Restoring Canberra B6 Mod WJ775

B.6 - WJ775

One of four modified B.6 Canberras. This modified B.6 was first delivered to 192 Sqd at RAF Watton and was then moved to 51 Sqd at RAF Wyton. Both these squadrons were "wiggly amps" or "Secret Squirrels". However, WJ775 eventually ended its ECM career and was transferred to Central Servicing Development Establishment (1974) subsequently becoming ground instructional airframe number 8581M in 1977. In 1993 she went to Bodney Camp and used as a passive target.

Electronic intelligence - technical and intelligence information derived from foreign non-communications electromagnetic radiations emanating from other than nuclear detonations or radioactive sources

51 Squadron was the RAF's most secret unit, dedicated to gathering electronic intelligence. Closely allied to GCHQ (communications 'eavesdropping' agency, Britain's version of the NSA)


Where did it all begin?

World War 2 was to be the first electronic battlefield. Before the war both the British and the German were secretly pioneering the use of radio waves to spot approaching objects, often many miles away. British had developed the cavity magnetron amplifier and realised its potential application as the 'radio-detection and ranging device' know for short as radar.

Another aspect of the electronic battlefield was its use in navigation. In the summer of 1940 the Germans introduced a radio-aided navigational device, known as Knickebein (knock-Knees), to improve night bombing accuracy. The British strategy to counter it started the 'Battle of the Beams'. The British developed radar countermeasures. 'Window' for instance, was thousands of thin strips of aluminium dropped from aircraft in the bomber stream. These produced multiple echoes on the German radar screens and misled and confused the radar operators as to the true strength, route and target of the attacking force. The attacking night fighters would fail to find their targets and run low on fuel, by the time they had refuelled and got airborne again, the bombers had long gone out of range. The Germans replied with night-fighter equipped with SN-2 airborne radar. SN-2 had, for some time, a frightening impact on the air battle over Germany. The Berlin radar design was primarily based on what became known the "Rotterdam apparatus". Which actually was the British H2S radar equipment discovered in a crashed Stirling bomber aircraft in the vicinity of Rotterdam, early February 1943. The allies began to indentify the characteristics of the different types of German radar: The Freya early warning radar, the Wurzburg ground controlled intercept radar and the Gema coastal surveillance radar.

No 1474 Flight was set up in 1942, a special top secret RAF unit dedicated to investigating German radar patterns and wavelengths. This was the first RAF electronic intelligence (ELINT) unit equipped with converted Wellington bombers with special receivers. 1474 flight was redesignated No 192 Squadron on the 4th of January 1943, it also absorbed No 1483 Flight, a unit with similar role, on 27th January 1944. In 1944 experts were convinced that radio signals were directing the V-2 rockets. 192 Squadron spent fruitless hours attempt to discover the correct frequency. Finally they discovered that the signals did not exist. The V-2s were guided by an inertial system.

The first American ELINT mission was flown by a modified B-24S on the 6th of March 1943 to collect data on Japanese radar on Kiska Island in the Aleutians, the Flight was codenamed 'Ferret 1'. Between May and September 1943 'ferrets' flew 184 sorties in the Mediterranean sector and discovered 450 enemy radar sites. The 16th Reconnaissance Squadron tested the new RC-156 jammer that worked against gun-laying radar. By the end of World War 2, aerial reconnaissance had become vital for strategic warfare and had become a highly technical profession.



B6 Mod
RC at RAF Wyton


The RAF has always been tight-lipped about No 51 Squadron's role, and the results it obtained. US sources suggest that the squadron was always held in very high regard, and was accorded great respect by the UASF's own RB-47, and later RC-135 Elint gathers. Rumours suggest that No 51's Canberras and Comets were responsible for recording and identifying many new Soviet radar systems
During operational missions 'Blue Shadow' SLAR was used for providing a radar map to fix position before descending to low level to run in towards a 'target'. A typical sortie might involve a high level run in towards Denmark, fixing position with the SLAR before descending as if to land in Sweden, following a normal airway. In fact the Canberra would then descend to low level over the Baltic, masked by the island of Bronholm. eavesdropping on signals and radar transmissions and sometimes 'popping up' to provoke a response from Soviet air defence radars.

WJ775 at Swanton Morley 17th April 1993, Picture was taken by W J Taylor


Below is what we found when we got to WJ775, the last survivor of the B6 Mod's

Feb 2009 Bodney Camp


The only part worth saving was the cockpit


Pilots cockpit (not much left)


Navigators compartment

Matt Buddle inside the cockpit, just about to be lifted


She is in abit of a mess underneath due to the airframe being dragged about.


On to the Trailor she goes, on the move to RAF Upwood.


Arrived at Upwood and looking at the damage.


L to R, Sean Edwards and Matt buddle.


More pictures and information to come.


If anyone has any information or pictures of the 4 Canberra B6 mods.
Please email me at:


2 Years later and its getting there, see pictures below


click here for more pictures of the restoration