The Story of the Canberra PR.9 and XH135 in Particular

The Story of the Canberra PR.9 and XH135 in Particular

Aviationtag English Electric Canberra PR.9 XH135 Edition
The English Electric Canberra PR.9

The English Electric Canberra is a first-generation British jet-powered medium bomber, developed by English Electric in the 1940s as a successor to the de Havilland Mosquito. It excelled in high-altitude bombing and speed due to newly developed jet propulsion. In May 1951, it became the RAF's first jet powered bomber.

In total, 1352 Canberras were produced, including 403 B-57s and 48 aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. The first British operational squadron was 101 Squadron at RAF Binbrook in May 1951, and in the RAF Germany area, the 149 Squadron at RAF Gütersloh became the first unit in August 1954.

Various versions were exported to Argentina, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Rhodesia, South Africa, Sweden, Venezuela, and West Germany. The RAF Germany operated the Canberra for approximately two decades.

In the German Bundeswehr, three aircraft were used by the Office for Military Geodesy for aerial photography missions from 1963 to 1993. On June 23, 2006, the RAF's last Canberras were officially retired after 55 years of service.

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English Electric Canberra PR.9 - XH135
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Aviationtag English Electric Canberra PR.9 XH135 Edition
English Electric Canberra PR.9 - XH135
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The XH135

Aviationtag’s XH135, built in 1959, served with RAF Handling Squadron at RAF Manby, then transferred to Shorts of Belfast. Later, it joined 58 Sqn at RAF Wyton, briefly transferred to 13 Sqn in Malta, and finally served with 39 Sqn at RAF Wyton until Feb 1982. It was stored at RAF St Athan and reactivated for 1 PRU at RAF Marham.

Aviationtag English Electric Canberra PR.9 Edition

Retired in July 2006 at Kemble airfield alongside XH131 and XH134, XH135 remained taxiable for airshows. It was acquired by Midair around 2010, and while XH134 was chosen for airworthiness, XH135 was used for electric start testing before being stripped for parts. Midair's bankruptcy in 2017 led to the Canberras becoming airport
property.

In 2020, the Buccaneer Aviation Group relocated them to Cotswold Airport, where XH135 was cleaned. In early 2022, Cotswold Airport announced XH135's disposal. Former Canberra PR.9 Navigator initiated efforts to save the aircraft, but insufficient funds led to the hard decision to dismantle it.

Aviationtag managed to salvage parts of this legendary aircraft. The Aviationtag Edition features captivating variations in beige and white, each beautifully crafted from the storied XH135 of the Royal Air Force. Don't miss the chance to own a unique piece of aviation heritage.

Aviationtag English Electric Canberra PR.9 Edition

By August 2022, XH135 was reduced to a cockpit section and found its new home at West Raynham Business Park, formerly RAF West Raynham. Learn more about the project by clicking here.

How do you like this Aviationtag Edition? Would you like us to do more Military aircrafts? Let us know in the comments.

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    62 comments


    • Craig

      I was very happy reading about this aircraft and it’s amazing life these blogs really do help you understand just how amazing these aircraft are. I would love to see more military planes but also I would love an MD11 in the future


    • Neil

      What a fantastic release – thanks AviationTag! The hemp colour (not gold, tan or beige as I've seen it described by some retailers!) is a classic RAF colour used on many aircraft including the Canberra PR9, Nimrod and VC-10. The Canberra, Britain's first jet bomber was incredibly successful around the world and so good that the US bought them! That doesn't happen too often which is testament to the skills of the design, manufacture and test teams at English Electric.

      I was privileged to meet Roland Beamont (the test pilot who first flew the Canberra, Lightning and TSR2) in 1999. Despite his accomplishments as a test pilot, which followed a illustrious career in the RAF, he was one of the most humble and friendly gentlemen I've ever met. His willingness to discuss all aspects of his carrer at length was very much appreciated and his ability to recall small details from 30/40/50 years ago was astonishing!

      Sadly 'Bee' passed away in 2001 but I'd encourage AviationTaggers to check out his final book, titled 'The Years Flew Past'.


    • Tau Loon

      Excellent release and exciting to see Aviationtag expanding its offerings into military planes. Good work!


    • Michael

      Fantastic write up and release. Where did the white come from


    • Sorika

      Stunning release and very interesting blogpost about this airplane. I never thought that it would be interesting for me to own such an Aviationtag but I really would love to have one.


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