The scientific tourist #300 — the Martin EB-57 “Canberra”

On display at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum; Box Elder, South Dakota:

Martin EB-57 "Canberra"

The B-57 Canberra started out as a license-built version of the English Electric Canberra bomber, entering service in the U.S. in 1953.  It’s unusual in that the U.S. Air Force is not prone to buying foreign aircraft — but at the outbreak of the Korean War, need outweighed national pride, and the Canberra was the best available model.  Since English Electric couldn’t produce aircraft fast enough for the U.S.A.F.’s needs, the Martin Company in the U.S. was tagged to produce a modified version of them under license — eventually producing a total of 403 B-57s.

But the aircraft suffered though a series of issues, engine-related and otherwise, and so it was soon deemed unfit to be a front-line bomber.  Instead, many of the aircraft were converted for other roles — as was the case for this airframe.

From the placard:

The EB-57B was an electronic reconnaissance conversion of the B-57B. Like the EB-57A, the basic mission of the EB-57B was to fly aggressor missions against the North American continent. The aircraft used electronic jamming equipment along with chaff dispensers mounted on wing pylons to attempt to penetrate US and Canadian airspace by evading detection by ground-based radar stations and airborne interceptor aircraft. During a typical training mission, the Air Defence Command ground controllers had to identify the incoming threat and direct jets to intercept the EB-57B.

The EB-57B gradually replaced the EB-57A because it carried more-advanced electronics and was generally a more capable aircraft. The B-model aircraft were in turn replaced by the improved EB-57E starting in the mid- to late-1960s. The EB-57B continued to serve with the Air National Guard throughout the 1970s.

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