RB-57A Canberra …..  Fast Facts  


  • The B-57 Canberra was a tactical bomber built by Glen L Martin Company for the US Air Force at the Middle River, Maryland plant. 

  • In 1951 the Air Force held a completion for a jet powered interdiction bomber with full all-weather capability. Aircraft from five companies competed, including the Martin XB-51 and the English Electric Canberra B2.  To attend the competition, the Canberra made a record breaking flight across the Atlantic Ocean, without refueling, in only four hours and forty minutes. 

  • The Canberra won the competition but the contract to manufacture the bomber was eventually awarded to Martin.

  • The resulting bomber was designated the B-57 Canberra.  It was the only US war plane based on a foreign design, since World War I.

  • To expedite production the first models, the B-57As, were identical to the Canberra B2, with the exception of the more powerful Wright J65 engines, the crew reduction of 3 to 2, the addition of wingtip fuel tanks and the conventional “clamshell” bomb bay doors were replaced with low-drag rotating door originally designed for the XB-51.

  • The RB-57A (Martin Model 272A) was a reconnaissance version of the B-57A bomber.

  • The B-57 became the enduring workhorse among combat aircraft. The basic airframe design of the B-57 was in continuous service for over 30 years. It remained, for years the only jet tactical bomber in the USAF.

  • The first production aircraft flew on July 20, 1953 and a total of 403 planes were produced between 1953 and 1957.

  • During the Vietnam War Canberras were used in a variety of roles including photo-reconnaissance, night intruder missions and bombing of North Vietnam.  But U.S. B-57 Canberras were primarily used for dive bombing and strafing, with the early models mounting eight .50 caliber machine guns. Later models mounted four 20mm cannons, for strafing. These weapons combined with their bomb loads, and four hours of flight time made them excellent ground support aircraft, as well as exceptional truck killers along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

  • A total of 58 B-57 Canberras were lost during the Vietnam War; of these, 31 were lost to enemy fire, 4 were lost to mid-air collisions, 10 were lost to an airfield accidental bomb explosion, 7 were lost to operational causes, and 6 were lost due to unknown causes.

  • The museum’s RB-57As  were brought  from Aberdeen Proving Ground by Chinook helicopter in May 1992, before the museum was open to the public.. 52-1446 served in Japan from 1958-63 and is in itsT Air National Guard livery.  52-1467, painted in the original factory black, served in Germany from 1955-58. ,They both finished their careers with the Kansas Air National Guard in 1971.

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Middle River, MD 21220-0024



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Martin State Airport

701 Wilson Pt. Road, Suite 531

Middle River,  MD 21220

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