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Awaiting Resurrection
Camera: Nikon E4600 P&S Photo Location: Pima Air Museum 
Posted By: usn ret, 11-01-2011, 11:59 PM

This sad looking flying machine is only a shadow of its former glory. The fine folks at the Pima Air Museum are currently restoring the RB57-F Canberra pictured here. Outer wing sections, engines, nose cone and canopy are removed. I am sure this was a majestic bird in flight. Fortunately the smelter was not its fate. Last flown by NASA. Perhaps a former Air Force member can provide additional info about the RB57-F before it was turned over to NASA...Cliff

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Last edited by usn ret; 11-02-2011 at 12:33 AM.
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11-02-2011, 10:02 AM   #2
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No connections to this aircraft, but here's some info on the ol' bird from a NASA page at http://jsc-aircraft-ops.jsc.nasa.gov/wb57/history.html:

Throughout the lifespan of the B-57, there were several variations of the aircraft, ranging from an "A" model to an "F" model. The B-57 also had two prefixes, an "R" designating it a reconnaissance plane, and a "W" designation for weather. A total of 21 "F" models were constructed by modifying existing B-57s. However, only the fuselage, landing gear, and horizontal tail were kept from the original aircraft.

The primary user of the WB-57F was the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Kirtland AFB, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who received their first aircraft in 1964. These Canberras were deployed throughout the world where there was suspected atmospheric testing of nuclear devices to sample the upper atmosphere for nuclear debris.

Due to a poor material selection, the long wings of the WB-57Fs started showing stress corrosion cracks after a few short years of service. It was decided to replace the wing spar and ribs with a different type of aluminum, but it was not financially feasible to replace the entire fleet, and nine planes were sent to storage. Shortly thereafter, the 58th WRS deactivated their remaining planes in 1974, ending a long era of the Canberras military service.

However, shortly before this in 1968, NASA had contracted with the Air Force to operate an RB-57F, which flew many research missions as part of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite program. In 1972, the Air Force thought the expense was too high, and transferred the plane to NASA. This aircraft was re-numbered NASA 925. This plane operated until 1982, when it was retired. It currently resides in the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

When the 58th WRS high altitude program was cut in 1974, they also transferred NASA 926 to Houston. While this plane was out of service for some time due to budget considerations, it is still flying missions today, operating out of Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. More recently, NASA acquired another WB-57F, numbered NASA 928.

NASA 926 and NASA 928 are the only two WB-57s still flying in the world today.


And at Martin RB-57D/F, there's a bit more info:

...
Meanwhile NASA needed an aircraft capable of operating at high altitude whilst carrying a large payload to support the Earth Resources Satellite Programme and three WB-57F aircraft were eventually transferred to NASA in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The three aircraft were designated NASA 925 (ex 63-13501), NASA 926 (ex 63-13503) and NASA 928 (ex 63-13298). For NASA operations the aircraft often carry a 6,000lb data-gathering sensor pallet in the 3ft x 6ft former bomb-bay underneath the centre fuselage and as fuel burns off the aircraft are capable of reaching 70,000ft, consequently, when operating at extreme altitude both the pilot and System Equipment Operator (SEO) wear full pressure suits.

Currently only two of the original three WB-57F aircraft remain in service, NASA 926 and NASA 928, - NASA 925 was returned to MASDC at Davis-Monthan in Sep 1982 and is now displayed a the adjacent Pima County Air Museum. The remaining two aircraft have been kept busy conducting a variety of civil tasks worldwide, particularly using the Airborne Remote Earth Sensing (ARES) instrument, a combined hyperspectral imager/radiometer with a two dimensional focal plane array, in addition to a variety of cameras. The aircraft operate out of Ellington Field, Houston in Texas and recently were equipped with a special high-definition camera and other sensors in a specially adapted gimbal-mounted ball turret mounted in the nose, known as the WB-57F Ascent Video Experiment (WAVE) to track and video Space Shuttle launches and recoveries from high altitude.
...

The 63-13501 would normally indicate the aircraft was built (or re-built...) in 1963, numbered 13501. so she had a good lifetime.

Jim
11-02-2011, 10:56 AM   #3
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Jim, Thanks for the additional info....Cliff
11-02-2011, 11:16 AM   #4
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nice to see this faithful servant undergoing renovation... assume it will be a static display.... dave m

11-02-2011, 04:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for posting this, Cliff - I don't recall ever seeing a B-57 in any of its variations although that may be due to aging brain cells. I've visited the fabulous Air Force Museum in Dayton several times, and I'd be surprised if it didn't contain at least one example.

Jer
11-02-2011, 06:04 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sailor Quote
Thanks for posting this, Cliff - I don't recall ever seeing a B-57 in any of its variations although that may be due to aging brain cells. I've visited the fabulous Air Force Museum in Dayton several times, and I'd be surprised if it didn't contain at least one example.

Jer
I visited Wright=Patterson in 1974 while attend an AF maintenance training session. The museum was something then. I can only imagine how much more they have on display now. thanks for looking. Cliff
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