Canberra PR7 aeroplane
Photos of classic RAF jet aircraft at Christmas Island in the 50s
Photos sent by a former Canberra navigator
All the photos on this page were kindly sent in by Bill Yates who served at Christmas Island with the RAF. On this page are some later views of Canberras serving at RAF Wildenrath with 14 Squadron.
Canberra PR7 parked up at Changi, mid 1950s.
58 Squadron Photo Recce Canberras on the tarmac at Christmas Island, for 'Grapple Zulu', the British atomic testing.
"..Christmas Is. was the base in the Pacific used for the High Level release of the UK atomic bomb. The Canberra B6 did the sampling job - very scary as they flew close to and into the cloud, I do know some guys that later on fell ill and died. The Valiant Bomber version from the RAF, I think was 138 Squadron, dropped the bomb, we in the PR7's supplied all the High Level Met weather information - wind speed/direction, type of cloud/amount and direction of movement.
At lower levels the Shackleton did the same plus they kept watch for ant intruders at low level. The whole danger area covered a 200 X 200 miles square around Xmas Is. After the test one of 58 squadron's aircraft flew the samples back to the UK employing crews and aircraft ready in USAF Bases in Hawaii, East Coast and central USA and Newfoundland then on the the UK.."
A wider angle view of English Electric Canberra PR7s during Grapple Z at Christmas Island:
"It was overrun by Crabs whilst I was there, driving down to the airfield in the early morning by Land Rover we killed hundreds, they were ugly and only had ONE big Claw..".
A pair of PR7 Canberras lined up at Changi, Singapore, after a photo recce flight mid 1950s. Nearest is WJ819.
Canberra WH884 and 2 other B2 examples of 1323 Flt testing, at 3 levels between Kinloss and Iceland, photographed from another example by Bill.
"..The Canberra B2 photo is the Bomber version (WH884) these aircraft were modified to filter the air at heights up to 45000 ft over the UK and as far north as Iceland. On the wing tips we had a small filter type tank, a large compressor in the bomb bay which sucked in the air into a cylinder tank. Filters and the air in the cylinder then were rushed off to the atomic authorities, I think was at Harwell ..".
Photo'd by Bill through the canopy of his Canberra PR7 en route to Singapore (RAF Changi) in 1956.
Another in-flight photograph, this of a PR7 en route to Cyprus.
Again photographed by Bill, flying over Christmas Island at 25000ft using an oblique camera mounted in the camera bay, just to the rear of the crew cabin on the starboard side of the Canberras fuselage.
Plus a few other photos kindly sent in by Bill, from his days serving in the RAF....don't forget to have a look at the Vickers Valiant pics that Bill posted to me, if you've not seen them yet!
The "wooden wonder" from De Havilland, the Mosquito fighter-bomber. This one, RG309, spotted in Fayid, Egypt, in 1951. It looks like they were expecting quite a breeze judging by the weighted-down tail, wings, and flaps set fully down!
"..The Mosquito was filmed at RAF Fayid in 1951 close to the Bitter Lake (part of the Suez Canal), at that time I was LAC Radar Fitter in the Tech Wing I managed to get occasional test flights ..".
Taken at RAF Bishops Court, Northern Ireland, a Vickers Varsity navigation trainer, which was used in later stages of training.
"..Bishops Court in Northern Ireland, which was a Navigator Training Station(long since closed). The Varsity was used as the advanced training aircraft, but the basic aircraft was the Avro Anson, and the Valetta was the flying classroom that had a staff navigator and approx 16 stations for the students. Once I passed out I became a Pilot Officer instead of an acting Pilot Officer ..".
Return to the vintage aircraft photos main page, for more original pictures taken of aircraft years ago. For more recent pics featuring older aeroplanes that are now in preservation, have a look at this aircraft image gallery.