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rickshaw

BAC Canberra MR.24 “Rudra”

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BAC Canberra MR.24 “Rudra”

 

After the Sandys White Paper in 1957, English-Electric, the company that had designed and built the Canberra was fated to merge with Bristol Aeroplane Company and Vickers-Armstrong to form the British Aircraft Corporation. At the same time, there was the ill-fated decision to end manned bomber and fighter development. There was also a draw down of the RAF. Many squadrons were to be disbanded and of course, their aircraft scrapped.

 

The Canberra production line was to be kept open for a while longer though, as orders both domestically and overseas for this versatile medium bomber continued. Many nations were also supplied with refurbished Canberras, as well as new built ones. BAC foresaw that there would be a large demand for spares for some time to come. So, the corporation decided to purchase back from the MoD many of the retired Canberra airframes and all their associated equipment.

 

This left BAC with a problem though. While the aircraft had been comparatively cheap, once they were stripped of valuable components, there was a still a large quantity of capital tied up in the airframes for which they could only realise as scrap. Idling at his desk one day, a junior designer was daydreaming when it suddenly hit him. BAC could build a new, different version of the Canberra, using the derelict airframes! Casting his eye around, it alit upon a copy of Flight that he'd just been reading. He grabbed it and found the editorial which talked about the upcoming Indian plan for a new Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft, to replace the Indian Air Force's ragtag collection of old WWII Liberators and converted civilian Lockheed Constellation passenger aircraft. It was expected that it would be a contest between the new P-3 Orion, Hawker Siddeley Nimrod or the Breguet Atlantic. Grabbing a pad, he quickly sketched a Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft, utilising Canberra components. Realising that the thirsty turbo-jet engines would prevent it from having adequate range, he replaced them with a pair of turbo-props. In order to provide an adequate search radar, a radome was attacked to the rear fuselage. The nose and rear of the fuselage was extended considerably to provide room for more fuel and crew. Taking his rough sketches to his superior he spoke eloquently about his idea and showed him the sketches.

 

His superior, intrigued by the idea and realising the utility of utilising a combination of remanufactured and new components, took his subordinate to see the Chief Designer, Sir Frederick Page. Page listened to the proposal and said, that the young man was to be given time to develop it. He had to report back in 4 weeks with a serious proposal. What he came up with was to become the Canberra MR.24 “Rudra”. “Rudra” was the Hindu god of wind or storm and the hunt. The proposal was squarely aimed at the Indian need for a new Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft. Powered by two Rolls Royce Tyne Turbo-props, with an extensive extension to the fuselage both fore and aft of the wings and a large extension to the wingspan. There was also intended to be a large ventral radome and a MAD boom and other sensors to allow it to detect submarines.

 

Page decided on his own authority to authorise the construction of an aerodynamic prototype as a “proof of concept”. A B.6 with relatively low hours was chosen. Extra fuselage frames were inserted and the tips of the wings extended. A new undercarriage was designed, based on existing designs for the HP Herald, to ensure adequate clearance for the propellers and the radome on rotation. Flown with the “trade plate” registration of G-RUDR it was painted in the standard MR scheme of the day, white upper fuselage and grey lower and wings. The Tyne nacelles were also finished in white. A black anti-glare panel in front of the canopy completed the scheme.

 

G-RUDR was taxied in October 1963 but it was quickly realised that there was insufficient fin area to control the aircraft with its huge turbo-props. So a triple tail was quickly designed, again utilising existing Canberra components, in this case the wing tips which had been discarded when they were extended. Later that month, it successfully undertook its first test flight. During the 1964 SBAC Show at Farnborough it was demonstrated before a large crowd, including a visiting delegation from the Indian Air Force.

 

In late 1964, G-RUDR was flown to India at the request of the Indian Air Force who were intrigued by the possibilities that it presented. They extensively tested it over the Indian ocean and around the Indian coastline. However, on the flight home the aircraft suffered an unexpected structural failure when landing back in the UK. It broke its back and the subsequent investigation showed that the resonance from the large propellers had caused structural fatigue with the subsequent failure of the fuselage extension, behind the cockpit. G-RUDR was broken up and the project terminated when the expected orders from India did not materialise. India in the end ordered Russian Il-38 “May”, receiving them finally in 1977, the B-24s having soldiered on until 1974.

 

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The Model

 

The model is a mix of two Canberra kits.  An old Novo B(I)8 and a High Planes B.6.   The Novo kit supplied the tail planes and the inner wing extensions (the roots are twice as wide as a normal Canberra).  The High Planes kit supplied the wingtip extensions (its tail planes) and the extra fins (the wing tips which were removed for the extensions, plus a bit of plasticard).  The radome came from a Falcon vacuform for the Skyraider.  The engine nacelles came from a Revell Atlantic kit. 

 

Unfortunately somewhere along the way, one of the nacelle fronts got lost and I contacted Revell for a replacement which they sent but it took far too long to arrive. In my impatience I scratchbuilt a replacement.  Of course, the replacement arrived the day after I'd finished and had started painting it.   I actually think it looks better than the original and its very hard to tell the difference at a distance.  If I had it over, I'd do the same to both sides.   Apart from that there were two big wooden dowel extensions, fore and aft of the wing, a plastic tube MAD boom, scratchbuilt undercart with wheels from a Victor resin set and of course a LOT of PSR. 

Edited by rickshaw

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Now that is quite bonkers. I raise my hat to you.

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Definitely interesting 👍... my thoughts if i may. Id have reversed the Radome and the weapons bay. The placement of your radome would add a unique vibration and drag on the Tail section. Also in any hard landing it might drag on the ground. Both Possibly causing a failure. Otherwise a very interesting and in some ways elegant design. 

Edited by Corsairfoxfouruncle

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I tell you what...this is not a what if...it's a possible...an ideal small maritime patrol aircraft, ideal for small countries such as Ireland, Iceland or areas such as West Indies

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9 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Definitely interesting 👍... my thoughts if i may. Id have reversed the Radome and the weapons bay. The placement of your radome would add a unique vibration and drag on the Tail section. Also in any hard landing it might drag on the ground. Both Possibly causing a failure. Otherwise a very interesting and in some ways elegant design. 

In aerodynamics you want to carry the heaviest items as close to the CofG as possible.  that means that fuel and weapons tend to placed directly under the wing in most straight wing designs.  That way, as they decrease, they create the least disturbance to the way in which the aircraft behaves.   The radome is a given weight and it will always been the same.   As it is almost purely just the scanner, if it is damaged it can be easily replaced.   I put it there because I know that the tail of an ordinary Canberra is basically empty.   It balances the increased length of nose as well.

Edited by rickshaw

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I think it`s great. Very late 50`s in design to my mind.

 

:yes:

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