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English Electric Black Rock.

Spark

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English Electric Black Rock.

English Electric ground mobile Ground to Ground Missile early mid Fifties, solid propellant missile possible code name Black Rock?
Much longer range than Blue Water but less than the initial English Electric LRBM.,
So guessing we are talking about 200 to a 1000miles range?
There was talk then, brief references, can any one help with details
 

JFC Fuller

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Skomer says 200 miles:

http://www.skomer.u-net.com/projects/missiles.htm

I wish I had that guys resources!
 

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Hi Sealordlawrence,

Black Rock was before before the LRBM, so say 1950~53, a solid with a British bomb at the front plus guidance and a solid propellant motor.
This raises issues of interest.
Possible bomb yield, circa 1950 , A heavy bomb?
Guidance,?
Size of motor.?
Would it have been a substantial solid motor for its day?

This leads to another intersting question,
One of the early second phase proposals for a UK LRBM (circa1953) was a two stage solid motor missile with a seven motor cluster for first stage and a single motor second stage plus vernier motors but not suitable because of limited development potential for the SLV

Conjecture,
Could the Two stage LRBM motors be similar to the Black Rock motor?
Assuming an absolute minimum 1,500n.mile range?
 

JFC Fuller

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Does anybody know what large Solid Rockets were tested in the UK prior to the early 60s. The biggest UK solid that seems to referenced is the Stonechat used in Falstaff though that seems to have been a 70s motor. There is also this curious reference about a larger variant:

http://astronautix.com/engines/stoatmk2.htm

Certainly a lot of work was done on the Blue Water motors and they had been enlarged to 24inch by 1964. Were there larger motors prior to this?
 

CNH

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Prior to the early 60s the largest would have been 17 inch diameter. The only British solids greater than 17 inch diameter would have been Kestrel [never used in the end], Waxwing and Stonechat. Apparently a 54 inch motor was filled and fired [once!] at RPE Westcott.
 

JFC Fuller

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CNH,

Thank you for your reply, I have always understood Kestrel to have been the planned solid second stage for the 54 inch Black Knight but I have never been able to find specific details about it. Given the schematic I have seen of that weapon I always assumed it to be relatively small, rather like Waxwing at 28 inches.

The 54 inch solid motors does pique my interest for the simple reason that the logical use of such a motor would be in the 54 inch Black Knight. Do you know any details and history about this motor or when it was tested?
 

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The 54 inch Black Knight was not a weapon. Details of the Kestrel are available (they were test fired at Westcott). The 54 inch BK was intended for further re-entry studies [Crusade] but given a choice between that or Black Arrow, Black Arrow won.

The 54 inch solid: it certainly wasn't intended as a 54 Black Knight replacement (it would almost certainly have been less effective).

I have no further details other than one was fired at Westcott. Why? No idea, other than 'proof of concept'. The UK had no requirement for a 54 inch solid motor.
 

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CNH,

Sorry I should have been clearer, i am aware of the purpose of the Black Knight, whilst never intended as a weapon it did support the Blue streak programme. However, if you check the Polaris alternatives thread you will see that it was briefly considered, albeit only on paper, as ballistic using liquid fuel.

There are a number of potential applications for large British solid motor depending on the timeframe in which it was tested. The very early 60s would imply an missile application, 54 inch perfectly matching the later Black Knight variant. Slightly later and it could have been intended for an upper stage in one of the multiple BSSLV proposals. After that it could have related to the various high speed trials that occurred later on for which Falstaff was used.

Do you know what date the 54 inch motor was tested? Also, may I ask what your source is?

Frustratingly the following book appears to contain a section about the 54 inch motor: History of rocketry and astronautics: proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics : Rio de Janeiro, 2000

Unfortunately it does not appear on either Amazon and there is not a full google books version!
 

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Regrettably my sources are more anecdotal than anything else: I was told a few years ago by someone who worked at Westcott that he had seen 54 inch motor cases around, and when I visited there recently, someone else said the same thing. I think I may have seen a paper reference to a single firing, but I've been wading through so much recently that I couldn't say where I've seen it.

There are no references in any policy files to any requirement for such a motor. I suspect that as much as anything it was Westcott seeing it could be done - or more precisely, whether they could do it.

It is probably co-incidence, but Polaris was 54 inch diameter. On the other hand, there is no way Westcott would have been able to replicate the performance of Polaris, which had a very sophisticated design.

As for Blue Water:

'The largest motor, at 24 ins diameter, produced by Summerfield was the motor for the English Electric
Company (EEC) proposed surface-to-surface artillery missile, code-named BLUE WATER ( originally known
as RED ROSE.).
'This was a single chamber dual-thrust motor incorporating a single composite propellant grain which
operated at two successive pressure levels, that in the boost stage of 1980 psi and in the sustain stage at
the lower pressure of 443 psi. The motor had a subsonic blast tube and a single conical nozzle. The case
was made using the strip-laminate process.' [Hugh Nicholson]
 

cardonet

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sealordlawrence said:
Frustratingly the following book appears to contain a section about the 54 inch motor: History of rocketry and astronautics: proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics : Rio de Janeiro, 2000

Unfortunately it does not appear on either Amazon and there is not a full google books version!

The proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics : Rio de Janeiro, 2000 can be found at
http://www.univelt.com/History.html
 

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I think one can read too much into the mystical number of 54 inches. RAE wanted an enlarged Black Knight; Saunders Roe produced drawings of 48 inch, 51 inch, and finally 54 inch vehicles. People like round numbers - 54 inches is 4 and a half feet.

The fact that the unbuilt enlarged Black Knight and Polaris are both 54 inches can definitely be put done to the workings of coincidence.

As to the solids - well, up to then they had been 17 inch diameter. With the 54 inch BK, a bigger second stage was needed - thus 24 inch Kestrel. Where do we go from 24 inches? Maybe 36 and then 54?
 

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Indeed, the size of this motor may be entirely coincidental, the date of the programme should be revealing.
 

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Flight International 12th September 1968.

Could this be it?

CNH - author of Vertical Empire by any chance? ;)
 

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cardonet

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CNH said:
I think one can read too much into the mystical number of 54 inches. RAE wanted an enlarged Black Knight; Saunders Roe produced drawings of 48 inch, 51 inch, and finally 54 inch vehicles. People like round numbers - 54 inches is 4 and a half feet.

The fact that the unbuilt enlarged Black Knight and Polaris are both 54 inches can definitely be put done to the workings of coincidence.

As to the solids - well, up to then they had been 17 inch diameter. With the 54 inch BK, a bigger second stage was needed - thus 24 inch Kestrel. Where do we go from 24 inches? Maybe 36 and then 54?

Westcott developped a 36 inch solid motor known as the Stonechat. This motor was used on the original Falstaff (Stonechat I) then on the operational Falstaff (Stonechat II) with an adaptator for its 54 inch fairing.
 

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Indeed. Falstaff was used to test components for Chevaline, which went on the top of the 54 inch second stage of Polaris - hence the adapter.

There is a file in the PRO which contains the details of and data for 74 solid fuel motors produced at Westcott - Stonechat is included but no 54 inch motors. Can't recall the date of the file offhand.
 

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CNH said:
Indeed. Falstaff was used to test components for Chevaline, which went on the top of the 54 inch second stage of Polaris - hence the adapter.

There is a file in the PRO which contains the details of and data for 74 solid fuel motors produced at Westcott - Stonechat is included but no 54 inch motors. Can't recall the date of the file offhand.

And so the plot thickens! I would imagine that the 54 inch motor was later, probably following on from Stonechat.
 
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CNH

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Don't think so - I don't have precise data, but I think the trial 54 inch would have been mid 60s. It was probably more for 'proof of concept', rather than anything else. British solid motors were not terribly efficient, particularly compared with their American counterparts.

The only use found for Stonechat was Falstaff. Some thoughts had been given to using the first stage of Black Arrow, but that was dismissed fairly quickly due to the high cost.
 

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Almost entirely unrelated, but has anyone any idea of what is involved with "items of normal Embodiment Loan Equipment"?
 

JFC Fuller

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I absolutely agree, British solid rocket development was pitifully slow and the end results were never especially impressive, witness the fact that Aerojet in the US built the 260 inch solid motor and we are here talking about a 54 inch as the largest UK effort. The simple fact was that the UK moved away from ballistic missiles prior to moving properly towards solid motors. Even the Black Knight ballistic missile study only seems to have considered liquid.

However, if one wishes to hypothesise alternative scenarios based on actual industrial capability then a plausible ballistic missile alternative is a solid first stage based on the 54 inch motor with the Kestrel upper stage. Of course it would have required a lot of development. The most useful Black Knight BM study used the storable NTO/UDMH combination as liquid fuel.
 

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CNH #19: EL: A Prime Contractor in ancient times was not allowed to procure difficult things and take cost risk/handling charge on them. Direct MoS/MoA &tc contracts. Production Units then free-issued by MoS to the place of, ah, embodiment, which might be the Prime's assembly line, or might be the User's acceptance site (say, RNARY or RAF MU). So, here, maybe an accessory, a pump say, might be either too complex to be entrusted for R&D management to the tinsmith, or might be inventory-common to another end-item.
 

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Thanks, alertken. I think I understand that. Could I simplify that to 'machinery on loan to the contractor'?

There was a cursory sketch for a solid motor version of Black Knight, but I suspect it was more 'going through the motions' than anything else.
 

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CNH said:
There was a cursory sketch for a solid motor version of Black Knight, but I suspect it was more 'going through the motions' than anything else.

CNH,

Do you know the date of this sketch? I know that consideration was being given to NTO/UDMH for the briefly considered ballistic missile variant sometime before 1964.
 

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No, this is ancient - shall we say around 1955? See attached.

The NTO/UDMH was, shall we say, always more of an aspiration than anything else. Apart from Chevaline, nothing was ever done about it.
 

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Barrington Bond

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CNH, could you throw any light on this pic?

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,9074.15.html

Regards,
Barry
 

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CNH

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Yes, it's one of the sketchy solid propellent designs at the time of the MRBM, later Blue Streak, design.

Frankly, the report is not very impressive, and as sealordlawrence says, it clusters in a rather nasty fashion.

One of the points about Blue Streak is how the design gets 'trapped' fairly early on by the design to use the NAA motor. Another of the oddities is that they design for a one ton warhead, which produces the abomination of Orange Herald (which probably cost more than either Black Knight or Black Arrow!) at a time when the UK is in the middle of doing its own thermonuclear development. And this for a missile not due to come into service for another ten years! For £60 million you could probably have produced quite a respectable sold fuel design.

The full report is in the PRO.
 

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We have had a thread here previously in which someone much more knowledgeable than myself pointed out the seeming complete inability of the missile and warhead teams to work together. Certainly the various establishments involved in missile work seem to have failed miserably to develop any sort of coherent full systems design team. We also have the squandered effort of the Bristol Delta series from pre-Blue Streak that never seem to have produced anything of much use.

This combined with the relative lack of investment (relative to the US/USSR) means that the UK gets stuck with very few lines of development and unfortunately Blue Streak was never quite the right solution (though in my mind it was a better solution than Skybolt for the UK), Polaris on the other hand was near perfect, it even combined one part of the UK defence industry which was working well, the nuclear submarine element.
 

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I'm not sure if I'd agree with that. Skybolt, from the Whitehall perspective, was exactly what was wanted in 1960. It extended the life of the V bombers by at least ten years. We'd spent an awful lot of money on aircraft that that looked as though they were going to become obsolete almost as soon as they were entering service, and Skybolt would have cost us peanuts.

In many ways, it was quite an advanced weapon - and one which worked [the last flight, after the cancellation, worked perfectly!]. Only snag was that the US already had Minuteman, Titan, Polaris and so on, and didn't need Skybolt. Hence the cancellation and the crisis.

Polaris in 1960 looked a very bad bargain. Building half a dozen Polaris submarines would have been very expensive! Even Polaris in 1963 was far more expensive than Skybolt would ever have been.
 

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Indeed, Polaris was considerably more expensive but it was much more survivable than V-Bombers sat on the ground with Skybolts waiting for the call. Relatively cheap yes, a complete solution, not so much- in my opinion. ;)

For discussion about AWE see bri21's posts in the UK Thermonuclear weapons thread, particularly Post 38.
 

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Agreed Polaris was much more survivable; indeed, the whole business of survivability was what killed Blue Streak. The idea that bombers on an airfield are more survivable than missile in a silo is laughable, but that's what was sold to Watkinson.

It's extraordinarily easy to say things after the event, but the whole Orange Herald saga was bonkers. We start designing a missile, but we don't know the weight of the warhead. We don't even know how to design a fusion warhead, so we come up with an horrific fission device. But the missile isn't going to be deployed for another ten years - what's going to happen to warhead design in that period? We know that they can be made lighter - the US is doing just that - but we don't know how - yet. We do, however, have ten years to work at the problem! We also end up with a missile which is far larger and more expensive than it need be.
 

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CNH said:
No, this is ancient - shall we say around 1955? See attached.

The NTO/UDMH was, shall we say, always more of an aspiration than anything else. Apart from Chevaline, nothing was ever done about it.

Just looking at the scale on that picture, and i appreciate that is is rough, it appears that the solid motor in the single tube design was approximately 24-36 inches???
 

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Could be, but I wouldn't place the slightest significance in that. RAE reports tended to divorce their designs from reality. That's a bit harsh, but I can imagine someone saying, 'If we were to do the job with solid fuel, it would look something like this.' Whether there were any motors that size real or planned wouldn't matter!
 

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sealordlawrence said:
CNH,

I was not suggesting that any particular motor was under consideration, simply that it may well be suggestive of the type and size of motor that would be possible.
Hi folks
Note the Polaris A3 appears to have had the ICI motor casing technology. Hence the increased range. KEW referance in document seen some time ago.
 

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Flight International 2nd July 1964 from an article about Westcott and its current programmes.
 

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I have seen a reference to a 54in diameter motor called Westcott-54 Inch, but can't recall where I saw it. Last century I corresponded with a chap who was pretty much a rocket motor expert and in the course of our discussions he talked about one-offs, including the Westcott-54 Inch. It weighed in at 4,300kg and the case was helically welded steel and the charge was CD119. Its first and only firing was on 11th June 1965 and was the largest diameter motor ever made and fired in the UK.

Now...interestingly...during my research for Typhoon to Typhoon, I came across the Polaris-derived counter-air system and the RAE paper, from 1970, discusses how the Polaris motor might not be powerful enough to provide adequate range but a slightly larger rocket motor based on the Polaris motor could be developed in the UK. Polaris missile diameter is, I believe, 54in.

Chris
 
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