No 31 Squadron
Die Staffel (Spitzname "Goldstars") wurde am 1. März 1955 auf RAF Laarbruch wieder aufgestellt, ausgerüstet mit der Canberra PR7. Auch die Trainerversion Canberra T4 war vorhanden.
Staffelkommandeur: Sqn Ldr J.S. Stead DFC
Motto: Erster am Indischen Himmel
Badge: Ein fünfzackiger Stern vor einem Lorbeerkranz - genehmigt von King George VI im Juni 1937.
English Electric Canberra PR7
No 31 (PR) Squadron has been equipped with the Canberra PR7 for exactly 16 years, having formed at Laarbruch with the aircraft on 1 March 1955, when the Squadron reformed in the photographic reconnaissance role with Canberra PR7s.
WH773 - erste PR7 (auch 80 Sqn)
Commanding Officers whilst at RAF Laarbruch
Anmerkungen zur PR7 von Alan "Chunky" Harrison, 31 Sqn Navigator:
The PR7 was 14 inches longer than a B6 in order to accommodate the forward camera bay. Also, half of the bomb bay was converted to a 4000lb fuel tank. The shortened bomb bay was modified to take flares for night time photography. It also made a very useful luggage compartment. This can be seen in the Gibraltar photo. In fact, with wing tip tanks the aircraft was a flying fuel tank carrying 27,000lbs of fuel in a 25,000lb airframe. With this fuel we had a range of over 3,000nm and could reach heights in excess of 50,000ft. The cameras we used were the F95, F52 and F49 and F97 – all had been designed during WWII and produced during or shortly thereafter. The F95 was our primary camera for low level. Two were carried each side at different angles to give maximum lateral coverage. One 4 inch and one 8 inch each side. They could be operated at 4 or 8 frames a second onto 70mm film. The idea was to get 60% overlap on adjacent frames so that we could obtain stereo on the bench. Magazines carried either 500 or 1000 frames. This was an extremely reliable camera. In 12 years, and 3000 hours flying, I only had one failure.
The F52 was a medium to high level camera which could be fitted with 20in or 36in lenses when we carried 2 in the front camera bay. We could also carry a single F52 with a 48in lenses at an oblique angle across the bay. The format was 8½in by 7in.
The F49 was carried in the rear camera bay. It had a 6in lens onto 9in film and was used for survey work.
Last, but not least, was the F97. This was designed to work with photoflash cartridges at night. About 150 1.75in Flares were housed in the flare bay and were ejected in a stream to explode behind the aircraft when we were at about 500ft.
A few points on performance.
The Service Ceiling of the Canberra is stated as being 48,000 ft. This is usually defined as being the height at which the rate of climb falls to 1000ft per minute. It is not the absolute ceiling. Hence, our ability to undertake tasks above 50000 ft. Above 50000ft it tends to get quiet (little air to transmit sound) and the sky starts to get dark blue. Our pressurisation was half the height plus 2. Hence, at 50000 ft the cockpit pressure was 27000 ft.
The RAF limited our speed to 480 kts at low level. This was probably to conserve airframe life as the aircraft had been designed for high level. This was not a physical limit. If I remember correctly the manufacturers manual gave 540 kts and I certainly went to 530 kts easily.
Am 31. März 1971 wurde die 31. Squadron als letzte voll mit Canberra ausgestatteten RAF-Staffeln auf Laarbruch aufgelöst. Nach 16 Jahren auf Laarbruch wurde die Staffel im April 1971 auf RAF Brüggen mit McDonnell Phantom FGR2 wieder aufgestellt.
This was the last Royal Air Force Squadron to be fully equipped with Canberra PR7.
After sixteen years at RAF Laarbruch, the Squadron disbanded but the new 31 was to be formed at the Phantom OCU in England and was going to move to RAF Bruggen with the Phantom FGR2 in April 1971.
Bilder Nr 1, 2, 11 und 12 zur Verfügung gestellt von Alan "Chunky" Harrison (re):
"Royal Flush was an annual NATO Recce Competition for all the 2ATAF and 4ATAF recce squadrons plus some visitors.
In 1967 we took part in the day-night part which the squadron won.
An American crew won the individual trophy with Mike Bell, my pilot (m), and I coming second.
As a result, we represented the Squadron at the results ceremony at RNeAF Base Twenthe and were presented to Prince Bernhard (l)."
SQUADRON EXCHANGES - 31 SQN. - CANBERRA PR.7 PERIOD
(zusammengestellt von / compiled by Luca Araniti / Italy)