RAF Canberra Units of the Cold War

Published on
August 18, 2014
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Andrew Brookes
Other Publication Information
Paperback; 96 pages; with black/white and color photos and 21 color profiles.
Product / Stock #
Combat Aircraft 105
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

I knew that Canberras had been used in the 1956 Suez Campaign, the 1990-91 Gulf War, the 1995-96 Bosnia affair and the Operation Telic, the 2003 Iraq war. This book showed me a number of facets of the Canberra’s career as the longest lasting RAF aircraft, from the first production in 1951 to the retirement of the PR.9s in 2006. Yes, 55 years. The Canberra replaced Lancasters, Lincolns and Washingtons (B-29s) and was itself superseded by Jaguars and Tornadoes.

There were actually three Canberra missions; tactical bomber, nuclear bomber and photo-reconnaissance.

This book follows only the RAF Canberras, not the American (B-57), Argentina, Australia, Chile, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, India, New Zealand, Peru, Rhodesia, South Africa, Sweden, Venezuela, West Germany, or Zimbabwe.

I learned that Canberras had been deployed to protect Kuwait from invasion by Iraq, but this was in 1961.

This book is set up pretty much in chronological order, with the basic facts about each Canberra type discussed, then that information filled out with narratives by participants, either pilots or navigators, about the particular type and how it was deployed and utilized by the RAF. Note that I say narratives, not “war stories” *..

The narratives are interesting and many tell things about the aircraft that you’ll never get from a standard history.

The other thing that I really liked about this book is the selection of color profiles in the middle of the book. Osprey does a great job of showing the development and changes from the early B.2 to the late PR.9. The color schemes shown are representative of the times and places where the Canberra earned its reputation as a pretty darned good bomber.

Overall Evaluation: Recommended. I wanted this book to review because I worked with the PR.9’s recce info from Bosnia while I was in Italy in 1996. The photos are varied and useful to the modeler, and the profiles make me want to run out and buy more Canberra kits.

A fairy tale begins “once upon a time”, a war story begins “there I was”. Otherwise, not much difference.

Many thanks to Osprey Publications for this outstanding book, and for IPMS USA for allowing me to review it.


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