The Canberra was originally conceived as a high altitude, nuclear capable medium bomber in the immediate post-war period. The first prototype flew in May 1949, leading the way for the first production version, the B.2 which flew in 1950, (and the T.4 followed in 1952). Built by English Electric for the RAF and the export market, as well as by licensed manufacturers, the Canberra remained in service into the 1990's. A number of variants of the low/ medium/ high altitude bomber followed for intruder/ interdictor/ reconnaisance roles. Production amounted to over 958 airframes, as well as the Martin B.57 version, of which more than 400 built.
The RNZAF purchased eleven B(I)12 (similar to the RAF B(I)8) and two T.13s (similar to the RAF T.4 apart from the addition of an ejector seat for the navigator) to replace the Vampires as strike aircraft. The bombers were serialled NZ6101-6111 and the trainers NZ6151-6152. The aircraft were delivered between 1959 and 1961, and were assigned to No14SQN and the Bomber conversion unit. The aircraft were regularly deployed to Australia and South East Asia (based at Singapore). 75SQN used RAF B.2's and T.4's in operations from Tengah during the Malayan emergency, as well as exercises around South East Asia. 14SQN were also deployed to Singapore between 1964 and 1966 in response to the Indonesian confrontation.
Three aircraft were lost in RNZAF service. One was an RAF machine (B.2 WF915) operated by 75SQN which lost control and spun in severe turbulance over northern Johore State on 26 October 1961. The pilot F/L. Bevan was able to eject, but the navigator F/L. Finn was killed. NZ6101 crashed on 2 November, 1960 after losing power on approach to Christchurch International. The crew escaped serious injury, but the aircraft was written off. NZ6104 crashed into the sea near Singapore on 13 November 1964 and the crew (F/L. Southgate and F/O. Thomson) were killed.
The aircraft were withdrawn from service in July 1970, having been replaced by A-4K Skyhawks. One aircraft (NZ6106) was sold to the British Aircraft Corporation. The remaining aircraft were sold to the Indian Air Force.
I have no information on the fate of NZ6106. However, information from Rupak Chattopadhyay says the eight B(I)12s and two T.4s were used to equip one flight of No.6 SQN IAF in an anti-shipping role. In 1975-76, No.6SQN became an all Canberra Squadron, with the existing aircraft being supplemented in 1979 by B(I)58s from No.5 Squadron which had converted to Jaguars. No.6 was the last squadron to fly Canberras in the combat role, but by 1992 they had been placed in storage as the squadron converted to anti-ship Jaguars. Some Canberras continue in an ELINT role with 35SQN IAF, and the T.4/ T.13's remain with 6SQN as target tugs. (My thanks to Rupak for this information!).
Three Canberras can be found in New Zealand. An Australian (GAF) built B.20 (A84-240) can be found on display in the RNZAF Museum (illustrated below). One of 56 license built aircraft, this example was presented to the RNZAF museum by the RAAF in 1984. to mark the Canberra's service with RNZAF squadrons. Another ex-RAAF B.20, A84-207 is on display at the Transport Museum at Wanaka (illustrated below). The RNZAF museum also holds a B(I)8 (c/n 71506 ex WT346 instructional airframe 8197M) in store for eventual restoration as a 14 SQN B(I)12.
Last Update:- 27 March 2002
Figures of for the B(I)2
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