B(I)8 - WT346
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Wigram01
WT346 at Wigram, Feb 2001 (Photo : Bill Smiley)
Wigram02
The cockpit area covered in preservative (Photo : Bill Smiley)
Wigram03
Fin and tailplane removed (Photo : Bill Smiley)
Wigram04
Wings, engines and tip tanks (Photo : Bill Smiley)

Built in 1955, WT346 was delivered to the newly formed 88 Sqd (RAFG Wildenrath) in 1956. It flew with 88 for a number of years before being loaned to the Ministry of Aircraft for use by A&AEE in Electromagnetic Compatibility tests. These lasted just two months then WH346 was returned to 88 Sqd at Wildenrath. A larger photo of this B(I)8 in 88 Sqd marks is here.

This B(I)8 became a 14 Sqd aircraft when 88 Sqd was disbanded and re-numbered as 14 Sqd at RAFG Wildenrath in December 1962. WT346 was later transferred to 3 Sqd at RAFG Geilenkirchen and then again to 16 Sqd at RAFG Laarbruch. The photos below show it in 16 Sqd colours - note the faint skeletal "Saint" figure on the fin, complete with halo, and the yellow-edged black band around the fuselage. When 16 Sqd lost its Canberras in 1972, WH346 was allocated the "Ground" number of 8197M and struck off RAF charge.

It was moved to the Museum at RAF Colerne in June 1972 where it stayed until being moved to the RAF Cosford Aerospace Museum in 1976. The Museum's photo was taken during its time at Cosford. Eventually it was sold-off to a London scrap dealer. However, the RNZAF Muesum at Christcurch, NZ, were looking for a B(I)8 at that time and managed to secure it. The aircraft was dismantled and shipped to NZ in April 1993 and is currently in store at their Museum.

Phillip Treweek, of Hamilton, New Zealand, reports that WT346 is in "deep" storage at Weedons so it is anybody's guess if it will be fully restored at any time in the near future. Weedons is an old RNZAF property outside Christchurch which is rumoured to be closing! Maybe somebody in the UK could work out a way to get this B(I)8 back home? The Canberra Association? It would make a fine addition to the Newark Air Museum.

In February 2001, Bill Smiley, and ex-RNZAF B(I)12 pilot, visited this B(I)8 at the RNZAF Museum and took a series of pictures for this web site. These latest pictures [see above] show WT346 still in a dismantled condition and almost hidden in the Museum's hangar. Bill reports that although it is mostly covered in a rubberised preservative, he managed to get inside and found it in a remarkably good state with most of the instruments still in position. As he used to fly B(I)12's with the RNZAF, he was surprised at just how complete the interior was. He said it brought back fond memories of powering through the skies over Malaya. Bill had his camera inside with him and the results can be seen here. Thanks Bill.


WT346 Colerne
WT346 at RAF Colerne (Photo : Graham Salt)
WT346 Wildenrath
WT346 being placed for an open day in 1957/58 at RAF Wildenrath. Note the shadow of the PR.7 that's taking the picture. (Photo : Alan (Lofty) Hills)
WT346 - side
WT346 at RAF Cosford(Photo : Via RNZAF Museum)
WT346 - Colerne
WT346 at RAF Colerene.(Photo : Mr T Pelletier via Aldoph Alfronza)