B.2 - WK163
WK163 - Coventry
In the air again. Coventry May 2003 (Click for another view)
(Photo : Les Bywaters)
WK163 - Coventry
In its new Bomber Command 1 colour scheme at Coventry, 2003
(Photo : Les Bywaters)
Click here to see a Bomber Command "Spanning the Ages" picture.
Taken by Damien Burke at RAF Waddington 2003.
In August 1957, B.2 WK163 captured the world altitude record. Fitted with a Napier "Double Scorpion" NScD1/2 rocket motor WK163 achieved a height of 70,310 feet.

Delivered to the RAF in 1955, this B.2 went almost immediately to Armstrong Siddley at Bitteswell for installation of Sapphire Sa 7s and then on to Napier's works at Luton Airport. At Napier's, the Double Scorpion was fitted into the rear of the bomb-bay. This rocket motor was being developed as a power-booster for the English Electric Co's P.1 (the prototype Lightning).

After its record breaking flight, a red Scorpion was painted on WK163's nose (see photos below) as well as details of the altitude record.

A fairly varied career followed in research flying with its transferr to BS Filton where it was used for testing the short and long life Viper. In 1959 WK163 was again transferred, this time to Radar Research Establishment for infra-red linescan development.

Then WK163 really "came apart". At Pershore in 1968, B.6 wings and engines were fitted. In 1969, the original nose was fitted to WT327 and WK163 received the nose from B.6 XH568. WK163 was the first Radar Research Flying Unit Canberra to be handed over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment Bedford in 1976.

This aircraft is preserved by "Classic Aircraft Projects" (Coventry Airport). CAP maintain it in good flying condition and have hangarage for their historic Canberra at Bagington (Coventry Airport) courtesy of Air Atlantique. WK163 usually flies from Coventry in the summer months.

CAP carried out a major refurbishment program during the year 2002 which meant that WK163 wasn't seen on the UK air show circuits. In May 2003 however, it flew a classic display in public at the Coventry Air Day. Gone was the "Scorpion" identity as WK163 took to the air in the classic grey/black "Bomber Comand 1" colours as used for Canberras on their entry into RAF service in 1951. The red lightning flash on the nose could mean it is intended to be representative of 617 Sqd whose "device" this was in those days.

WK163 is becoming increasingly popular at air shows and we look forward to its continued success. Usually flown by David Piper, this is the only flying "preserved" Canberra in the UK.


WK163's air-tests, Coventry Airport, 20 May 2000

WK163, Bruntingthorpe
Refueling at Bruntingthorpe
(Photo : Dave Jackson - Flightline Photographic
WK163 - Coventry
At Coventry, 2001
(Photo : Dave Jackson - Flightline Photographic )
WK163 Bruntingthorpe
Geoff Burns [Nav] getting ready for next flight.
(Photo : Dave Jackson - Flightline Photographic )
WK163 - Halton
Fine study of WK163 at a Greenham Common Open Day.
Note no "Altitude Record Text" on the fuselage
(Photo : Michael J Hall)