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Canberras still in war service

By johnboy - 16 October 2012 26

Thanks to Andrew for pointing it out but it seems the last of the Canberra bombers have not yet gone into the night, at least not according to Wired.

They’re 49 years old, ugly and owned by NASA, not the Pentagon. But two modified WB-57F Canberras are now among America’s most important warplanes. With anonymous-looking white paint jobs, the Canberras have been taking turns deploying to Afghanistan carrying a high-tech new radio translator designed to connect pretty much any fighter, bomber, spy plane and ground radio to, well, pretty much any other fighter, bomber, spy plane and ground radio. That makes the former Air Force reconnaissance planes, originally transferred to the space agency for science missions, essential hubs of the American-led war effort.

I honestly hadn’t expected to see them turn up again!

What’s Your opinion?


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26 Responses to
Canberras still in war service
johnboy 10:07 am 17 Oct 12

As to “why Canberra’s” I think it comes down to why NASA were using them so late. They fly very high, for a very long time, and their bomb bays were racked up to carry scientific payloads. Which I’m imagining would be handy for experimental comms gear.

HenryBG 10:02 am 17 Oct 12

HenryBG said :

Deref said :

Great to see these old warhorses still flying. But why Canberras, I wonder.

It’s funny how these things happen – for example, the French were still flying Avro Lancasters out of New Caledonia for sea rescue jobs until about 1965.

And the Avro Shackleton lasted until 1990 according to Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avro_Shackleton

HenryBG 9:59 am 17 Oct 12

Deref said :

Great to see these old warhorses still flying. But why Canberras, I wonder.

It’s funny how these things happen – for example, the French were still flying Avro Lancasters out of New Caledonia for sea rescue jobs until about 1965.

Thumper 9:58 am 17 Oct 12

HenryBG said :

Definitely a very nice plane.
A Canberra flew very low right over my house on its way to do a flyover at the Silverstone GP one morning back in about 2004 or 5.

Wouldn’t mind seeing a Vulcan – wonder if any of them are still going?

Saw a B-52 over Canberra a few years ago. It was very high, but god that noise it makes is unique.

I saw a Vulcan when I was kid back in England in the 70s taking off from RAAF Mamby in Lincolnshire.

Truly an awesome sight.

I seem to recall some RAAF Canberras when my father was based at Townsville. Big fat winged things that sat really low on the tarmac.

HenryBG 9:53 am 17 Oct 12

Definitely a very nice plane.
A Canberra flew very low right over my house on its way to do a flyover at the Silverstone GP one morning back in about 2004 or 5.

Wouldn’t mind seeing a Vulcan – wonder if any of them are still going?

Saw a B-52 over Canberra a few years ago. It was very high, but god that noise it makes is unique.

dtc 9:47 am 17 Oct 12

Surely the question is why does the USAF require a third party system in order to allow its planes and ground crew to talk to each other.

Not that the RAAF (or any other service) is much better. I think it was only recently that the RAN was able to use internet/data transfer directly between ships, rather than via back to base.

Deref 8:26 am 17 Oct 12

Great to see these old warhorses still flying. But why Canberras, I wonder.

Pork Hunt 5:53 am 17 Oct 12

RadioVK said :

Pork Hunt said :

The last couple of posts have jogged my memory. In the late ’80’s some kind of swap/commercial deal was done and a Canberra was swapped for a North American B25 Mitchell.

The Canberra flew out of RAAF Fairbairn for the US to be kept in flying condition.
The B25 flew in and was stored at 34Sqn for months never to fly again. A perfectly serviceable example of an aircraft that changed the course of history in the Pacific theatre of WWII.
At the time I felt that we were ripped off.

Doesn’t the AWM have a B-25 out at the Mitchell annex? That couldn’t be the one you’re

My point was that the B25 flew into Canberra as was then parked. The wings were removed and it towed to the AWM Annex.
It obviously didn’t occur to anyone that perhaps it could be kept in flying condition.

RadioVK 11:23 pm 16 Oct 12

Pork Hunt said :

The last couple of posts have jogged my memory. In the late ’80’s some kind of swap/commercial deal was done and a Canberra was swapped for a North American B25 Mitchell.

The Canberra flew out of RAAF Fairbairn for the US to be kept in flying condition.
The B25 flew in and was stored at 34Sqn for months never to fly again. A perfectly serviceable example of an aircraft that changed the course of history in the Pacific theatre of WWII.
At the time I felt that we were ripped off.

Doesn’t the AWM have a B-25 at the Mitchell annex? That couldn’t be the same one could it? It would make sense that it would end up in their care.

LSWCHP said :

Pork Hunt said :

In my RAAF days, I always saw the Canberras as things of beauty and elegance.

Deadly too.

To find out about (what I think is) the greatest feat of military aviation involving these aircraft, Google for “Lusaka this is Green Leader”, and check out the Green Leader cockpit recordings, transcripts and other goodness. Amazing artefacts relating to an exploit that was already legendary when I was a young bloke.

Not to mention the incredible feats of precision radar guided bombing accomplished in Vietnam by RAAF Canberra crews. They achieved accuracy almost as good as todays smart weapons using only optical bomb sights and/or precision radar fixes.

hark40 said :

And for those who would like to still see a Canberra fly, or want to look at one, we are very fortunate that the Temora Aviation Museum (http://www.aviationmuseum.com.au/) has regular flying days which on occasions includes a Canberra bomber – and they are only a 2+hr drive from Canberra.

Not to mention a CAC Sabre and not just one, but two Spitfires, as well as a number of other aircraft signifigant to Australian military aviation history.

Nothing sounds quite like a Rolls Royce Merlin…

RadioVK 11:14 pm 16 Oct 12

Pork Hunt said :

The last couple of posts have jogged my memory. In the late ’80’s some kind of swap/commercial deal was done and a Canberra was swapped for a North American B25 Mitchell.

The Canberra flew out of RAAF Fairbairn for the US to be kept in flying condition.
The B25 flew in and was stored at 34Sqn for months never to fly again. A perfectly serviceable example of an aircraft that changed the course of history in the Pacific theatre of WWII.
At the time I felt that we were ripped off.

Doesn’t the AWM have a B-25 out at the Mitchell annex? That couldn’t be the one you’re

Pork Hunt 9:56 pm 16 Oct 12

The last couple of posts have jogged my memory. In the late ’80’s some kind of swap/commercial deal was done and a Canberra was swapped for a North American B25 Mitchell.

The Canberra flew out of RAAF Fairbairn for the US to be kept in flying condition.
The B25 flew in and was stored at 34Sqn for months never to fly again. A perfectly serviceable example of an aircraft that changed the course of history in the Pacific theatre of WWII.
At the time I felt that we were ripped off.

Kim F 8:35 pm 16 Oct 12

Doesn’t one still fly out of Temora ? It still did in 2007 when I was last there

hark40 8:23 pm 16 Oct 12

And for those who would like to still see a Canberra fly, or want to look at one, we are very fortunate that the Temora Aviation Museum (http://www.aviationmuseum.com.au/) has regular flying days which on occasions includes a Canberra bomber – and they are only a 2+hr drive from Canberra.

LSWCHP 7:16 pm 16 Oct 12

Pork Hunt said :

In my RAAF days, I always saw the Canberras as things of beauty and elegance.

Deadly too.

To find out about (what I think is) the greatest feat of military aviation involving these aircraft, Google for “Lusaka this is Green Leader”, and check out the Green Leader cockpit recordings, transcripts and other goodness. Amazing artefacts relating to an exploit that was already legendary when I was a young bloke.

Pork Hunt 6:15 pm 16 Oct 12

In my RAAF days, I always saw the Canberras as things of beauty and elegance.
I was fortunate enough to witness the last flight of an Aussie Canberra bomber at RAAF Edinburgh in 1982.
It belonged to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and flew across the air base at max speed and then climbed vertically and diappeared into the clouds.
Later on when I was posted to RAAF Wagga, they had several Canberras sitting on the tarmac along with a Lockheed P2 Neptune, Lockheed C130A and some Vampires.

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