E.E. Canberra WT531

Sron Gharbh, Caithness, Highland













Aircraft Type Photos


BELOW: An RAF English Electric Canberra bomber  / photo-reconnaissance aircraft at the classic Kemble Air Show, Gloucestershire, England in 2003.


a canberra bomber


Photo: 2003 Adrian Pingstone ('Arpingstone'). Released by the author to the public domain.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF English Electric Canberra PR7 / WT531


(PR7: Photo Reconnaissance Mark 7)



Aircraft manufacturer: Handley Page Ltd.


Other manufacturers of this type:



(Like Handley Page, both Avro and Shorts were subcontracted by English Electric to help cope with demand);

BAC (subcontractor to English Electric following liquidation or merger of the earlier manufacturers);

Martin B-57 Canberra (US Type built under licence.)


Aircraft Type Nickname: "Cranberry"; Caterpillar", and others.



Built as a successor to the de Havilland Mosquito, the English Electric Canberra became one of the RAF's longest serving aircraft. Used initially as a high-altitude jet bomber, the Canberra was put into service latterly as a photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Between its two roles, the type served with the RAF for over 50 years.


As it was designed to fly high and fast, the Canberra did not carry any defensive armaments. However, as a bomber, the aircraft could carry 6,000lbs of bombs internally plus under-wing gun pods or another 1,000 of bombs externally.


The modified B.2 variant of the Canberra first flew in 1950.


Many of these Canberras served with the RAF in Malaya,  and Egypt during the Suez Crisis. Martin B-57 Canberras served with the USAF in Vietnam. Canberras were also used by the RAAF in Australia against targets in Malaya and Vietnam.


Equipped with Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines, the Canberra had a maximum speed of just over 600mph, and a ceiling greater than 48,000ft.


A No. 39 (PRU) Squadron Canberra remained in service at RAF Marham until 28 July 2006, when the type was finally retired from the RAF.



BELOW: An RAAF English Electric Canberra bomber.


an english electric canberra bomber


Photo: 2007 'DJGB'. Released by the author to the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.






Aircraft Accident Details


[The following information was kindly provided by Richard Mackay, from ukserials.com


This aircraft, from 80 Squadron RAF, flew into high ground five miles NW of Berriedale, Caithness on the slopes of Scaraben (2,054ft) [Sron Gharbh], 1,000ft from the summit killing the two crew. The wreck was not discovered for two days.






Aircraft Crew Casualties


Those who died were:

  • D L Girling

  • R B Smith





Crash Site Photos


NOTE: Much of the wreckage at this site is highly fragmented. Therefore, it is difficult to identify individual sections or components.



BELOW: A collection of assorted wreckage from the Canberra on Sron Gharbh, including what appears to be part of a wing spar.


collection of assorted wreckage from the canberra photo reconnaissance aircraft


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Closer view of detached or fragmented parts from Canberra WT531.


closer view of fragmented parts


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Aluminium (aluminum) skinning from the Canberra's airframe.


aluminium skinning from the canberra's airframe


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Wing spar section and other wreckage.


wing spar section and other wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel





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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 2 Feb 1966


Accident Site:

Sron Gharbh by Scaraben (626m / 2054ft)


Nearest main road: A9.


Region: Highland (Caithness)


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large town:

Helmsdale (SW) (A9)


OS Grid Refs: N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Crater still visible. May still be some  fragmented wreckage only.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: WT531


Operator: RAF (80 Squadron)


Operating Station: RAF Laarbruch (German / Netherlands border)


Operating Station Location: Kleve, Dusseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany [map]


Current Station Status: RAF / military operations ceased in 1999. Civil operations began in 2003.


Current Airport Name: Airport Weeze (formerly, Airport Niederrhein.)






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