CANBERRAS over the Canal

Andrew Thomas describes the Canberra’s operational debut in the skies over Egypt


Line-up of Canberra B.6s of 101 Squadron at Hal Far.

President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal Company in July 1956, perhaps hoping that the main shareholders, Britain and France, would accept the situation. While hoping for a resolution of the crisis, the British and the French initiated the planning of a combined military intervention: respectively codenamed Operation Musketeer and Opération Mousquetaire.

With a large force of twin-engined English Electric Canberras and a growing number of the new fourengined Vickers Valiants, the RAF was to provide the bomber force. As the plans developed it was intended that the longer range Canberra B.6s would be based in Malta, with the shorter legged B.2s concentrated in Cyprus.

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