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English Electric Canberra

The English Electric Canberra subtitled The History and Development of a Classic Jet (ISBN 978-1844152421) is a book by British military historian and author Bruce Barrymore Halpenny about the English Electric Canberra.[1] Illustrated throughout, the book includes interviews with Wing Commander K H Wallis, the man Halpenny attributes as having "saved the Canberra".[1]

The book looks at the development of the aircraft during the early days of jet power and beyond.[2] Each of the many marks and variants are described.[2] The type's record of service with RAF Squadrons is given together with descriptions of the many experimental models.[2]

In the introduction, the author states, “it was a matter of producing either a technical book, or one that would appeal to a wider readership, setting out the true Canberra story: marks, variants, overseas orders, squadrons, records, experimental Canberras, camouflage, markings, and most importantly, the truth about bombing up the aircraft; also serious problems with which the Canberra was sent out to operational R.A.F. stations."[3] He chose the latter and the finished article is an "outstanding"[3] tribute to a remarkable aeroplane,[3] though those that were deep aviation fans were unhappy that it was not a technical book. A case that the author could not satisfy everyone.

The book took 18 years to complete and the acknowledgments cover two full pages - a testimony to the thoroughness of Halpenny's research.[3] Among the many firms and names mentioned, one in particular comes in for special mention. W/Cdr. K H Wallis, who saved the life of the Canberra by inventing the system of loading bombs for as late at 1951 at R.A.F. Binbrook, not a single aircraft was capable of delivering bombs, simply because the fuselage was too low to the ground![3] With Canberra's introduction came the early Rolls Royce Axial Flow Avon engine, a full description of which, its history and development is given in Chapter 2 - the author even tells us how a jet engine delivers its thrust.[3] The book displays a collection of photographs - some never seen before, also the history and deployment of no less than 81 Squadrons each of which flies the Canberra in its various marks and roles.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Book Review - Lincolnshire Echo - August 9, 2005
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Aviation Showcase - FlyPast Magazine - 2005
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 The Eagle - Book reviews - Squadron Leader Mike Dobson A.F.C. (former Canberra pilot) - 2005

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