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A British Dassault ?

Archibald

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Your challenge is to pick, among all the British aircraft companies and their talented designers like Sidney Camm, Reginald Mitchell and others, the one that could pull a Dassault .

That is, three things
a) maximum efficiency - hyper-reactivity against adversity. Also being ruthless (very ruthless) when needed.
b) Within the span of a decade or two (say, from 1945) sweep all the other companies, public or private, standing in the way
c) good enough to navigate the political - military swamp and survive political cycles and economic downturns. France and Dassault got their shares of Sandys and other white papers, too.

And thanks to all three above, give the British aircraft industry a better fate, overall.

My bet is on English Electric and E.E Peters, but Hawker and Sidney Camm are strong contenders.

(note: this thread is not a) Dassault licking contest and b) French aviation fared better than the British. I'm way above that kind of siliness).

More generally, I'm intrigued by the fate of British and French aviation industry fates from 1935 onwards, notably after 1945. As of 1935 both France and Britain had no less than 15 major aviation companies, which mean the landscape was equally fractured into very small kingdoms. Yet the ultimate results, 40 years later in 1977, were marquedly opposites. I learned a lot about the french models (Dassault vs SNCAs-geography) but the British side remain obscure. My goal would be some kind of british aviation wank using the French model, for the best and for the worse (1936 nationalizations were an absolute butchering).
 
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zen

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Tough one.
I'll have to think about that one and do a bit of rereading my books.

Camm is .....well I think if he had an equal but more astute and personable partner Hawkers might have done it.

I always feel sorry for Hadley Page.

Maybe if DH hadn't lost his son....?
 

zen

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More thoughts. ...
On rereading BSP Fighters, I note Hawkers nearly won the RAF FAW tender with their P.1057. Narrowly piped to the post by DH and their 110.

It seems Hawkers had more spare capacity as DH staff were very loaded with Comet work.
Hawkers was even ordered as a back up in 22 May '47, however then cancelled 26 August '47.

All this said. Had DH's 110 not been toppled by Glosters.

Strictly had DH held on here, they'd be very strongly placed to increasingly dominate the arena.
 

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If Camm had retired or died earlier, maybe 1944, then things might play out differently. If 'Freddie' Page and perhaps Robert Lickley too had the space to grow at Hawker, that would change a lot of things.

In fact, just Freddie Page taking over at Hawker in 1944 from a retired Camm, keeping Lesley Appleton and other key Hawker people happy, would combine two key designers of Lightning and Fairey Delta 2 in one place. A British 'Mirage' could ensue.
 
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Michel Van

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Alright a British company similar to Dassault Company

This imply that "British Dassault" need excellent connections to Westminster and 10 Downing Street
If necessary pay a little "contribution" to right people to get contracts and save running aerospace programs from those mad mans
 

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This scenario pre-supposes that the designer was king and had the clout to determine the direction of his employer. While that may have been true up until WW2, I think by the 1960s all the aviation companies were firmly in the hands of management teams and bigger business empires.

No firm could "pull a Dassault" in practice because the Ministries of Supply and Aviation kept a firm tab on each companies production and manpower situation and estimated what each company was, or was not, capable of. Were those assessments accurate? Probably not in all cases and sometimes probably far too pessimistic. A lot was written about "buggin's turn" by people like Derek Wood and critics at the time, but from the documents I have seen across a wide range of programmes and times, I do not sense this. Rather the MoS was worried about not meeting production targets and feared overloading any one company, but they knew who they trusted to get work done and some firms just didn't fit in and suffered. An exception of course was Shorts (we could rant about that for hours), but I feel sorry for Handley Page. Lacking the political influence and trying to go it alone as if the 1900s pioneer spirit still existed didn't work out and they were driven out of business.

One individual who was favoured for a time was George Edwards, he was the top of the tree as far as the MoS was concerned. I've seen a few papers in the archives praising his ability to get work done but also worrying laments when the Ministry boys thought he was losing his touch. They felt his promotion upwards within Vickers into management sapped his ability to keep the design teams on track and influence things on the workfloor at the same time.

The big money bags of the aviation world was Hawker Siddeley but under Dobson, following the Macmillan era cuts, they focused heavily on diversification, buying up Canadian mining and timber and god knows what else. It was Hawkers expansion that hoovered up and trimmed back a lot of the excess capacity in the industry. Whereas the expansion of BAC and even Westland taking over the helicopter sector, had relatively little impact on reducing excess production capacity.
 
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Archibald

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Michel Van: that Mirage V corruption (let's say it again: CO-RRUP-TION) scandal still hurts hmmm ? ;) Belgium got their vengeance when they screwed Dassault of the F-1E, fair game.

This imply that "British Dassault" need excellent connections to Westminster and 10 Downing Street
Dassault was politically agnostic, he was not some kind of conservative, right-wing dinosaur: being jewish in France and a survivor of Buchenwald prevented moving too much toward the right. In the 30's he was actually a rad-soc and supporter of the Front Populaire. he was also saved by communists resistants, yet he was a great friend of Chirac. And when Mitterrand prime minister Michel Rocard tried to cancel the Rafale in the fall of 1988, Dassault flew him on the backseat of a Mirage 2000B, and his opinion changed instantly.

This scenario pre-supposes that the designer was king and had the clout to determine the direction of his employer. While that may have been true up until WW2, I think by the 1960s all the aviation companies were firmly in the hands of management teams and bigger business empires.
Dassault answer was... the family. Serge, notably (sigh....), but also many others. Also non-family men of very high confidence like Charles Edestenne.

they focused heavily on diversification, buying up Canadian mining and timber and god knows what else.
Also it was "aviation uber alles" Dassault invested in many others ventures (movies: La Boum, that launched our unique Sophie Marceau was a Dassault family movie, no kidding) but always on the cautious side.
 
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zen

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Of course had Hawkers won orders for the P1121.....I always wonder how well or not that would have exported.
 

overscan

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Having written a book on it, I can't see it exporting well. Its too big, more of a Thunderchief than a Mirage, and had no real technical advantages over the Lightning.
 

galgot

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Maybe a supersonic Hunter would have done it ? P.1083 or the delta P.1090 .
 

kaiserd

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Maybe a supersonic Hunter would have done it ? P.1083 or the delta P.1090 .
A shorter range, slower, less well equipped Mirage? That apart from straight line speed was also generally less useful than a Hunter F6? The RAF were pretty quickly not fans of the P1083 and started adding requirements (like radar and air to air missiles) that overwhelmed the airframe.
No great lost opportunity there.

It is probably in the nexus of the successful but extended development of the very dedicated interceptor EE Lightening and the RAF’s desire / perceived need for something that was considerable step beyond this but still very much an interceptor that meant there was no great UK export fighter of this time (apart from those still happy to buy the Hunter).

In very different circumstances perhaps a direct Mirage analog could have come from Fairey, growing out of their Delta 2 but the general issue of (not totally unreasonably for the RAF) “...its only about as good as a Lightening, and we want something better...” helped kill any such aircraft before they had any real chance of getting anywhere.

Perhaps if the Lightening’s precursors or itself had been failures than other roads would have opened up but there isn’t a particularly strong candidate in the wings with claims for the Saunders-Roe P.177 and (especially) the Hawker P.1121 being somewhat overblown.
 
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Archibald

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Having written a book on it, I can't see it exporting well. Its too big, more of a Thunderchief than a Mirage, and had no real technical advantages over the Lightning.
Indeed that bird needed a big and powerful engine, Gyron or Olympus that made it expensive. What would be needed would be a downscaled P.1121 (0.80) with an advanced, reheat Avon.
 

zen

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But the packagingof systems into such a scaled machine is not trivial.

In this the Folland offerings have more merit.

But what's needed is something that wasn't produced.
Even as a design.
 

overscan

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Maybe a supersonic Hunter would have done it ? P.1083 or the delta P.1090 .
A shorter range, slower, less well equipped Mirage? That apart from straight line speed was also generally less useful than a Hunter F6? The RAF were pretty quickly not fans of the P1083 and started adding requirements (like radar and air to air missiles) that overwhelmed the airframe.
No great lost opportunity there.

It is probably in the nexus of the successful but extended development of the very dedicated interceptor EE Lightening and the RAF’s desire / perceived need for something that was considerable step beyond this but still very much an interceptor that meant there was no great UK export fighter of this time (apart from those still happy to buy the Hunter).

In very different circumstances perhaps a direct Mirage analog could have come from Fairey, growing out of their Delta 2 but the general issue of (not totally unreasonably for the RAF) “...its only about as good as a Lightening, and we want something better...” helped kill any such aircraft before they had any real chance of getting anywhere.

Perhaps if the Lightening’s precursors or itself had been failures than other roads would have opened up but there isn’t a particularly strong candidate in the wings with claims for the Saunders-Roe P.177 and (especially) the Hawker P.1121 being somewhat overblown.
P.177 was aerodynamically unsuited for supersonic flight except via brute force / rocket engines. P.1121 was at least plausible, with a caveat on the intake design. Britain could have designed a Miragealike with a better engine and arguably slightly better radar, but as Kaiserd suggests the most likely avenue would be failure of the P1 project. That's why I suggested that Freddie Page staying at Hawker and becoming Hawker Chief Engineer, which simultaneously harms the chances of P1 / Lightning being a success and increases the chances of P.1121 being successful.
 

overscan

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Having written a book on it, I can't see it exporting well. Its too big, more of a Thunderchief than a Mirage, and had no real technical advantages over the Lightning.
Indeed that bird needed a big and powerful engine, Gyron or Olympus that made it expensive. What would be needed would be a downscaled P.1121 (0.80) with an advanced, reheat Avon.
An Avon powered, smaller P.1103 was considered. It would have had no chance at F155T/OR.339, but then nor did the Gyron sized one, and then would have made the basis for a nice Mirage-alike.
 

zen

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However. .....there us another avenue available.
The supersonic research requirement.
Had something other than Bristol's 188 won this....say the EE P.6 or Saro's P.167 or Supermarine's. ..? these have a better basis for development into a fighter. Hawkers stood no chance because of their offerings being too focused on such an outcome.....although that said the straight winged starfighter-like design does look the business.

Even 'as is' Bristol expected to be able to offer a fighter version. ..but performance was well below expectation.
 
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galgot

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Maybe the Big luck for the Mirage was that France had poor jet engines at the time. And the bad luck for GB was to have good jet engines…
Mirage III had to rely to that rocket pack to be the acceptable interceptor that Fr AF wanted, and Dassault had to design an airframe that could make good of the poor ATAR9B… Which in turn made the Mirage a very adaptable airframe, to something else than interceptor.
While GB , having all these good RR engines, relied much on it, and hence the Lightning… which is Da Bombe, but more difficult to develop and sell.

Note, I think even Mirage IIIC equipments were real crap at the beginning .Radar hardly useful for anything than seeing big slow Soviet Bombers, missiles designed for the sames. Good it had the cannons, with which nearly all early Israelis kills were made.
 
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Archibald

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Maybe the Big luck for the Mirage was that France had poor jet engines at the time. And the bad luck for GB was to have good jet engines…
Mirage III had to rely to that rocket pack to be the acceptable interceptor that Fr AF wanted, and Dassault had to design an airframe that could make good of the poor ATAR9B… Which in turn made the Mirage a very adaptable airframe, to something else than interceptor.
While GB , having all these good RR engines, relied much on it, and hence the Lightning… which is Da Bombe, but more difficult develop and sell.

Note, I think even Mirage IIIC equipments were real crap at the beginning .Radar hardly useful for anything than seeing big slow Soviet Bombers, missiles designed for the sames. Good it had the cannons, with which nearly all early Israelis kills were made.
Years later an old R-530 fired from a Mirage F1 famously went nut right from the launch, and actually turned a barrel (!!) around a very pissed off / puzzled / vaguely amused french pilot...
 

galgot

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Maybe the Big luck for the Mirage was that France had poor jet engines at the time. And the bad luck for GB was to have good jet engines…
Mirage III had to rely to that rocket pack to be the acceptable interceptor that Fr AF wanted, and Dassault had to design an airframe that could make good of the poor ATAR9B… Which in turn made the Mirage a very adaptable airframe, to something else than interceptor.
While GB , having all these good RR engines, relied much on it, and hence the Lightning… which is Da Bombe, but more difficult develop and sell.

Note, I think even Mirage IIIC equipments were real crap at the beginning .Radar hardly useful for anything than seeing big slow Soviet Bombers, missiles designed for the sames. Good it had the cannons, with which nearly all early Israelis kills were made.
Years later an old R-530 fired from a Mirage F1 famously went nut right from the launch, and actually turned a barrel (!!) around a very pissed off / puzzled / vaguely amused french pilot...
:) Scarry, didn't know that one.
And wasn't the Cyrano I bis called the "Tefal" (il n'accroche pas).
 

alertken

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By "pull a Dassault" shall we explore: "retain credibility to extract funds for almost anything" (Dassault did splendid fighters...and bizjets, tried a Communaute feeder, EMD did lectronics, he was in Space). To that Spec I think noBrit could have copied: 1936 Nationalisation did not undermine Bloch as it did the other pioneers; Marcel's wartime experience put him in a unique position for favour.

Let's put supersonic fighters to one side and start with Brabazon trying in 1943 to look to Peace and to define supreme types to match DC-3, DC-4, L-049. UK had turbine schemes that (we hoped) would overcome failure to match US big pistons. By early 1947, the Shadows gone (bar EE, who had acquired WEW Petter, but his A1 (to be Canberra) was not really wanted by RAF), Avro (daily remote from HSAL), Bristol, DH and the Vickers arsenal were our most "credible". RR was not then the most credible engine house (AJ65 did not work, Olympus and Halford's DH/Napier range looked promising). We had not yet diverted airframers into GW, nor the brown goods electrical firms into avionics. We were trying to do Brabazon, Princess, Viscount, an Express, and a Medium Range "Empire", with Bristol Theseus/Proteus, AWA Mamba, DH Ghost. Most Brabazon Committee Types failed. UK did not staunch big piston DC-6/L-1049, even Convairliners.

For me the lost opportunity was for Bristol Aeroplane Co L-849, with Bristol Engine Co Theseus: Cabinet 22/4/47 declined to Approve the $ for Lockheed licence/parts. 1952 deliveries of a turbine Connie...what a What If! Instead, in part because Chancellor Cripps was a Bristol MP, that firm was given engines, missiles, helis and big structures....and stuffed up all of them.
 
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zen

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You make good points Ken.
I'll add it does seem that Avro, Vickers Supermarine, and DH were best placed.
I'll agree Bristol was not a good choice.
EE is a bit of a wild card accident.

As I will over GAAP-GW generally.
Keeping GAP in house at Westcott seems like the right move.

Conjecturally we could Hypothetically conjure up a Shadow alternative that comes up with something. Airspeed maybe.

But I'm starting to think Avro....
Right down to the mixed power plant fighter and OR.339. Their design efforts seem very good.

I'll have to reread to see about transports from the late 40's.
 

Nick Sumner

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By "pull a Dassault" shall we explore: "retain credibility to extract funds for almost anything" (Dassault did splendid fighters...and bizjets, tried a Communaute feeder, EMD did lectronics, he was in Space). To that Spec I think noBrit could have copied: 1936 Nationalisation did not undermine Bloch as it did the other pioneers; Marcel's wartime experience put him in a unique position for favour.

Let's put supersonic fighters to one side and start with Brabazon trying in 1943 to look to Peace and to define supreme types to match DC-3, DC-4, L-049. UK had turbine schemes that (we hoped) would overcome failure to match US big pistons. By early 1947, the Shadows gone (bar EE, who had acquired WEW Petter, but his A1 (to be Canberra) was not really wanted by RAF), Avro (daily remote from HSAL), Bristol, DH and the Vickers arsenal were our most "credible". RR was not then the most credible engine house (AJ65 did not work, Olympus and Halford's DH/Napier range looked promising). We had not yet diverted airframers into GW, nor the brown goods electrical firms into avionics. We were trying to do Brabazon, Princess, Viscount, an Express, and a Medium Range "Empire", with Bristol Theseus/Proteus, AWA Mamba, DH Ghost. Most Brabazon Committee Types failed. UK did not staunch big piston DC-6/L-1049, even Convairliners.

For me the lost opportunity was for Bristol Aeroplane Co L-849, with Bristol Engine Co Theseus: Cabinet 22/4/47 declined to Approve the $ for Lockheed licence/parts. 1952 deliveries of a turbine Connie...what a What If! Instead, in part because Chancellor Cripps was a Bristol MP, that firm was given engines, missiles, helis and big structures....and stuffed up all of them.
Alertken, with all respect, how did UK aero have any "failure to match US big pistons" ? OK, behind in turbocharging perhaps due to medium altitude bombing policy, but Hercules and Centaurus were as good as anything from P&W or Wright. Centaurus was ready earlier than R3350 in fact and less likely to catch fire. If Roy Fedden hadn't been shamefully treated by the board of Bristol the 28 cylinder two row radial in RRHT 26 pp 246-247 might have made a UK R4360 analogue.
 

alertken

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"as good as"...in design, let's agree, but not in operability, simplicity.
At Old Warden last week a curator joyfully presented a Centaurus...while 14x1830s started up and soared away, after coming here Transatlantic...all aged 75 years and counting. At Duxford, another can be enjoyed static...a work of art, sculpted, magnificent...marginally less fraught in manufacture and maintenance than Sabre. MAP explored 4/41 licensed Typhoon 1A from Bell, Sabre from Chrysler - who recoiled in horror. Because our engine designers sought design excellence, they paid little heed to practicality. It took far too long to cascade kit in reliable quanity. Hawker tried multiple sources, inc Wright R-3350 for the Tornado/Typhoon/Tempest range before Centaurus was fit for (Sea) Fury. Merlin took much effort before it could meet civil reliability standards for C-4M, as did Centaurus for Ambassador. Meantime, Wright+ Pratt ruled OK in the marketplace.
 
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zen

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Well I've had some get very critical of Supermarine post-Spitfire, though I'm not sure that's fair really considering how easy it is to get things wrong and his much work / money it can take to get things right.

Mitchell never got to play with jet designs. Though he'd be stuck with the same potential prejudices and assumptions.
 

Hood

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Here's a spanner in the works for you all - what if RJ Mitchell had lived?
Would RJ have been too old anyway? By 1957 he would have been 62 and cruising towards retirement. Would he of been able to outshine George Edwards at Vickers?
 
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Archibald

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Well I've had some get very critical of Supermarine post-Spitfire, though I'm not sure that's fair really considering how easy it is to get things wrong and his much work / money it can take to get things right.

Mitchell never got to play with jet designs. Though he'd be stuck with the same potential prejudices and assumptions.
Surely enough Dassault got his share of dogs of aircraft. The Ouragan was as manoeuverable as a barn door, although it was a sane aircraft overall. The Mystère II however was a piece of junk. Unreliable, a bastard to fly... didn't lasted very long with the AdA, 1954-57 and then it was gone and quickly sold as scrap metal and turned into razor blades and forgotten.

A completely desperate Israel, having been rebuked of Hunters, F-86s and Canadian F-86s and Swedish Tunans, very badly wanted Mystere II but Dassault (the very Dassault, himself !) told them "listen to my advice: takes second-hand Ouragans instead, and then wait for Mystere IVs, we will make them available ASAP."
 

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Here's a spanner in the works for you all - what if RJ Mitchell had lived?
Would RJ have been too old anyway? By 1957 he would have been 62 and cruising towards retirement. Would he of been able to outshine George Edwards at Vickers?
He was two years YOUNGER than Sydney Camm.

Everything is conjecture, because ultimately the ONLY British firm that EVER flew a supersonic fighter as a service aircraft was English Electric. Joseph Smith was good enough to improve the Spitfire and keep it competitive by steps small and large, but the Spitfire was the one truly great fighter that Supermarine ever produced and you have to consider a contention that Smith just did not have that big creative spark. There is no guarantee that Mitchell would have done any better in the jet age, but who is to say that he would not?

A big if, I know, but Mitchell did have the Schneider Trophy winner and one of the world's all time legendary fighters under his belt, and I contend that he likely would have been able to pull out another miracle in the jet age.
 

zen

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Here's a spanner in the works for you all - what if RJ Mitchell had lived?
Would RJ have been too old anyway? By 1957 he would have been 62 and cruising towards retirement. Would he of been able to outshine George Edwards at Vickers?
He was two years YOUNGER than Sydney Camm.

Everything is conjecture, because ultimately the ONLY British firm that EVER flew a supersonic fighter as a service aircraft was English Electric. Joseph Smith was good enough to improve the Spitfire and keep it competitive by steps small and large, but the Spitfire was the one truly great fighter that Supermarine ever produced and you have to consider a contention that Smith just did not have that big creative spark. There is no guarantee that Mitchell would have done any better in the jet age, but who is to say that he would not?

A big if, I know, but Mitchell did have the Schneider Trophy winner and one of the world's all time legendary fighters under his belt, and I contend that he likely would have been able to pull out another miracle in the jet age.
It's certainly possible, the very 'legendary' status of the Spitfire put Mitchell in a strong position if he can come up with a decent design.
And in turn Supermarine was well placed and connected as it was to get funding.
 

steelpillow

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On the original topic, I would suggest W.E.W. "Teddy" Petter and English Electric. He had the chutzpah, upsetting all his old colleagues at Westland when he first came to the fore - among other things killing off the Pterodactyl tailless programme. Then he jumped ship to EE, bringing them from nowhere to steal the market with classic jets such as the Canberra and Lightning. Had he stayed the course and not jumped once again to Folland, we might well have seen him put his stamp on the Jaguar/MRCA era and position BAC as something more than an Airbus subsidiary-in-waiting.
 
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