Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Canberra - Survivor 99+35 (ex WK138)

B.2 99+35 - Militarhistorische Museum der Bundeswehr, Flugplatz Gatow, Berlin, Germany

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Canberra B.2 99+35 at Gatow, 30th December 2016; Damien Burke

One of three supposed 'target tugs' acquired by the German government, 99+35 was built as B.2 for the RAF with the serial of WK138, entering service in 1954. She served with 102 Squadron before being sold back to BAC in March 1966, having much of her bombing equipment removed and replaced by recce kit at Marshalls at Cambridge and then delivered to the Luftwaffe as YA+153 in October 1966. She was renumbered as 00+03 in 1968, D9567 in 1970 and finally 99+35 in 1976.

In reality these aircraft were rarely - if ever - used as target tugs and were instead flown by the West German Military Geographic Service, configured for 'research' - which often meant spying on the Russians with assorted radar kit and cameras. The bright orange paint scheme apparently more to convince the Russians they weren't spy planes! They were also used for general mapping duties within West Germany, radar calibration and - allegedly - regular golfing trips to Lossiemouth.

Returning to Luftwaffe control in 1977, 99+35 was in active service until 1991, then grounded. With the final retirement of the German Canberras in 1993, her last flight was a delivery flight from Manching to the Gatow museum on 27th May 1993, flown by pilot Major Heniz Spolgen and navigator Oberleutnant Helmut Schafer.

Information on this page current as of 29/12/2021, last updated by Damien

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