Created By: Wings of Eagles Discovery Center
Type: US Air Force Reconnaissance Aircraft
Wingspan: 64' Length: 65'6"
Gross Weight: 32,448 pounds
Power Plant: Two 7,220 pound thrust Wright J65-W-5 Sapphire turbojet
Maximum Speed: 580 mph
Service Ceiling: 44,550'
The RB-57A is a reconnaissance version of the B-51A, light bomber which was a US adaptation of Britain's English Electric Canberra. It entered operational service in July 1954, nearly three years after it was earmarked to replace the aging B-26 Invader and the USAF's primary light bomber and tactical reconnaissance plane. A total of 67 RB-57As were built, with production ending in August 1954.
The B/RB-57A bore a strong resemblance to the British Canberra, featuring side-by-side seating for its two-man crew. The Glenn L. Martin Company built the US version, and incorporated a rotary bomb bay originally developed for its XB-51 bomber into the design. Later B-57s featured a tandem seating arrangement, including some high-altitude versions with a new wing nearly twice as long as the original 64-foot span. Cameras were mounted behind the bomb bay, and the RB-57 could be placed in a bomber configuration with a few changes.
The Canberra on display here is the 33rd RB-57A built, and is on long-term loan from the United States Air Force. Code-named "Switchblade", it was signed to the 6091st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and flew clandestine missions in the Far East in the early 1960's. It is marked as it appeared during its service with the 172nd TRS, Michigan Air National Guard, between 1968 and 1971.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Wings of Eagles Discovery Center: Outdoor Aircraft Walking Tour