The Aircraft On Display

The Museum is home to a Mk20 Canberra, serial number A84-230. This aircraft was built at Fishermen's Bend, Victoria, under license by the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) in 1955 and began service with the RAAF on 12th March 1957 (following several modifications being made by the manufacturer at the request of the RAAF), joining No 82 Wing.

Our Canberra saw active military duty in Malaya with No. 2 Squadron and was deployed to Vietnam on April 19th 1967, returning to Amberley Air Force Base on February 26th 1971. She served as a photo reconnaissance aircraft at Amberley until being retired and was donated to the Museum on December 17th 1983 by the Australian Government. A84-230 is on display in the green and grey colour scheme of the RAAF.

Type / History

Type 3 seat bomber aircraft, also used for photo reconnaissance
Manufacturer English Electric (original), RAAF aircraft by Govt Aircraft Factory
(Aust - under license)
Designer Teddy Petter
Maiden Flight 13 May 1949
Introduced May 1951 (RAF)
Retired 23 June 2006 (RAF)
Primary users Royal Air Force, Argentine Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force,
Indian Air Force, United States Air Force
Number built 1,352 (901 UK, 48 Australia, 403 USA)
Variants Martin B-57 Canberra (US built)


The Canberra was the result of a 1944 RAF requirement for a jet bomber to fulfil the role of the wartime de Havilland Mosquito. The Mosquito achieved its success through an ability to operate at high speed, at high or low altitude, dispensing with the usual large aircrew and heavy defensive armament but with a performance benefit that allowed it to outrun many of the German defence aircraft.

There was a British tradition of naming its bomber aircraft after cities (such as Lancaster and Stirling). The RAAF showed an early interest in the aircraft, which led the chairman of English Electric, Sir George Nelson, proposing the name "Canberra" for the new bomber.

The prototype first flew in May 1949. The "Mosquito" philosophy was well in evidence, with no defensive armament, and a slender form assisted by its use of two of the new Rolls-Royce Avon axial-flow jet engines.

The first production model, the Canberra B.2, entered service in May 1951. The Australia version, the Canberra B.20, was manufactured under license by the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF). It was based on the B.2, but possessed a modified wing leading edge, and increased fuel capacity.

Next to the RAF, the largest user of the Canberra was the USAF. After World War II, the USAF ran a design competition to select a jet-powered replacement for its attack bomber fleet (then mostly comprising B-26 Invader aircraft). The Martin company tendered a license-built version of the Canberra, which won against some larger but less versatile offerings from other US companies. The USAF assigned it the model designation B-57. Operational Service RAAF Canberras saw service in the Vietnam war, where their design philosophy was vindicated. They served beside the US version, the Martin B-57, which proved equally suited to the operational conditions.

British Canberras were called into action in the "Malayan Emergency" of the late 1940s and early 1950s, striking against jungle-based insurgents. Of the other countries that flew the Canberra, India made the most operational use of them, in the Indo-Pakistani wars of the 1960s and 1970s; notably, Pakistan used the American Martin B-57 against India in the same wars. Argentina also few Canberras, using them against the British during the 1982 Falklands War.

Late in their service lifetime, Canberras were mainly used as reconnaissance aircraft, the RAF having a specific version, the PR.9. In the USA, versions with extended wings (the RB-57 and WB-57) were developed, for high-altitude reconnaissance and weather research.

General Characteristics

General characteristics

Crew: 3
Length: 65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)
Height: 15 ft 8 in (4.77 m)
Wingspan 64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)
Powerplant: 2, Rolls-Royce Avon R.A.7 Mk.109 turbojets,
7,400 lbf (36 kN) each
Weight: empty 21,650 lb (9,820 kg),
maximum takeoff 55,000 lb (25,000 kg)


Maximum speed: 580 mph (933 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,192 m)
Range: combat radius 810 mi (700 nm, 1,300 km)
ferry range 3,380 mi (2,940 nm, 5,440 km)
Service ceiling: 48,000 ft (15,000 m)


Cannon: 4, 20 mm Hispano Mk.V cannons,
or 2, 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun pods
Bomb load: up to 8,000 lb (3630 kg) of missile,
rockets or bombs.