DH Venom          English Electric Lightning


Originally known as the English Electric A.1 the Canberra was renamed by the Company's chairman, Sir George Nelson, as Australia was the first export customer for the aircraft.

The Canberra was modelled on the same design brief as the de Havilland Mosquito i.e. to provide maximum bomb load, fitting of two very powerful engines and with the most effective aerodynamic package possible.

The Canberra was mainly a metal aircraft with only the forward portion of the fin being of wooden construction. The fuselague was a semi-monocoque design with a pressurised nose compartment with the crew each having a Martin-Baker ejector seat.

There were two bomb bays in the fuselage protected by conventional bomb bay doors. The wings were of a single spoar construction which passed straight through the fuselage from one side to the other with control surfaces operated by conventional means.

The Canberra was powered by two Rolls Royce Avon turbojets producing 7,400 lbf of thrust each.
Early Canberras had a glazed nose to carry a bomb aimer due to delays in the intended radar bombsight.

Many conventional weapons could be carried by the Canberra such as: 250lb, 500lb, and 1000lb bombs with a total bomb load of up to 10,000lb.

The undercarriage of the Canberra was manufactured from an new alloy (DTD683) which was prone to stress corrosion causing them to decay in a few years. To avoid the hazard of undercarriage failure regular inspections were carried out initially using Radiographic techniques and then later a more reliable Ultrasound inspection.

The Canberra B2 entered service with RAF No.101 Squadron in January of 1951 and No.9 Squadron by the end of that year.

As a result of the Korean War manufacture of the Canberra was stepped up and a further Squadrons were issued with the aircraft by the end of 1952.

Bomber Command retired the last Canberra on the 11th of September 1961, however, overseas Squadrons in Germany, Cyprus and Singapore continued to use the aircraft in the nuclear strike role.

The Cyprus based Squadrons were made unoperational in 1969 with the Singapore based quadrons following suit in 1970. The last of the German based Squadrons disbanded in 1972 and were the last Canberra bombers in RAF service.

The RAF continued with the Canberra in service after 1972 in a reconnaissance role with many variants being produced during this time. The PR9 remained in service with RAF No.39 Squadron until July of 2006 in the reconnaissance and photograhic maping role.

The last sortie of a Canberra took place on the 28th of July 2006 to commemorate the standing down of RAF No.39 Squadron at RAF Marham by a flypast.

Specifications: -
Length:65ft 6in (19.96m)
Wingspan:63ft 11.5in (19.50m)
Height:15ft 8in (4.77m)
Empty Weight:27,950lb (12678kg)
Max. Weight:56,250lb (25514kg)
Engines (x2):RR Avon 109
producing 7400 lb st.
Max. Speed:518 mph (824 km/h)
Range:3630 miles (5842 km)
Armament: - (Dependent upon mission)
Cannon:4 x 20mm Hispano Mk.V
Bomb load:10,000lb
Rockets:2 x unguided rocket pods
Nuclear:Tactical Nuclear
Variants: -

Canberra B1
Prototype, originally known as A.1, 4 built.

Canberra B2
Production version. 3 crew.

Canberra PR3
Photo-reconnaissance version of B2. 2 crew.

Canberra T4
Trainer variant with dual controls. 3 crew

Canberra B5
Prototype with Rolls Roles Avon R.A.7 engines, 1 built.

Canberra B6
Production version of the B5, fuselage increased in length by 1 ft, 106 built.

Canberra PR7
Photo-reconnaissance version of B6, Rolls Royce Avon 109 engines, 74 built.

Canberra B(I)8
Interdictor version from the B6, 72 built.

Canberra PR9
Photo-reconnaissance based on B(I)8, fuselage stretched to 68 ft, wingspan increased by 4 ft, and Avon R.A.27 engines with 10,030 lbf of thrust. Had the offset canopy of the B(I)8 with a hinged nose to allow fitment of an ejection seat for the navigator, 23 built.

For further variants please visit wikipedia.
DH Venom          English Electric Lightning
©Nigel Key Canberra (Kemble 2010)

The Canberra was the first jet powered light bomber during the 1950's to be built in large numbers.

It was capable of flying at high altitude and set a World record at the time of 70,310ft.

Due to its superior performance over piston engines of the day, the Canberra was in demand overseas and served with many nations.
Photographs © Nigel Key, Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Canberra  (Kemble 2010) Canberra  (Kemble 2007) Canberra  (Duxford 2007)
Kemble 2010
Kemble 2007
Duxford 2007
Canberra  (Duxford 2007) Canberra  (Duxford 2007) Canberra  (Duxford 2007)
Duxford 2007
Duxford 2007
Duxford 2007

Related Links: -

de Havilland Mosquito (

Cotswold Airshow (

Airshow Calendar (