Canberra bomber - are there any proposals for defensive armament?

Silencer1

That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!
Joined
3 August 2009
Messages
870
Reaction score
480
Hello!

As it's WW2 informal predecessor, DH Mosquito, Canberra jet bomber has been designed around the idea of using high speed as an alternative to defensive armament.
If I remember correctly, there were some proposals to equip Mosquito with turret for self-defense - of course, not implemented neither in prototype, nor in series production.

Is the Canberra designers somehow studied armament fro rear defense?
It's competitor, Ilyushin Il-28 (as well as other Soviet bombers of that period) has been equipped at least with rear-firing turrets.

So, main question is - is the Canberra more efficient due to it's conception of "defenseless" bomber?
 
It's competitor, Ilyushin Il-28 (as well as other Soviet bombers of that period) has been equipped at least with rear-firing turrets.

So, main question is - is the Canberra more efficient due to it's conception of "defenseless" bomber?

Yeah good question Silencer1::)

There's no doubt that the Russian's were obsessed by the notion of a bare 'minimum rear defensive turret' - hence the stipulation of such an arrangement in the Ilyushin Il-28. I wonder if it had something to do with the more tactical nature/combat experience of the air war on the Eastern front, as opposed to the 'strategic' bombing experience of the RAF in WWII, where the RAF tried both 'heavy defensive' (Lancaster/Halifax) and 'high-speed defenceless' (Mosquito) bombers :-\
I also think that from 'day one' the British planned and designed the Canberra as a high-speed, high-altitude bomber, whereby the Russian's planned and designed the IL-28 as a traditional medium/low-altitude tactical bomber - hence the need for rear hemisphere defence [Note this is only my take on the designs]
Saying this, then where does the American North American B-45 Tornado fit into my philosophy, with its 'rear defensive turret' arrangement??

I guess one would also have to weigh-up the additional weigh of both the 'rear defensive turret' and the additional gunner vs weight and room saving aspect = speed, range and offensive weapons load advantage?

Just my view of looking at it ;)

Regards
Pioneer
 
It should be noted that the British actually envisaged defensive armaments for V-Bombers. Eventually they concluded that V-Bombers would rely on high-altitude (beyond the ceiling of the contemporary fighters and range of anti-aircraft artillery) and electronic counter-measures.

I'll try to find some more info in my library, which may take some time ;)

P.
 
Have this image from article about the V-Bombers. Sorry cannot remember original source material.
 

Attachments

  • Valiant Tail Gun d5c23cbd.jpg
    Valiant Tail Gun d5c23cbd.jpg
    64.2 KB · Views: 810
I had read from the outset the Canberra was designed to be unarmed. There was some discussion regarding defensive armament but the designers felt it would only take up space and weight and reduce performance. I've never seen anything that indicated this idea was revisited. It would be interesting if there were some sketches worked up while this debate was going on though. The tail would have to have been enlarged and also more equipment crammed into the cockpit. Any of the talented artist on this website care to create a "what-if" drawing?
 
pf matthews said:
Have this image from article about the V-Bombers. Sorry cannot remember original source material.

The drawing comes from "Vickers Valiant. The First of the V-Bombers" by Eric B Morgan.

Its caption in the book reads:
Drawing of a tail warning system called 'Eager Beaver' with two 20mm Hispano cannon as it would have appeared if fitted in the tail of the Valiant. The tail warning scanner is housed in the pod directly above the gun turret.
 
This drawing give good impression of the cannon/targeting system installation - but lacks some vital details: volume for ammunitions round and electronic equipment.
Perhaps, lower part of fuselage has been accommodated both of them?
Anyway, the size and weight of this installation wouldn't be small, IMHO.

Curiously: most Soviet bombers and cargo aircraft have been equipped with at least one rear-firing point, although most of the western counterparts (there were marked exceptions, of course, like B-52) are "defenceless".
Difference of approach to aircraft' design requirements, I guess?
 
Silencer1 said:
This drawing give good impression of the cannon/targeting system installation - but lacks some vital details: volume for ammunitions round and electronic equipment.
Perhaps, lower part of fuselage has been accommodated both of them?
Anyway, the size and weight of this installation wouldn't be small, IMHO.

Curiously: most Soviet bombers and cargo aircraft have been equipped with at least one rear-firing point, although most of the western counterparts (there were marked exceptions, of course, like B-52) are "defenceless".
Difference of approach to aircraft' design requirements, I guess?

The Russians inclusion of the tail turret in their large transport planes up the Candid is a curiosity (my understanding is that the An-124 finally did away with this).
US and British transport planes didn't have this feature.
Re: bombers fielded by the British their jet bombers never had such a turret.
Re: US bombers fielded technically the Hustler may have been the last new bomber to feature a tail gun and the B52 has long dropped its tail guns in favour of ECM equipment.
 
According this page http://ebooklibrary.org/articles/list_of_air_ministry_specifications
B.3/45 specification requires "Two-seat twin-engine high-altitude fast jet bomber carrying no defensive armament".
So, it's highly possible, that "Canberra" designers didn't even consider pros and cons of defensive armament installation.

Moreover, as far as I knew, most of English Electric studies (that eventually lead to "Canberra") changes the layout of aircraft many times, but not one of them didn't has rear-firing cannons.

Perhaps, my initial question should be re-asked - did, during "Canberra" service, the idea of rear defense ever considered?
Several "Canberras" have been shoot down during various conflicts - as well as many other types of combat aircraft.

Thanks to all contributors of topics, "Canberra" now is my favorite among certain other UK types :cool:
 
kaiserd said:
The Russians inclusion of the tail turret in their large transport planes up the Candid is a curiosity (my understanding is that the An-124 finally did away with this).

I suspect that the guns were loaded with decoy rounds. The Russians made IR and chaff decoy rounds in both 23mm and 30mm aircraft ammo.
 
Dear Tony Williams!

Thank you for information on chaff/flare artillery rounds - sounds new to me.
I wonder if Candid armament consists of mix of these and conventional rounds, so rear gunner could protect his aircraft by more conventional way - by destroying attacking aircraft :cool:

Looks like topic subject comes to his logical end - there was no defensive armament for Canberra, or (if such plans exists) it were very well hidden from public.
So fast flying bomber has been generally invulnerable, despite absence of defensive armament.

Good point for aircraft designers to made a smart and dare decisions!
 
Silencer1 said:
Thank you for information on chaff/flare artillery rounds - sounds new to me.
I wonder if Candid armament consists of mix of these and conventional rounds, so rear gunner could protect his aircraft by more conventional way - by destroying attacking aircraft :cool:

The decoys were intended to protect against incoming AAMs, not aircraft.
 
Tony Williams said:
The decoys were intended to protect against incoming AAMs, not aircraft.

Of course, they are.
I think that usage of cannons for deploying chaffs/flares is a induced measure, to "save" the rear-firing turret on aircraft.
If the fighter stay out of firing range of it's cannon, bomber/cargo aircraft don't protect itself from fighter - so missiles could be good choose.
 
Fifties British bombers (V-bombers, Canberra) and cruise missiles such as Blue Moon were to be fitted with equipment that would trigger proximity-fuzed AA shells and presumably guided weapons. The thinking was that the V-bombers' altitude was such that fighters would probably not get a look in.

Chris
 
Tony Williams said:
kaiserd said:
The Russians inclusion of the tail turret in their large transport planes up the Candid is a curiosity (my understanding is that the An-124 finally did away with this).

I suspect that the guns were loaded with decoy rounds. The Russians made IR and chaff decoy rounds in both 23mm and 30mm aircraft ammo.

Getting off-topic gradually - but could the turret on the Tu-22 in particular have been used to shoot down air-to-air missiles? There was a bit of a discussion of the (un)feasability of this possibility here:
http://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=151638

Basically, the closing speed for an AIM-7 near the end of its flight is quite low relative to a retreating Tu-22M and the missiles trajectory is pretty predictable (rear pursuit).
 
Thanks to the all posters in this topic!

Now, I'm more sure, that Canberra lacks defensive armament, at least in form of "classic" rear-firing turrets - and this not made it ineffective :cool:

Thanks to CJGibson for mentioning the proximity-fuses of AA shells - never heard of them, further reading was very interesting.
 
Back
Top Bottom