B(I)6 - WT309
WT309 - at Farnborough
B(I)6 WT309 classicly presented at Farnborough (Photo : Les Bywaters )

This B(I)6 was one of only 19 of that mark and was awaiting collection at EE Preston on 30 June 1955. It was taken on to RAF charge and sent to the RAF's Handling Squadron at RAF Manby for initial acceptance trials.

The mark B(I)6 Canberras were built as an interim Interdictor aircraft while awaiting the appearance of the B(I)8 in late 1955 the idea being to develop a Canberra that could carry out ground-attack, interdictor and bomber roles. The (I)6's and (I)8's were also configured to enable them to undertake a nuclear tactical strike role during the work-up of the strategic V-Force. These Interdictor Canberras were maintained in the role until the early 70's standing QRA and serving with the Strike Squadrons in Germany. The B(I)6 Canberras only ever served with 213 Sqn at RAFG Alhorn and then RAFG Bruggen and stayed in service with 213 Sqn even after the advent of the B(I)8 squadrons.

However, WT309 was fated not to join the other B(I)6's of 213 Sqn because, after two years with the RAF's Handling Squadron, it was moved to the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough, via Marshall's Flying School at Cambridge, arriving on 11 July 1957. However, the 'official' transfer was not until 28 February 1958. The aircraft arrived with a total time of 29.5 hours flying and was allocated to Armament Flight, which later, in 1963, became Weapons Flight.

A total re-paint was given in an overall white and day-glo scheme, the same colours as some of the other Farnborough Canberras at that time. Subsequently it adopted the famous red, white and blue 'Rasberry Ripple' colours. The 'Rasberry Ripple' colour scheme was slightly modified for this aircraft, normally the undersides were all dark blue but the B(I)6's were painted mainly white underneath to provide better lighting conditions for the wing-tip mounted cameras. This applies to the sister Canberra WT308 as well.

WT309 operated from both Farnborough and West Freugh on various weapons trials, including bombing and fusing trials, up to the mid 1980's when it was retired at Farnborough and placed into storage. A short time later WT309 was transferred to A&AEE Boscombe Down for a further period of trials. At the completeion of these trials, it was allocated to the Boscombe Down Apprentice Department for training purposes. After providing a useful training aid to the apprentices, WT309 was placed in open storage and subsequently struck off charge on 26 January 1998. However, the aircraft was actually scrapped between 7 and 10 January 1998.

A group of FAST members, led by the majority stockholder Peter Cooper, purchased the cockpit secion from the scarp dealer and moved it back to Farnborough where it was stored in M Shed. Subsequently it was moved to G1 and put on public display on 14 July 2002.

Mike Alexander, a former Boscombe Down Trials Officer, has contacted the site about these two B(I)6's (WT308 and WT309) and says . . .

It was with great sadness that I saw your pictures of WT308 at RNAS Predannack. When I was a young man in the late 1970s, I used to fly regularly in both that aircraft and WT309, when I first became a Trials Officer at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. They were a pair of specially instrumented B(I)6s used for development trials and proof testing of a variety of ordnance and weapons projects. I did like your splended picture of WT308, resplendent in her 'Rasberry Ripple' sceme, which she sported at the twilight of her career. It does not show the wingtip blisters, she normally flew with, that housed 16mm cine cameras to photograph the various stores under test. The 'Rasberry Ripple' colour scheme was slightly modified for these two aircraft, normally the undersides were all dark blue but the B(I)6s were painted mainly white underneath to provide better lighting conditions for the cameras. She also does not appear to be fitted with her underwing pylons.

Both aircraft (WT308 and WT309) were transferred to Boscombe Down in the early 1980s. I don't think too much more flying was done with them. In the early 1990s when trials flying had ceased at Farnborough, I used to commute down to Boscombe and I remember WT308 in open storage on the on the airfield with a notice which read something like "Aircraft not to be flown, apprentice use only". It must have been shortly afterwards that she went on her final journey to Cornwall - as I remember on the back of a low-loader.

WT309 in service
WT309 in white and day-glo.
Photo derived from the FAST Information Board (Photo : FAST )
WT309 Rippple
B(I)6 WT309 seen here at an airshow (Photo : Nick Challoner )
Being broken up at Boscombe Down in 1998 (Photo : Unknown)