British Secret Projects Volume Four

overscan (PaulMM)

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27 December 2005
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British Secret Projects Volume Four (BSP4) covers the guided weapon, ramjet and air-breathing hypersonic research work carried out in the UK. To cover every aspect of this work would require a massive tome and unrestricted access to company archives. Neither of these is currently possible; particularly archive access in the field of guided weapons for obvious reasons.

BSP4 represents the first attempt outside the academic field to tell the story of the United Kingdom’s work in these areas. In particular the early history of British guided weapons development in World War Two, the role of the test vehicle in missile development and Britain’s development of high-speed propulsion systems are described.

Projects that appeared in previous publications and articles as tantalising code-names and designations, for example Ben, Blue Envoy, Green Cheese and PT.428, are described and illustrated for the first time. Many of the accepted truths of British guided weapons such as the effectiveness of the UK deterrent and Sandys’ love affair with missiles are looked at and found wanting. Current weapons and projects that are covered more than adequately in previous work are not looked at in depth unless new material has come to light.

In the hypersonic field, BSP4 looks at Mach=3+ work by Hawker with the P.1134, English Electric / BAC P.42 and Hawker Siddeley Aviation’s APD.1019 studies. None of these could have been carried out without propulsion systems and BSP4 describes the work carried out by Bristol / Bristol Siddeley on their ramjets and Rolls-Royce et al on turbo-rockets.

BSP4 grew out of the Skomer Projects website (no longer updated and much of the material found to be inaccurate during research for BSP4), long-term research on UK hypersonic aircraft and articles written for Air Pictorial and Air Britain. There was also a desire to accompany Tony Buttler’s work on aircraft studies with information on the weapons these aircraft would have carried had everything proceeded as planned. Air-breathing, high-speed aircraft and their powerplant were pretty much a British affair for a decade from 1957, but this has been more or less ignored until now.

So, that’s a very concise outline of BSP4. I hope you like what you’ve seen here and look forward to the book.

Chris Gibson

(via Tony Buttler)
This is really great! UK colour codes illustrated at last!
Waiting for seeing "Pandora" at last...
Great! In the 'waiting for' I'm already started re-reading the AiR Pictorial
articles about the Hawker and EE high flyers ;)
It is now appearing on Amazon, with pic of cover. It is still a few months away though, so I am told.

Have you seen the cover ? An hypersonic with... a RAE TSR-2 chase plane! Well, the cover is already fabulous, I just can't imagine the text... :eek:

The cover does indeed look great. Is that a BAC MUSTARD on the hypersonic design? Or at least a similar design.

I can't wait to see what's inside this volume, it promises to be an eye opener, I think, to what British aircraft designers were capable of, certainly not so far behind the Americans and Soviets as some might think.
Hood said:
The cover does indeed look great. Is that a BAC MUSTARD on the hypersonic design? Or at least a similar design.

Looks MUSTARD shaped, but judging by the size of the cockpit canopies on the hypersonic carrier, it may just be a subscale test body.

Its a BAC P42 study - EAG 4396 Booster Aircraft with EAG 4413 Orbital Vehicle. There's great line drawings of this in the book.
harrier said:
It is now appearing on Amazon, with pic of cover. It is still a few months away though, so I am told.


Hint, hint.....

Publisher: learn how customers can search inside this book.
aemann said:
Its a BAC P42 study - EAG 4396 Booster Aircraft with EAG 4413 Orbital Vehicle. There's great line drawings of this in the book.

Wow! I know some stuff about the P.42 thanks to "the highest hurdle" but I would never have imagined that it went as far as an orbital vehicle...

Here we go for "the stupid question of the day" ;D
Are HOTOL and Skylon included in the book ?
Here's a first look at the model I'm currently building of the EAG 4413 Orbiter. Should whet the appetite a bit! Suppose I should move this the the Fan Art section.


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British Secret Projects Volume Four - Update from Chris Gibson

British Secret Projects Volume 4: Hypersonics, Ramjets and Missiles (BSP4) is in the final stages of production and should be available by August. I know many Secret Projects Forum subscribers are looking forward to its publication and I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Many of the questions raised on the Secret Projects Forum have been addressed by BSP4.

The book comprises two sections: Chapters 1 – 9 look at guided weapons development while 10 – 16 cover ramjets and hypersonic aircraft studies.


Section 1

Chapter 1: Britain’s work on guided weapons during WW2 and what drove this. Ram, the Radio Gun, the Spaniels and the Artemis AAM. Ben, the searchlight-guided SAM, and Brakemine.

Chapter 2: The importance of test vehicles and their prominent role in the development of guided weapons and high-speed research.

Chapter 3: The development of AAMs. Artemis, Red Hawk and Blue Sky, the cancellation of Red Dean and Red Hebe. The origins and development of the three Blue Jays, Blue Vesta, Blue Dolphin and Red Top plus the studies to arm the P.1154 with amongst others, Sea Dart.

Chapter 4: SAM development from Brakemine to Red Duster and Blue Envoy. Red Shoes and defending the army, with PT.428 and the evolution of Rapier. The Shorts shoulder-launched MANPADS continue the theme. Naval weapons include Sea Slug, NIGS, SIGS and the CF.299 Sea Dart plus point-defence systems such as Orange Nell, Popsy / Mopsy and SHIELD.

Chapter 5: Ballistic missile defence including Violet Friend and the “Flying Shield”.

Chapter 6: Air-launched anti-tank weapons. Hawkswing and the reasons it was not adopted. Hawker Siddeley’s Small Agile Battle Field Aircraft (SABA) studies.

Chapter 7: Air to Surface Weapons. Line-Controlled Tallboy, Blue Boar and Green Cheese. The attempts to improve Martel. Of particular interest in this chapter is how the Momentum Bomb worked: Barnes Wallis at his very best!

Chapter 8: Stand-off weapons. Blue Steel, including why Avro got the job in the first place, the attempts to improve it and the Ministries reaction to these. OR.1149 / 1159 - Blue Steel Mk.2, Handley Page’s HP.106 and EECO’s P.10D. The alternatives to Skybolt: Pandora / X.12, Grand Slam, Grand Slam II and the One-Club series.

Chapter 9: Surface to Surface weapons. The Blue Moon, Bristol 196 and Red Rapier expendable bombers. Minimum Conventional Bomber and the “Stealth” Canberra. Includes Blue Water and its predecessor, Red Rose.

Section Two

Chapter 10: Early development of ramjets in Britain. The “propulsive duct” Spitfire and the RAE’s work using a Mustang with ramjets. Postwar work to produce a ramjet for a guided weapon and the differing views of the RAE and NGTE to such work.

Chapter 11: a very brief, non-technical introduction to materials and fuels, two important factors in high-speed flight. Emphasis on brief, non-technical and introduction.

Chapter 12: Bristol Aero Engines work on the combination engine. Hawker P.1134 and the English Electric P.10 and Mach = 3+ airliners.

Chapter 13: High-speed powerplant studies by Bristol Siddeley Engines Ltd including ramjets for stand-off missiles such as X.12 and Grand Slam II, with combination engines for hypersonic airliners and research aircraft. Also of interest is the part played in this by the Nene Meteor.

Chapter 14: Turborockets by Armstrong Siddeley and de Havilland as well as the later work by Rolls-Royce. Hawker’s turborocket aircraft studies are examined.

Chapter 15: BAC Warton’s P.42 studies for research aircraft and air-breathing boosters, as well as the Mach = 4 “TSR.2 replacement” strike aircraft.

Chapter 16: Hawker Siddeley’s APD.1019 studies. The E2 and E5 single-seat research aircraft, the A2 and A5 transports and the E6 turborocket-powered research aircraft. Of particular interest are the H1 and H2 scramjet-powered “flying wedges”.

A glossary of terms and three appendices are included: MoS Colour Codes, Selected Operational Requirements and Stuart Slade’s excellent introduction to radar nomenclature.

So that’s it: BSP.4. It is illustrated throughout with line drawings, Adrian Mann’s exquisite artwork and photos of John Hall’s splendid models as well as photos and drawings from a variety of sources including the National Archives. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing it.


I usually buy my books at I'm anxious but Still not available there :'(
Pometa, it is coming... shipment date from now to August 31st...
aemann said:
Here's a first look at the model I'm currently building of the EAG 4413 Orbiter. Should whet the appetite a bit! Suppose I should move this the the Fan Art section.
That is very tasty! Any progress?
Erm. was it hypersonic, powered by ramjets, or a missile? What makes you think it would be in this book?

could you add more data about this Sea Harrier FRS-3 and why it should be included into that book?. I never heard about this Harrier version

18 months after getting my copy, it's still one of the most frequently read books on my shelf. Excellent job.
I'm sure Chris will be pleased to hear that. He worked hard on the book for quite a while.
You can purchase a copy of the print artwork on the cover from the artist Timothy O'Brien. It costs about £30. I did and it's now on my wall getting questions from visitors.
You have to email Timothy O'Brien to request a print. You should then get your print a couple of weeks.
I love the "Raspberry Ripple" paint scheme on the BAC TSR-2. I really like the artwork of Keith Woodcock.


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got my copy of BSPV4

A Fantastic book ! ! !, never [for me] see Projects and Photo's
and this in deep recherche by Chris Gibson and Tony Buttler

my recommendation : buy this book
Published way back in 2009 this is still the only book I know which contains
detailed information on such obscure projects as the British Army PT 428
SAM system.
My reason for posting this was to ask, given the time that has elapsed
since publication, whether anyone is looking at an update or covering in
particular the land and sea based systems, which are often mentioned
in passing in other works. For example, information about launchers is
often vague.
David K Brown was probably the closest thing we will ever get to a British Norman Friedman; unfortunately he's been gone for some time.

You might try Friedman's "The Postwar Naval Revolution", which concentrates extensively on British ships - planned and built - and the weapon systems they hoped to carry, "British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After", and also Brown's "Rebuilding the Royal Navy".

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