Back in November 2020, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand‘s Trust Board signed an agreement with the NZ Warbirds Association Inc. at Ardmore, for the loan of ex-RAF English Electric Canberra B(I)8 WT346. Part of this agreement involves this aircraft’s sympathetic restoration to static display condition; once restored, ownership should officially transfer to NZ Warbirds.
The RNZAF Museum Trust Board purchased WT346 from a British scrap dealer in 1993 and shipped the historic aircraft to New Zealand, effectively saving her from certain destruction. The intention at the time was to use the nose, or possibly the complete airframe, in some way to represent a RNZAF B(1)12 variant. However, a later policy review prioritized projects with actual RNZAF provenance in line with the Museum’s mission, coupled with the fact that a Canberra was already on display at the Museum, meant that any effort directed towards the ex-RAF Canberra would be a low priority.
Gavin Trethewey, Convenor of the NZ Warbirds Canberra Support Group, stated: “As a former RNZAF Canberra pilot, the fact that New Zealand Warbirds are now able to preserve what is considered to be a very rare aircraft is gratifying. It fits ideally with Warbirds’ overall aim to protect the heritage of former service aircraft, particularly those associated with the RNZAF. We’re also grateful that funding for relocation and initial restoration has been readily offered by former Canberra crew and Warbirds members. Offers of both volunteer and professional assistance means we can make a start on restoration almost immediately to meet our 2 to 3 year completion goal.”