Serial Number - WJ574
The English Electric Canberra is a British first-generation jet powered medium bomber. It was developed by English Electric during the mid-to-late 1940s in response to a 1944 Air Ministry requirement for a successor to the wartime de Havilland Mosquito fast bomber. Among the performance requirements for the type was the demand for an outstanding high-altitude bombing capability and high speed. These were partly accomplished by making use of newly developed jet propulsion technology. When the Canberra was introduced to service with the Royal Air Force (RAF), the type's first operator, in May 1951, it became the service's first jet-powered bomber.
Throughout most of the 1950s, the Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other aircraft in the world. In 1957, a Canberra established a world altitude record of 70,310 feet (21,430 m). In February 1951, another Canberra set another world record when it became the first jet aircraft to make a non-stop transatlantic flight. Due to its ability to evade the early jet interceptor aircraft and its significant performance advancement over contemporary piston-engined bombers, the Canberra became a popular aircraft on the export market, being procured for service in the air forces of many nations both inside and outside of the Commonwealth of Nations. The type was also licence produced in Australia by the Government Aircraft Factories and in the US by Martin as the B-57 Canberra. The latter produced both slightly modified B-57A Canberra, and the significantly updated B-57B.
In addition to being a tactical nuclear strike aircraft, the Canberra proved to be highly adaptable, serving in varied roles such as tactical bombing and photographic and electronic reconnaissance. Canberras served in the Suez Crisis, Vietnam War, Falklands War, Indo-Pakistani wars, and numerous African conflicts. In several wars, each of the opposing sides had Canberras in their air forces. The Canberra had a lengthy service life, serving for more than 50 years with some operators. In June 2006, the RAF retired the last of its Canberras, 57 years after its first flight. Three of the Martin B-57 variant remain in service, performing meteorological and reentry tracking work for NASA, as well as providing electronic communication (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node or BACN) testing for deployment to Afghanistan.
Guns: 4 x 20 mm Hispano Mk.V cannon mounted in rear bomb bay (500 rounds/gun), or 2 x 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun pods
Rockets: 2 x unguided rocket pods with 37 2-inch (51 mm) rockets, or 2 x Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets each
Missiles: A variety of missiles can be carried according to mission requirements, e.g: 2 x AS-30L air-to-surface missiles
Bombs: Total of 8,000 lb (3,628 kg) of payload can be mounted inside the internal bomb bay and on two underwing hardpoints, with the ability to carry a variety of bombs.
Typically, the internal bomb bay can hold up to 9 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or 6 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, or 1 x 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) bomb; while the pylons can hold 4 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or 2 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs.
Nuclear weapons: in addition to conventional ordnance, the Canberra was also type-approved for tactical nuclear weapon delivery, including the Mk 7, B28 (Mod 2, 70 kiloton yield), B57 and B43 (as part of a joint program with the United States) plus the Red Beard and WE.177A (Mod A, 10 kiloton yield) nuclear bombs. All nuclear weapons were carried internally.