General Dynamics WB-57F Canberra side view detail (S/N 63-13294). Originally, aircraft was B-57B, S/N 53-3935, of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. Photo taken May 17, 1969. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The WB-57F was essentially just a redesignation of the RB-57F to reflect the primary mission of the aircraft. Most of the RB-57Fs were assigned to the Air Weather Service (primarily to the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing) and conducted air sampling missions at high altitude. The aircraft were also used for sampling radioactive fallout after above ground nuclear tests conducted by other countries. Finally, the aircraft were used for traditional weather reconnaissance missions like storm tracking and were capable of doing standard photo reconnaissance missions using any of a number of different cameras including large cameras housed in pods and mounted on one of the wing's four hard points.
Like the RB-57D, the F model was phased out of service in a relatively short time. The last USAF RB-57F was retired in 1974; however, three aircraft were transferred to NASA for use as high-altitude research platforms. The aircraft were used in the Earth Resources technology program. Later, two NASA aircraft were transferred again. The first went to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the other to the Department of Energy.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: None (although the bomb bay could be converted to carry bombs if necessary) Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-11 turbofans of 16,000 lbs. static thrust each, plus two (removable) Pratt & Whitney J60-P-9 turbojets of 3,300 lbs. static thrust each Maximum speed: 550 mph / 475 knots Range: 4,000 miles / 3475 nautical miles Service ceiling: 82,000 ft. Span: 122 ft. 5 in. Length: 68 ft. 10 in. Height: 19 ft. 0 in. Crew: Two (pilot and navigator-observer) Serial numbers (RB-57F): 63-13286 to 63-13302; 63-13500 to 63-13503