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The feasibility study cited by Mr. Colebatch, “Study, Feasibility of Equipping RAAF Canberra MK 20 Bomber Aircraft for Combat Delivery of USAF MK 7 Nuclear Bombs, 3 MEL-10, R190/10, A6456/2, AA,” appears to be just that - -a feasibility study (also one conducted three or four years after the Minister of Defense’s 1956 complaint). Air forces conduct thousands of them, most of which come to naught because, once one subjects the numbers to a more rigorous analysis, serious operational objections emerge. For instance, at the time the study was completed (November 1959-December 1960), the USSR had already developed surface to air missile systems that made high altitude bombing missions impractical. The U.S. at this time had already switched its B-52 force from high to low altitude penetration missions, and the Canberra would also have to follow suit. A low-altitude mission profile would further erode the combat radius (jets burn more fuel at low altitude), definitely putting the Canberra into the light bomber class after all (I would have to have a complete set of mission planning graphs to be precise, but a back of the envelope estimate is something like 600 miles for a hi-lo-hi mission).
Mr. Colebatch writes, “I said in my original article simply that there was some evidence Australia looked to developing a nuclear deterrent in the late 1940s or early '50s but this was not proceeded with.” I agree with that. I don’t think that it was ever a really serious effort, though, simply because Australia lacked the resources to sustain a meaningful deterrent force (one that could, for instance, hit something other than New Zealand or Indonesia), and it never made any effort to procure such a delivery system as a prerequisite for developing one. Ironically, today Australia possesses a superb nuclear delivery system in the form of the F-111, but eschews nuclear weapons altogether.p>My point in writing is that one must be very careful in the use of figures concerning weapon system performance, or in using such figures to undergird a policy argument. br> — Stuart Koehl br> Falls Church, Virginia /p>
My two-cents’ worth on this fascinating subject. The Canberra had a long and interesting history, holding various records such as high altitude (65,890 ft with conventional jet engines in 1955 and 70,310 ft in 1957 with a rocket motor) and was used to spy on the Soviet Union until the U-2 came along.
In addition, on February 21 1951. An RAF Canberra B Mk 2 (WD932) flown by Sqd Ldr A Caillard, became the first jet aircraft to make a non-stop transatlantic flight when it flew from Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, to Gander, Newfoundland. The flight covered almost 1,800 miles in 4h 37m. The aircraft was being flown to the U.S. to act as a pattern aircraft for the Martin B-57.p>Besides which it was just a damned beautiful aircraft! br> — Bob Johnson /p>
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