The Canberra PR.3 was the first photographic reconnaissance variant of the highly successful Canberra B.2 light bomber. Specification 31/46 led to Operational Requirement.233 for the design and construction of a long-range, high-altitude aircraft for day and night photographic reconnaissance as well as day survey photography.
The PR.3 retained the engines, wings and tail assembly of the B.2, but the fuselage was extended by 14 inches (36 cm) to allow the installation of a camera bay and fuel cell. The forward part of the bomb bay also carried extra fuel cells and leaving room in the aft part for use as a flare bay.
Canberra PR.3 production
Of the PR.3 a total of 36 machines were produced by the English Electric Ltd works at Preston. This number included one prototype aircraft: VX181. A planned second PR.3 prototype, VX185, was converted before completion into the prototype B.5, the version intended for the target marking role. This aircraft later made fame in the double Atlantic crossing in one day when it flew from Aldergrove to Gander and back in just over 10 hours. The forward fuselage section of this aircraft is preserved in the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, Scotland.
VX181 EA.2/PR.3 prototype first flew on 19 May 1951. A year later, on 31 July 1952, the first production aircraft, WE135, made her first flight.
Royal Air Force Canberra PR.3 serials and construction numbers:
WE135-151 (c/n EEP 71050 to 71171).
WE166-175 (c/n EEP 71175 to 71221, with the numbers for WE174 and WE175 not known).
WF922-928 (c/n EEP 71227 to 71259).
WH772 (c/n EEP 71189).
Notes on Canberra construction numbers:
Almost all 'construction numbers' of English Electric Preston-built machines are known and confirmed. Strictly speaking, the company used no construction numbers, but allocated a number to the forward fuselage. Other companies involved in Canberra production issued a construction number. In the Air Fighters data base, we will continue the use of the term construction number. All Canberra PR.3 construction numbers are prefixed 'EEP' followed by a 5-digit number in the 71... range. The PR machines were produced along the B.2 at the production line and had their construction number allocated in order as the aircraft appeared on the line. This was also the case at the time the PR.7 came into production. As the final PR version, the Canberra PR.9, was solely produced by Short Bros & Harland, the construction numbers of these were allocated in sequence, prefixed 'SH'.
- Country of Origin:
- First Flight:
19 May 1951
- Initial Service Date:
- No. Built:
- No. In Service:
- No. of Hardpoints: