The Canberra bomber was Australia’s first jet bomber. The Lincoln bomber had been in Australian service for only a short period of time when it became apparent the age of the propeller-heavy bomber was on the decline. The RAAF needed a more modern bomber than the Lincoln and in 1950 an order was placed for 48 English electric Canberras.
The Canberras were built in Australia, under licence, by the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF). Its Rolls Royce Avon engines were built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
The first Australian built Canberra bomber flew in May 1953, entering service with 82 Wing in December, and the last was delivered in September 1958. In addition to these 48 Australian Canberras, the RAAF also flew seven British Canberras (three of which were on loan from the RAF).
The Canberras were flown by 1, 2, and 6 Squadrons, although they only saw operational service with 2 Squadron – during the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. The Canberras were also flown by 2 Squadron for the longest peiod of time, from December 1953 until June 1982.
Five aircraft (A84-201 and 203-206) were converted to dual control Mk 21 trainers in 1958-59.
In the mid 1970s the Canberras were gradually replaced by the General Dynamics F-111.
English Electric/GAF Canberra Mk 20/Mk 21
Type: Tactical bomber
Entered service: 1953
Wing span: 19.5 m
Length: 19.96 m
Weight (laden): 22 680 kg
Ceiling endurance: 45,000 ft
Speed: cruising speed 703 km/h; max. 933 km/h
Armament: max. bomb load 3,629 kg. The typical load during the Vietnam War was six 340 kg bombs, four in the bomb bay and one under each wing tip.
Search for related collection items