B(I)8/B.2/6 - WT327
WT327 - front
WT327 (Photo : Damien Burke)
WT327 - Kemble
Arriving at Kemble (Photo : Glen Moreman)

Built in 1955 as a B(I)8 airframe, this Canberra did not see military service with the RAF. In the year it was built it was delivered to Boulton Paul's works at Seighford where AI Mk23 radar was installed. It flew trials with this radar whilst the system was under development for use in the TSR.2.

In 1956, WT327 was transferred to Ferranti's charge, at Turnhouse, for further development and flight trials. It stayed with Ferranti for eight years before returning to BP Seighford in 1963 where an FLR system was installed for development for the TSR.2. This was a Forward Looking Radar system according to a Mr Glen Surtees who is an ex-PR Manager for BAe (Edinburgh). A year later in 1964, WT327 was back with Ferranti again. In 1966, it was transferred to Radar Research Establishment, Pershore, for research and flight trials with Synthetic Aperture Radar

WT327 underwent a radical change to its appearance in 1969 when the B(I)8 nose was removed to be replaced by a B.2 nose from WK135. This itself was replaced in 1971 with the nose from WK163 which incorporated a Laser Ranger and Marked Target Seeker system (LRMTS). Five years of flight trials and development with this system were ended when WT327 was moved to A&AEE in 1976 and finally to RAE Bedford (Thurleigh) in 1977.

Delta Jets of Kemble were contracted to make WT327 ready for a ferry flight to Kemble and then to do the relevant work to enable the aircraft to depart for the USA. WT327 (G-BXMO) arrived in October 1997 and needed much less work than XH567 to get ready, so work commenced immediately. While all this was going on Delta Jets gained CAA approval to add the Canberra to their exposition, which added another string to their bow.

After completion of the work on WT327, Delta Jets obtained the necessary paperwork from the CAA and the Canberra departed Kemble for the USA on Saturday 6th December 1997. This was the first Canberra ever to be ferried across the Atlantic on the British civil register. After its departure and after the break over Christmas, Delta Jets returned to re-commence work on XH567.

Currently, WT327 is still owned byAir Platforms Inc in Lakeport in California. This company hires out this, and their other Canberra XH567, for upper atmosphere work above 50,000 feet.

AirPlatforms Canberras
AirPlatform's two Canberras at the NASA Ames Research Centre
XH567 on the left, WT327 on the right (Photo : Ross Falconer, Program Manager)

I find it heartening to know that this 46 year old Canberra is still in commercial service and, by all accounts, still capable of doing the job efficiently.

On a personal note, it was this photo by Damien Burke that re-awakened my interest in the Canberra. I had worked on Canberras, (B(I)8s, T.4s, PR.9s, T.17s) in the 60s/70s when I was in the RAF and when Damien initially posted this photo as a B(I)8 Canberra on his excellent Thunder & Lightnings Web site, I mailed him to say that it wasn't a B(I)8. From those discussions my memory was stirred . . . . resulting in this "Tribute" Web site. [ I've since found out that WT327 was subject to a "nose job" - as were several Canberras! Just proves the verstility of this fine aircraft. ]