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How could the RAF have used the Hawker P1121?

Mike Pryce

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Tuttle and Kyle. Camm's "Evil bloody Air Marshals"?

It's always nice to get someone else to pay for your insurance policy.
 

zen

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OR.329......isn't that F.155T?

Or to put it another way a superlative set of requirements for a dedicated interceptor so extreme that NO aircraft entering service in the early 60's met it. Not even the vaunted MiG.25 on the other side.

Meanwhile the kind of performance the P1121 was expected to reach, was in the ballpark for a host of high end aircraft in that era.
 

JFC Fuller

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This comes back to why the RAF bought/buys aircraft, and its something that often gets lost. It's easiest to understand in the terms of interceptors and F.155T is a great example. The requirement was based around meeting the perceived threat, a supersonic bomber carrying a stand-off missile. That drove a host of sub requirements from the interceptor system; the warhead requirements for the missile, which drove the size of the missile, the speed and range requirements for the aircraft, the detection and engagement range of the radar etc., etc. Mixed with the technology of the time it soon drives the design process towards something as massive as the Fairey Delta III. This seems exorbitant when viewed in a vacuum but to the decision makers it was binary, analysis was telling them what the threat was and anything that couldn't meet that threat was pointless. That we now know the analysis of the threat was wrong does not change the fact that it was perceived to be right at the time. The quote from DCAS Tuttle that Paul posted outlines this in blunt terms, in the mid-late 1950s there were two big aircraft requirements, OR.329 and GOR.339, both of these were derived from analysis of perceived need and the P.1121 could meet neither.

From an Alternative History perspective the options are therefore an OR to a different requirement; my suggestion being the Venom Fighter-Bomber replacement, or a radical re-writing of the two OR's mentioned above. My reasoning for the Venom replacement being that I suspect the P.1121 could have met all the range, speed, payload and nav-attack system requirements of the later Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 replacement, although it obviously wouldn't have provided the STOVL element. Equally, the timeframes can be made to work by making the Venom replacement programme a better funded project that is initiated earlier, around 1956, but with a similar in-service date (1960/61).
 

JFC Fuller

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Alternatively a more correct assessment of the actual threat could have resulted in a less ambitious set of requirements.
Absolutely. I am interested in what others found, my interpretation of the material I have seen is that the intelligence picture was so poor in the mid-1950s that the threat analysis ended up being heavily based on what Britain was able to build, which produced a rapidly escalating series of bomber and interceptor requirements. Essentially, once the RAF produced an OR and initiated a programme it was assumed that the Soviets could and would create something similar, so a counter had to be produced. E.g., we have conceived of the OR.330, so the Soviet's must be able to produce an OR.330...? We had better build an interceptor to intercept an OR.330!....but then the Soviets will be able to do the same...soooo...OR.336!
 

Archibald

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This comes back to why the RAF bought/buys aircraft, and its something that often gets lost. It's easiest to understand in the terms of interceptors and F.155T is a great example. The requirement was based around meeting the perceived threat, a supersonic bomber carrying a stand-off missile. That drove a host of sub requirements from the interceptor system; the warhead requirements for the missile, which drove the size of the missile, the speed and range requirements for the aircraft, the detection and engagement range of the radar etc., etc. Mixed with the technology of the time it soon drives the design process towards something as massive as the Fairey Delta III. This seems exorbitant when viewed in a vacuum but to the decision makers it was binary, analysis was telling them what the threat was and anything that couldn't meet that threat was pointless. That we now know the analysis of the threat was wrong does not change the fact that it was perceived to be right at the time. The quote from DCAS Tuttle that Paul posted outlines this in blunt terms, in the mid-late 1950s there were two big aircraft requirements, OR.329 and GOR.339, both of these were derived from analysis of perceived need and the P.1121 could meet neither.

From an Alternative History perspective the options are therefore an OR to a different requirement; my suggestion being the Venom Fighter-Bomber replacement, or a radical re-writing of the two OR's mentioned above. My reasoning for the Venom replacement being that I suspect the P.1121 could have met all the range, speed, payload and nav-attack system requirements of the later Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 replacement, although it obviously wouldn't have provided the STOVL element. Equally, the timeframes can be made to work by making the Venom replacement programme a better funded project that is initiated earlier, around 1956, but with a similar in-service date (1960/61).
I think this is the difference with France - right there. To be brutally honest... the fundamental difference is that the Armée de l'Air was not FIXED on the Operational Requirements / according threat.

There were threats and OR to counter them... and then, there was the harsh reality of FUNDING. In the end, the main priority was not meeting the OR / threat objective, but rather, getting an aircraft that worked and could be build at a reasonable price.

I think it might be a difference in attitude related to WWII.

Basically GB tried to be the third superpower in Cold War just like they had been the third big power in WWII.
Hence if the USA had F-106 and USSR had Su-9 / Su-15 / Tu-128, then GB would have F-155T.
In all three case: specialized interceptor, top speed, top radar, top missile.

France by contrast did not even tried. WWII had already screwed any hopes of post-war superpower continuity (thanks Gamelin and 1940 for that - yet no thanks for what followed, Vichy...)

Either a variant of the Mirage III would be enough, or not - and in the second case, well, we don't care.
Because what we need is an aircraft that works, that can be build in numbers large enough at a reasonable cost.

The Mirage III was no F-155T by any mean but it was declined in -B, -E, -R and -V variants: twin-seat, all weather attack, reconnaissance, and clear weather attack without radar. And the AdA took 473 of them.

Another case that would be made was that France avionics industry lagged behind until the 80's. Yet somewhat paradoxically, such was the expense of radars and missiles, ballooning very fast from 1955 - maybe it was better to stay below the curve rather than finding itself in the CF-105 Arrow situation (hint: Sparrow II).
The Mirage III radar and missiles were average at best because the French avionics industry was pretty average, too. But somewhat paradoxically, it made the Mirage III cheaper and less risky. Since, from the 50's onwards, the big expense and risk were no longer in airframe or engines, but certainly in the avionics, radar, missiles...

Yeah, how about that. The good thing with having a passable radar industry - at least, no chance in hell to get tangled in a "pie in the sky" missile like Sparrow II or Red Dean / Red Hebe.
Making R.530 work well enough, with Cyrano II, is already such a difficult endeavour and tedious affair - no chance Thomson CSF try hitting above their weight... "look, we need fire and forget" or "we need AIM-47 level of performance". Even if they dare trying, funding realities quickly ensure it is shot and burn at paper study level. And the nice thing with paper studies, they are not very expensive.

Brutal realism... Dassault trademark.
 
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overscan (PaulMM)

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Absolutely correct @JFC Fuller. They had no idea at all what the USSR was planning to build, so it was simply assumed they'd build something equivalent to whatever fever dreams the Operational Requirements team were imagining for the RAF, hopefully with a small delay. In 1953, they expected a low level Mach 0.9 bomber as the 1960/1970 threat (DSIR23 22224 (Expected Air Threat 1960-1970)). A bit later it was Mach 1.3, then as OR.330 came along, Mach 2.0 at 70,000 ft.
 

Mike Pryce

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Has anyone written anything on UK air intelligence in this period? It seems to be the key to understanding the thrashing about by decision makers.

Sandys could, at least, make a decision. Seems no one could really say it was the right one or not.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Prior to the U-2 overflights, ignorance about what the Soviets were up to was near total in both the US and the UK. A CIA document on Soviet Bloc Capabilities published in June 1953 indicates there is no evidence the Soviets are working on a thermonuclear device and it was very unlikely they could build one before mid 1954. Two months later....

The sum total of information on aircraft was largely confined to interpretation of photographs taken by military attaches at the annual Tushino air shows or grainy snaps from NATO encounters over the Baltic etc.
 

kaiserd

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Has anyone written anything on UK air intelligence in this period? It seems to be the key to understanding the thrashing about by decision makers.

Sandys could, at least, make a decision. Seems no one could really say it was the right one or not.
To be fair to decision makers this was also a period of rapid technological developments.
There were Soviet Mach 2 plus high altitude bombers on Soviet drawing boards, they just weren’t prioritised and developed given the much higher priority given to rapidly maturing ballistic missile technology and the impact on survivability of bombers by developments in SAM & AAM technology. But even all that took time for the Soviets to figure out themselves.
Hence very dedicated interceptors like a F155T type aircraft or the US F-108 made sense at inception and had on-paper prey but like their intended prey were overtaken by developments that were not entirely foreseeable at inception.
The more general issue is that the superpowers could afford to have whole a range of different types while other powers had to cut their cloth accordingly.
 

JFC Fuller

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Has anyone written anything on UK air intelligence in this period? It seems to be the key to understanding the thrashing about by decision makers.

Sandys could, at least, make a decision. Seems no one could really say it was the right one or not.
Huw Dylan wrote a wonderful book called Defence Intelligence and the Cold War: Britain's Joint Intelligence Bureau 1945-64 that covers bits of this. As Paul noted, intelligence sources were limited to the fragmentary information and grainy photos military attaches could produce, bits of SIGINT, and interrogations of German scientists and engineers that had been taken to the Soviet Union and then repatriated to Germany. The U2 overflights greatly increased the available information but couldn't make up for a lack of access into Soviet R&D institutions and design bureaus that would have given a real insight into their technical capabilities. At least thats my take.
 
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Archibald

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Prior to the U-2 overflights, ignorance about what the Soviets were up to was near total in both the US and the UK. A CIA document on Soviet Bloc Capabilities published in June 1953 indicates there is no evidence the Soviets are working on a thermonuclear device and it was very unlikely they could build one before mid 1954. Two months later....

The sum total of information on aircraft was largely confined to interpretation of photographs taken by military attaches at the annual Tushino air shows or grainy snaps from NATO encounters over the Baltic etc.
And the godamm Soviets certainly knew it: in 1961 they flew the same and unique M-50 thrice with different markings, to create the illusion of a large force...

As soon as the CORONA and GAMBIT spysats started flying in large numbers (250 Agena spysats of varied types launched between 1959 and 1984) the intelligence certainly got better... satellites were unmanned, cheap, plentiful (at least before the KH-9 !), and provided nearly constant coverage.
 
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JFC Fuller

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I think this is the difference with France - right there. To be brutally honest... the fundamental difference is that the Armée de l'Air was not FIXED on the Operational Requirements / according threat.

There were threats and OR to counter them... and then, there was the harsh reality of FUNDING. In the end, the main priority was not meeting the OR / threat objective, but rather, getting an aircraft that worked and could be build at a reasonable price.

Basically GB tried to be the third superpower in Cold War just like they had been the third big power in WWII.
Hence if the USA had F-106 and USSR had Su-9 / Su-15 / Tu-128, then GB would have F-155T.
In all three case: specialized interceptor, top speed, top radar, top missile.

Either a variant of the Mirage III would be enough, or not - and in the second case, well, we don't care.
Because what we need is an aircraft that works, that can be build in numbers large enough at a reasonable cost.

The Mirage III was no F-155T by any mean but it was declined in -B, -E, -R and -V variants: twin-seat, all weather attack, reconnaissance, and clear weather attack without radar. And the AdA took 473 of them.
I don't think this was the case. The Mirage IIIC fulfilled the same role as the Lightning, the IIIE and IIIR a similar role to the Hunter FGA.9 and FR.10 respectively (and very similar to what I propose for the P.1121). Throw in the two RAF requirements (Lightnings + Hunter FGA.9/10) and one gets to a very similar volume requirement (circa 460). But the French Air Force also pursued mixed power interceptors (SNASCO Trident, roughly analogous to the SR.177), strategic bombers (Mirage IVA, scaled down from the IVB), land based ballistic missiles (SSBS series, very roughly analogous to Blue Streak in concept) and multiple proposed Super Vautour variants were two-seat all weather interceptors so at least someone in France was thinking along similar lines to F155T. And there were a host of other cancelled projects.

The Mirage III was superb, a wonderful achievement, but it was only part of a massive French R&D programme that was clearly aimed at meeting a series of operational requirements which were themselves derived from the perceived roles of the French Air Force and the threat they would face whilst conducting them.
 
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Archibald

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I think this is the difference with France - right there. To be brutally honest... the fundamental difference is that the Armée de l'Air was not FIXED on the Operational Requirements / according threat.

There were threats and OR to counter them... and then, there was the harsh reality of FUNDING. In the end, the main priority was not meeting the OR / threat objective, but rather, getting an aircraft that worked and could be build at a reasonable price.

Basically GB tried to be the third superpower in Cold War just like they had been the third big power in WWII.
Hence if the USA had F-106 and USSR had Su-9 / Su-15 / Tu-128, then GB would have F-155T.
In all three case: specialized interceptor, top speed, top radar, top missile.

Either a variant of the Mirage III would be enough, or not - and in the second case, well, we don't care.
Because what we need is an aircraft that works, that can be build in numbers large enough at a reasonable cost.

The Mirage III was no F-155T by any mean but it was declined in -B, -E, -R and -V variants: twin-seat, all weather attack, reconnaissance, and clear weather attack without radar. And the AdA took 473 of them.
I don't think this was the case. The Mirage IIIC fulfilled the same role as the Lightning, the IIIE and IIIR a similar role to the Hunter FGA.9 and FR.10 respectively (and very similar to what I propose for the P.1121). Throw in the two RAF requirements (Lightnings + Hunter FGA.9/10) and one gets to a very similar volume requirement (circa 460).
But the French Air Force also pursued
- mixed power interceptors (SNASCO Trident, roughly analogous to the SR.177) (Trident > canned in 1958)
- strategic bombers (Mirage IVA, scaled down from the IVB) (good point, but funded as top priority by the nuclear deterrent)
- land based ballistic missiles (SSBS series, very roughly analogous to Blue Streak in concept) (much later, in the 60's)
- and multiple proposed Super Vautour variants were two-seat all weather interceptors so at least someone in France was thinking along similar lines to F155T. (canned in 1958, crushed by the Mirage IV)

And there were a host of other cancelled projects.

The Mirage III was superb, a wonderful achievement, but it was only part of a massive French R&D programme that was clearly aimed at meeting a series of operational requirements which were themselves derived from the perceived roles of the French Air Force and the threat they would face whilst conducting them.
I see your point.

Just want to notice that France got his own Sandys / Diefenbaker massive cuts the same year, 1958.

Cancelled that year (because squeezed between the Mirage III and the nuclear deterrent & Mirage IV) were
- Trident
- Leduc 022
- any prospect for operational derivatives of the Griffon (Griffon III)
- SO-4060 "Super vautour"
- Etendard IV for the Armée de l'Air as low-medium level interceptors
- the last SMB-2 orders (total procurement cut to 180)
- the last Vautour orders (total procurement cut to 140)
- any other Mirage project larger than the Mirage III that was not a Mirage IV-A (F-105-class, Phantom-class, B-58-class Mirages)
- Also PA58 Verdun, once again because of nuclear deterrent.

Heavy losses, when you think about it, but much less a trauma than GB or Canada because the aerospace industry shrugged it off and carried on. At least Dassault (and Breguet later) with the Mirage III.
For public companies, it was "combat aircraft: endgame".

The Mirage IV-A itself was the lone survivor of a wide number of smaller and larger Mirages. SO-4060 was its lone competitor in all these categories... and completely died.
 
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red admiral

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This comes back to why the RAF bought/buys aircraft, and its something that often gets lost.
To sustain jobs in Preston / Belfast? :)

The discussion on overestimating the threat aircraft is interesting, but oveelooks that the real threat was actually even higher performance - ballistic missiles. Hence no interceptor aircraft required: answer is UK's own credible detterent.
 

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Sir Thomas Pike ( Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Fighter Comand) was strongly supportive of the 'multirole fighter/bomber for limited wars' concept, and in general the senior RAF officers were more supportive of Camm and the P.1121 than the younger staff of Operational Requirements, steeped in the latest technologies and buzzwords and at times contemptuously dismissive of the P.1121.
Figures - as someone more in the latter group, I’d always support them :)

Yet the decisions were made by the former, and no Air Marshal has ever signed upto something by a junior if they disagree with it!
 

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This comes back to why the RAF bought/buys aircraft, and its something that often gets lost.
To sustain jobs in Preston / Belfast? :)

The discussion on overestimating the threat aircraft is interesting, but oveelooks that the real threat was actually even higher performance - ballistic missiles. Hence no interceptor aircraft required: answer is UK's own credible detterent.
True and yet here we are today with 7 sqns of superlative air to air fighters that form nearly 90% of combat air.

There is a slightly weird sense that the RN went back to limited war kit emphasising GP capabilities, the Army maintained large limited war forces whilst also trying to build BAOR and the RAF still went down high end platforms ie. TSR2 and “niche” ones such as Lightning.

Arguably after ‘57 what was actually needed was just that GP fighter-bomber, peacetime and limited war interception plus ground attack. TSR2 spec seems to owe more to the F155 concept of being at the boundary (high speed low level automated etc).
 
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zen

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Yes when evolution of Buccaneer would pretty much do, and the key to the longer term was EW. At least for strike and Attack. More important than supersonic speed really.

Which oddly enough takes us back to V-bomber developments and the V1000. A lot of that thinking became real for the US, especially in Vietnam. As they found out how dangerous low level could be.
We only hit this in Iraq.
 

Archibald

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the real threat was actually even higher performance - ballistic missiles. Hence no interceptor aircraft required
Avro Arrow very own reason to die. Diefenbaker was hardly a inspiring luminary, but similar cuts happened to all major aerospace powers except Sweden.

Diefenbaker and Sandys did a lot of damage, sure on April 4, 1957 and February 20, 1959.

But de Gaulle and Khrushchev also slaughtered a lot of "sacred cows".

While in the USA, cancellation of F-108 Rapier in September 1959 was kind of "death knell" to ADC. Over the next decade repeated atempts at replacing the F-106 would go nowhere.

All these decisions are clearly related to the advent of the ICBM.
 
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Ballistic missiles were badly overhyped, including by those that thought they would be able to save on the costs of maintaining large standing militaries. In the 1950s it was thought that ballistic missiles, ICBMs and otherwise, would be ultimately much cheaper than bombers and other delivery systems such as cruise missiles. That proved to be in dire error. Quite a bit of the 'missile will always get through' thinking was also involved.
 
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Archibald

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The mistake they made was to think that all wars would be high intensity and nuclear armaggeddon - and thus fought with ICBMs.
ICBMs were steel / aluminium tubes with cheap propellant, they were unpiloted and single-shot. This made them far cheaper than B-70s. Also flying at Mach 23 they were nearly impossible to intercept - ABM was an insanely expensive, complete absurdity.
McNamara famously wanted ten thousand Minuteman missiles.
 

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A bit like the “go light go fast go home” of the 90s which promptly led to 2x “go long, go heavy” conflicts as most conflicts had in fact signposted.
 

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Ballistic missiles are very boring. They also tend to be less suitable for the “4 block war” we’ve pretty much spent the length of the nation’s existence actually fighting in one form or location or another.

To be fair, for the first time in history a decisive superweapon actually existed that was economically/technologically possible. Even gunpowder vs sharp fruit slices wasn’t remotely the same in terms of the outcome they offered. So people going wrong is probably not unreasonable.
 

zen

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Hmmmm....it was a particularly vicious looking piece of Mango....
 

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Diefenbaker and Sandys did a lot of damage, sure on April 4, 1957 and February 20, 1959.
It wasn't just the aircraft they cancelled which were the problem; it was the massive discontinuity in aerospace R&D. In Canada, this was immediately fatal to all future high-performance military aircraft development. Britain was stronger in that respect and could weather the storm, but bear in mind that even here the industry was savaged. The only all-British combat aircraft to enter production since 1957 that weren't in development when the Sandys axe came down are the Nimrod, Harrier and Hawk, and the Lightning only just made it.
 

red admiral

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Britain was stronger in that respect and could weather the storm, but bear in mind that even here the industry was savaged. The only all-British combat aircraft to enter production since 1957 that weren't in development when the Sandys axe came down are the Nimrod, Harrier and Hawk, and the Lightning only just made it.
This isn't actually true though. There was a RAES historical conference recently that revisited this. In the UK employment in the sector didn't really change. People just moved around. This likely had knock on impact on making TSR2 so expensive by lumping on lots of extra stuff and people. But it would have been far more expensive to continue to fund multiple programmes.

The UK military aerospace industry exists to supply the UK military's needs. Not the UK government exists to fund the UK aerospace industry.
 

zen

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Well strictly TSR.2, F111, AFVG, UKVG, and then MRCA Tornado.
When taken in the round, the UK spent quite some amount of cash to eventually get it's LRI platform and rather a long time to achieve it.
 

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But it got the aircraft it needed without writing industry a blank cheque
And if government had had the sense to lean on the banks to loan money to the aircraft/vehicle/ship building industries (as they understood was necessary as far back as the 1930s) then the great national benefit of re-uniting Britain's finance and industrial sectors might have been achieved and the government would not have become the first last and only recourse for finance for industry.
 

Purpletrouble

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Britain was stronger in that respect and could weather the storm, but bear in mind that even here the industry was savaged. The only all-British combat aircraft to enter production since 1957 that weren't in development when the Sandys axe came down are the Nimrod, Harrier and Hawk, and the Lightning only just made it.
This isn't actually true though. There was a RAES historical conference recently that revisited this. In the UK employment in the sector didn't really change. People just moved around. This likely had knock on impact on making TSR2 so expensive by lumping on lots of extra stuff and people. But it would have been far more expensive to continue to fund multiple programmes.

The UK military aerospace industry exists to supply the UK military's needs. Not the UK government exists to fund the UK aerospace industry.
Definitely agree this helped make TSR2 look so bad, and the same thing happened with Typhoon and F35.

Disagree with the 2nd, aerospace is not quite so deliniated as civ/mil even if organisations are as the people and ideas/tech flow across the two.

Many people and politicians do feel Govt is there to support industry and Govts of all flavours do just that for social reasons alone.

Govt support is vital not only if the industry is to support Govt needs, but as a springboard for export success. At which the Govt has a keen interest in as that generates national wealth, see Al Yammah for how nested that is!

And if the Govt isn’t there to support industry in some way, when industry is the lifeblood of the people in terms of their jobs, why exactly do we have one if it isn’t there for us?
 

Purpletrouble

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Plus this was a period when the Govt did direct what industry did, directly and indirectly. So there wasn’t the separation your position would imply/require. Govt absolutely felt it was responsible for shaping the industry in far more ways than just what the UK military wanted. Eventually it kind of got there and did give that freedom.
 

Archibald

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Not the UK government exists to fund the UK aerospace industry.
Tell that to present day NASA (SLS, cough, cough, Shuttle pork barrel, cough, Shelby, Nelson, cough !)
 

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This comes back to why the RAF bought/buys aircraft, and its something that often gets lost. It's easiest to understand in the terms of interceptors and F.155T is a great example. The requirement was based around meeting the perceived threat, a supersonic bomber carrying a stand-off missile. That drove a host of sub requirements from the interceptor system; the warhead requirements for the missile, which drove the size of the missile, the speed and range requirements for the aircraft, the detection and engagement range of the radar etc., etc. Mixed with the technology of the time it soon drives the design process towards something as massive as the Fairey Delta III. This seems exorbitant when viewed in a vacuum but to the decision makers it was binary, analysis was telling them what the threat was and anything that couldn't meet that threat was pointless. That we now know the analysis of the threat was wrong does not change the fact that it was perceived to be right at the time. The quote from DCAS Tuttle that Paul posted outlines this in blunt terms, in the mid-late 1950s there were two big aircraft requirements, OR.329 and GOR.339, both of these were derived from analysis of perceived need and the P.1121 could meet neither.

From an Alternative History perspective the options are therefore an OR to a different requirement; my suggestion being the Venom Fighter-Bomber replacement, or a radical re-writing of the two OR's mentioned above. My reasoning for the Venom replacement being that I suspect the P.1121 could have met all the range, speed, payload and nav-attack system requirements of the later Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 replacement, although it obviously wouldn't have provided the STOVL element. Equally, the timeframes can be made to work by making the Venom replacement programme a better funded project that is initiated earlier, around 1956, but with a similar in-service date (1960/61).
I think this is the difference with France - right there. To be brutally honest... the fundamental difference is that the Armée de l'Air was not FIXED on the Operational Requirements / according threat.

There were threats and OR to counter them... and then, there was the harsh reality of FUNDING. In the end, the main priority was not meeting the OR / threat objective, but rather, getting an aircraft that worked and could be build at a reasonable price.

I think it might be a difference in attitude related to WWII.

Basically GB tried to be the third superpower in Cold War just like they had been the third big power in WWII.
Hence if the USA had F-106 and USSR had Su-9 / Su-15 / Tu-128, then GB would have F-155T.
In all three case: specialized interceptor, top speed, top radar, top missile.

France by contrast did not even tried. WWII had already screwed any hopes of post-war superpower continuity (thanks Gamelin and 1940 for that - yet no thanks for what followed, Vichy...)

Either a variant of the Mirage III would be enough, or not - and in the second case, well, we don't care.
Because what we need is an aircraft that works, that can be build in numbers large enough at a reasonable cost.

The Mirage III was no F-155T by any mean but it was declined in -B, -E, -R and -V variants: twin-seat, all weather attack, reconnaissance, and clear weather attack without radar. And the AdA took 473 of them.

Another case that would be made was that France avionics industry lagged behind until the 80's. Yet somewhat paradoxically, such was the expense of radars and missiles, ballooning very fast from 1955 - maybe it was better to stay below the curve rather than finding itself in the CF-105 Arrow situation (hint: Sparrow II).
The Mirage III radar and missiles were average at best because the French avionics industry was pretty average, too. But somewhat paradoxically, it made the Mirage III cheaper and less risky. Since, from the 50's onwards, the big expense and risk were no longer in airframe or engines, but certainly in the avionics, radar, missiles...

Yeah, how about that. The good thing with having a passable radar industry - at least, no chance in hell to get tangled in a "pie in the sky" missile like Sparrow II or Red Dean / Red Hebe.
Making R.530 work well enough, with Cyrano II, is already such a difficult endeavour and tedious affair - no chance Thomson CSF try hitting above their weight... "look, we need fire and forget" or "we need AIM-47 level of performance". Even if they dare trying, funding realities quickly ensure it is shot and burn at paper study level. And the nice thing with paper studies, they are not very expensive.

Brutal realism... Dassault trademark.
I love the saying:

"The excellent is the enemy of the good"

France went with Good, UK aimed for excellent, and when it didnt arrive, had to make do with currently available 'Good'.
 

Archibald

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A defeat like 1940 really helps relativize things and go for cheap and efficient rather than gold-plated weapons. Worst military defeat turning into a complete country disintegration, not seen in a millenia aside the Hundred years war, Crécy and Azincourt. Geez...

It is interesting to note that, while France was building the Mirage III-E with advanced avionics for all weather attack, Israel by contrast just clung unguided iron bombs onto Mirage III-C interceptors and used their DEFA 30 mm guns to demolish Arab air forces with stellar success.
Middle East clear weather helped, obviously, but maybe there was a lesson there, in the days of the TSR-2...

I often think that all that fuss about all-weather, precision attacks by F-105 to F-111 to TSR-2 to Mirage III-E was mostly bollocks - until LGBs and GPS changed the game in the 80's. Vietnam was definitively a mixed bag, despite colossal amount of air power by US forces.
 
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red admiral

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I often think that all that fuss about all-weather, precision attacks by F-105 to F-111 to TSR-2 to Mirage III-E was mostly bollocks - until LGBs and GPS changed the game in the 80's. Vietnam was definitively a mixed bag, despite colossal amount of air power by US forces.
For iron bombs yes. Difficult to have much of an effect even when your nav system has managed to find the target. But nukes were the main payload. It's then a bit of a bummer if your nav system is so bad that you might bomb the wrong country.
 
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