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Canberra cockpits on display at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum
Canberra Talks Schedule

Taking place throughout the weekend are a number of interesting and insightful presentations covering all aspects of the Canberra's service with the RAF and Beyond.


With different subjects each day, read on to see what's taking place.

Start times for each talk will be released closer to the event.


11th - 12th May 2024

Canberra 75th Anniversary Presentations

Presentation Schedule - Click to Expand.

Saturday 11th May

The Bomber Wings: 1951 - 1959

Former Canberra Navigator Ken Delve provides an overview of the Canberra's use in RAF Bomber Command – the short-lived period of the Bomber Wings and introducing the Command into the jet age. From the stand up of the first Canberra Bomber Squadrons, to operations in the Suez and Malaya.


The Ethiopian Connection

Former Canberra Navigator Tony Laven will give a talk outlining why the Ethiopians bought four Canberras and the training of the crews both in the UK and Ethiopia. He spent 16 months in Ethiopia training eight young Ethiopian officers to be Canberra Navigators. Tony will also explain how the Canberras played a pivotal role in the Ethiopia-Somalia War between 1977 and 1978.

Flying WH779 - A Former 13 Sqn Recce Pilot Looks Back (Part 1)

Former Canberra pilot and author Paul McDonald shares stories from his own experiences. How the reality of asymmetric flying was brought home in a fatal crash at Cottesmore while Paul was in the classroom before his first Canberra flight. How he soon experienced night asymmetric for real having never before practiced it. Paul will also describe how 13 Sqn’s photographic expertise was called for after a devastating earthquake in Northern Italy which killed over 1,000 people. All too soon, the RAF would bid farewell to Malta.


Cold War Canberra's - The Nuclear Option

Outlining the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons to be used by the Canberra Force, initially in RAF Bomber Command, then RAF Germany and later the Near East Air Force & Far East Air Force. This will include an explanation of the Low Altitude Bombing System LABS.

Talk by Canberra Navigator Tony Laven.

Science and High Flyers - NASA's WB-57F's

Peter Layshock, Manager for NASA’s WB-57F High Altitude Research Program, will join us live from Houston, Texas to discuss how these incredibly unique aircraft are used today for numerous scientific, defense, and commercial applications. He will review the history of the B-57 as part of the United States Air Force’s fleet after adopting the B.2 Canberra design, the operational uses of these aircraft, and the multiple variants that have evolved over the years. The presentation will include a deep dive into the development of the famed long-wing “F” model, which is the only American B-57 still flown today. Mr. Layshock will discuss the challenges associated with maintaining these “60+” year-old aircraft, as well as the future outlook for continued operation.


Sunday 12th May


2 Squadron RAAF in Vietnam

In 1958, during the Malayan Emergency, 2 Squadron, and their eight Canberra Mk 20s, was sent to Butterworth in Malaya as part of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. After the end of the Malayan Emergency, 2 Squadron remained at Butterworth until 1967 when it moved to Phan Rang Air Base in Vietnam. Tony Laven will outline their operations using the Combat Skyspot bombing system and their operations over the Mekong Delta using level bombing under the control of Forward Air Controllers which led to the squadron being awarded the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and a United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Commendation for its service in Vietnam.

The First Flight - Memories from Roland Beamont’s Daughter

Daughter of English Electric's Chief Test Pilot Roland Beamont, Carol Walton shares her memories of 13th May 1949 and the Canberra's first flight. Carol's memories will be accompanied by photographs and slides from the first flight.


They think it's a Canberra...

Memories of operating the Cold War Canberra PR.9 in the tactical and strategic role, from flashing around at low level snapping tactical targets, to 60,000ft long-range ‘what’s going over there, and survey photography in ‘parts of the world, various. Former Canberra Navigator Ken Delve also provides an overview of the PR.9 across its 50-year career and the final farewell in 2006.

Flying WH779 - A Former 13 Sqn Recce Pilot Looks Back (Part 2)

In his second talk, Paul will describe some of the challenges in flying the Canberra, including one incident which had near fatal consequences. Hear stories of ops over Iran and Pakistan, including one sortie in WH779 to an airfield in north-eastern Iran, with only a blank sheet of paper on which to plot the aircraft’s position. And hear the story of the RAF’s final farewell to Malta with the hunt to find and photograph the Soviet Union’s new aircraft carrier 'Kiev' in 1978.

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