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Author Topic: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959  (Read 2027 times)

Offline Lascaris

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2018, 08:08:27 am »
Whatever the scenario, minus for the Tornado, AFVG mostly sounds a lost cause. The engine itself, the M45, was pretty controversial. I did check the specs, it was extremely small and compact (close enough from a M-88 or EJ-200 !), but somewhat lacked thrust.

While the Mirage IV* was proposed in 1965-1966 AHEAD of the AVFG, the military M45 seems to have vanished into a blackhole after the AFVG cancellation in June 1967. It was completely outclassed by the M53 and RB-199.

Recently I had some fun imagining a Mirage IV powered, not by the *usual suspects* - Spey or M53 - but M45. They are slightly less powerful than the original Atars (not that much, 5800 kg thrust vs 6700), but barely 1/2 the size and weight, and turbofans with extremely low specific consumption. This result in vastly extended range.

In fact I'm searching for the exact specifications of the AFVG M45 engines - diameter, weight, specific consumption, thrust. I combed the web and found only very fractional results. Any help would be very welcome.

I'm very leery at letting AFVG go. First the British pretty clearly wanted something like it. Designs were around since BAC 583 and they kept pushing on it till it became Tornado. I don't really see this changing because RAF is getting 110 Mirage IV* in the best case scenario. Soo... there is a need to save AFVG or for the British to cancel it but to avoid at all costs France leaving it first. Because in that case Anglo-French cooperation sours and you are just back to OTL. The British get Tornadoes and France ends with Mirage 2000 and that's about it. Soo how you convince BRITAIN to cancel it with France happily following so that other projects  (call me Mirage 4000) go on unhindered?

On technical grounds each M45 is 12600 lbf  so the thrust to weight ratio on afterburner at 50,000 pounds weight is about 0.5. That's no different than Tornado really. So AFVG is essentially a somewhat lighter Tornado that can fly off carriers. If not cancelled it can fill the Jaguar role along Mirage F1E and then in the 1980s have a modernization version in place of Mirage 2000D.

Offline Hood

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2018, 04:09:19 am »
This has been an interesting thread, with Anglo-French co-operation being looked at from a French perspective with so far little input from our British members.
The interesting thing is the focus on French airframes with Britain being a useful parts supplier. This pretty much sums up the experience of the collaborative programmes that occurred.

The French had an honest opinion that whatever was built it should be a French airframe to preserve their industry. This is true to almost all collaborations and international requirements France undertook from the NBMR requirements, Jaguar, Puma, Gazelle, Alpha Jet etc. The only outliers are Concorde and the Westland Lynx which the French didn't really get behind.
This made any true collaboration trickier and makes this scenario somewhat optimistic.

From the 1959 point-of-view, a series of tie-ups does nothing for the British airframe industry. Rationalisation is in full swing by this time and the groups were beginning to coalesce around the Bristol 200, DH.121 and TSR.2. Westland was buying up its rotary-wing competitors. The R&D costs were still high but the government was hoping rationalisation and a smaller military wish-list post-Sandys would make useful savings and allow some redistribution of resources into the civil sector.
I'm not sure that IV-A or IV-B was really a good fit for the TSR.2 requirements and as a stop-gap after the TSR.2 cancellation it was probably right for Britain to go on and explore the smaller AFVG. It reset its expectations and Tornado has vindicated the design shift away from a 'bomber' to what effectively was a heavy strike-fighter. AVFG might not have been the best option but it was the starting point, the Mirage G could have been a contender as well with suitable engines and avionics.
Jaguar was mixed too, Britain originally wanted a supersonic trainer but then saw a cheap Hunter replacement in it. Arguably it eventually meant more to the RAF than the AdA in that regard. Had it been cancelled or never developed, then its possible that the government would have persisted with P.1154, but that would probably have been a mistake given the limits of the technology and I doubt it could ever have been as successful or usable as Harrier in the field.

Another topic, connected in part with AFVG vs. Tornado, is that by the late 1960s the opportunities for European collaboration were ripe. It wasn't really until the early 70s that they took off with Tornado and the various helicopter programmes but a binary Anglo-French cooperation by 1970 could have been a bit tame given the strong US influence at that time and the opportunities to bring Germany, at least, on board.

On the engine I agree that a SNECMA-Bristol Siddeley partnership on Olympus earlier would have been beneficial for France. As has been pointed out, whether France could have afforded a fleet of IV-Bs is open to question. Personally I feel that the Medway was a serious loss, worse than the RB.106 Thames, in terms of the potential it had for a whole range of civil and military designs, although it must be said that the resulting Spey family was reasonably successful. It may be in having Medway that the Spey might have been sacrificed.

It is a pity that ELDO did not go further, a successor rocket with British and French experience might have been as successful as Ariane. Britain was probably too keen to save money and cut its ties to quickly in what was a short-sighted move.

Nuclear co-operation is trickier. Britain wants the bomb in its hands but wants US R&D support and possibly their delivery systems too (Thor was a useful step in that direction). Operation Grapple on Christmas Island successfully convinces the US that Britain has the H-bomb and opens the door to co-operation (probably as much self-interest from the Americans to control British technology). Macmillan and his government probably still trust the US more at this stage than France if they have to share nuclear strategic power. Remember this is still a few years before Kennedy's MLF ideas which the British strongly resisted. They wanted their own controls even if they relied on American support. France too (De Gaulle) is suspicious of American control and this is what the MLF would have amounted too. Britain securing US cooperation in 1958 only reinforces his suspicions of an Anglo-American alliance. What could France have offered Britain between 1955 and 1958 to secure British co-operation? They had no working warhead or delivery system to woo the Brits, America had lots of shiny toys to offer. Politically it was almost impossible for France to woo Britain away from seeking American acceptance. France leaving NATO in 1966 probably only illustrates the wisdom of that. Had Britain had Anglo-French nuclear missile systems it might have been very politically awkward and would probably have removed any possibility of buying Trident in the 1980s, thus locking Britain with France.

Offline Lascaris

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2018, 08:42:16 am »

Nuclear co-operation is trickier. Britain wants the bomb in its hands but wants US R&D support and possibly their delivery systems too (Thor was a useful step in that direction). Operation Grapple on Christmas Island successfully convinces the US that Britain has the H-bomb and opens the door to co-operation (probably as much self-interest from the Americans to control British technology). Macmillan and his government probably still trust the US more at this stage than France if they have to share nuclear strategic power. Remember this is still a few years before Kennedy's MLF ideas which the British strongly resisted. They wanted their own controls even if they relied on American support. France too (De Gaulle) is suspicious of American control and this is what the MLF would have amounted too. Britain securing US cooperation in 1958 only reinforces his suspicions of an Anglo-American alliance. What could France have offered Britain between 1955 and 1958 to secure British co-operation? They had no working warhead or delivery system to woo the Brits, America had lots of shiny toys to offer. Politically it was almost impossible for France to woo Britain away from seeking American acceptance. France leaving NATO in 1966 probably only illustrates the wisdom of that. Had Britain had Anglo-French nuclear missile systems it might have been very politically awkward and would probably have removed any possibility of buying Trident in the 1980s, thus locking Britain with France.

I'll just note this is why I put my point of divergence exactly at the 1958 agreement failing to happen and then the Polaris agreement not happening either.  B)

Offline zen

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2018, 09:14:41 am »
There are a number of uk designes that ought to have been considered by the French.
The TSR.2 being on of them.
NMBR.3 suggests the P1154 as well as the other contenders.
Earlier we can see Fairey's Delta II offering outclasses the Mirage III.
There was ample scope for a deal, but it only really makes sense in terms of the USA not being willing to change it's mind after Suez.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2018, 09:52:18 am »
I prefer not to start a Mirage IV-A vs TSR-2 debate - too much passion involved on both sides of the Channel.  ;)  Let's just say that, for once in history, it was France that was on the pragmatic and rational side (and boring, ok), while Great Britain got carried away by passion. Pride and Prejudice - as would said Jane Austen.  B) 
« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 09:56:12 am by Archibald »
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Offline Hood

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2018, 01:50:56 am »
I don't want to debate TSR.2 Vs. IV-A. I don't think there is anything to debate because the two are so different in concept and role.
The TSR.2 was a tactical aircraft, designed for operation in rough fields and for lobbing a couple of WE.177s onto deeper targets and offering support to BAOR with conventional weapons and providing a reconnaissance capability. It was designed for terrain-hugging operations in contested airspace.
The IV-A was built as a supersonic nuclear bomber, in effect a short-range strategic bomber (the original spec called for 1,500km (930 miles) range). It didn't even have a stand-off weapon when introduced.
This is not to say the IV-A wasn't good, or that it could not have been improved with more advanced avionics and engines to have been even better. I just think it wasn't really ticking all the boxes for the RAF. It had good speed performance and with Speys would have been even better, but i'm not sure it offered the multi-role capability they were looking for and the avionics for TSR.2 were still works in progress when the programme was cancelled. Sticking them into the IV-A with new engines might not really have ended up that cheap. Before the demise of TSR.2 the chiefs had a long wishlist which not even TSR, let alone IV-A could really fulfill. On the converse, I'm not sure the TSR.2 was really what the French required given their need to build up the Force de Frappe and make a credible airborne deterrent.

Offline zen

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2018, 05:24:44 am »
From a strategic Bomber POV  the uk had 3 designes in operation, so on that front it's France that ought to have chosen a uk product.
Furthermore we got as far as a prototype low level Valient.

Offline alertken

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2018, 03:08:45 am »
Actual sequence of events:
3/60, CDG approved Mirage IV production, his A-Bomb underway;
30/3/60: UK/US Atomic collaboration MoU - became Skybolt; subsequent UK AW drew (heavily) on US designs;
7/60 UK PM Macmillan discovers France: UK “wants to join the European concern, France (to join Anglos’ A-Team.) Can terms be arranged?” UK should “support (France) in their (sceptical) attitude (to) NATO, give them the Bomb, perhaps some V-bombers (and) support (a) confederation of Europe instead of a Federation.” (CDG: " l'Europe des Patries") “no question of providing either warheads (or) design (data).” JFK later would remind Mac “not all (UK AW) secrets were his to pass on.” “impossible (to) say what (data) elements (had) been obtained by (UK’s) own efforts(, what by US')” “closely enmeshed (blocking French access to) designs” 3/10/63 , SofS/For.Aff.D-Home, R.Lamb: The Macmillan Years,  J.Murray, 1995, P376. Avro was authorised to scheme W.130/Z.61 ASM for Mirage IV;
6/10/60: Approval, 9 Development Batch TSR.2 - a Canberra replacement with tactical AW;
10/8/61 UK Application to join EEC;
13/8/61 Berlin Wall Crisis;
28/11/61 France/UK MoU to be civil Concorde (though both Nations assumed military potential);
22/11/61 BAC/AMD Agreement to bid NBMR.3 as Mirage IIIV/P.39/Spey;
1965/66 BAC/AMD pimp Mirage IVS/Spey vice F-111K.

So efforts were made for an Anglo-French Independent AW Strike Force. Neither, as it transpired, was ever wholly-techno-solo: 10/62: “US agreed to sell a nuclear sub. (=PWR reactor) to France”, I.N.S, tools to build solid rocket motors, C-135F to enhance Mirage IVA. I.Clark, Nuclear Diplomacy & the Special Relationship,OUP,94,P.405. So why did not TSR.2/F-111K lapse for Super-Mirage IV and on?

There were personality issues between (any/all) UK Ministers and CDG...but sense and money could have overcome those: no-one enthused over LBJ and Vietnam but we all did business with him. I suggest it was simply that CDG was willing to spend for an apparently solo Force de Frappe, where UK preferred to assert Independence but to buy Interdependence. CDG could obscure that his reach was extended by Boeing; UK could hardly have attempted to hang UK/US AW on a Mirage (France operated US AW, 7/61-9/66, but in F-100D at Lahr/Bremgarten, Nike-Hercules SAM, Honest John SSM).

 
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 04:39:01 am by alertken »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2018, 10:52:53 am »
France surely got its share of U.S NATO aircrafts, the F-100s remained in service until 1978 in Djibouti (so loooong after 1966 NATO withdrawal !) and were appreciated as they could aerial refueling at a time when only the Mirage IV could do that (Jaguar and Mirage F1 could aerial refueling, no French Mirage III or Mirage V ever could).
Also Honest Johns, replaced later by Plutons tactical missiles that were quite similar in design.
And of course the C-135FR. Still in service nowadays  :o 

De Gaulle reasonning was that, if the tankers were grounded, the Mirage IV could still fly a one-way trip to Moscow - although in a straight line crossing the entire air defence network of the Warsaw Pact. That was the gamble ! The tankers gave the Mirage IVs far more flexibility, through Murmansk or the Mediterranean. Also, before buying the tankers, Vautours and... Mirage IV were considered, as was a Caravelle tanker.

As you said, CdG didn't really wanted any compromise over the Force de Frappe, it was to be full-blown indepdant otherwise it didn't made any sense. There is that excruciating scenario where Soviet armored spearheads reach the Rhine after breaking through NATO, and then France face an invasion for the fourth time in a century, and there is no other option than to nuke the bridgehead...
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 10:57:02 am by Archibald »
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Offline uk 75

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2018, 12:17:57 pm »
This has been a fascinating thread.
If we take 1958 as the starting point, the UK only has one main strike aircraft programme. The TSR2 was intended specifically to replace the Canberra in the nuclear strike role. Its other capabilities were secondary as can be seen from its bomb bay and wing store points show.
The HS 1154 emerges as a Hunter and Sea Vixen replacement, then only a Hunter replacement.
Enter the F4 Phantom which increasingly offers a way of meeting all these roles in one aircraft.
Left to their own devices the RAF and RN would have asked for US engined and systemed F4s and nothing else, no Harriers, Jaguars, AFVGs.  Once Buccaneer S2 cured the S1's awful performance, the Buccaneer was able fill the Canberra role perfectly.
Sorry, job done until the 70s. The Tornado was as close to an updated Phantom as the RAF and Luftwaffe could get. The various versions of Mirage just did not appeal.

Offline uk 75

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2018, 12:27:03 pm »
Apologies for the poor wording above. I am doing this on a phone with fat fingers.
Two points on the nuclear programme.
The US were really keen to help France stay in the NATO nuclear framework, and even afterwards provided considerable behind the scenes help.
The UK reliance on the US was driven by budgets. It was the cheapest way of keeping nuclear weapons. It also kept the UK on the inside of US nuclear technology and planning. France could not compete.
On Space, the UK sensibly realised that building satellites was more lucrative than building launchers.
These were readily available from the US and later ESA.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2018, 08:59:17 am »
A path not taken would be a kind of hybrid of Vautour and Buccaneer. Common Spey turbofan, for a start. Then throw the Israelis into the lot: by 1965  they were completely in love with their Vautours and requested Sud Aviation for a massive update of the type. This was called the Tsyklon and went nowhere because Dassault killed it, and so did De Gaulle who want Dassault and only Dassault for combat aircrafts, and public companies for everything else.

A Tsyklon with Buccaneer S-2 avionics would be a world beater.

(see the document linked)
« Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 09:01:38 am by Archibald »
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Offline uk 75

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2018, 01:51:09 pm »
It is interesting to see how both France and Britain in this period wanted to reduce the number of small companies in the aerospace field to compete more effectively with the big US firms. The US companies were also consolidating into bigger groups.
By the end of the 60s  BAC and Dassault were the go to firms for big military programmes.
If the F4 Phantom had been less successful, I am sure both Dassault and BAC would have filled the gap. Whether together or separately would have depended on politics rather than military need.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2018, 11:10:50 pm »
As you say. They started from similar number of companies by 1935 - at least 15 aircraft makers. And it took the two countries many decades to slim down that number and create larger conglomerates.
What is even more interesting in that both process were equally atrocious. Creation of BAC in the 60's was hardly better than what Le Front Populaire did in 1936.
On the French side, the  air Ministry bureaucrats took a map of France, a rule, and draw lines according to geography. They essentially sliced France aircraft industry like a freakkin' pizza. No kidding. They created SNCA (think SNCF, but for aircrafts) then they grouped the aircraft plants according not to their owner but to their geographic area. One in the North, one in the "center", and three for the South: South-West, South-Center, South-East. Breguet plants had to work with Bloch or Amiot or Potez.
It was completely insane. It created absolute mayhem and years of delays.

And you thought the Air Ministry was nut ? The French one was hardly better.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 11:14:12 pm by Archibald »
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Offline zen

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Re: Franco-British aircraft, from 1959
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2018, 04:48:06 am »
A path not taken would be a kind of hybrid of Vautour and Buccaneer. Common Spey turbofan, for a start. Then throw the Israelis into the lot: by 1965  they were completely in love with their Vautours and requested Sud Aviation for a massive update of the type. This was called the Tsyklon and went nowhere because Dassault killed it, and so did De Gaulle who want Dassault and only Dassault for combat aircrafts, and public companies for everything else.

A Tsyklon with Buccaneer S-2 avionics would be a world beater.

(see the document linked)
I have to admit to a soft spot for this design.
Shades of AWA's design style. Which would make a natural pairing.