Manufactured by Martin
So successful was the English-built “English Electric Canberra” that the U. S. Air Force selected the aircraft as a bomber-interdictor and a reconnaissance aircraft. This 1940’s design saw service in Vietnam as a light bomber, repeatedly attacking the Ho Chi Minh Trail and flying interdiction missions over the Mekong Delta and Vietnam border areas.
So versatile was the airplane that it went on to serve as a high altitude photographic platform, a high altitude reconnaissance ship, a weather research craft and an electronic countermeasure machine well into the 1980s. The reason for the B-57’s success was its large wing which gave the aircraft good handling qualities at high altitudes. Pilots liked the flying qualities of the airplane. The B-57 could carry any airborne weapon in the U. S. arsenal. It was a virtual “gun bus.” The aircraft had a maximum take off weight of over 60,000 pounds and could operate at an altitude of 60,000 feet. Combat range could be as much as 2,500 miles. A long-wing version of the B-57 mounted two additional jet engines and could attain an altitude of over 80,000 feet.
It was used as a reconnaissance aircraft over portions of Soviet Russia. The machine also photographed Southeast Asia, Borneo, Malaysia and Indonesia from 40,000 feet. This high resolution, high altitude photography was used to make the excellent maps used by friendly forces during the Vietnam War. In many respects, the B-57 “Canberra” was a forerunner of the U-2 and SR-71 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft.
The B-57 you see here is an EB-57E which was used as an electronic countermeasure craft, serving as an intruder aircraft for air defense training and evaluation.
- Role/Category: Electronic Warfare
- Weight: maximum take off weight of over 60,000 pounds
- Powerplant: two turbojet engines giving it 14,400 pounds of thrust
- Speed: cruising speed of 580 miles per hour at altitude
- Ceiling: 60,000 feet
- Armament: 4 – 20 millimeter cannons or eight 50 caliber machine guns