The first Australian English Electric Canberra flew at Avalon (Vic)

29 May 1953

The Canberra formed part of the ‘golden era’ for Australian aviation manufacturing companies. Government Aircraft Factories produced forty-eight Canberra aircraft, and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation produced the Avon engines. The Australian Canberra was officially named after the city of the Australian Capital Territory in a ceremony at Biggin Hill on 19th January 1951.

The variant used by Australia was based on the British B.2 version. It was altered to include an increased fuel capacity, a reduced number of crew and different radio system. The first Australian Canberra flew on 29 May 1953 (Avalon, Vic) and the last Canberra to be delivered for service to the RAAF arrived in September 1958.

The public became aware of two Canberras (A84-202 & A84-202) when they took part in the 1953 Great Air Race. It was not until a combat sortie in September 1958 over Malaya that the Canberra became the first RAAF jet bomber to perform in this role.

Canberra aircraft were flown by No's 1, 2 and 6 Squadrons, 82 (Bomber) Wing (including No 1 Bomber Operational Conversation Unit), and Central Flying School (East Sale).

The end of career flight for the Canberra occurred on 30 June 1982 when four Canberras were flown by No 2 Squadron over Brisbane.

A significant number of Canberra aircraft (and Canberra aircraft components) are on display in museums around the world.

The English Electric Canberra (VH-ZSQ) is one of the aircraft flown by No 100 Squadron today.

To learn more, download this extract from Aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force by David Richardson and Peter Wood.

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  • Canberra