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English Electric Canberra / Martin B-57

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 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, the type’s first operator, in May 1951, it became the service’s first jet-powered bomber.

In February 1951, a Canberra set another world record when it became the first jet aircraft to make a nonstop transatlantic flight.

Throughout most of the 1950s, the Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other aircraft in the world, and in 1957, a Canberra established a world altitude record of 70,310 feet (21,430 m).

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 Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) and in the US by Martin as the B-57 Canberra.

The latter produced both the 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.

Canberra’s served throughout the Cold War, in the Suez Crisis, Vietnam War, Falklands War, Indo-Pakistani wars, and numerous African conflicts.

In several wars, each of the opposing sides had Canberra’s in its air force.

The Canberra served for more than 50 years with some operators.

In June 2006, the RAF retired the last three of its Canberra’s 57 years after its first flight.

Three of the Martin B-57 variant remain in service, performing meteorological and re-entry tracking work for NASA, as well as providing electronic communication (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node) testing for deployment to Afghanistan.


English Electric A.1

Company designation for the first four aircraft before being named Canberra.

Canberra B.1

Prototypes for type development work and research at first known by the company designation A.1, four built.

Canberra B.2

First production version, crew increased to three with addition of bomb aimer, Avon R.A.3 engines with 6,500 lbf (28.91 kN) of thrust, wingtip fuel tanks.

418 built by English Electric (208), Avro (75), Handley Page (75) and Short Brothers & Harland (60) including eight for export (Australia, United States and Venezuela).

Canberra PR.3

Photo-reconnaissance version with a 14-inch section added to the fuselage to house the camera bay, internal fuel was increased and flat panel in the nose was removed.

The prototype was flown on 19 March 1950 and the variant entered service in 1953.

Canberra T.4

First trainer variant with dual controls and a crew of three.

Canberra B.5

Prototype of second-generation Canberra with fuel tanks in the wings and Avon R.A.7 engines with 7,490 lbf (33.32 kN) of thrust, one built.

Canberra B.6

Production version based on B.5 with a 1 ft (0.3 m) fuselage stretch.

Canberra B.6(RC)

RC = Radio Countermeasures (also known as B6(Mod) or PR16)

Specialist ELINT version with enlarged nose and Blue Shadow Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR).

Only four produced, extended nose.

Canberra B(I).6

Interim interdictor version for the RAF pending delivery of the B(I)8.

Based on the B.6 with a detachable ventral pack housing four 20 mm Hispano Mk.V cannon for strafing, also had provision for two wing hard points.

LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for delivery of nuclear bombs.

22 produced.

Canberra PR.7

Photo-reconnaissance version based on B.6, had similar equipment to the PR.3 but had the uprated Avon 109 engines of the B.6 and increased internal fuel capacity, 74 built.

Canberra B(I).8

Third-generation Canberra derived from B.6 as an interdictor.

Fitted with a new forward fuselage with teardrop canopy on the port side, and Navigator station forward of pilot (early marks had the navigator behind the pilot).

Provision for a ventral pack similar to the B(I).6 with 4 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk.V cannon, one external hardpoint under each wing for up to 1,000 lb (454 kg) of bombs or unguided rockets, LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for delivery of nuclear bombs.

 Prototype converted from the only B.5 and first flown 23 July 1954, 72 built including 17 for export and two converted from B.2s.

Canberra PR.9

Photo-reconnaissance version based on B(I).8 with fuselage stretched to 68 ft (27.72 m), wingspan increased by 4 ft (1.22 m), and Avon R.A.27 (Avon 206) engines with 10,030 lbf (44.6 kN) of thrust.

Had the offset canopy of the B(I).8 with a hinged nose to allow fitment of an ejection seat for the navigator.

A total of 23 built by Short Brothers & Harland.

Canberra U.10

(later designated D.10)

Remote-controlled target drones converted from B.2. 18 converted.

Canberra T.11

Nine B.2s converted to trainers for pilots and navigators of all-weather interceptors to operate the Airborne Intercept radar, crew of four.

Canberra B(I)

Canberra B(I).8 bombers built for New Zealand and South Africa.

Canberra T.13

Training version of the T.4 for New Zealand, one built new and one conversion from T.4.

Canberra U.14

(later designated D.14)

Remote-controlled target drones converted from the B.2 for Royal Navy. 

Canberra B.15

Upgraded B.6 for use in the Far and Near East with under-wing hardpoints for 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs or rockets.

New avionics and fitting of three cameras, 39 conversions.

Canberra B.16

Upgraded B.6 similar to B.15 in location and weaponry but fitted with Blue Shadow with the loss of an ejection seat, 19 conversions

Canberra T.17

Electronic warfare training variant used to train surface-based radar and missile operators and airborne fighter and Airborne Early Warning crews in handling jamming (including chaff dropping) aircraft.

24 conversions from B.2 with extended nose for sensors.

Canberra T.17A

Updated version of the T.17 with improved navigation aids, a spectrum analyser in place of the previously fitted AN/APR-20, and a powerful communications jammer.

Canberra TT.18

Target tug conversion of B.2 for the RAF and Royal Navy, 22 conversions.

Canberra T.19

T.11 with radar removed as silent target.

Canberra B.20

B.2 with additional fuel tanks in the wings, licence-built in Australia.

Canberra T.21

Trainers converted from B.2 and B.20.

Canberra T.22

Conversion of the PR.7 for Royal Navy’s Fleet Requirements and Aircraft Direction Unit, used for training Buccaneer navigators.

Canberra B.52

Refurbished B.2 bombers sold to Ethiopia.

Canberra B(I).56

Refurbished B(I).6 bombers sold to Peru.

Canberra PR.57

Tropicalized PR.7 for India.

Canberra B(I).58

Tropicalized B(I)8 for India.

Canberra B.62

10 refurbished B.2 bombers sold to Argentina.

Canberra T.64

2 refurbished T.4 trainers sold to Argentina.

Canberra B(I).66

10 refurbished B(I).6 bombers sold to India.

Canberra PR.67

2 refurbished PR.7s sold to India.

Canberra B(I).68

1 refurbished B(I).8 bomber sold to Peru.

Canberra B.92

1 modified B.2 for Argentina, not delivered and embargoed in 1982.

Canberra T.94

1 modified T.4 for Argentina, not delivered and embargoed in 1982.

Short SC.9

1 Canberra PR.9, modified by Shorts as SC.9 and fitted with an AI.23 radar, plus IR installation in the nose for Red Top air-to-air missile trials.

Continued in use for radar missile development work, until broken up sometime between 1986 and 1998

Short SD.1

1 Canberra PR.3, modified by Shorts as SD.1 to be launch vehicle carrying two Short SD.2 variants of the Beechcraft AQM-37 Jayhawk high-speed target missiles, apparently called Stiletto in the UK, for trials by the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Canberra Tp52

Two B.2 aircraft modified with T.17 noses for ELINT duties with the Royal Swedish Air Force.

Martin B-57 Canberra

The Martin B-57 Canberra is an American-built, twinjet tactical bomber and reconnaissance aircraft that entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1953.

The B-57 is a license-built version of the British English Electric Canberra, manufactured by the Glenn L. Martin Company.

Initial Martin-built models were virtually identical to their British-built counterparts; Martin later modified the design to incorporate larger quantities of US-sourced components and produced the aircraft in several different variants.



First production version; eight built.


Definitive production version, tandem cockpit, 8x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns or 4x 20 mm cannons, four underwing hardpoints; 202 built.


Dual-control trainer, first flight: 30 December 1954; 38 built.


Dual-control trainer and target tug, first flight: 16 May 1956; 68 built.


B-57Bs modified as night intruders with FLIR, LLTV and laser designator in the nose, capable of using laser-guided bombs; 16 converted.


Electronic aggressor aircraft converted from RB-57As.EB-57BECM aircraft converted from B-57Bs.


ECM aircraft converted from RB-57Ds.


Electronic aggressor aircraft converted from RB-57Es.


Photo reconnaissance version with cameras installed aft of the bomb bay; 67 built.

RB-57A avionics included an AN/APS-11A transponder and AN/APA-90 Indicator Group for command guidance and was tested for “MSQ-1 controlled pinpoint photography” in 1954.


Photo-reconnaissance aircraft converted from B-57Bs for the Air National Guard.


Photo-reconnaissance aircraft converted from B-57Cs for the Air National Guard.RB-57D

Martin RB-57D Canberra

High-altitude strategic reconnaissance version, J57-P-9 engines, wingspan increased to 106 ft (32.31 m), first flight: 3 November 1955; 20 built.


Basic photo-reconnaissance conversion for the Air National Guard.

RB-57E (Patricia Lynn Project)

B-57Es modified to all-weather reconnaissance aircraft, used in “Patricia Lynn” missions during the Vietnam War; six converted.


Martin RB-57F Canberra

High-altitude strategic reconnaissance version developed by General Dynamics.

Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines, wingspan increased to 122 ft (37.5 m), first flight 23 June 1963; 21 built.


Air Weather Service RB-57Ds used for nuclear atmospheric sampling testing.


Air Weather Service upgraded WB-57Ds.

Used by NOAA from 1960-1971. 

Currently designated WB-57 – JSC.

Three aircraft (registration numbers N926NA, N927NA, and N928NA) are operated by NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas for space and earth sciences research.


(Canberra B.1)




65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)


64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)


15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)

Wing area

960 sq ft (89 m2)



RAE/D 12% sym


RAE/D 9% sym

Empty weight

21,650 lb (9,820 kg)

Gross weight

46,000 lb (20,865 kg)

Max take-off weight

55,000 lb (24,948 kg)


2 × Rolls-Royce R.A.7 Avon Mk.109 turbojet engines, 7,400 lbf (33 kN) thrust each


Maximum speed

580 mph (930 km/h, 500 kn) at 40,000 ft (12,192 m)

Maximum speed

Mach 0.88

Combat range

810 mi (1,300 km, 700 nmi)

Ferry range

3,380 mi (5,440 km, 2,940 nmi)

Service ceiling

48,000 ft (15,000 m)

Rate of climb

3,400 ft/min (17 m/s)

Wing loading

48 lb/sq ft (230 kg/m2)





4 × 20 mm Hispano Mk.V cannon mounted in rear bomb bay (500 rounds/gun),


2 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun pods


2 × unguided rocket pods with 37 2-inch (51 mm) rockets,


2 × Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets each


A variety of missiles can be carried according to mission requirements, e.g: 2 × AS-30L air-to-surface missiles


Total of 8,000 lb (3,628 kg) of payload can be mounted inside the internal bomb bay and on two under wing hardpoints, with the ability to carry a variety of bombs.

Typically, the internal bomb bay can hold up to 9 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs,


6 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, 


1 × 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) bomb;

while the pylons can hold 4 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs,


2 × 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.


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