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English Electric Canberra – Bruce Barrymore Halpenny

Review by Andrew Kitney.

Given the longevity of the EE Canberra in service, not just with my ‘home’ Forces (RAF/RN) but with many operators around the world, and with some still serving, I was looking forward to reading this book. There is quite a story to tell, and I wasn’t disappointed. Like many, I’m sure, Canberras were a constant during my childhood aircraft watching days that carried well into adulthood and I dare to say my middle ages too!

This book is not, and it doesn’t profess to be, an anecdotal account of flying and operating the Canberra (other books do exist for that need). What it is, though, is a thorough account of the Canberra and variants from design and development, including that of the Rolls Royce Avon engine, through its service life and operation.

A comprehensive chapter details the main marks produced with associated performance, technical data and the numbers manufactured with corresponding serial data. While, understandably, focus is mainly on the UK, for which there is more than enough of a story to fill many books, a chapter describes the widespread overseas production and orders. Separately, the numerous conversion and experimental variants are reported that, of course, made for the type’s longevity in service.

RAF Canberra squadrons and miscellaneous units are comprehensively covered with detail on the variants flown, period of operation, location, and camouflage and markings, with chapters also covering armament and weapons operation providing a good insight.

Copiously illustrated throughout, the many rare and remarkable photos (most of which, even as an ardent enthusiast, I had never seen before) support the narrative. While the majority are, understandably, in black and white, a nice colour photo section is included, at the end of which is a good colour profile section of 21 aircraft in various guises and operator colours.

A good reference book to read or dip into. If you are interested in the Canberra, this is the book for you.

ISBN 978-1-78346-1-905

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