[2.0] Canberra In Foreign Service

v1.0.6 / chapter 2 of 3 / 01 aug 17 / greg goebel

* Along with its extensive service in the UK, the Canberra was also widely exported, with about a dozen foreign countries using the type. The Canberra proved very profitable for English Electric, and its users found the machine a good buy for the money.

Indian Air Force Canberra PR.57



* Even before the Canberra entered RAF operational service, there was interest in foreign purchases from the USA and Australia. In fact, the Americans would become the second-biggest user of the Canberra as the "B-57", though the B-57 would end up being a different beast -- in a few cases, a very different beast -- from the British Canberra.

The B-57 is the subject of the next chapter. The Australians were keenly interested in the Canberra, and in fact it is suspected that the name "Canberra" was selected to help close the deal with the Aussies. A license manufacturing deal was set up; two B.2s were diverted from RAF contracts as pattern aircraft, with deliveries in 1951:1952. Two T.4s were either passed on from the RAF or diverted from RAF contracts, to be delivered in 1956.

In addition, three B.2s were loaned for trials use by the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) at Woomera: one was never actually transferred, the other arrived in 1952 and was returned in 1957, the third arrived in 1953 and was returned in 1957. Ironically, the third machine became a U.10 target drone and was sent back to Woomera, where it was shot down in 1965.

Australian production of the B.2 began at the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) near Melbourne in 1951, with initial flight of a GAF-built "Canberra Mark 20", as the type was known in Aussie service, on 29 May 1953. The Mark 20 was not exactly the same as the B.2, since it featured the wet wing introduced in the British B.5 and B.6, had improved avionics, and only had two crew. It does not appear to have had the fuselage stretch.

Aussie Canberra

A total of 48 Mark 20s was built into 1958. The last 21 were built with the more powerful Avon 109 engines instead of the Avon 101s of earlier production. Following the end of Mark 20 production, five of these machines were converted to "Mark 21" dual-control trainer spec, with the two B.2 pattern aircraft obtained initially also upgraded to this spec and given the Mark 21 designation. That gave the totals:


   B.2                2
   T.4                4
   Mark 20           48

   TOTAL:            54

-- not counting the B.2 loaners and seven Mark 21 trainer rebuilds.

Australian Canberras saw a fair amount of combat duty in Vietnam. Number 2 Squadron was transferred to Phan Rang Air Base in 1967, with their machines updated with improved avionics, such as a TACAN navigation system, and underwing stores pylons. The Aussie Canberras flew over 10,000 sorties from April 1967 into May 1971, generally in support of Australian troops in the field. Two were destroyed in combat, with one crew being lost and the other rescued. After the conflict, Aussie Canberras were used in a declining fashion in reconnaissance and target-tug roles, with the type finally withdrawn from service in 1982.

* New Zealand also operated a Canberra force. After placing an order, the New Zealanders were loaned as a stopgap 17 B.4s and 3 T.4s, with all these machines, except two that had crashed, returned in 1962. By that time the New Zealanders received their own machines, including 11 "B(I).12" attack aircraft and two "T.13" trainers, for a total of 13 Canberras. The B(I).12 was a B(I).8 with an autopilot and an additional fuel tank in the bombbay; the first aircraft in the order was a modified RAF B(I).8, the other ten were built to order. The T.13s were effectively T.4s, with one built new, the other refurbished from RAF stocks.

The Canberras were obtained to help New Zealand maintain a Commonwealth military presence in Southeast Asia to help deal with Indonesian sabre-rattling, the operation being known by the appropriate name of CONFRONTATION. That was why the New Zealanders were provided with loaners until their own machines were delivered, since they had to meet an ongoing operational requirement. An understanding with the Indonesians was finally obtained in 1966, ending the standoff. In 1970, the eight surviving B(I).12 and the two T.13s were sold to India -- see below.



* Venezuela was one of the early adopters of the Canberra, following up on the US and Australian licensing deals, and would become a very enthusiastic buyer for the type, resulting in a long order history:

That gave the totals:


   B.2 / B(I).2:   18
   PR.3:            2
   T.4:             2
   B(I).8:          8

   TOTAL:          30

The Venezuelans really liked their Canberras, and flew them into the 1990s. There were a series of upgrade and life-extension programs, with the updated machines redesignated by adding "80" to the original designation: "B.82", "B(I).82", "T.84", and "B(I).88". It seems that the upgraded machines had fairly state of the art avionics and weaponry, and it's a bit of a pity that details are hard to find as to what their configurations were. They were finally withdrawn in 1990.

* Peru displayed a similar enthusiasm for the Canberra; the order history was even more elaborate:

That gave the totals:


   B.2                          2
   T.4 / T.72,T.74:            10
   B(I).6 / B(I).56:            6
   B(I).8 / B(I).68,B(I).12:   26

   TOTAL:                      44

As with Venezuelan Canberras, Peruvian Canberras carried an interesting range of stores.



* The biggest Canberra user after the UK and the US was India:

India also obtained eight B(I).12 and two T.13 machines from New Zealand in 1970. That gave the totals:


   T.4:      9 T.54  +  2 T.13  +  4 TT.418  =    15
   B(I).6:   6 B(I).66  =                          6
   PR.7:     11 PR.57  +  2 PR.67  =              13
   B(I).8:   70 B(I).58  +  8 B(I).12  =          78

   TOTAL:                                        112

Indian Canberras saw plenty of combat, though ironically their "first blood" was in Africa, with Indian Air Force (IAF) Canberras deployed as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo, where the aircraft performed strikes against insurgent groups in 1961:1962. IAF Canberras also performed attacks on Pakistani targets in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, though results were disappointing, mostly due to poor mission planning and preparation. Two were shot down by Pakistani fighters -- one by an F-86, the other by an F-104, both using Sidewinder AAMs -- and three were destroyed on the ground, ironically by Martin B-57 Canberras supplied to Pakistan by the USA.

The IAF learned the lessons from the 1965 war, and on the next round, the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, IAF Canberras fared better, with B(I) machines proving very effective in the attack role they had been designed for, and PR machines providing reconnaissance support. A total of seven IAF Canberras was lost in the fighting. The Canberra served on with the IAF in a declining fashion into the 21st century, being finally retired in 2007.



* Canberras also served in lesser quantities with a number of other nations:



* Given the quantities of Canberras built, the number of variants, and the number of users, even a short summary ends up being elaborate.

Canberra PR.7

The following list consolidates UK production of the Canberra, not counting the 48 Mark 20s built in Australia. The table consolidates minor variants as a single variant -- PR.7 and PR.57 are simply PR.7s; B(I).8, B(I).12, B(I).58 are simply B(I).8; and so on.

   type     number       notes

   A.1           4       Initial prototypes.
   B.2         422       Initial bomber variant.
   PR.3         36       Initial PR variant.
   T.4          79       Trainer variant.
   B.5           1       Target-marker proto, one built.
   B.6         104       Bomber variant with wet wings & Avon 109 engines.
   B(I).6       24       Interim intruder variant.
   PR.7         82       PR variant with wet wings & Avon 109 engines.
   B(I).8      164       Intruder variant.
   PR.9         23       High altitude PR variant.

               939       TOTAL UK CANBERRA PRODUCTION

For variants where multiple UK manufacturers were involved, the breakdown of manufacturers was:


   B.2 construction:     212 EE, 60 Shorts, 75 HP, 75 Avro
   B.6 construction:     55 EE, 49 Shorts
   B(I).8 construction:  157 EE, 7 Shorts
   PR.9 construction:    23 Shorts

   FULL TOTALS OF UK MANUFACTURE:    650 EE, 139 Shorts, 75 HP, 75 Avro

The following table gives Canberra variants, making little comment about quantities:


   A.1         Four prototypes, sometimes known as "B.1".

   B.2         Intro bomber version with Avon 101s.
   PR.3        PR variant with Avon 101s and fuselage stretch.
   B(I).2      Four attack B.2 conversions for Venezuela.
   T.4         Trainer version.
   B.5         One-off "target marker" with wet wings and Avon 109s.
   B.6         Improved B.2 with stretch, wet wings, and Avon 109s.
   B.6(BS)     B.6 fitted with Blue Shadow SLAR.
   B(I).6      Interim attack variant based on B.6. 
   B.7         Improved PR.3 with wet wings and Avon 109s.
   B(I).8      Definitive attack variant with offset canopy.
   PR.9        High-altitude PR variant with new wing and Avon RA.24s.

   U.10        RAF target conversions.
   T.11        RAF Javelin radar trainer conversion.
   B(I).12     B(I).8 with autopilot and so on for export market.
   T.13        T.4s for New Zealand.
   U.14        FAA target conversions.
   B.15        B.6 fitted with wing pylons.
   E.15        B.15 modified for "special electronic duties".
   B.16        B.6(BS) fitted with wing pylons.
   T.17        Highly optimized EW training conversion.
   TT.18       Target tug with Rushton winches.
   T.19        T.11 with radar removed, used for training duties.
   Mark 20     B.2 / B.6 hybrid built by Australia.
   Mark 21     Aussie trainer conversions.
   T.22        FAA Buccaneer radar trainer conversion.

   T.54        Indian T.4s.
   PR.57       Indian PR.7s.
   B(I).56     Peruvian B(I).6s.
   B(I).58     Indian B(I).8s.
   B.62        Argentine B.2s.
   TT.64       Argentine T.4s.
   B(I).66     Indian B(I).6s.
   PR.67       Indian PR.7s.
   B(I).68     Peruvian B(I).8s.
   T.72        Peruvian B.2s.
   T.74        Peruvian T.4s.
   B.82        Updated Venezuelan B.2s.
   B(I).82     Updated Venezuelan B(I).2s.
   T.84        Updated Venezuelan T.4s.
   B(I).88     Updated Venezuelan B(I).8s.
   TT.418      Indian TT.18s.

The following table summarizes export use by quantity, not counting the USA. Categories are "B" for bombers like the B.2 and B.6; "BI" for low-level attackers like the B(I).2, B(I).6, & B(I).8; "PR" for photo-reconnaissance platforms like the PR.3 and PR.7; "T" for trainers like the T.4; and "M" for miscellaneous machines, such as target tugs or trials platforms. The counts are only for the configuration of the machines as they went into service, and don't count in-service reconfigurations.

   nation            B    BI   PR    T    M                 TOTAL

   INDIA              -   84   13   11    4                  112
   AUSTRALIA         50    -    -    4    -                   54
   PERU               2   32   10    -    -                   44
   VENEZUELA         16   10    -    2    -                   30
   RHODESIA          16    -    -    4    -                   20
   NEW ZEALAND        -   11    -    2    -                   13
   ARGENTINA         10    -    -    2    -                   12
   SOUTH AFRICA       -    6    -    3    -                    9
   ECUADOR            6    -    -    -    -                    6
   FRANCE             -    -    -    -    6                    6
   ETHIOPIA           4    -    -    -    -                    4
   CHILE (PR.9)       -    -    3    -    -                    3
   WEST GERMANY       -    -    -    -    3                    3
   SWEDEN             -    -    -    -    2                    2