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Canberra Bomber

Old 6th Oct 2011, 10:34
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Canberra Bomber

What was the Canberra like to fly?

Had the pleasure to sit in the cockpit of one recently, and found it a pretty cosy fit for a tall person.
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Old 6th Oct 2011, 15:35
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A very pleasant way to earn one's crust - perhaps you should have lowered the seat you sat in. All controls and switches easily accessible without loosening the seat harness ...
With Mae West, jungle tree let down cord pack (for abseiling down from those green tree-tops) and then parachute and seat harnesses on, the air "conditioning" was so inefficient that low level in the Far East was guaranteed to leave your whole kit from "shreddies" outwards sweat-soaked after a low-level trip that you needed a full change before you next flew. Kept the Safety kit section guys busy !
But overall, a very, very nice and well-balanced aircraft to fly, whether at high or low level and an excellent weapons platform. High single-engine safety speed meant you had to "watch it" on one - and no way try an overshoot after lowering flap on approach with one "out".

Last edited by Jig Peter; 6th Oct 2011 at 15:38. Reason: Add a spot of detail
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Old 6th Oct 2011, 22:36
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Yes the 'fishbowl' canopy was a silly idea,we really should have had our own version of the B57 type canopy,of course the PR9/BI 8 were ok for the pilots !
Based on my ONE flight in a T4 with a 'Trapper' on 231 OCU in 1974ish - very smooth and quiet ,very pleasant to fly and others much more qualified to post will confirm that assymetric flying was its achilles heel.
The Canberras without Cold Air Units were very uncomfortable for the aircrew at low level,summer of '76 was not nice for the B2 drivers.

rgds lr
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Old 7th Oct 2011, 09:37
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you needed a full change before you next flew
Reminded me of a photo of 'Pat' Tibbs after a test flight in the B-57A. The recommendation was to improve the air-conditioning system for prolonged low-level flight...

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Old 7th Oct 2011, 17:56
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Like longer ron, I had just one flight in a T4, a 30 minute "air experience" trip at Waddington in 1957. As an 18 years old CCF cadet in my last year before going to university, my "hands-on" flying experience before this was very limited indeed, just a few minutes on each of two Chipmunk flights, and an RAF gliding course at Halton, where I went solo to qualify for the A & B certificates.

Consequently, like Manuel the waiter in Fawlty Towers, "I knew nothing"! So it was astonishing to me that the Canberra pilot let me have the controls for nearly 10 minutes. It is perhaps a tribute to the handling characteristics of the T4, which was after all designed as a trainer, that I had no difficulty in keeping it straight and level, and also carrying out a few gentle banked turns. The pilot then took over again and demonstrated a practice GCA landing approach, in contact with the control caravan alongside the runway. All very smooth, quiet and comfortable, with a superb view from that "bubble" canopy. Possibly the only downside was that no ejection seats were fitted, so the pupil's seat I was sitting in had to be slid back on runners to allow access to the escape hatch on the starboard side. Baling out in an emergency could have been a bit of a problem, I felt, and the pilot and navigator would have had to get me out of their way pretty smartish!
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 08:09
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603DX:
Quote: All very smooth, quiet and comfortable, with a superb view from that "bubble" canopy. Possibly the only downside was that no ejection seats were fitted, so the pupil's seat I was sitting in had to be slid back on runners to allow access to the escape hatch on the starboard side.

The Canberra T4 did in fact have ejection seats. Indeed on 2 September 2004, WJ866 was involved in an accident at Marham when practising asymmetric landings and all 3 seats fired, killing 2 of the crew.
I never flew in the T4, but as a passenger in the B2 and B6. I remember sitting in the jump seat, rigged to the right of the pilot, and having an excellent view, although obviously blocking the escape hatch had there been an emergency. I recall how dark the sky was at FL 400 plus. At the time of my B2 flights (1956-1957), the Canberra had been experiencing run-away of the electric elevator trim, which had caused some crashes due to sudden pitch-up. It didn't happen to me though!

Laurence
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 10:29
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l.garey: Most interesting, to learn that in later years the Canberra T4 was in fact fitted with ejection seats, as evidenced by the sad accident you refer to, in 2004.

But my flight took place some 47 years previously in 1957, and I am absolutely certain that the aircraft was NOT equipped with such seats. It is hardly the sort of thing that would escape one's notice, I distinctly recall that my joy at getting a trip in such a splendid aircraft was tempered by a certain concern about escape should things go wrong. It seems that I must have been in an earlier version of the dual control trainer.
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 10:32
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Laurence

I believe that the first Canberra T.4s were not fitted with ejection seats. These came later.

CC
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 11:02
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I am just checking in "English Electric Canberra" by Beamont and Reed (1984). They make no reference to early T4s being without ejector seats. Quote: "Entry ... was also complicated by the complex sliding ejector seat of the instructor". As the prototype T4 (WM467) first flew in 1952, I take it that it already had ejector seats. So it is interesting that 603DX so clearly remembers his not being so equipped in 1957. I wonder, do you recall the serial of the T4 you flew in?

Laurence
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 11:29
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Unfortunately, no. On leaving home for university my mother threw out much of my accumulated "bumph", including my log book recording all flights and aircraft serial numbers! (I was not pleased.)
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 11:35
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Pity! We might have been able to follow it up. It is certainly worth asking on here if any Canberra pilots remember a T4 without bang seats. I shall do this to my only remaining Canberra jockey friend!

Laurence
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 12:00
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re T4 ejection seats

There was some discussion here:
231 OCU Bassinbourn - 1955 era - Canberras [Archive] - PPRuNe Forums

and WHAT KIND OF SEAT WAS THAT states that the Martin Baker Mk 2 and 3 were fitted "Post 1963".

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Old 8th Oct 2011, 13:17
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Your two links seem to confirm that some T4's (prior to 1963) did not have ejection seats, and this would tend to support my memory of the experience. The following points are also relevant, I think:
  • There were no ejection handles at the seat tops above our heads.
  • A conventional Irvin parachute was put on before entering the aircraft, exactly the same as those I wore for the Chipmunk flights. (I believe that MB seats have special built-in parachute packs as part of the escape system).
  • No instruction at all was given before the flight regarding operation of ejection seats.
I find it very difficult to consider that despite my strong recollections, I might actually have been sitting in a primed bang seat without knowing it! The potential danger of such a situation is obvious; as one scrambled into the right hand seat it would have been possible to grab a handhold and inadvertently fire the damned thing! And there was no red safety disc and removable pin to guard against such a catastrophe. No, I am as certain as I could be, that there were no such seats fitted in that particular aircraft.
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 13:20
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Hi Laurence
Link to 527sqn article...

I
n the case of the training Canberra, the T4, although the navigators had ejection seats the cramped cockpit for both pilots did not afford enough room for ejection seats and the only way out for the pilots was to slide the right hand seat backward, open the side door in the fuselage and bale out conventionally. In a situation that required the pilots to abandon the aircraft it was a very hit and miss affair and when the Canberra later had a problem with runaway tailplane actuators I think it proved impossible to get out in the time available.
RAFWatton.info Flying on 527 Squadron in the Early 1950's

Although I have never seen it myself I believe that some of the very early T birds had a non ejecting sliding seat for the pilots.

rgds baz
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 13:25
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603DX
You could not mistake the Swing type ejection seat ,we used a 'Pig Sticker' to hold the control column forward,this allowed the bang seat to swing forward to the fwd latch,the nav would get in - then the seat was swung back to the rear latch and the pilot(s) could enter.Once both pilots were seated the seat was swung back to the centre latch and the 'Pig Sticker' would be removed.
I have seen a drawing somewhere of the seat that you describe...but of course all T4s would eventually have been modified to have bang seats.

rgds baz
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 14:02
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This will be the seating arrangement described by 603 !
Orig posted by John Aeroclub on key

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Old 8th Oct 2011, 14:38
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As promised, I asked my ex-Canberra friend: he cannot remember ever seeing a T4 without bang seats, but he only flew them from 1967 to 1979, so it looks as if the early ones (including those in 1957) were without them.

Laurence
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 15:04
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longer ron: Yes, I think that shows the arrangement as I remember it. I was in the right hand/starboard side seat, which slid fore and aft on runners until locked in position. Looks a bit "fixed" in this drawing at the top, but it definitely did move!
Certainly, the two seats as depicted here alongside each other in a dual-control configuration are not of the ejection type. If that is the bottom of the navigator's seat behind the port side pilot's seat, then as drawn it might have been a bang seat, and if so the section of fuselage above it would presumably have had to be exploded off before firing.
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Old 8th Oct 2011, 16:03
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Angel T4 bang-seats



Having converted onto the Canberra at Bassingbourn in 1957 and then flown them for 2 Squadron tours (with a ground tour in between) I can't remember a T4 without bang-seats, but the "little grey cells " don't seem to have as good a search function as they once did.

- For the navigators to eject, one of them (or both!) first operated a switch to set off the explosive bolts which fastened down the hatch above their MB seats, and then pulled the handle. Reflection tells me that on the T4, we usually flew with only one navigator in the left-hand seat, but whether there was another MB seat for an observer/passenger memory also fails me: my mental picture is that there was one, but see above.

- I also seem to remember that the control column yokes on the T4 were
shorter on the T4 than on the single-pilot Marks, because of the lack of shoulder room but on that point too I wouldn't be sure of winning a point in a pub quiz. The impression may have come from the slightly hunched position you adopted when in the RH seat, and a bit twisted to the left to see the single instrument panel.
Not a very positive response, I'm afraid, but it's been 2-score years and 3 since ...
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Old 11th Oct 2011, 12:38
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(From 1961 onwards)

Longer Ron is quite right about having to swing the right seat forward to allow the Navigator to get in, then swung back for the front crew entry. There were two bang seats in the back.

The front seats were very ‘cozy’ being somewhat closer together than was comfortable. We were always told that if we needed to eject from the front, to go through the canopy rather than jettison it first. Never appealed to me because it was pretty strongly built! I once saw a pilot’s canopy fired by mistake by an armourer in a hangar, and all that happened was a damn great crack appeared and the port side lifted slightly, so probably going through it was the best advice.

All seats had ejection handles above the head.

The back seater’s had to jettison the hatch before going themselves, even though the hatch was ‘frangible’. But again, it was pretty strongly built.
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