B.2/T.4 - WD954
WD954
WD954 shown alongside Kilimanjaro (Photo : AW FA 79)

This cockpit is now owned by Mr Barry Wallond. Barry will eventually have it in his garden (he lives near RAF St Mawgan) as company for his replica Spitfire. Still awaiting pictures though.

WD954
WD954 paint stripped (old photo)
(Photo : Sam Churchill)
 

This B.2 was awaiting collection in December 1951 WD954 was initially taken onto the charge of Controller (Aircraft). Loaned to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment WD954 from may 1952, it was flown out to Kenya in the September to undertake tropical trials for the type.

After returning from these trials WD954 was transferred to the charge of the RAF and was immediately converted to T.4 configuration. After re-configuration, it joined the Station Flight at RAF Helmswell for a period, then on to Station Flight at RAF Upwood before finally being transferred to the charge of 76Sqd - probably when they returned to RAF Upwood from the Grapple tests in July 1958 [76Sqd was disbanded in December 1958 at Upwood].

In December 1959, WD954, still as a T.4 moved overseas being transferred to Edinburgh Field, Australia, for pilot training duties. In January 1960 it began a term at the Woomera Missile Range as a missile tracking aircraft until it was grounded by undercarriage problems. Although it was overhauled WD954 (as a T.4) was struck off charge at Edinburgh Field on 13 February 1970. Just prior to that date it was noted in use by the Air Trials Unit in Royal Australian Air Force markings. It was preserved at the Warbirds Aviation Museum, Mildura. At the end, WD954 was supposed to have sported some "nose art" in the form of twenty missile and seven bomb silhouettes on the port side of the nose.

Originally, on this Survivor page, I had asked "It's not known if WD954 is still at Mildura" - Well, recently I was sent a photo (below) by Neil Fitzclarence showing WD954 at Mildura. Neil writes "I have an interest in Australian Military Aircraft and have an extensive photo and model collection. I am also the CO of our local Australian Airforce Cadet Squadron". Neil writes that the photo was taken for him by a friend in the late 1990's.

Then Paul Spann, (the then co-owner) was contacted by Martin Edwards, a Canberra enthusiast in Australia with the following comment :

Gadday from Oz!
Canberra WD954 I believe is alive and well in Australia. WD954 served with the Weapons Research Establishment based at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia. It was used for trails at Woomera. Its final duty was as a target for the development of the Karinga cluster bomb.The aicraft still has some damage from the explosions but has thankfully survived. (The outer wings have unfortunately been cut off at the engine nacelles.) The South Australian Aviation Museum obtained the aircraft from Pearse Dunn at Mildura. The original intention was to use it for parts in the restoration of B2 WK165, also held by the museum. I visited SAAM last year and although unable to photograph WD954 (being stored off-site) I was informed that due to its historical significance that WD954 will be preserved in its own right. The SAAM website makes no mention of them having this aircraft but I am sure if you contact them they will confirm its survival. The website is www.saam.org.au I hope this information is of some value to you and I wish you well with your restoration.
Regards Martin Edwards
The original nose section was allocated as a ground instructional unit to No 2 Radio School at RAF Yatesbury in 1960. In 1970 it was moved to the Fire Fighting School at RAF Manston for a period before ending up at 71 Maintenance Unit at RAF Bicester. In 1971 the nose became the property of the Lincs Aviation Museum, Tatershall but was moved, in 1988, to the Licolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Then to the Cockpit Collection, Chadwell Heath, Essex in June 1989. It became the property of Mr Nigel Towler who sold it on the Sam Churchill of north London. In November 2002, WD954 moved again into the ownership of Paul Spann and Lisa Seed of Rossendale Lancashire.

The picture above shows the original B.2 nose, paint-stripped and being prepared for re-paint. Most interesting though is the bomb-aimer's nose. There is no provision for a centrally mounted pitot head it is actually under the nose in the same manner as employed by the Australians for their GAF A84 Mk20 Canberras. The picture (above) of WD954 in the air shows the pitot head in this position in 1952. This was, according to "Bee" Beamont, the original placement of the pitot head. However, it certain flying conditions it was found that it was being masked by the nose and giving unreliable readings.


WD954 as T.4
WD954 in T.4 configuration at Mildura, Australia.
(Photo via : Neil Fitzclarence)