Canberra, Volume 2
...from Fonthill Media
Title: Canberra, Vol 2
Author: Ken Delve and John Sheehan
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Volume 2 of what makes a marvellous pair of books from the authors and Fonthill Media which details the story of the English Electric Canberra, and as the sub-title says, 'The Greatest Multi-role Aircraft of the Cold War'. A hefty 607-page hardback book.
The Canberra first flew in May1949, and remained in service with the RAF until 2006, when the final PR,9 variants were retired. They remained in use in other countries and there are some much modified versions of the licence built American Martin WB-57F variant by NASA for high altitude research. While volume I dealt with the many years of RAF service, this one goes further. It starts with the design and development story before moving on the important role of No.231 Operational Conversion Unit, which not only trained RAF aircrews, but also those of the numerous overseas buyers of the aircraft. The Canberra sold well around the world, and those International Customers are the topic for chapter 3. These include many countries, and include France, Sweden, and West Germany in Europe as well as others in Australasia, South America, Africa, Asia and South East Asia. It was in Vietnam that the licence built American version, the Martin B-57 saw combat during the war and that is the subject for chapter 4. The following chapter deals with the many Trials and Testing aircraft that became popular in the UK and abroad for testing all sorts of things, from engines to radars and more. Not all of these tests went perfectly and it does list those which were lost while involved in such testing. The remaining topics for the final chapters cover Display Aircraft, both military and more recently, civilian owned examples, as well as a comprehensive listing of surviving airframes, both complete and just cockpits. Then we have Technical & Cockpit Details, Colour Schemes & Markings, First Flights, Records & Anniversaries, and finally the Production List & Conversions, which includes their individual serial number and summary of where they served and what happened to them. Illustrating the text throughout the book are hundreds are archive photos, all with helpful captions.
As well as the technical details and history, there are plenty of individual stories associated with the Canberra's service life. They were on opposite sides in the Indo-Pakistan Wars, and were even used in combat by the Argentine Air Force against the British Task Force during the Falklands War. Together with the first volume, I feel safe in saying this is a record of the Canberra that is unlikely to be surpassed and both books should be on the reference shelf for any dedicated Canberra fan.
Thanks to Fonthill Media for the review copy.