TP 52 - English Electric Canberra B.2 (1960-1974)

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Swedish Airforce Aircraft TP 52 English Electric Canberra # 52001. Photo Christer Sidelöv.

Some years after WWII began the Swedish Air Force a new activity, "research flying" with direction to the electronic branch, mostly radar and radio. The first aeroplane for this activity was a converted B 3 (Junkers Ju 86K). It was written off in January 1957.  After WWII the Air Force also began more seriously with Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). For the activity, two DC-3's were procured. The designation of these planes was Tp 79. These Dakotas were specially equipped and were run by FRA (Försvarets Radioanstalt = the Radio Establishment of the Defence), often called just ”the Business”. One of these was shot down by a Soviet MiG-15 over the Baltic Sea in June 1952. This loss of the DC-3 led to procurement of a Vickers Varsity (Tp 82).  

When the Ju 86K research platform was written off and also the demand of altitude performance of the ELINT aircraft increased, the Air Force began to look for an aircraft suitable for both missions. The choice fell on the English Electric Canberra. An agreement was made with English Electric concerning two used, but totally overhauled and partly modified planes.  

The E E Canberra was from the beginning intended as a nuclear-capable medium bomber. The design however showed a great potential of further development and became manufactured in versions for several other roles.  

The two aircraft E E intended to sell were available on a base in Australia and of the version Mk VII. They have not been used for seven months. Their earlier mission had been as measurement aircraft in connection with nuclear weapon tests. The both machines were flown to England for overhaul and modification. During the work, severe corrosion damages were found. It was caused by the fact that the aircraft had been sprayed with water to clean them from radioactivity after the tests. Unfortunately salt sea water had been used, and after half a year the aircraft were so corroded that they were unusable. EE managed to find two other airframes, however not Mk VII, but the older version B.2s. These two aircraft carried the RAF serials WH711 and WH905. They were given the Swedish Air Force numbers 52001 and 52002 and the designation TP 52. Except for the major overhaul, the aircraft were also modified. The original nose cone was replaced with nose of type AI17, and a radome adapted for the "S"-band. The same type of nose cone was also installed on the T.11 Canberra version and was nicknamed in Sweden as "the pencil". Furthermore most of the radio and navigation equipment was removed and replaced with more modern equipment of the Swedish Air Force standard.  

In January 1960 was 52001 ready for delivery and a crew from the Wing F8 of Barkarby (near Stockholm, now closed) flew the Canberra from Preston home to Sweden and the F8 Wing. A couple of months later, 52002 was flown home. But before the two aircraft could be taken in active service, they had to be modified and equipped for their respective duty concepts. Generally the two planes went through the same modifications, but with the reservation that 52001 should be used by the FRA for ELINT, while 52002 should be used for research both by the Air Force and for some civilian companies that had the Air Force as a customer. In the bomb bay a big "rack" of profiles and plating was build. On this rack different equipment could be installed; fixed equipment for FRA in 52001 and more occasional installations in 52002. As certain radar tests were to be carried out with 52002, an adapter of glass fibre was built so it would be possible to mount the antenna used for the radar developed for the all-weather attack plane SAAB A32 Lansen. 52001 was of course provided with a many and various antennas for ELINT with, amongst others, three bladed, dorsal antennas and a large antenna built into the fin.  



For the Model Builder

Airfix has produced a plastic model kit of Canberra B.2/B20 in scale 1:48. It is exactly the same version as the Swedish Tp 52.Catalogue number A10101. Click on the thumbnail to get to Amazon's page about this model.

has also a plastic model kit of Canberra B(I) in scale 1:72. Catalogue number A05038. Click on the thumbnail to get to Amazon's page about this model.

Photo at top of 52001 taken by Christer Sidelöv in the fall of 1974 at Malmen. It is easy to see that the aircraft have been fitted with new codes. 52001 is preserved at Svedino's Aviation and Auto Museum. After many years in sun and rain it is now placed inside the aircraft hall.

Swedish Airforce Aircraft TP 52 English Electric Canberra # 52002. Photo Lars Henriksson

This photo shows 52002 exhibited at Flygvapenmuseum - still exposed to the Swedish weather


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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-02-28


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