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Canberras still in war service

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!


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hark40 8:50 pm 19 Oct 12

The Meteor and Sabre also fly at Temora.

Meteor. One is flying in the colours of Sgt George Hale who shot down a couple of MiGs in Korea.

Sabre. This one is on “loan” from the RAAF and flies. It has a working ejection seat, but not the one that was used when in RAAF service. (It uses a Martin Baker seat to maintain compatibility with other seats that Temora maintains. Some mods were done to the canopy to ensure clearance. A swap for these components was done with a German museum I believe.)

Vulcan. No, its not at Temora but one has been restored to flying condition in the UK.

Aa to the original article, the Canberras mentioned are modified versions of the US built Canberra bombers. They have a much larger span and also turbofan engines (rather than turbojet). These mods allow them to fly a lot higher than the Canberra planes that the RAAF flew.

LSWCHP 7:38 pm 18 Oct 12

Duffbowl said :

LSWCHP said :

I seem to recall stable Link-11 nets being established with RAN groundstations, ships at sea and RAAF aircraft as a matter of course around 1989-90.

I think it was a matter that some units had difficulty with frequencies. Most of the major warries used HF for Link-11 as a matter of course, particularly for OTH. Difficulties came in trying to get HF between ships and UHF between aircraft and ships working effectively.

Fair enough. I was only ever involved on the HF side of things which seemed to work fairly well, and I moved on to greener pastures in 1991 towards the end of Gulf War number 1.

Duffbowl 7:24 pm 18 Oct 12

LSWCHP said :

I seem to recall stable Link-11 nets being established with RAN groundstations, ships at sea and RAAF aircraft as a matter of course around 1989-90.

I think it was a matter that some units had difficulty with frequencies. Most of the major warries used HF for Link-11 as a matter of course, particularly for OTH. Difficulties came in trying to get HF between ships and UHF between aircraft and ships working effectively.

LSWCHP 7:13 pm 18 Oct 12

Duffbowl said :

dtc said :

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.

Data transfer between combat systems on warships was happening in the early 1990s. Similar transfers between the RAN and RAAF took a bit longer to get sorted, but were in place by 1995.

Where difficulties occurred was retrofitting units, both warships and aircraft.

I seem to recall stable Link-11 nets being established with RAN groundstations, ships at sea and RAAF aircraft as a matter of course around 1989-90.

bigfeet 7:06 am 18 Oct 12

Thumper said :

Followed by a meteor, a wirraway and a mirage, it seems.

I always think the Meteor is overlooked in Australian aviation history.

It is the only RAAF jet aircraft that has ever engaged in air-to-air combat with an enemy jet fighter and though badly outclassed they succeeded in bringing down 6 MIGS over Korea. This came at quite a cost though.

The swept wing jet fighters of the time ran rings around the Meteor and they were soon shifted to a ground-attack role.

I hope to get up to Temora to see one in flight one day.

Pork Hunt 7:35 pm 17 Oct 12

HenryBG said :

Thumper said :

HenryBG said :

Thumper said :

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.

There’s one on static display outside the RAAF base East of Wagga Wagga:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/24522084

Followed by a meteor, a wirraway and a mirage, it seems.

Plus an Aussie Sabre as well. Now *that* was a cool plane – like the P51 Mustang, completely worthless until somebody put a decent British engine in it!

The CAC Avon Sabre is my favourite aircraft of all time. As a student at the RAAF School of Technical Training in 1983, they were used as training aids.
I recall removing and replacing a speed brake actuator and then running a hydraulic rig with the aircraft on jacks to see all the hydraulic systems working.
Regarding the flying Sabre at Temora, one should note that neither the canopy jettison system or ejection seat do not work due to spares being no longer available.
Accordingly, the pilot sits on his parachute a’la WWII pilots (happy to be corrected on this if someone has more info) and has to bale out the old fashioned way if required.
As for the engine starting system, I doubt if Isopropyl Nitrate (IPN) cartridges are still available so perhaps the Rolls Royce Avon has been converted to electric start?

HenryBG 2:36 pm 17 Oct 12

Thumper said :

HenryBG said :

Thumper said :

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.

There’s one on static display outside the RAAF base East of Wagga Wagga:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/24522084

Followed by a meteor, a wirraway and a mirage, it seems.

Plus an Aussie Sabre as well. Now *that* was a cool plane – like the P51 Mustang, completely worthless until somebody put a decent British engine in it!

Thumper 1:23 pm 17 Oct 12

HenryBG said :

Thumper said :

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.

There’s one on static display outside the RAAF base East of Wagga Wagga:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/24522084

Followed by a meteor, a wirraway and a mirage, it seems.

HenryBG 1:19 pm 17 Oct 12

Thumper said :

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.

There’s one on static display outside the RAAF base East of Wagga Wagga:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/24522084

Duffbowl 11:23 am 17 Oct 12

dtc said :

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.

Data transfer between combat systems on warships was happening in the early 1990s. Similar transfers between the RAN and RAAF took a bit longer to get sorted, but were in place by 1995.

Where difficulties occurred was retrofitting units, both warships and aircraft.

c_c 10:48 am 17 Oct 12
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.

    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.

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

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