Replacing the Canberra

uk 75

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Surprisingly we have not had a thread devoted to how the RAF should have replaced its Canberras?
The Canberra was such a success that it was even bought by the USAF as the Martin B57.
With the benefit of hindsight it ought to have been simple. The Buccaneer S2 did the job for a while with 2 RAF Germany squadrons.
But Canberras also served in Cyprus and Singapore.
The main war role of Canberras was to deliver either conventional bombs or 1 nuke on to targets. At the end of its career two AS30 asms were added to its warload.
Canberras could only operate from vulnerable airfields.
A twin engined replacement could be
-supersonic
-able to operate from unprepared strips
-able to attack pinpoint targets in atrocious weather
Or did it? The US developed the Grumman A6 which could be the last one but not the other two.
This is not intended to be a thread about TSR2. We have plenty of those already.
In the early 1960s Vickers came up with an ambitious VG design to replace Buccaneer in the 1970s. But that would still have left Canberras struggling on through the 60s.
The presence of growing numbers of Soviet supplied Migs and Sams in the 60s made its replacement, especially in Germany, vital.
Buccaneer S1 was not a suitable Canberra replacement. It had to be replaced asap by the S2.
Two manufacturers were well placed to deliver a sensible Canberra replacement:
English Electric had developed the Lightning and could be relied on to do a good job as P17 shows.
Hawker Siddeley focussed on a non existent requirement with its beautiful 1121. But it could have delivered a design like 1129.

If US funds were available the Republic F105 Thunderchief might look good. Though only single engined it was deployed by the USAF in a similar role to nuclear Canberras.
France of course had its own Canberras to replace. The Sud Vautour would give way to the Mirage IV.

So there is plenty of choice (except for TSR2 of course).
 

zen

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So firstly this does ask the right question and hits home. In effect the success of Mosquito and Canberra cast a long shadow. Big boots to fill so to speak.

Secondly some if the assumptions ought to be questioned.
Does it need to be supersonic?
Later on the conclusion was this didn't deliver enough protection for the enormous cost of going supersonic at low level. A difference between Mach 0.9 compared to 1.2 was just not good enough.

Did it have to be a twin seater?

Did it have to be twin engined?

Did it have to be one design with swappable equipment for every role?

Did it have to have a radius of 1,000nm?

Why not 1,500nm as per the Target Marker Specification the Valiant B.2 met?

On the Buccaneer....had this been fitted with the BE.33 engines. It would never have lacked the thrust that the Gyron Junior delivered.
Consequently much more close to a solution.
 

pathology_doc

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Secondly some if the assumptions ought to be questioned.
Assumptions need to be questioned, yes; but also, mission creep needs to be reined in.
A souped-up Buccaneer with better engines than Gyron Junior and next-generation avionics is clearly good enough to be a Canberra inheritor, but not when more and more is being asked all the time.

The biggest assumption everyone makes is that the Government actually wanted TSR.2. It didn't; it wanted a means by which to amalgamate the aerospace companies and reshape the industry.
 

zen

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Mission creep certainly was part of the problem. Had they stuck to the lower tactical radius of 600nm it would both ease the design task and keep away from the blurred boundary of strategic radii.

Once the Buccaneer was chosen it was entirely possible to meet the interim solution and put off the wonder weapon for later...

Though it ought to be born in mind had the decision makers thought it was going to be a solution for RN and RAF, then Shorts PD.13 was the more advanced (and risky) solution and would be preferable.

Then again the Canberras were being replaced in role by V-Bombers so the alternative question is wouldn't a resurrected Target Marker Bomber be closer to the percieved need?
It would again ease the effort if a successor V-Bomber utilising two engines and two crew was the focus.
 
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Hood

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The biggest assumption everyone makes is that the Government actually wanted TSR.2. It didn't; it wanted a means by which to amalgamate the aerospace companies and reshape the industry.
The Government wasn't the purchaser, just the one who picked up the tab. They wanted to amalgamate and reshape, save money, spend less and have a world beating industry churning out world beating aircraft all at the same time. Not entirely compatible aims.
The RAF knew what it wanted. Did it need want it thought it wanted? That's the debatable point.
Governments do set the foreign and defence policy agenda however, which can easily mess up the RAF's plans midstream. No EoS and flexible NATO response meant binning a whole host of kit like AW.681 and Blue Water and made the TSR.2 fleet smaller and even more expensive.

Then again the Canberras were being replaced in role by V-Bombers so the alternative question is wouldn't a resurrected Target Marker Bomber be closer to the percieved need?
It would again ease the effort if a successor V-Bomber utilising two engines and two crew was the focus.
Low level V-bombers were never optimal given the fatigue limits and speed meant reduced range. They were not intended for tactical use but merely to spread the threat to Soviet air defences.
OR.324 was in effect a bespoke low-level medium bomber but was a stand-off weapon carrier and not a tactical support aircraft. Same with F.155T variants with Red Beard. GOR.339 was a a much truer tactical support type.
Had the Air Staff forgotten about bombers they might have seen that aircraft like the Buccaneer were much closer to what they needed. I very much doubt whether in a bombing contest whether TSR would offer much superiority over Buccaneer with a quartet of 1,000lb HC bombs.
 

zen

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This is part of my point here, a tactical bomber isn't a semi-strategic bomber and frankly the excess cost is better spent on a fully strategic bomber.
Ergo the tactical solution was the maximum RoA of 600nm with a nuclear weapon.
Good enough for operations over East Germany, Czechoslovskia, Hungary and Poland. Good enough for tactical laydown to cut Red Army's supplies.

And in this the Buccaneer, is good enough. Take the savings and invest in onboard and disposable (missile and bomb) systems to mount on it.

Equally the Vickers solution they preferred was the single engine Type 571. Better to build a variety of mission specific variants than try to squeeze multirole into this sort of package. Much more affordable!

HP was right, the real solution to the OR was bigger and heavier than the RAF wanted!
 

red admiral

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How does the Buccaneer navigate to the target to drop the bombs on it?

Or given the Avionics didn't work in TSR2 are they just equally bad? Was the contemporary single seat F-105D that bad?
 

Archibald

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The RAF-Buccaneer hate-love story always get me the giggles. So much time and energy spent hating that aircraft (a decade ? 1958 - 1968) - only to end with the RN birds (ha ha ha) and then new build ones (even better).

Of course for the British taxpayer is wasn't as much funny, considering the astonishing number of alternatives started, stopped, and then hastily replaced - then rinse, repeat.

But really - the silly saga reads like a bad joke.

"The RAF hated the Buccaneer and staunchly rejected it in 1958

Then they tried A, and it failed

Then they tried B, and it failed
...
Then they tried X, Y, Z, and it failed.
...
And finally they got, what ? Buccaneers. And they found they loved them. THE END."

ROTFL One could even rewrite that song by Alanis Morissette, Ironic.

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

She nailed it.
 
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zen

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You know it occurs to me that had Green Cheese gone ahead, this is the ideal basis for a rocket boosted stand off nuclear delivery system.....
Sort of pre-empting the rocket boosted WE.177 concept of decades later.

And the Buccaneer was designed around carriage of it.....internally!

In fact had that existed, it rather shifts the game further to the Buccaneer's favour. Less need to fly over the target....
Less need for supersonic burst to escape the bomb's blast.

It would also keep the V-Force relevent and provide an alternative to Blue Steel.

In fact thanks to the increasing improvements in rocket fuel, and reduction in nuclear bomb size from Red Beard to WE.177. This just gets better. Longer ranged faster etc...
Even the guidance can be improved....more accurate.

Irony of ironies this could feed back to ship and ground launched nukes as well. An alternative to Blue Slug in the Anti-ship role and Blue Water in the surface-to-surface role...

Suddenly this all looks affordable, do-able and the Buccaneer becomes the ideal platform for it.
 

uk 75

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The RAF-Buccaneer hate-love story always get me the giggles. So much time and energy spent hating that aircraft (a decade ? 1958 - 1968) - only to end with the RN birds (ha ha ha) and then new build ones (even better).

Of course for the British taxpayer is wasn't as much funny, considering the astonishing number of alternatives started, stopped, and then hastily replaced - then rinse, repeat.

But really - the silly saga reads like a bad joke.

"The RAF hated the Buccaneer and staunchly rejected it in 1958

Then they tried A, and it failed

Then they tried B, and it failed
...
Then they tried X, Y, Z, and it failed.
...
And finally they got, what ? Buccaneers. And they found they loved them. THE END."

ROTFL One could even rewrite that song by Alanis Morissette, Ironic.

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

She nailed it.
Archibald I think Bucs would look smart in Aeronavale colours on Foch and Clemenceau
 

Hood

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I was wondering last night, if the Canberra B.Mk.1 had entered service as planned with H2S Mk.9, would it have altered the situation regarding its replacement or its further development?

The H2S Mk.9 wasn't really suitable for low-level bombing (though of course Canberra would have had a smaller scanner), but its possible a newer radar would have been developed in the mid-1950s optimised for low-level bombing. But an AH B.6 with Green Satin and H2S of some more would have been very similar to the Buccaneer in capability.
 

zen

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Later on a low level Canberra variant with shorter span wings I think was proposed in the 60's.
Does seem odd that wasn't put forward as a tactical compliment to the Pathfinder V-Bomber in the 50's.

And likely that's down to lack of the navigation system.
 

Biomecraft35

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Well, I'd think replacing the Canberra would come down to military doctrine. Some countries fly bombers high, while others fly low. It wouldn't hurt to have an aircraft similar to the General Dynamics F-111 with Mach 1 capabilities at low altitude and Mach 2 at high, as well as a ground-hugging radar.
Again, it's all based on military doctrine.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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Could the not keep it in service by upgrading it.
No, parts long out of production, becoming difficult to obtain result in falling serviceability. Eventually fatigue would result in a catastrophic structural failure. There's only so much you can do. At some point it just becomes too expensive and dangerous. Great aircraft but there comes a time to call time.
 

lordroel

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Could the not keep it in service by upgrading it.
No, parts long out of production, becoming difficult to obtain result in falling serviceability. Eventually fatigue would result in a catastrophic structural failure. There's only so much you can do. At some point it just becomes too expensive and dangerous. Great aircraft but there comes a time to call time.
Wanted to point to the B-52 but unlike the Canberra it does get the full support its needed to keep it flying.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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Yes the B-52 gets mentioned often for it's longevity but as you say, at some cost. How many Ben Franklins are being thrown at this endeavour? How much of the fleet is combat ready at any one time? How many are christmas trees/hangar queens? How many Gs & Hs at Davis-Monthan were sacrificed to maintain the fleet? Are there any speed/manoeuvring restrictions in place? What is fleet utilization like in the 2020s? When was the last time they deployed at squadron or wing strength?

Yes the B-52H is still flying but with some caveats.
 

Fluff

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Could the not keep it in service by upgrading it.
No, parts long out of production, becoming difficult to obtain result in falling serviceability. Eventually fatigue would result in a catastrophic structural failure. There's only so much you can do. At some point it just becomes too expensive and dangerous. Great aircraft but there comes a time to call time.
We had plenty of parts in the early 90's. Most had been made/packed in the 50's.......The PR9's did receive several updates, with RWR, Navigation and camera systems all updated, and a new 'pink' paint job.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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We had plenty of parts in the early 90's
Yes but eventually you would run out of spare parts..... I have no doubt the PR.9 fleet could have been retained for longer, possibly much longer but at escalating risk and cost over time. I wish it wasn't so but there are certain fiscal and physical realities. After XV230 and Haddon-Cave, there would also be political realities for the PR.9 to contend with.

NASA apparently plans on flying WB-57s until the end of time.
Yes but to perhaps retread my B-52 point, how often do they fly and how large is their budget? Is such a budget available to other would-be latter-day Canberra users? I suspect not.

As an aside, are the WB-57F TF33s interchangeable with the B-52Hs? That could be handy.
 

drejr

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NASA apparently plans on flying WB-57s until the end of time.
Yes but to perhaps retread my B-52 point, how often do they fly and how large is their budget? Is such a budget available to other would-be latter-day Canberra users? I suspect not.

As an aside, are the WB-57F TF33s interchangeable with the B-52Hs? That could be handy.

The budget is miniscule since most flights are reimbursable, but it was just a factoid.

The engines aren't compatible but it's a moot point since the B-52s are getting F130s.
 

Fluff

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We had plenty of parts in the early 90's
Yes but eventually you would run out of spare parts..... I have no doubt the PR.9 fleet could have been retained for longer, possibly much longer but at escalating risk and cost over time. I wish it wasn't so but there are certain fiscal and physical realities. After XV230 and Haddon-Cave, there would also be political realities for the PR.9 to contend with.

NASA apparently plans on flying WB-57s until the end of time.
Yes but to perhaps retread my B-52 point, how often do they fly and how large is their budget? Is such a budget available to other would-be latter-day Canberra users? I suspect not.

As an aside, are the WB-57F TF33s interchangeable with the B-52Hs? That could be handy.
I think the airframe guys I worked with would disagree, the 9's were going through a complete rebuild at Shorts in the 90's, literally back to bare metal, full disassembly and rebuild. The spares were bought for fleets of hundreds of aircraft at a time when no-one really worried about where the £ was coming from. Also industry is pretty good at manufacturing and re-manufacturing, as long as someone will pay for it, a little engineering shop in Lancashire could keep you going, with batch production.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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The engines aren't compatible but it's a moot point since the B-52s are getting F130s.
Yes, I know, I was just musing that it would be great if the WB-57Fs fleet could get plentiful redundant TF33s. Ah well.

most flights are reimbursable
Reimbursable by whom? Someone has to be paying for it surely.

I think the airframe guys I worked with would disagree
So Canberras can literally fly forever with no fatigue or serviceability issues with change from a tenner then, I presume. Those idiots at the MoD......
 

Fluff

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I think the airframe guys I worked with would disagree
So Canberras can literally fly forever with no fatigue or serviceability issues with change from a tenner then, I presume. Those idiots at the MoD......
No, but lack of spares, for the home country air force, is not normally the reason for retirement. Of course fatigue life is a factor, but spars can be replaced - as per B52 - etc. For some 3rd line air force, of course its an issue. I also wonder if these 3rd line air forces actually carry out the deep maintenance, but thats another thread....
 

drejr

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Operational costs on the PR9 were quite low when it was retired but the main issue was the fatigue life of the pressure bulkhead, which would be very expensive to replace.

The NASA WB-57s are really an amazing hodgepodge of parts - everything from C-141 engines to F-15E landing gear (with A-4 tires naturally) to F-16 ejection seats. Except for the ejection seat this has more to do with upgrades than lack of spares.
 
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starviking

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