English Electric Canberra TT.18 WJ680 – First Engine Start at Temora!

The Temora Aviation Museum has just performed the first engine tests on their English Electric Canberra TT.18 WJ680. They hope to have the aircraft flying again in the near future, when it will be the only one of its kind on the airshow circuit anywhere in the world. While NASA operates three Martin WB-57 Canberras from their base in the USA, these are still earning their living, and would never be considered display aircraft. Photo via Temora Aviation Museum

As we reported HERE a few weeks ago, the Temora Aviation Museum has made great strides in returning their English Electric Canberra TT.18 to airworthy condition. The electric starters for the engines arrived recently and, following a thorough bench test, they are now installed on the airplane. Over the past couple of weeks, museum technicians have conducted a series of system evaluations, ranging from low power leak checks through full power-up tests.

A look inside Canberra TT.18 WJ680’s bomb bay. (photo via Temora Aviation Museum)

Despite the obstacles which COVID-19 has thrown at the restoration team, they have continued working on their Canberra, albeit at a slower pace. However, today the team performed the aircraft’s first engine start! Museum staff report that it went smoothly, and marks a major milestone in the history of this fine warbird as being the first ever Canberra bomber to perform an electrical engine-start! Formerly, a Coffman-starter would have been handled this process. Coffman-starters essentially fired a blank shotgun-style cartridge to kick the engines into life, which created huge gouts of black cordite smoke so characteristic of every Canberra engine start prior to this moment.

An image showing a U.S. variant of the English Electric Canberra, a Martin RB-57A, during engine start using the old-style cartridge starter. Note the voluminous black smoke spilling from the engines which always resulted from this procedure. (image via Wikipedia)

With engine-testing now in full swing, the first flight shouldn’t be too far away now. It will be a momentous achievement to see this aircraft flying again. Outside of the three heavily-modified WB-57 Canberras serving with NASA in the USA, the Temora Aviation Museum’s Canberra will be the only one of its breed flying anywhere in the world! We wish the Temora Aviation Museum well in achieving this aim, and look forwards to seeing the results in due course.

A technician working on the Canberra during its engine-testing. (photo via Temora Aviation Museum)

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