferred yet again, this time to Short Bros in Belfast (at RAF Aldergrove) for development work in the PR.9 program. It was short-lived here though as in 1959 VX185 was transferred to RAF St Athan as a Ground Instructional Airframe - [ it was probably one of the aircraft upon which I "learned" to become an airframe mechanic! I was a "Boy Entrant" at St Athan 1958-60 - 35th Entry ]   Eventually VX185 went to BAC Filton in 1961 and was broken up there in 1964.

When it was converted to a B(I)8 in 1954, the nose of this record-breaking Canberra, in Bomber Command's black/grey colours, was acquired by the Science Museum in London. It has now moved to Scotland's Museum of Flight, East Fortune. Grant Newman, of the Museum of Flight, has kindly sent me the photo below showing VX185, painted with the Record Breaker text, at an air show. (Sometime in 1953 I would guess, but I've no idea who the dapper gentleman is though - anybody know?)

VX185 - Air show