Avro Vulcan
(Hawker Siddeley Vulcan "1952"

Role Bomber/Reconnaissance
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer English Electric
First flight 13 May 1949
Introduction 25 May 1951
Retired 23 June 2006 (RAF)
Status Retired from service
Primary users Royal Air Force / Royal Navy
Indian Air Force / Peruvian Air Force
Number built 900 (UK) / 49 (Australia

Developed into Martin B-57 Canberra

Avro Vulcan
(Hawker Siddeley Vulcan "1952"

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Avro Vulcan
(Hawker Siddeley Vulcan "1952"

The English Electric Canberra is a British first-generation jet powered medium bomber. It was developed by English Electric during the mid-to-late 1940s in response to a 1944 Air Ministry requirement for a successor to the wartime de Havilland Mosquito fast bomber. Among the performance requirements for the type was an outstanding high-altitude bombing capability and high speed. These were partly accomplished by making use of newly developed jet propulsion technology. When the Canberra was introduced to service with the Royal Air Force (RAF), the type’s first operator, in May 1951, it became the service’s first jet-powered bomber.

In February 1951, a Canberra set another world record when it became the first jet aircraft to make a non-stop transatlantic flight. Throughout most of the 1950s, the Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other aircraft in the world and in 1957, a Canberra established a world altitude record of 70,310 feet (21,430 m). Due to its ability to evade the early jet interceptor aircraft and its significant performance advancement over contemporary piston-engined bombers,


The English Electric Canberra is a bomber aircraft powered by two jet engines, and able to fly at high-altitudes. An early prototype operated by Rolls-Royce would regularly fly to 63,000 feet, where the usable speed range (coffin corner) was only 25 knots, during Avon engine test flights. The overall design has been described as being of a simple nature, somewhat resembling a scaled-up Gloster Meteor fighter, except for its use of a mid wing. The Canberra principally differed from its preceding piston-powered wartime bombers by its use of twin Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines.[ The fuselage was circular in cross section, tapered at both ends and, cockpit aside, entirely without protrusions; the line of the large, low-aspect ratio wings was broken only by the tubular engine nacelles.The Canberra had a two-man crew in a fighter-style cabin with a large blown canopy, but delays in the development of the intended automatic radar bombsight resulted in the addition of a bomb aimer’s position housed within the nose. The pilot and navigator were positioned in a tandem arrangement on Martin-Baker ejection seats.

The wing is of single-spar construction that passes through the aircraft’s fuselage. The wingspan and total length of the Canberra are almost identical at just under 65 ft (20 m).

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Avro Vulcan (Hawker Siddeley Vulcan "1952"

Flight records set by Canberras
  • 21 January 1951 – first non-stop unrefuelled transatlantic crossing by a jet.
  • 26 August 1952 – the prototype B.5 made the first double transatlantic crossing by a jet, with a total time of 10 hr 3 min.
  • 4 May 1953 – Canberra B.2 WD952, fitted with Rolls-Royce Olympus engines set a world altitude record, flying at 63,668 ft (19,406 m)
  • 9 October 1953 – winner of the 1953 London-Christchurch Air Race. 12,270 miles (19,750 km) covered in 23hr 51min – the average speed was 515 miles per hour (829 km/h). As at 2018, this record still stands.
  • 29 August 1955 – altitude record, 65,889 ft (20,083 m)
  • 28 August 1957 – altitude record, 70,310 ft (21,430 m): Canberra B.2 (WK163) with a Napier Double Scorpion rocket motor.


Crew: 2

Length: 55 ft 7 in (16.94 m)

Wingspan: 51 ft 0 in (15.54 m)

Height: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)

Empty weight: 27,950 lb (12,678 kg)

Gross weight: 41,575 lb (18,858 kg)

Max takeoff weight: 46,750 lb (21,205 kg)

Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Avon 208 turbojet  

Maximum speed: 690 mph (1,110 km/h, 600 kn)

Maximum speed: Mach 0.91

Range: 790 mi (1,270 km, 690 nmi) on internals

Service ceiling: 48,000 ft (15,000 m)

Rate of climb: 9,000 ft/min (46 m/s)

Wing loading: 64.2 lb/sq ft (313 kg/m2)

Thrust/weight: 0.54

Hardpoints: 6 with provisions to carry combinations of:

Rockets: 4 Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets each or 4 Rocket pods with 24 or 32 Microcell 2-inch rockets each or 4 6 3-inch rockets

Missiles: 4 Red Top or Firestreak air-to-air missiles, 2 AGM-12 Bullpup air-to-ground missiles

Bombs: Four 500 lb (227 kg) or two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs.

Aircrafttoaal encyclopedia

The Canberra B.2 started to enter service with 101 Squadron in January 1951, with 101 Squadron being fully equipped by May, and a further squadron, No. 9 Squadron equipping by the end of the year. The production of the Canberra was accelerated as a result of the outbreak of the Korean War, orders for the aircraft increased and outpaced production capacity, as the aircraft was designated as a "super priority".