Introduction: The Canberra B.(I).8 was a variant of the Canberra designed for the long range interdiction mission, a dangerous mission which would have seen it penetrate into some of the most heavily defended airspace on the planet, in order to deliver either conventional or nuclear weapons, deep behind enemy lines.
Description: The Canberra is often seen as the Jet Age successor to the Mosquito, due to the versatility of the aircraft, and in the number of roles it was used in. Thus, the Canberra B.(I).8 can be seen as the successor to the intruder variant of the Mossie, flying at low levels to strike the enemy at the rear. The B.(I).8 started out life with VX185, when it was converted from B.5 standard. I have already covered the history of VX185, in a thread I shall link below in the “Sources” section, but I shall give it’s history in brief. In 1954, the aircraft was converted from B.5 standard to B.(I).8. The aircraft appeared at the then annual SBAC show in Farnborough that same year, in a rather moody looking all-black paint scheme. The B.(I).8 was the main intruder variant of the Canberra, as the B.(I).6 was mainly a stop-gap. The aircraft featured the same weaponry, with the removable pack for four 20mm Hispano cannons, as well as underwing pylons for mounting bombs or rocket pods. Its main use was for deep penetration missions to harass enemy supply and communication lines and to destroy military bases and staging posts, as well as destroy aircraft while still at the airfield, tactics reminiscent of the already mentioned Mosquito intruders of the Second World War. The type was also outfitted for use in the nuclear strike role, which was mostly aimed at the same targets. These types were both British and American nuclear weapons, the latter of which was provided under Project E. This was the height of the Cold War, and NATO’s main response was massed nuclear attack against attacking Soviet forces. The main difference to earlier Canberra variants is its nose section. The “fishbowl” style canopy of the original Canberra series was replaced by a teardrop fighter-style canopy, that was offset to the left, a typical British design trait at the time. The teardrop canopy apparently gave better visibility at low altitudes, which became the new operating environment for the Canberra, as Soviet air defences became increasingly advanced. The Canberra truly excelled at its job, regardless of altitude. The Pilot sat next to the navigator, with the bombardier in the front. The B.(I).8 was quickly sent to units in Germany, as well as the Near and Far East.
Length: 65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)
Wingspan: 64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)
Height: 15 ft 8 in (4.77 m)
Wing area: 960 ft² (89.19 m²)
Empty weight: 21,650 lb (9,820 kg)
Loaded weight: 46,000 lb (20,865 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 55,000 lb (24,948 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Avon R.A.7 Mk.109 turbojets, 7,400 lbf (36 kN) each
Maximum speed: Mach 0.88 (580 mph, 933 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,192 m)
Combat radius: 810 mi (700 nm, 1,300 km)
Ferry range: 3,380 mi (2,940 nm, 5,440 km)
Service ceiling: 48,000 ft (15,000 m)
Rate of climb: 3,400 ft/min (17 m/s)
Wing loading: 48 lb/ft² (234 kg/m²)
Guns: 4 x 20 mm Hispano Mk.V cannon mounted in rear bomb bay (500 rounds/gun), or 2 x 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun pods
Rockets: 2 x unguided rocket pods with 37 2-inch (51 mm) rockets, or 2 x Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets each
Bombs: Total of 8,000 lb (3,628 kg) of payload can be mounted inside the internal bomb bay and on two underwing hardpoints, with the ability to carry a variety of bombs.
Typically, the internal bomb bay can hold up to 9 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or 6 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, or 1 x 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) bomb; while the pylons can hold 4 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or 2 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs.
Nuclear weapons: in addition to conventional ordnance, the Canberra was also type-approved for tactical nuclear weapon delivery, including the Mk 7, B28 (Mod 2, 70 kiloton yield), B57 and B43 (as part of a joint program with the United States) plus the Red Beard and WE.177A (Mod A, 10 kiloton yield) nuclear bombs. All nuclear weapons were carried internally
Conclusion: Considering that this is one of the major variants of the Canberra, it truly deserves a place in game.
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