The Mystery Airplane
December Contest Photo English Electric (GAF) Canberra B. Mk. 20
February 1, 2019
Designed by Teddy Petter, and first flown by Wing Commander Roland Beamont on 13 May 1949, the Rolls Royce Avon powered Canberra was the RAF's first jet bomber. Produced in the U.K. by English Electric, Avro, Handley Page, and Shorts and, like A84-229 in this Oshkosh 1991 photo, by the Australian Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen's Bend, the Canberra and its American Wright J-65 engined Martin B-57 cousin, remained in military service until the last RAF PR. 9 was retired in July 2006. British built Canberras saw combat at Suez in 1956, against terrorists in Malaya, with India against Pakistan, and with Argentina against the British in the 1982 Falklands War. American B-57s flew combat in Viet Nam and for Pakistan against India.
Australian-built Canberras entered RAAF service in December 1953 replacing Avro Lincolns with No. 2 Squadron, later serving with No. 6 (1955) and No. 1 (1958). Beginning in 1958, No. 2 Squadron was active against communist insurgents in Malaysia. In April 1967 it transferred to South Viet Nam, attached to the USAF 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. It flew 11,696 missions and dropped 76,389 bombs during four years. No. 2 returned to Australia in late 1972. RAAF Canberras were replaced by Phantoms and later by the F-111, the last examples being retired in 1982.
A84-229 first flew on 22 November 1956 and was delivered to the RAAF on 23 April 1957. It was first assigned to No. 2 Squadron at Butterworth, Malaysia, where she served as a target tug, amassing 4000 hours. After service with the Research and Development Unit, it was allotted to the RAAF Museum in 1982. It came to the United States 1988 and was registered N20NA, then N229CA. Today it is in storage in California awaiting return to flight status.