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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

B-57C Canberra

Manufacturer's Model 272

Weapon System 307A

Previous Model Series B 57B

Rear cockpit flight controls and instruments were the only new features of the B-57C.

Development of a dual control B-57B was spurred by an Air Training Command request in February 1953. In the ensuing months, TAC also insisted that a new trainer was needed to replace the T-33. Even the most seasoned pilots, TAC argued, needed to learn how to handle multi-engine jet bombers skillfully.

Reduction of the B-57B program in favor of production of a dual control version of the aircraft was officially approved in April 1954. At first, 34 B-57Bs on the fiscal year 1953 program were to be modified on the production line, but this number was almost immediately raised to 38. The modification, consisting mostly of installing government furnished equipment in the aircraft's rear cockpit, was expected to cost less than $50,000 per aircraft. Although low cost was a factor, the Air Staffs decision stemmed primarily from Martin's assurance that the B-57B could be brought to the dual control configuration without compromising its combat performance. In other words, no extra B-57Bs would be needed to replace those converted into trainers since the latter could still be used as bombers.

Purchase of an additional 26 dual control B-57s was included in the fiscal year 1955 program, in connection with the production of another B-57 type. In August 1954, however, the 26 aircraft order was canceled and the dual control planes, formerly known as TB-57Bs, were redesignated B-57Cs.

The November inspection of the first B-57B modified for dual control revealed no discrepancies.

The B-57C made its first flight on 30 December 1954 and its second one on 3 January 1955. The Martin pilots who flight tested the plane were impressed by its performance and pointed out that they encountered no handling difficulties.

The B-57C entered operational service in 1955. Four B-57Cs, purchased to take care of attrition, were initially allocated to Air Raining Command to support the B-57B transition training program. All other B-57Cs immediately went to tactical units. In fact, in the United States or overseas, 2 out of every 18 aircraft in a B/RB-57 squadron were B-57Cs.

Being practically identical, the B-57Bs and B-57Cs shared the same operational problems. Hence, most B-57B modifications were applied to the B-57Cs.

Delivery of 1 last B-57C in May 1956 marked the end of the dual control production line modification.

A total of 38 B-57Cs were accepted.

The Air Force accepted 18 B-57Cs in FY 55, and 20 in FY 56.

The Flyaway Cost Per Production Aircraft was $1.21 million-Airframe, $916,279; engines (installed), $144,523; electronics, $46,128; ordnance, $20,340; armament and others, $84,685.

Phaseout of the small B-57C contingent followed the B-57B's pattern. Like the B-57Bs of the Tactical Air Command, most B-57Cs were brought up to the reconnaissance configuration in 1958, when they began reaching the Air National Guard. Three RB-57Cs were still listed on the Guard inventory in mid 1973.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:35:14 ZULU