Spark

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Mystery UK Missile?
Document referring to 1955 talk/discussions in Australia in which it was suggested that a total of twenty-five rounds be allocated as backup and practice rounds to support seven nuclear tipped hard site (silo based) operational missiles to be deployed by the Australians either in the Outback, British North Borneo or Singapore. It is intriguing that it was suggested these missiles would have a range in excess of 4,200 nautical miles more than double of that publically claimed for Blue Streak in 1957. With no doubt other missiles of this performance type being deployed by the Canadians. Total overlapping coverage of the whole of the Communist Bloc was possible giving at minimum cost a truly creditable Commonwealth based Nuclear Deterrent.
So can any one help please?
What was it?
 
odd
1955 Operational Requirement OR 1139 demand a missile with H-bomb and 2000 mile range
i have nothing on this project !
can this be a proposal for Commonwealth ICBM ?
 
OR1139, 9/6/53 became Blue Streak. UK could only (try, slowly, to) do that because MoS Sandys did data exchange deals for US GW technology. After 1/7/58 US/UK Target Intelligence Treaty, Bomber Command co-ordinated its iron bomb targeting with SAC; its nuclear targeting was integrated with SAC shortly after a Sqdn.-operated Valiant dropped a live Blue Danube (11/10/56): May,57, “highly satisfactory” H.Wynn,RAF Nuclear Deterrence Forces,HMSO,1994,P275, and was wholly integrated by MoU 3/7/58. Any talk of solo-UK and/or Commonwealth IRBM Deterrence devoid of US input is just that - chatter, with no Ministerial interest in funding such a thing. From propulsion, to guidance, to warhead, UK had no solo capability: we didn't even know the location of industrial targets - our only maps were German and they stopped on the Volga ( R.J.Aldrich,The Hidden Hand,Murray,2001,P215).
 
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While researching for something else I came across this in the Times Archive.

7 August 1958
From Adelaide dated 6 August. 'British Minister Sees Woomera at Work'
"The British Minister of Supply, Mr Aubrey Jones, and his Australian counterpart, Mr Townley, watched the ground-to-air missiles fired at Woomera today. They saw minitrack radar following the course of the American satelite Explorer IV, and afterwards inspected preliminary work on the construction of and under-ground launcher for Britain's ballistic weapon, Blue Streak. The Ministers then flew to Maralinga."

I wasn't aware a Blue Streak silo was built at Woomera. In fact this predates planning for such a test facility at Spadeadam. Wayne D. Cocroft in his article on the U1 facility says planning was in full-swing by September 1958. So are these linked or was the Woomera design, perhaps a dummy dig, a research tool for this work? Interestingly this article is one of the very first in the Times that even mentions the Blue Streak by name (I think it's the second).
 
There was no silo as such planned for Woomera. There was a canyon in which it was planned to put a B Streak launch facility, thus mimicking a silo without having to dig deep underground.
And because something is in the Times is no guarantee of its accuracy ...
 
No, I felt the Woomera work was nothing more than a dummy, not a silo in the proper sense but a construction mock-up. It must be the 6C Test Missile Silo. It was built into the side of a cliff, only the shaft being dug and the beginnings of the flame deflector or sullage pump hole at the bottom. Even so its interesting that such work may have been slightly ahead of that at Spadeadam, Wayne Cocroft says in his article that work at Woomera had begun by mid-1960, obviously it was begun much earlier than that. Of course newspapers are prone to mistakes or misinformation but it was still very early on in the programme and such work would have been top secret still, indeed even the mention of Blue Streak is rare at this time. So I doubt the Australian correspondent would have got hold of such info from elsewhere, or got the wrong end of the stick. Afterall there is no smoke without fire, had it been later on (say 1959 or 60) then it probably wouldn't have caught my interest. Of course we don't know what the premliminary ground work was but it was probably only the start of such work, maybe even limited to Aubrey Jones just looking at the plans in a hut. Even so it implies that planning was progressing well at that stage.
 
6C and 6D were “sunken launch sites” under construction at Woomera at the time of cancelation and built in to the side of the old lake shore, cliff side. Work could have started in 1958.
The foundation of one of the sites is similar to that shown in drawings found at Kew of the base of the silo launcher.
6E would have been the “silo” proper and excavations must have started by time of cancellation.


Hood said:
No, I felt the Woomera work was nothing more than a dummy, not a silo in the proper sense but a construction mock-up. It must be the 6C Test Missile Silo. It was built into the side of a cliff, only the shaft being dug and the beginnings of the flame deflector or sullage pump hole at the bottom. Even so its interesting that such work may have been slightly ahead of that at Spadeadam, Wayne Cocroft says in his article that work at Woomera had begun by mid-1960, obviously it was begun much earlier than that. Of course newspapers are prone to mistakes or misinformation but it was still very early on in the programme and such work would have been top secret still, indeed even the mention of Blue Streak is rare at this time. So I doubt the Australian correspondent would have got hold of such info from elsewhere, or got the wrong end of the stick. Afterall there is no smoke without fire, had it been later on (say 1959 or 60) then it probably wouldn't have caught my interest. Of course we don't know what the premliminary ground work was but it was probably only the start of such work, maybe even limited to Aubrey Jones just looking at the plans in a hut. Even so it implies that planning was progressing well at that stage.
 
Here are some photos of the Lake Hart works. 6B is the cliff side launch site and the earth works are the spoil from 6C and 6D.
 

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Are those photos from Fire over the Desert by Peter Morton? Talking of which I have attached, courtesy of Kings College London, a 1988 working paper on the testing of Blue Streak at Woomera by Peter Morton. It certainly makes a for a fascinating and inspiring read.

Link to the Peter Morton paper: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/ahri/centres/menzies/research/Publications/Workingpapers/WP32Morton.pdf

Also attached are some pictures of what I believe to be site 6A posted at Key Publishing Forums back in 2009 by ozjag and a picture of the site when it was being used as the ELDO launchpad for comparison (with 6B in the background) from the following website: http://netleygrove.net/netleygrove5.html

In addition, I have attached an image of a book page that was posted at the orbiter forum, again in 2009, by Notebook. I have not seen Fire over the Desert for many years but it may be a page from that book. It purports to show 6C as of March 1960. The 6C hole is reputedly at 31°4'58"S 136°26'37"E and visible on Google Earth and Google Maps.

I would concur that the Time's journalist was probably referring to the preliminary work for 6C.

Further photos of 6A and 6B can be found here: http://pargoo.customer.netspace.net.au/Woomera/
 

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JFCF: thank you for the Ozlink. "...launching one-a-month...trials throught the 60s at least...70 RAF rounds in UK and Mid.East...RAAF Blue Streaks in SIN...bleating sheep": too much bleating over this shrivelled phallus.

Let's go through it again. US in 1954 solves lightweight warheads and guidance accuracy, such that IRBMs can move up from useless terror to real weapon. So we take an interest, as follow-on to powered bombs on Medium Bombers. Grotesque cost. But US continues, despite Korean Armistice, to finance UK/France/Italy, soon W.Germany up the ying-yang. Sandys at MoS expands Burns/Templer Agreements, 1950-52, with more GW Agreements, most called data "exchange" (we had nothing. Less. One author put carrier angled deck/mirror landing into the pot as UK "exchange". GW is not airframe business, but electronics and all those Cossors had better things to do.) By 1957 US had given us: Stevenage (yes, they paid for the plant), IRBM structure, guidance, propulsion. In 1958, warhead and a rental deal for Thor: its licenced derivative should then have been dumped.

By 1959 we knew the future was FBM; IRBM might have covered 1966-70. During 1961 PM Macmillan was sanguine on no replacement for Skybolt. He let his backwoodsmen bay about deterrent "Independence", but had authorised RAF target-integration with SAC from 10/57. We quit most of Mid.East 11/56; no Minister ever thought of putting IRBMs in Akrotiri; Turkey had Jupiter. RAAF/Tengah IRBM target...bicycle sheds on the Gobi?
 
Hi folks.
Fantastic posts, the 6c excavation, the octagonal base cutting appears to match the plan view of the silo with room for the efflux shaft to the side.
Can any one estimate from the figure the cross section of the 6a efflux duct or the size of the round hole at the top? Spadeadam captive stands had a rectangular hole?
Big structure if just for a missile?
How much did Stevenage cost?





JFC Fuller said:
Are those photos from Fire over the Desert by Peter Morton? Talking of which I have attached, courtesy of Kings College London, a 1988 working paper on the testing of Blue Streak at Woomera by Peter Morton. It certainly makes a for a fascinating and inspiring read.

Link to the Peter Morton paper: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/ahri/centres/menzies/research/Publications/Workingpapers/WP32Morton.pdf

Also attached are some pictures of what I believe to be site 6A posted at Key Publishing Forums back in 2009 by ozjag and a picture of the site when it was being used as the ELDO launchpad for comparison (with 6B in the background) from the following website: http://netleygrove.net/netleygrove5.html

In addition, I have attached an image of a book page that was posted at the orbiter forum, again in 2009, by Notebook. I have not seen Fire over the Desert for many years but it may be a page from that book. It purports to show 6C as of March 1960. The 6C hole is reputedly at 31°4'58"S 136°26'37"E and visible on Google Earth and Google Maps.

I would concur that the Time's journalist was probably referring to the preliminary work for 6C.

Further photos of 6A and 6B can be found here: http://pargoo.customer.netspace.net.au/Woomera/
 
"Fire Across the Desert: Woomera and the Anglo-Australian Joint Project 1946-1980" by Peter Morton was the source for those two works pictures I posted above. This is a great source not just on the Woomera range but also those British and Australian projects that used it. However as a government published book it will never get a reprint and so remains very rare. I have a fair bit of it scanned and am willing to post .pdfs online. But the file limits at the moment here at SecretProjects are too small. For example the sections on Black Knight, Blue Streak, ELDO and Black Arrow come in at 160 MB at high resolution or 18 MB at Adobe Reader X only compatible. Even at the lowest level I'd have to cut it up into eight sections to fit onto this forum's file limits. I have requested Paul for an increase in file posting size and will wait on that before posting it online.
 
spark: probable no answer to your Q on Stevenage cost, or any other MoS site. Project Costing was an innovation of the mid-1960s. Till then each fief sat with its budget and no-one tried to pull together the total cost of any one project. All was with pen; Treasury would have been able to abort everything if Ministers knew total cost. Big picture sums for US machine tools into UK Aero are in H.Leigh-Phippard, Congress and US Military Aid to Britain, Mountbatten Centre, Southampton U/St.Martin's Press,1995; S.R.Twigge, Early Devt. of GW in UK, 1940-60, Harwood, 1993 has recipients inc. DH Props/Stevenage; I.Clark, Nuclear Diplomacy & the Special Relationship,OUP,94,P163 has US ’56 agreeing to fund 15% of MoS' estimated Blue Streak R&D cost of £70Mn. (paid $8Mn to mid-58); the licences are in (SPF's CNH) C.N.Hill, A Vertical Empire, ICP,2012, Ch.5. He has the RV as distinctively British and copied by US.

Quantities Planned: Wynn,P.383: DCAS, 5/11/58: "about 70 operational sites...sought approval for (silo-siting) and to endorse...plans (for c.) 70 twin-shaft (ie two-missile) sites". P.189, 26/5/59: "likely to be 100" missiles; P.396, 24/2/60: Treasury: "had never accepted any commitment (for c.) £500Mn. on the deployment of 60 BS missiles."
 
Ken, regarding BS numbers. I believe Wynn has the two shaft sites confused, I suspect he is thinking of the missile shaft and the exhaust shaft and has conflated this with two missiles. I can not find any reference to a number bigger than 100. I suspect the idea was for a pool of 100 missiles supporting about 60-70 silos.
 
Thank you. Ministers would have understood 1:1 with Thor.
 
Hi Folks,
Thanks, from memory PRO Kew document circa 1959 suggesting two missile rounds per emplacement plus one store/weapon H-Bomb. Elsewhere sources suggest two life rounds.
Bomb costs £2,500,000, missile round tested, calibrated delivered to site £500,000.
Note, other documents suggest bomb plus three additional inert rounds as ideal decoys per missile.
Cost saving?
Have been told by those around at the time it could easily have been made in to MIRV
Possible reason for twin launcher, Corporal in British Army use 43% reliable.
PRO Kew, Thor according to UK sources about 60% reliability factor, may have been improved because of crucial RR input, gearbox, etc.
Despite Macmillan cost cutting still built factory at Pinnacles for building dedicated bigger BSSLV.




JFC Fuller said:
Ken, regarding BS numbers. I believe Wynn has the two shaft sites confused, I suspect he is thinking of the missile shaft and the exhaust shaft and has conflated this with two missiles. I can not find any reference to a number bigger than 100. I suspect the idea was for a pool of 100 missiles supporting about 60-70 silos.
 
Spark, the problem I have is that I have never seen any source giving any number greater than 70 for the number of silos and we know the K11 silo was designed around one missile. I have also never seen any number for missiles that would support a 140 missile standing force. Furthermore, when one reads Wynn it is clear he is extrapolating; "ie two-missile"

Furthermore the RAF still foresaw BS as serving alongside a manned deterrent not instead of it, first OR.330 then OR.1159 so a one-for-one replacement of Thor is entirely logical.
 
Interestingly in Harold Macmillan's diary he only mentions 60 missiles; 20/2/60 "We have spent £60m on it to date. To finish the job and get 60 of these animals will cost £500m (at least)." 24/2/60 "We wd have to spend another £500m to get 60 rockets."
As an interesting aside on costs here is another entry; 6/4/60 "We have confirmed cancellation of BLUESTREAK. We have spent £65m already and I suppose, cancellations, we shan't get out of it under £100 millions." So the total spent had gone up around £5 million in just two months!
 
What was reported after all wash-up negotiations was nugatory expenditure of £84Mn. I think I remember Ministers dithering, 1959-60, while believing themselves to be spending £1mn. p.month. They didn't really know. MoS consciously obfuscated: any activity that could have applications to multiple projects was silo'd (Ha!) into a general basket. We really have no idea what any 1950s/early 1960s programme actually "cost". Land, for example, was never brought to any one project's ledger. It all sat in Defence Estates. Stevenage site was owned by the Municipal Corpn. and leased (most such employment-creating sites were leased to the tenant factory-manager for a peppercorn).

Much later MoD sold some sites to the incumbent tenant (like Maggie did for council tenants). When Royal Ordnance was taken over by BAe. their interest was the owned land bank. Not the products of the sites, just the sites.
 

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