MARTIN/GENERAL DYNAMICS WB-57F "CANBERRA"
In 1955, Martin Aircraft Company developed a high-altitude version of the B-57 attack bomber to back up and later supplement the still secret U-2. In Europe and the Far East, RB-57Ds were used for high-altitude and electronic reconnaissance until grounded in 1963 due to metal fatigue in the wings. To fill the gap, a more advanced high-altitude version, the RB-57F was developed and reportedly carried a heavy payload to an altitude well over 60,000 feet. A total of 21 B-57Fs were modified by General Dynamics between 1964 and 1966. Like its predecessor, the RB/WB-57F was used to gather intelligence worldwide. In the hands of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the WB-57Fs collected air samples looking for evidence of Soviet and Chinese nuclear weapons tests. The USAF retired the last WB-57F in 1974, but two aircraft continue to fly with NASA for high-altitude research and earth resource missions.
The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center provided world-wide management of all B-57s from 1955 until 1990. The WB-57F on display was originally built as a B-57B and was converted to its current weather configuration in 1964 and served with the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico until it was retired in 1972. It came to the Museum in 1985 after remaining in desert storage at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona for 13 years.
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