· CANBERRA Mk.62 B-105

In a dark and cold night in May 1982, British troops advancing on Mount Kent, in Malvinas, was attacked by a pair of Argentina Air Force planes: they were two old twin-engine bombers, ironically, built in England in 1953. Those Canberra Mk.62 were two of the II Air Brigade, one of which was the B-105, which almost at the end of the war, made a strange mission, ending with the sinking of a tanker ship, takeoff from the Mar del Plata Air Base, where it is now preserved.


Our Canberra was built by English Electric Co., as a B.2, serial number 71165, and delivered to the Royal Air Force on February 16, 1953, with enrollment WH702 and remained in service until 1968. Acquired by the firm BAC was converted into the export version Mk.62, and delivered to the Argentina Air Force on March 20, 1971, receiving registration B-105, and being assigned to the Second Air Brigade, with base in Paraná, Entre Rios Province.
Like all Argentines Canberra, was painted as a typical camouflage in English medium gray and green for the upper surfaces and light gray for the bottom, with large Argentine rosettes in the fuselage and wings, and number and “Fuerza Aerea Argentina” white legend with a national flag on each side of the drift.
When triggered the conflict for our Malvinas, the B-105 was deployed to the south, to the Alte. Zar Air Base, Trelew, in April 13 1982, although most of the war missions were conducted via BAM Rio Gallegos, in the Province of Santa Cruz. The principal armament available to Canberra, was the Mk.17 bomb of 1000 pounds, which could put different types of fuses and smooth tail or braked by a parachute.
On April 22, the B-105 made a photo reconnaissance mission over the Malvinas, with which it was possible to identify several key points for the defense, mainly runways and piers.
During April, the B-105 was received a chaff launcher in the tail section, which would be the only "weapon" of defense against advanced missile technology of British ships and Sea Harrier.
On April 26, the B-105 participated in the first offensive mission launched by the Argentine Air Force, one of three planes attack against British ships attempting to reconquer the remote Georgias del Sur islands. However, shortly after takeoff, the B-105, manned by Major Vivas and Captain Escudero, had returned to base due to some fault in their engines. The other two Canberra continued the mission, but had to return to find very bad weather on the target.
On May 1, the B-105 (crewed by Captains Nogueira and Sanchez), and two Canberra (B-108 and B-109), conducted an antiship attack mission when were detected by British ships, which fired several anti-aircraft missiles against them, one of which hit the B-108, despite of it, 3 aircraft were able to return to continent. However, that same day, another Canberra squadron was intercepted by a patrol aircraft Sea Harrier, which toppled the B-110, killing its two crew members, First Lieutenant Gonzalez and Lieutenant De Ibanez.
These missions have shown that Canberra was not suitable for daytime highly defended ships attack, so virtually ceased to operate. With the landing of British troops in Malvinas on May 21, the Canberra were able to return to action, attacking ground targets at night. The B-105, armed with four Mk.17 bombs participated in the first of these missions, at May 26, although the null visibility on the target forced to abort the attack.
The "105" returned to the Islands on May 29, launching successfully their bombs on targets east of Puerto San Carlos, while May 31 conducted a bombing on the Royal Navy helicopter Eagle Base.
On June 4, the B-105 participated in a bombing mission at 4000 feet, near Mount Kent, manned by Captain Freij and First Lieutenant Pagano, throwing five bombs mk.17 over English troops.
Day June 6, the 105 and three Canberra, went to the military airbase in Mar del Plata, where one of the most secret and controversial war mission were performed, in an attempt to attack the British supply lines the Atlantic. After a scan performed on day 7 at sea by the Boeing 707 TC-91 and TC-92, the four Canberra takeoff at June 8, with a mission to bomb a large transport vessel, later identified as the tanker ship "Hercules", of 220,000 tons of displacement, and which yielded a total of 1000 lbs 8 pumps. One, launched by the B-105, hit the tanker, being hosted on the interior untapped.
The ship went to Rio de Janeiro, but it’s impossible to deactivate the bomb, so it was taken to sea and sunk on July 20 at night. Soon after, was painted a silhouette of a tanker on the right side of the B-105, which was quickly erased as the Argentine Air Force officially denied having made that mission.
Back to the south, the “105” returned to the usual flights over the Malvinas, making his last mission of war on the night of June 10.
As the conflict has ended, it was quite clear that Canberra had become obsolete as aircraft bombing. During 1988, the B-105 and B-109 were modified as photographic reconnaissance aircraft, becoming the main mission in Canberra until the end of his career. The B-105 was out of service in 1988 while the last two Canberra were in service until April 5, 2000.

In the middle of that year, the Air Force decided to move the B-105 to the Mar del Plata Military Air Base, where the staff did an incredible reconstruction work, which resulted in our "105" proudly care the access of the base from where departed the mission against the "Hercules", at June 8, 1982.

Technical Specifications

Length: 19.96 m.
Wingspan: 19.24 m.
Height: 5.58 m.
Empty weight: 10,069 kg.
Maximum weight: 20,865 kg.
Engines: 2 Rolls Royce Avon turbojet 101C 6500 lbs.
Maximum speed: 833 km / h
Maximum range: 4280 km.
Service ceiling: 14,600 m.
Armament: Internal load of 6000 lbs. And up to 2000 lbs. at wings supports.

Sergio Bellomo