B-57 Canberra

B-57 Canberra

Infobox Aircraft
name=B-57 Canberra

caption=B-57 in flight over Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
first flight= 20 July 1953
introduced= 1954
number built=403
status=Retired (2 still used by NASA)
unit cost=US$1.26 million (B-57B)cite book|author=Knaack, Marcelle Size|title=Post-World War II bombers, 1945-1973|publisher=Office of Air Force History|year=1988|id=ISBN 0-16-002260-6]
primary user= United States Air Force
more users= Pakistani Air Force
Republic of China Air Force
developed from= English Electric Canberra
variants with their own articles=

The Martin B-57 Canberra was a twin jet engine, light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft (photographic, electronics, and meteorological) which entered service in the 1950s. Originally based on the British English Electric Canberra, the US-built B-57 had evolved into several unique variants.


At the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the United States Air Force found itself in dire need of an all-weather interdiction aircraft. The piston-engined Douglas A-26 Invaders were limited to daytime and fair weather operations and were in short supply. Thus, on 16 September 1950 the USAF issued a request for a jet-powered bomber with a top speed of 630 mph (1,020 km/h), ceiling of 40,000 feet (12,190 m), and range of 1,150 miles (1,850 km). Full all-weather capability and secondary reconnaissance role had to be included in the design. To expedite the process, only projects based on existing aircraft were considered. The contenders included the Martin XB-51, and the North American B-45 Tornado and AJ Savage. In an extremely rare move, foreign aircraft including the Canadian Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck and the British English Electric Canberra were also given consideration. The AJ and B-45 were quickly dismissed because their outdated designs had limited growth potential. The CF-100 was too small and lacked sufficient range. The XB-51, while very promising and much faster, had limited maneuverability, a small weapons bay, and limited range and endurance.

On 21 February 1951, a British Canberra B.2 became the first-ever jet to make a non-stop unrefuelled flight across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in the United States for USAF evaluation. The Canberra emerged a clear winner of the 26 February flyoff against the XB-51. Since English Electric was unable to produce enough aircraft for both the RAF and the USAF, on 3 April 1951 Martin was granted the license to build Canberras, designated B-57 (Martin Model 272) in the US. To expedite production, the first B-57As were largely identical to the Canberra B.2s with the exception of more powerful Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire engines of 7,200 lbf (32 kN) of thrust, also license-built in the US as Wright J65s. In addition, canopy and fuselage windows were slightly revised, the crew was reduced from three to two, wingtip fuel tanks were added, engine nacelles were modified with additional cooling scoops, and the conventional "clamshell" bomb-bay doors were replaced with a low-drag rotating door originally designed for the XB-51.

The first production aircraft flew on 20 July 1953, and was accepted by USAF on 20 August. During the production run from 1953 to 1957, a total of 403 B-57s were built.

Operational history

The USAF Strategic Air Command had B-57 Canberras in service from 1956 through 1962Fact|date=February 2007.

The B-57A was not considered combat-ready by the USAF and the aircraft were used solely for testing and development. One of the aircraft was given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which fitted it with a new nose radome and used it to track hurricanes. The reason for such limited production was that the distinctly British B-57A was considered unfit for USAF service. Particularly contentious were the odd cockpit arrangement and the lack of guns, the British Canberra having been designed as a high-speed, high altitude bomber rather than for close air support. The definitive B-57B introduced a new tandem cockpit with a bubble canopy, the engines were now started with a pyrotechnic cartridge, the airbrakes were moved from the wings to the sides of the fuselage for increased effectiveness, the controls were now boosted, four hardpoints were fitted under the wings, and the aircraft was given gun armament in the form of 8 x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns in the wings, later replaced by 4 x 20 mm M39 cannons. The first B-57B flew on 18 June 1954. The aircraft initially suffered from the same engine malfunctions as the RB-57As and several were lost in high-speed low-level operations due to a faulty tailplane actuator which caused the aircraft to dive into the ground. The USAF considered the B-57B inadequate for the night intruder role and Martin put all aircraft through an extensive avionics upgrade. Regardless, by the end of 1957 the USAF tactical squadrons were being re-equipped with supersonic F-100 Super Sabres. The complete retirement was delayed, however, by the start of the Vietnam War.

Reconnaissance B-57s

While the USAF found the B-57A lacking, the photoreconnaissance RB-57A saw some operational use. First flying in October 1953, RB-57As fully equipped the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw Air Force Base by July 1954. The aircraft were also deployed with USAF squadrons in Germany, France, and Japan. However, operational readiness was poor and the aircraft suffered from significant production delays because of engine problems. Wright had subcontracted production of J65 engines to Buick which resulted in slow deliveries and tendency to burn oil which filled the cockpit with smoke. The problems were ameliorated when Wright took over the production in 1954. RB-57As also suffered from a high accident rate caused in part by very poor single-engine handling, which resulted in the entire fleet spending much of 1955 on the ground. By 1958, all RB-57As were replaced in active service by Douglas RB-66Bs and RF-101As. Air National Guard units extensively used RB-57As for photographic surveys of the United States and traded in their last aircraft in 1971. Two RB-57As were used by the Republic of China Air Force for reconnaissance missions over People's Republic of China. One of these was shot down by a Chinese Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 on 18 February 1958. In 1959, a RB-57A flown by a ROCAF captain was shot down over the PRC by SA-2 SAM, marking the very first successful operational engagement of surface-to-air missiles. Two other RB-57As were used by the Federal Aviation Administration to plan high-altitude airways for the upcoming jet passenger aircraft.

A number of RB-57s were used by the 7499th Support Group at Wiesbaden in 'Heart Throb' reconnaissance missions over Europe. [ [http://www.spyflight.co.uk/heart%20throb.htm Spyflight(UK) "Heart Throb"] ]

Starting in 1959, Martin began to modify retired RB-57As with electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment in the bomb bay. Redesignated EB-57A, these aircraft were deployed with Defense Systems Evaluation Squadrons which played the role of aggressors to train the friendly air defense units in the art of electronic warfare. Subsequent bomber variants were also modified to fulfill this role.


Though intended as a bomber and never before deployed by the USAF to a combat zone, the first B-57s to be deployed to South Vietnam were not operated in an offensive role. The need for additional reconnaissance assets, especially those capable of operating at night, led to the deployment of two RB-57E aircraft on April 15 1963. Under project Patricia Lynn these aircraft provided infrared coverage using their Reconofax VI cameras. [Smith, Mark E (1966). "USAF Reconnaissance in South East Asia (1961-66)." San Francisco, CA: Headquarters, Pacific Air Force, Department of the Air Force. p. 8] Later in August 1965, a single RB-57F would be deployed to Udon, RTAB in an attempt to gather information about North Vietnamese SAM sites, first under project Greek God and then under project Mad King. In December another RB-57F would be deployed for this purpose, under project Sky Wave. Neither project garnered useful results and they were terminated in October 1965 and February 1966 respectively. [Smith, Mark E (1966). p. 41-2]

The deployment of actual combat capable B-57Bs from 8th and 13th Bomb Squadrons to Bien Hoa in August 1964 began with three aircraft lost in collisions on arrival.Fact|date=September 2007 An additional five aircraft were destroyed with another 15 damaged by a Viet Cong mortar attack in November of the same year. Low level sorties designated as training flights were conducted with the hope of it having a psychological affect. As a result the first combat mission was only flown on 19 February 1965. [Drendel, Lou (1982). "Air War over Southeast Asia, Vol 1, 1962-1966". Carrolton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-89747-134-2. p. 13-4] The first excursion into North Vietnam taking place on 2 March as part of Operation Rolling Thunder. The aircraft typically carried 9 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs in the bomb bay and 4 x 750 lb (340 kg) bombs under the wings. In April, Canberras began flying night intruder missions supported by C-123 Provider or C-130 Hercules flare ships and EF-10B Skyknight electronic warfare aircraft.

On 16 May 1965, an armed B-57B exploded on the runway at Bien Hoa setting off a chain reaction that destroyed ten other Canberras, eleven A-1 Skyraiders, and one F-8 Crusader. Due to combat attrition, in October 1966 B-57Bs were transferred to Phan Rang where they supported operations in the Iron Triangle along with Australian Canberra B.20s. The aircraft also continued to fly night interdiction missions against the Ho Chi Minh trail. Of the 94 B-57Bs deployed to Southeast Asia, 51 were lost in combat and 7 other Canberra's were lost to other causes. Only 9 were still flying by 1969.Fact|date=September 2007

B-57s returned to Southeast Asia in the form of the Tropic Moon III B-57G, deployed to Thailand during the fall of 1970. [Pfau, Richard A. and William H. Greenhalgh, Jr (1978). "FM B-57G – Tropic Moon III 1967-1972." Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, Headquarters United States Air Force.] Intended as a night intruder to help combat movement along the Ho Chi Minh trail, these aircraft were equipped with a variety of new sensors and other equipment, and were capable of dropping laser guided munitions. [Pfau and Greenhalgh (1978). p. 29] The relative kill rates per sortie during Operation Commando Hunt V between the B-57G and the AC-130A/E showed that the former was not as suited to the role of trucker hunter. [Pfau and Greenhalgh, 1978. p. 64] An attempt to combine both led to one B-57G being modified to house a special bomb bay installation of one Emerson TAT-161 turret with a single M61 20mm cannon as a gunship under project Pave Gat. Poor results led to this system not being produced and the prototype was not deployed to the theatre. [Pfau and Greenhalgh (1978). p. 45-9] The B-57G was removed from Thailand in May 1972. Plans remained for the continuation of the B-57G program but post-conflict spending cuts forced the abandonment of these plans. [Pfau and Greenhalgh (1978). p. 91-2]

For a short period South Vietnamese Air Force personnel operated four B-57B aircraft. The VNAF never officially took control of the aircraft, and, after accidents and other problems, including apparent claims by VNAF pilots that the B-57 was beyond their physical capabilities, the program was terminated in April 1966, and the aircraft were returned to their original USAF units. [Mesko, Jim (1987). "VNAF, South Vietnamese Air Force 1945-1975". Carrolton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-89747-193-8. p. 43]


The Pakistan Air Force was one of the main users of the B-57 and made use of it in two wars with India. In the Second Kashmir War of 1965 B-57s flew 167 sorties, dropping over 600 tons of bombs. Three B-57s were lost in action, along with one RB-57F electronics intelligence aircraft [ [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher2/b57_10.html B-57 with Pakistan ] ] . However, only one of those three was lost as a result of enemy action [ [http://www.defencejournal.com/2001/september/wars.htm PAF and the three wars] ] . During the war, the bomber wing of the PAF was attacking the concentration of airfields in north India. In order to avoid enemy fighter-bombers, the B-57s operated from several different airbases. The B-57 bombers would arrive over their targets in a stream at intervals of about fifteen minutes, which Pakistani authors believe, led to achieving a major disruption of the overall IAF effort. [ [http://www.defencejournal.com/2001/september/wars.htm PAF and the three wars ] ]

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the PAF again made use of the B-57. On the very first night, 12 IAF runways were targeted and a total of 183 bombs were dropped. As the war progressed, PAF B-57s carried out many night missions. There was a higher attrition rate than in 1965, with at least 5 B-57s being put out of service by the end of the war. [ [http://bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1971War/Appendix3.html IAF Claims vs. Official List of Pakistani Losses ] ] [ [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher2/b57_10.html B-57 with Pakistan ] ] They were retired from service in the PAF in 1985.


;B-57A:First production version; 8 built.;B-57B:Definitive production version, tandem cockpit, 8x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns or 4x 20 mm cannons, four underwing hardpoints; 202 built.;B-57C:Dual-control trainer, first flight 30 December 1954; 38 built.;B-57E:Target tug, first flight 16 May 1956; 68 built. ;B-57G:B-57Bs modified as night intruders with FLIR, LLTV and laser designator in the nose, capable of using laser-guided bombs; 16 converted.;EB-57A:Electronic aggressor aircraft converted from RB-57As.;EB-57B:ECM aircraft converted from B-57Bs.;EB-57D:ECM aircraft converted from RB-57Ds.;EB-57E:Electronic aggressor aircraft converted from B-57Es. ;RB-57A:Photoreconnaissance version with cameras installed aft of the bomb bay; 67 built.;RB-57B:Photo-reconnaissance aircraft converted from B-57Bs.;RB-57D:High-altitude reconnaissance version, J57-P-9 engines, wingspan increased to 105 feet (32.00 m), first flight 3 November 1955; 20 built.;RB-57E:B-57Es modified to all-weather reconnaissance aircraft, used in "Patricia Lynn" missions during the Vietnam War; 6 converted.;RB-57F:High-altitude reconnaissance version developed by General Dynamics, TF33-P-11A turbofan engines with provision for auxiliary J60-P-9 turbojets, first flight 23 June 1963; 21 built (3 converted from RB-57As, 4 from RB-57Ds, the rest from B-57Bs).;WB-57F:Weather reconnaissance version.:RB-57Fs used for high altitude atmospheric sampling in support of nuclear weapon testing and weather research. Two WB-57F aircraft were transferred to NASA and are the only WB-57s still flying in the world today [ [http://jsc-aircraft-ops.jsc.nasa.gov/wb57/history.html NASA WB-57] ] . They are used for atmospheric research and for monitoring Space Shuttle takeoff and landing.


* Pakistan Air Force;ROC
* Republic of China Air Force;USA
* United States Air Force
* NCAR/High Altitude Mapping Missions, Inc, [ [http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/login.jsp?url=/iel5/10432/33126/01559587.pdf?arnumber=1559587 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO] ]
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States Commerce Department [Mikesh, Robert C. "Martin B-57 Canberra. The Complete Record", p.162]


:"Section source: AeroWeb [ [http://www.aero-web.org/locator/manufact/martin/b-57.htm AeroWeb: List of B-57 survivors] ] ";RB-57A Photo reconnaissance
*52-1467 and 52-1446 Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum, [ [http://www.marylandaviationmuseum.org/ Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum] ] Middle River, Maryland
*52-1492 Hill Aerospace Museum Hill AFB, Utah
*52-1475 Museum of Aviation Robins AFB, Georgia
*52-1488 New England Air Museum Windsor Locks, Connecticut
*52-1485 and 52-1456 Selfridge Military Air Museum [ [http://www.selfridgeairmuseum.org/ Selfridge Air Museum official site] ] and Air Park Selfridge ANGB, Michigan
*52-1482 USAF History and Traditions Museum, [Official site removed.] Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas
*52-7421 Yankee Air Museum Belleville, Michigan ;EB-57B Electronics reconnaissance
*52-1504 Dyess Linear Air Park Dyess AFB, Texas
*52-1526 Edward F. Beale Museum Beale AFB, California
*52-1509 Laughlin AFB, Texas
*52-1505 Malmstrom AFB Museum, [ [http://www.malmstrom.af.mil/library/malmstrommuseum/index.asp Malmstrom AFB Museum official site] ] and Air Park, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
*52-1519 March Field Air Museum, March ARB, Riverside, California
*52-1548 South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota
*52-1516 [http://aeroweb.brooklyn.cuny.edu/museums/fl/afam/52-1516.htm] USAF Armament Museum, Eglin AFB, Florida
*52-1499 [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet_media.asp?fsID=299] National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio
*52-1500 Vermont ANG - 158th Fighter Wing, Burlington, Vermont, [http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=44.47732,-73.152514&spn=0.000407,0.001344&z=20 Aerial View] ;B-57B
*52-1576 Air Force Flight Test Center Museum [ [http://www.edwards.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123055011 Air Force Flight Test Center Museum official site] ] Edwards AFB, California
*52-1584 Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum Kalamazoo, Michigan ;RB-57D Photo reconnaissance
*53-3982 Pima Air and Space Museum Tucson, Arizona ;EB-57E Electronics reconnaissance
*55-4253 Castle Air Museum (former Castle AFB), Atwater, California
*55-4279 [http://www.petemuseum.org/EB57E.html] Peterson Air and Space Museum Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado
*55-4293 Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Lowry Campus (former Lowry AFB), Denver, Colorado ;B-57E
*55-4274 Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona
*55-4244 Strategic Air Command Museum (adjacent to Offutt AFB), Ashland, Nebraska ;WB-57F Weather reconnaissance
*63-13293 Museum of Aviation Robins AFB, Georgia
*61-13501 Pima Air & Space Museum Tucson, Arizona

pecifications (B-57B)

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

ref=Quest for Performance [cite web|author=Loftin, LK, Jr|title=Quest for performance: The evolution of modern aircraft. NASA SP-468|url=http://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/SP-468/cover.htm|accessdate=2006-04-22]
length main=65 ft 6 in
length alt=20.0 m
span main=64 ft 0 in
span alt=19.5 m
height main=14 ft 10 in
height alt=4.52 m
area main=960 ft²
area alt=89 m²
empty weight main=27,090 lb
empty weight alt=12,285 kg
loaded weight main=40,345 lb
loaded weight alt=18,300 kg
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=53,720 lb
max takeoff weight alt=24,365 kg
more general=
* Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0119
* Drag area: 11.45 ft² (1.06 m²)
* Aspect ratio: 4.27
engine (jet)=Wright J65-W-5
type of jet=turbojets
number of jets=2
thrust main=7,220 lbf
thrust alt=32.1 kN
max speed main=Mach 0.79
max speed alt=598 mph, 960 km/h
max speed more=at 2,500 ft (760 m)
cruise speed main=476 mph
cruise speed alt=414 knots, 765 km/h
stall speed main=124 mph
stall speed alt=108 knots, 200 km/h
combat radius main=950 mi
combat radius alt=825 nm, 1,530 km
combat radius more=with 5,250 lb (2,380 kg) of bombs
ferry range main=2,720 mi
ferry range alt=2,360 nm, 4,380 km
ceiling main=45,100 ft
ceiling alt=13,745 m
climb rate main=6,180 ft/min
climb rate alt=31.4 m/s
loading main=42 lb/ft²
loading alt=205 kg/m²
more performance=
* Lift-to-drag ratio: 15.0
guns=4× 20 mm (0.787 in) M39 cannon, 290 rounds/gun
** 4,500 lb (2,000 kg) in bomb bay, including nuclear bombs
** 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) on four external hardpoints, including unguided rockets
* APW-11 Bombing Air Radar Guidance System
* SHORAN bombing system
* APS-54 Radar Warning Receiver

ee also

* English Electric Canberra
similar aircraft=
* AJ Savage
* Avro CF-100
* B-45 Tornado
* Ilyushin Il-28
* Martin XB-51
* List of bomber aircraft
* List of military aircraft of the United States
see also=




* Anderton, David A. BofAeE, AFAIA. "Martin B-57 Night Intruders & General Dynamics RB-57F". "Aircraft in Profile, Volume 14". Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1974, p. 1-25. ISBN 0-85383-023-1.
* Hobson, Chris. "Vietnam Air Losses." 2001. ISBN 1-85780-115-6.
* Mikesh, Robert C. "Martin B-57 Canberra. The Complete Record". Atglen, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1995. ISBN 0-88740-661-0.

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