Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Canberra - Survivor WE139

PR.3 WE139 - RAF Museum London, Hendon, London

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Canberra PR.3 WE139 at RAF Museum London, 15th April 2023; Jake Wallace

WE139 first took to the skies on the 22nd of January 1953 with the flight lasting 46 minutes. She was then delivered to the RAF and joined 540 Squadron on the 3rd of February 1953. By June of that year, WE139 had several modifications made which included autopilot, specialist camera equipment replaced with extra fuel tanks, and the fitting of larger main wheel hubs/brake units like those on the B.6 and PR.7. These were all part of the effort of taking part in the UK to New Zealand Air Race, which was in October 1953. WE139 was the winning airframe, flown by Flt Lt R. Burton and Flt Lt D. H. Gannon, completing the course in 23 hours and 51 minutes at an average speed of 514 mph.

After that WE139 went on to serve with 231 OCU and made her last flight on the 23rd of April 1969 from Bassingbourn to RAF Henlow for storage before being moved to the RAF Museum London, Hendon on the 14th of January 1971. She is now only one of two surviving PR.3s, with the other being WF922 at the Midland Air Museum in Coventry.

The airframe can be seen on display inside the main aircraft hall with a transparent box around the front end, this is presumably to stop visitors from walking into the pitot tube. WE139 is well looked after and is in great condition thanks to being kept undercover ever since the airframe made its last flight.

Information on this page current as of 23/04/2023, last updated by Jake

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