English Electric Canberra B.20 Tactical Bomber

Accession Number REL/08295
Collection type Technology
Object type Aircraft
Physical description Duralium or Duralimin
Place made Australia: Victoria, Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Fishermans Bend
Date made August 1958
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975

The English Electric Canberra B.20 bomber aircraft is a cantilever mid-wing monoplane two-seat jet powered bomber with an aluminium alloy airframe. The wngs are symmetrical high speed aerofoils. Tailplane is variable incidence, hinged at its leading edge. The engines are Australian-built Rolls-Royce RA.7 Avon Mk. I09 axial flow turbojets. Two crew: pilot on a Martin Baker Type 13 ejection seat offset to the port side of the fuselage, and the navigator's seat totally enclosed in the nose.

The aircraft can carry offensive loads in both the fuselage bomb bay and on wing tip racks. Standard bomb load in Vietnam from 1967-mid 1968 was eight 500 lb or six 1000 lb bombs. However alternative weapons were considered due to the depletion of the RAAF’s stocks of old Australian bombs. In June 1968 American 750 lb M117 general purpose bombs were cleared to be used by the RAAF. These became the Squadron’s standard weapon, four in the bomb bay and one under each wingtip. It carries no defensive armament.

This aircraft was constructed at the Government Aircraft Factory in Victoria in August 1958, part of a batch of 48 machines. Its RAAF serial number is A84-247. This machine was restored to its Vietnam configuration by personnel at RAAF Amberley in Queensland the airframe from refurbished and repainted. Sub-components from at least three different airframes have been used to complete this aircraft. The exterior has been repainted with grey and olive green camouflage and a red lightning bolt inscription on the tail to reflect its appearance during its service with 2 Squadron RAAF in South Vietnam.

History / Summary

This Canberra A84-247 was received at 1 Aircraft Depot RAAF Laverton, Victoria (Vic) on 8 August 1958. From 8 December 1958 to August 1977 it served with 2 Squadron RAAF in both Malaya and Vietnam, apart from periods spent at 3 Aircraft Depot RAAF Amberley, Queensland (Qld), for major servicing purposes.

This Canberra was first issued to 2 Squadron, then bases at Butterworth in Malaya, on 19 December 1958. In April 1967 it returned to Australia to receive modification and repairs by a civilian contractor in South Australia.

A84-247 was allotted to 2 Squadron RAAF for service in Vietnam in July 1967, and flew its first operational sortie on 14 July. It continued in operational use until 11 June 1968 when it returned to Australia for servicing followed by a brief posting to 1 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at Amberley Queensland. In July 1969 the aircraft returned to 2 Squadron and carried out its next operational flight on 19 July 1969. It remained with the Squadron until February 1971, undertaking its last bombing operation on 6 February 1971. This aircraft was used for both medium and low level bombing operations, and is known to have completed at least 680 operational flights in Vietnam.

During its service history A84-247 flew for a total of 5,144.5 hours and recorded a total of 1,605 landings. In July 1982, after restoration work, including repainting to reflect its service during the Vietnam War, it was transferred by the Department of Defence to the Australian War Memorial.