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Nassau Agreement falls through

uk 75

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The 1962 Nassau Agreement which provides the UK with its nuclear deterrent was not a foregone conclusion. A 1960s novel by a respected journalist, Chapman Pincher, THE PENTHOUSE CONSPIRATORS has a later US president trying to put electronic locks on the UK Polaris.
McNamara in particular opposed giving the UK or France nuclear weapons without US controls.
The Cabinet did have options for developing a UK missile to replace Skybolt, but all were seen as too expensive. Macmillan was resigned to giving up the deterrent but never admitted it in public.
So in real life, Kennedy could have forced the UK to accept the same status in NATO as West Germany and Italy. Given the UK's declining economy and the growth of CND it might even have been a sensible if humiliating move.
Now for the bit where I ask those who dont like British daydreams to leave the room or at least tolerate our musings.
As France demonstrated, it was possible to develop and deploy a Triad from national resources. (In reality the US provided a lot more help than it or France let on).
The UK could have developed its own systems. Assuming Macmillan had been willing to give you the go ahead, would you go for a triad or stick to a submarine based missile.
Polaris was made possible by the relationship Earl Mountbatten built up with Rickover. Would this have continued if Kennedy had opposed it.
The UK had the technology to develop its own solid fuel missile, a sort of two stage Minuteman. A road mobile version making use of large tracts of land owned by the government might have been feasible, though probably later than the 1968 in service date.
The RAF would have found ready allies in Industry for the whole panoply of projects covered in Thor's Hammer.
 

zen

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Now for the bit where I ask those who dont like British daydreams to leave the room or at least tolerate our musings
When you do the same courtesy I'm sure such 'fantasists' will accede to your request.

As to your question....

The triad is possible but at some cost.
That cost is certainly forcing the RN to cut the carriers earlier and the BAOR. If BOAR is sacrificed, then substantial chunks of Tactical Air will follow. In the end State survival trumps all other concerns. Leaving a withered policing role to conventional forces. This in turn takes us to the next point.

The strongest logic is behind the SSBN fleet and it's SRBM system. Strategic Deterrent is the strongest case, even more so if you abandon the tactical contest for Germany. The line is set at the Rhine, and launch is automatic. Making any preemptive strike almost impossible.

The only way forward with any land based 'in the UK Deterrent' is if ABM is also funded. This is certainly more expensive.

The only way forward would be to play up the betrayal of British interests by the US, and the clear willingness to do so. Much as the French have.

This would have implications for a host of related USUK deals. Strategically this doesn't make life easier for the US either.

But an Anglo-French deal returns to possibility.
 

Purpletrouble

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Carriers go probably, but why BAOR?

The UK was pretty consistent from early on that defence had to be forward and a land commitment had to be made for NATO unity as well.

What is a fantasy is that the UK can somehow disengage from a continental land commitment and so focus on “sexier” naval and air forces that will be somehow decisive whilst “someone else” does the heavy lifting and casualties on land.

If you aren’t in the trenches dying alongside your allies, you aren’t allies and they aren’t going to do squat for you. Look back over hundreds of years and a consistent theme is the UK on land in Europe.

anyway, back to topic!

The French hardly skimped on conventional forces despite their nuclear triad efforts. An agreement with France seems likely but of course we have De Gaulle to contend with.

Better as SSBNs are as a deterrent capability, they put a dent in SSN numbers (historically that is, even requiring keeping and new SSKs, now the two nuclear types just about hit the industrial minimum!) and don’t have much conventional utility vs bombers. A stand out gap in UK capabilities has been lack of a long range-high capacity platform, aka a bomber.
 

zen

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Why the BOAR?
Carriers go probably, but why BAOR?

The UK was pretty consistent from early on that defence had to be forward and a land commitment had to be made for NATO unity as well.

What is a fantasy is that the UK can somehow disengage from a continental land commitment and so focus on “sexier” naval and air forces that will be somehow decisive whilst “someone else” does the heavy lifting and casualties on land.

If you aren’t in the trenches dying alongside your allies, you aren’t allies and they aren’t going to do squat for you. Look back over hundreds of years and a consistent theme is the UK on land in Europe.

anyway, back to topic!

The French hardly skimped on conventional forces despite their nuclear triad efforts. An agreement with France seems likely but of course we have De Gaulle to contend with.

Better as SSBNs are as a deterrent capability, they put a dent in SSN numbers (historically that is, even requi
ring keeping and new SSKs, now the two nuclear types just about hit the industrial minimum!) and don’t have much conventional utility vs bombers. A stand out gap in UK capabilities has been lack of a long range-high capacity platform, aka a bomber.
Because the US wanted the UK in, sharing the burden and that cost was raised. If the US is not playing ball at Nassau, there had to be consequences. Which would be far reaching.
Ugly bit true and not convenient for either side.
And yes the UK has had to involve itself in Europe with boots on the ground for centuries. Mostly to support fellow protestant states.

As to a bomber, the French didn't have one either.
If anything it's a great shame that the tanker conversion contract for the Victors got handed to HSA rather than HP....as HP's offering retained bomber capability.
Though arguably a straight up bomber VC10 was both possible and more sustainable. Trinity anyone?
 

uk 75

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France was not hostile to the UK as such, but as you describe, De Gaulle understood that London was more Atlantacist than European.
However, as Suez had demonstrated, Washington always put its own interests first.
Nassau was by no means a done deal.
The US administration wanted European nuclear weapons to remain under its control. There were also fears in London, Paris and Washington that West Germany might seek nuclear weapons.
It was also a time when nuclear proliferation to countries as diverse as Argentina and Indonesia was feared (the world described in "On the Beach".
As I said in my introduction, Macmillan himself was ready to give up the British deterrent. But he had a party committed to it.
There were alternatives presented to Cabinet to a Polaris buy.
The most effective, but also most difficult, was the construction of submarines and missiles without US assistance.
The other option, based on knowledge gained from Blue Streak, Skybolt and Blue Water was a UK ballistic missile, almost certainly air launched (though a silo based version was within UK capabilities).
A platform in the form of 50 Vulcan B2s plus a possible VC10 multi role ac was available.
Mirage IV was at best a strike aircraft with a single bomb similar to TSR2 (it does not get a stand off weapon, ASMP, until the 80s).
The missiles deployed on the Plateau d'Albion were as vulnerable as a Blue Knight silo cluster in East Anglia.
De Gaulle was not anti British. If Heath had succeeded Macmillan instead of Home, he would have been very anti US (Kissinger was astonished at how anti US he was).
Although De Gaulle's English was a lot better than Heath's French, they had both fought Fascism and hated Communism. Macmillan spoke excellent French and was the Milord in De Gaulle's friendly dig
The ghastly Enoch Powell was the real Eurosceptic Tory who along with his friend (in those days such things happened) Michael Foot, distrusted the EEC but also opposed the nuclear deterrent and US policy.
I dont think the British nuclear deterrent needed US or French cooperation on technical grounds. But financial weakness and political controversy in London woud have probably killed it if Nassau had failed.
The UK military were also not that keen. They prefered conventional weapons, which for all three services were proving expensive and difficult to introduce.
 

kaiserd

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Skimming through my reading related to this topic (greatly recommend Chris Gibson’s Thor’s Hammer) and some brief web research I did note a few things.
(1) Not seeing any references to what in retrospect looks like the most logical (non-US Polaris) option - a UK equivalent to Polaris similar to the French M1s and M2s (or some kind of deal with the French re: them). I’m more of an aviation guy so there maybe more info on this I’m just not aware of.
(2) Given the lead-up to Nassau agreement (ditching of Blue Streak, Skybolt cancellation) then likely the only realistic short term option is what they did (low altitude Blue Steel, accept your deterrent effectiveness will significantly decline until you field your UK or UK/French SSBN technology).
(3) The other option instead of UK or UK/ French SSBNs is a long range air launched missile to effectively replace Skybolt. Covered in great detail in Chris Gibson’s Thors Hammer. Overall appears to be an inferior choice than going the submarine route if that route is available (unless your the RAF).
(4) The land-based IRBM never made as much sense for the UK as ICBM did for the US and the USSR (distance, time and space working against rather than for you) so appears unlikely this pops back up as a primary option.
 

kaiserd

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France was not hostile to the UK as such, but as you describe, De Gaulle understood that London was more Atlantacist than European.
However, as Suez had demonstrated, Washington always put its own interests first.
Nassau was by no means a done deal.
The US administration wanted European nuclear weapons to remain under its control. There were also fears in London, Paris and Washington that West Germany might seek nuclear weapons.
It was also a time when nuclear proliferation to countries as diverse as Argentina and Indonesia was feared (the world described in "On the Beach".
As I said in my introduction, Macmillan himself was ready to give up the British deterrent. But he had a party committed to it.
There were alternatives presented to Cabinet to a Polaris buy.
The most effective, but also most difficult, was the construction of submarines and missiles without US assistance.
The other option, based on knowledge gained from Blue Streak, Skybolt and Blue Water was a UK ballistic missile, almost certainly air launched (though a silo based version was within UK capabilities).
A platform in the form of 50 Vulcan B2s plus a possible VC10 multi role ac was available.
Mirage IV was at best a strike aircraft with a single bomb similar to TSR2 (it does not get a stand off weapon, ASMP, until the 80s).
The missiles deployed on the Plateau d'Albion were as vulnerable as a Blue Knight silo cluster in East Anglia.
De Gaulle was not anti British. If Heath had succeeded Macmillan instead of Home, he would have been very anti US (Kissinger was astonished at how anti US he was).
Although De Gaulle's English was a lot better than Heath's French, they had both fought Fascism and hated Communism. Macmillan spoke excellent French and was the Milord in De Gaulle's friendly dig
The ghastly Enoch Powell was the real Eurosceptic Tory who along with his friend (in those days such things happened) Michael Foot, distrusted the EEC but also opposed the nuclear deterrent and US policy.
I dont think the British nuclear deterrent needed US or French cooperation on technical grounds. But financial weakness and political controversy in London woud have probably killed it if Nassau had failed.
The UK military were also not that keen. They prefered conventional weapons, which for all three services were proving expensive and difficult to introduce.
I think the issue is if the UK at that point could on its own continue to long-term afford to develop and field and maintain an effective UK-only deterrent (including through likely technical, economic and political “bumps in the road”) AND maintain its conventional forces and commitments, in a manner that wouldn’t damage the general economy and economic development of the UK (which wasn’t in a great place at that time).
 
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CNH

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I devote a couple of chapters to exactly that issue in my recently published book on Skybolt.

Speaking from memory, I think the deployment of Polaris in the UK cost about £330 million. All the development of the missiles had been done – I think that to have tried to develop a UK Polaris would have been phenomenally expensive, so I tried to look at some alternatives.

The Black Arrow satellite launcher was developed for a total of £10 million. It used storable fuel, and any silos would have been far smaller than those needed for Blue Streak. At a very rough guess, we could have deployed around 25 for £100 million.

Secondly, we could have developed a long-range ramjet stand-off missile for the V bombers. There were great arguments at the time as to the vulnerability of such missiles, but I think the Soviet Union would struggle to fend off a full-scale attack. This would probably cost another £100 million.

Thirdly, the TSR2 could have been enhanced – its major problem was that of range. There was an interesting study done by the RAE who took the dimensions of the TSR2 bomb bay and designed a missile to fit exactly within that space.

It should also be remembered that the later Chevaline upgrade for Polaris came in at cost of nearly £1 billion – albeit at a time of very substantial inflation.
 
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uk 75

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Thank you everyone, especially CNH. I admit it was your book that I had read that set me off on this thread.
 

JFC Fuller

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Thanks CNH, I am a huge fan of your Skybolt book, its a wonderful work so congratulations to you. When I read it, perhaps unsurprisingly, I came to similar conclusions you did, though built on them a little bit.

TSR-2 weapons bay sized missiles: Both the suggested ballistic missile or the cruise missile in your above post are very attractive. Theoretically (detailed engineering analysis often proves basic theories wrong) both could have been carried on a single multi-missile clip within V-bomber bomb bays. At least three, and possibly five, missiles per clip.

Small Ballistic Missile: As you mention in your Skybolt book, small IRBM concepts leveraging existing technology were proposed a couple of times. I agree they are very attractive too. Being smaller, cheaper and with much cheaper and shallower silo requirements they could have been geographically dispersed widely down the East coast of the UK, possibly in larger numbers than was ultimately anticipated for Blue Streak. Such a force, potentially in triple digits and with storable propellent, would have presented a very challenging target both for a Soviet first strike and for any proposed Soviet ABM system, especially if the IRBMs had been given countermeasures.

As this is an alternative history thread, it is fun to speculate on the surviving Vulcan B.2s receiving a much deeper upgrade and life extension for the low-level role that would result in them receiving a variation of the TSR-2 nav-attack system (that would involve making it work), possibly with the Elliots Q-band radar and a dedicated five round clip for the subsonic version of the cruise missile. The cruise missile's kinematic range could have been progressively improved by leveraging the small turbofan technology Rolls Royce developed to support it's lift engine programme and it could have been given a relatively low RCS via the application of various treatments that were already becoming available, this would have provided a low level deterrent to compliment the ballistic missile component based on small IRBMs with storable propellant in distributed hardened silos.
 

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Landbased IRBM or ICBM only make sense in the confinement of the British Isles if there is ABM and a high speed Command and Control System using fast robust communications.

This is because of the short interval between detection of enemy launch and the limits of communication to fire. Inside this interval assessment (what is this, is it aimed at us, is this the opening salvo, is it rogue etc.....) communication (is there a hotline to the USSR?) and decision must happen.

ABM buys time, winnowing an initial salvo down to ensure the systems (comms, sensors, decision etc) continue to function.

The problem here is while the US developed a ABM System and the other systems needed, it was in the context of a much greater period of time before the last moment you can Command a major launch.


The SSBN force is there to respond after the enemy assault has degraded or destroyed the Command and Control system.
Effectively "revenge from beyond the grave".

In the UK context, that was the only option.
 

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The Vulcan with the TSR2 nav-attack system. An interesting idea!

Land based IRBM in the UK. Well, that depends on how robust the silo was. The requirement for the Blue Streak silo was that it had to survive for at least 24 hours after the initial attack. If the same applied to the IRBM silo, and there was no Command and Control system operative, then, like Polaris, they too could take their revenge from the grave.
 

uk 75

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The character of Group Captain Mandrake in Dr Strangelove reminds that RAF Bomber Command was a serious partner with Strategic Air Command in 1962. France had no such force.
The shooting down of the U2 and the incredible speed with which the US Navy developed and deployed Polaris put a big question mark over bomber forces for the UK. However, SAC kept its bombers and developed their capabilities. I suspect that even if Nassau had failed the RAF and SAC relationship would have continued.
That would have strengthened the RAF's case for improving the V force and expanding TSr2 if Polaris was not on offer.
 

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This guy from AH.com (STS-200, a.k.a Guy Stevens) wrote a serie of stories he finally turned into a book.



The POD is (more or less) the Anglo-US nuclear cooperation dies by 1958 and never returns. Thus Nassau never happens, and what's more, Black Arrow and Blue Streak get a Saturn I -size big brother - Black Anvil. And from there, instead of serie of miserable and frustrating failures (from Sandys to Nimrod AEW) Great Britain, with France, gets an Apollo moment.

It was pretty good.
 

Dilandu

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The POD is (more or less) the Anglo-US nuclear cooperation dies by 1958 and never returns. Thus Nassau never happens, and what's more, Black Arrow and Blue Streak get a Saturn I -size big brother - Black Anvil. And from there, instead of serie of miserable and frustrating failures (from Sandys to Nimrod AEW) Great Britain, with France, gets an Apollo moment.
Well, it make sense if Britain would decide to put warheads on orbit...
 

CNH

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It would be hard to make them robust enough, considering that Blue Streak was liquid-fuel missile and quite fragile one.
Not for Blue Streak, but a much smaller missile, Black Arrow.

Untitled-1.jpg

Blue Streak: 200,000lbs; Black Arrow 18,000lbs.
Oops : correction - Black Arrow 40,000lbs.
 
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uk 75

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Archibald The book would make a great BD graphic novel.
 

uk 75

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CNH

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Point of No Return.

You can get the Kindle edition free in the UK with Amazon Prime.
 

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I can forsee a massive ding-dong Whitehall battle of RAF versus RN versus Army for the role. Let the dust from that settle as to who is going to operate the deterrent.

I was struck by re-reading A Vertical Empire how a Minuteman-esque missile could have been developed in theory at great cost. Ally that with a Valiant-class SSN cut in half and a silo bay inserted and the RN has a great project for the 1970s. The cost would be eye-watering but actually Polaris and Resolution were among the most successful procurement and development projects of the era.

I like JFC's Vulcan upgrade proposal, so often the Vulcan gets ignored and we drool over the Mach 6 hypersonic cruise missiles that we forget the nav system and radar are little better than the pilot's Dad used over Berlin 20 years earlier.

I wonder what development options Blue Water gives the Army? Some kind of two-stick approach seems inevitable.
 

Purpletrouble

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Because the US wanted the UK in, sharing the burden and that cost was raised. If the US is not playing ball at Nassau, there had to be consequences. Which would be far reaching.
Ugly bit true and not convenient for either side.
And yes the UK has had to involve itself in Europe with boots on the ground for centuries. Mostly to support fellow protestant states.

As to a bomber, the French didn't have one either.
If anything it's a great shame that the tanker conversion contract for the Victors got handed to HSA rather than HP....as HP's offering retained bomber capability.
Though arguably a straight up bomber VC10 was both possible and more sustainable. Trinity anyone?
The land commitment was equally importqnt to keeping West Germany in, as your other posts on the fragility of that at times illustrate. A trim perhaps but a Corps level commitment was fundamental to the defence of West Germany and other nations doing likewise. It seems a bluff to raise pulling out as a threat given the political importance that boots on the ground in numbers gives. Especially as the UK sought closer European links viz EEC. Ultimately disbanding BAOR although a direct response to the US, actually has more of an impact on European relations just as the UK wants to grow those, and in this scenario, even more so.

I think a more likely outcome would have been earlier withdrawal from the East, as this was much more linked to US (UK holding the mid east with CENTO and also SEATO contributions), has no impact really on European relations and when push came to shove resource wise a few years later (carriers having gone first for that reason), is what we actually did. Of course that comes at a cost of commonwealth relations but these were ebbing anyway.
 

uk 75

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zen

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Blue Water is curious concerning it's rocket motor. Pushing forward with that is an interesting scenario and may see applications elsewhere.
 

CNH

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Ah - Blue Water was only a tactical weapon.
 

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The speed Polaris came into service does seem to undermine Skybolt as an interim system - AIUI a move to SLBM was seen as inevitable?

The French maintained large conventional forces in Europe, globally based forces, fleet carriers and a triad of nuclear systems. They don’t seem to have been backwards technologically so why the feeling the UK couldnt do the same, especially as it is not aiming at them all.
 

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Blue Water used a curious dual thrust rocket nozzle that changed shape to optimise itself for boost and sustain flight.
Trialled in scaled and full 24" versions.
 

uk 75

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In the period we are looking at the UK economy performs far worse than France and West Germany. This was why the Conservative government were so desperate to get into the Common Market/EEC (today's EU).
However, in 1962 the UK had also got far more capable armed forces than France.
The RN had its first nuclear sub and 4 large aircraft carriers.
The RAF had 80 V bombers and a comprehensive Air Defence system with Lighnings/Javelins and Bloodhound Mk1s
The Army was ending conscription and yet was deployed from Soest to Singapre.
This had cost and was costing prodigious amounts of money
 

marauder2048

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Skimming through my reading related to this topic (greatly recommend Chris Gibson’s Thor’s Hammer) and some brief web research I did note a few things.
(1) Not seeing any references to what in retrospect looks like the most logical (non-US Polaris) option - a UK equivalent to Polaris similar to the French M1s and M2s (or some kind of deal with the French re: them). I’m more of an aviation guy so there maybe more info on this I’m just not aware of.
(2) Given the lead-up to Nassau agreement (ditching of Blue Streak, Skybolt cancellation) then likely the only realistic short term option is what they did (low altitude Blue Steel, accept your deterrent effectiveness will significantly decline until you field your UK or UK/French SSBN technology).
(3) The other option instead of UK or UK/ French SSBNs is a long range air launched missile to effectively replace Skybolt. Covered in great detail in Chris Gibson’s Thors Hammer. Overall appears to be an inferior choice than going the submarine route if that route is available (unless your the RAF).
(4) The land-based IRBM never made as much sense for the UK as ICBM did for the US and the USSR (distance, time and space working against rather than for you) so appears unlikely this pops back up as a primary option.
Curious how the voluminous and excellent volumes of The Official History of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent,
where the author had unrestricted access to documents and personnel, don't cite Gibons's books at all.
 

kaiserd

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Skimming through my reading related to this topic (greatly recommend Chris Gibson’s Thor’s Hammer) and some brief web research I did note a few things.
(1) Not seeing any references to what in retrospect looks like the most logical (non-US Polaris) option - a UK equivalent to Polaris similar to the French M1s and M2s (or some kind of deal with the French re: them). I’m more of an aviation guy so there maybe more info on this I’m just not aware of.
(2) Given the lead-up to Nassau agreement (ditching of Blue Streak, Skybolt cancellation) then likely the only realistic short term option is what they did (low altitude Blue Steel, accept your deterrent effectiveness will significantly decline until you field your UK or UK/French SSBN technology).
(3) The other option instead of UK or UK/ French SSBNs is a long range air launched missile to effectively replace Skybolt. Covered in great detail in Chris Gibson’s Thors Hammer. Overall appears to be an inferior choice than going the submarine route if that route is available (unless your the RAF).
(4) The land-based IRBM never made as much sense for the UK as ICBM did for the US and the USSR (distance, time and space working against rather than for you) so appears unlikely this pops back up as a primary option.
Curious how the voluminous and excellent volumes of The Official History of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent,
where the author had unrestricted access to documents and personnel, don't cite Gibons's books at all.
Great non-contribution there......
 

Purpletrouble

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In the period we are looking at the UK economy performs far worse than France and West Germany. This was why the Conservative government were so desperate to get into the Common Market/EEC (today's EU).
However, in 1962 the UK had also got far more capable armed forces than France.
The RN had its first nuclear sub and 4 large aircraft carriers.
The RAF had 80 V bombers and a comprehensive Air Defence system with Lighnings/Javelins and Bloodhound Mk1s
The Army was ending conscription and yet was deployed from Soest to Singapre.
This had cost and was costing prodigious amounts of money
And all of that was cut and ultimately largely eliminated. Except BAOR. Surely that tells you the political and strategic importance of that commitment? Again, if the UK was desperate to improve European relations then the answer is cut all the things that don’t affect that, and retain the key thing that does. As the UK actually did.

In terms of deterrent, as has been pointed out - it was being considered to accept losing that, before chopping everything else. I agree BAOR was an issue and raised, but there is a strong whiff of bluffery with this and it is large enough you can trim and modify it to make political points or ease costs without fubdamentally changing it.
 

uk 75

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It is pretty clear that without the Nassau Agreement (which still underpins it today) the UK could not maintain its nuclear deterrent.
The writing was already on the wall in 1957 when the manned bomber programme is scrapped and replaced by Blue Streak (heavily dependent on US technology).. Blue Steel is pretty much a failure (though it serves until 1968) and Skybolt is clutched at. Mountbatten realises Polaris is viable and his relationship with Rickover makes it possible.(Maybe the politicians should have paid more attention to his views on TSR2?).
Mountbatten and Macmillan made possible a relationship which survived Wilson/LBJ, Heath/Nixon, Major/Clinton, and May/Trump.
 

Purpletrouble

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Land based IRBM seems obviously unworkable for space/warning time in the UK, although the rocket program of course had other more practicable objectives. Manned bombers have lots of general utility but the UK’s replacement, Avro730 was far too niche for that and air launched weapons seem to imply a more generic/larger platform but again survivability is an issue.

The answer, as we are now into 3rd generation of, is SLBM.Was there a serious UK SLBM program ever? I’ve never seen mention yet have frequently read that this was seen as the longer term solution from the 50s. It seems odd this was not part of our efforts despite the seemingly obvious (and known) advantages.
 

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Skimming through my reading related to this topic (greatly recommend Chris Gibson’s Thor’s Hammer) and some brief web research I did note a few things.
(1) Not seeing any references to what in retrospect looks like the most logical (non-US Polaris) option - a UK equivalent to Polaris similar to the French M1s and M2s (or some kind of deal with the French re: them). I’m more of an aviation guy so there maybe more info on this I’m just not aware of.
(2) Given the lead-up to Nassau agreement (ditching of Blue Streak, Skybolt cancellation) then likely the only realistic short term option is what they did (low altitude Blue Steel, accept your deterrent effectiveness will significantly decline until you field your UK or UK/French SSBN technology).
(3) The other option instead of UK or UK/ French SSBNs is a long range air launched missile to effectively replace Skybolt. Covered in great detail in Chris Gibson’s Thors Hammer. Overall appears to be an inferior choice than going the submarine route if that route is available (unless your the RAF).
(4) The land-based IRBM never made as much sense for the UK as ICBM did for the US and the USSR (distance, time and space working against rather than for you) so appears unlikely this pops back up as a primary option.
Curious how the voluminous and excellent volumes of The Official History of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent,
where the author had unrestricted access to documents and personnel, don't cite Gibons's books at all.
Great non-contribution there......
You premised your analysis on sources that the official and definitive tome doesn't cite.
ou somehow missed the official volumes in your web research.

Does that not go to strength or lack thereof of the analysis?
 

alertken

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(I take #1 as: No Polaris Sales Agreement, 6/4/63, so what, or not, should PM Macmillan buy?)

2 aspects of the Skybolt Affair have been sidelined (we are very me and platform-centric):
- conflict between the output rates of 90 ROF warheads and of Douglas for maybe 1,000 ALBMs (SAC 10/62 had 547 Hound Dogs, B-52F/G/H dual carriage; within 1965-7 those deployed of 295 B-52G/H were to carry upto 4 Skybolts). To arm UK's by 1966/67 ROF had capacity for nothing else (for Blue Steel ROF would take 4 years to build 27 Red Snow+rework 21 ex-Yellow Sun 2, while also building some gravity Bombs);

- the French Connection. Mac had Applied to join EEC 31/7/61; CDG's Bomb provoked SecDef 9/7/62 to advocate a (Monty: “poppycock”) polyglot MLF inc. RAF MBF and CDG's planned Mirage IVA Force de Frappe, asrelatively weak national nuclear forces are (well, useless)”.

OTL Dates: 13/8/61: Berlin Wall: PM “deeply suspicious of (US)” sought a modicum of solace, but learnt “doubtful our deterrent (could be used) independently (no) serious opnl. plans (to) do so” R.Lamb,Macmillan Years, J.Murray, 1995,P303 (TBF, Canberra B.6, then Valiant, was SACEUR-assigned 2/7/59; RAF/BC was target-integrated with SAC 1/7/58). So:
if RAF is a Task-sharer in US SIOP and in NATO's Scheduled Strike Program, not current on a National Retaliatory War Plan, do we need the cost of a minor bolt-on to US' and SACEUR's AW Forces? US is arranging to hang nukes on everybody from Bodo to Bodrum. So:

12/1/62: PM accepted post-Skybolt lapse of the Independent British Deterrent:
3/7/62: Plan: 48xVulcan+80xSkybolt opnl. mid-65 “as long after 1970 as poss.”R.Moore,Nuc. Illusion/Reality,P'grave,10,P161; M.Jones,UK Strategic Nuc.Deterrent/1,R'ledge,17,P304;

13/7/62: (actual author of 4/57 Sandys Storm, as Defence spend is “little more than a façade” Chancellor Mac 20/3/56 to PM. RAFHS Proceedings/4, 9/88,P.11): Mac's Night of the Long Knives, firing 7 Cabinet Ministers;

21/10/62: Cuba: CDG to Dean Acheson's offer of recce. photos: “your word is enough. Of course you have my complete support.” P.Nitze,Fr.Hiroshima to Glasnost,W'feld,89,P.225:
27/10-5/11/62: PM holds 78 RAF/BC a/c at “non-overt” readiness (inc. 12/QRA); SACEUR so: 24 Valiant (3/QRA)/59 Thor IRBM; JFK so for SAC B-47E on UK rotation (59 on the 4 SAC bases in 8/62. Some US-based B-47 did disperse; SAC did not revert to normal readiness until 20/11. J.C.Hopkins/S.A.Goldberg, Devt. of SAC,1946-'76, HQ/SAC,1976,P.98. Crisis solution quietly included Thor IRBM removal (done, 27/9/63). UK has no other means of cover (but all SIOP and SACEUR targets were at least dual-assigned. At a stroke UK's SIOP contribution had been reduced from 153MT to 70MT. Who noticed?)
Cuba demonstrates France+UK: US solidarity.

8/11/62: SecDef McNamara tells UK of intent to delete 3 arrows in his still-ample quiver (Skybolt, B-58B {185 on order}, B-70A {canx. 19/3/62}). FY62 opnl., SAC still had: 224 ICBMs, 630 B-52, 810 B-47. Hopkins/Goldberg,P.97. (We assume Ministers knew all this, then. On the Central Front UK was small fry);

6/12/62; ex-SecState Acheson's jibe: UK has lost an Empire, but not yet found a Rôle;

8/12/62: Konfrontasi: Indonesia in Brunei: Commonwealth (ANZUK) response....tremulous, as Hunter/Canberra might face MiG-21/Tu.16.

Before meeting JFK, Tory MPs agitate over the Deterrent. The knife-wielder has clout, so can Whip any posture he might adopt for (by) 10/64 General Election. Talk of the Govt. falling was a mere ploy to alert JFK to unintended consequences of McNamara's cost-effectiveness - Labour's position on the Bomb was compromised by CND;

21/12/62: PM secures an Option for SSBN data and for supply of Polaris A-2, or A-3, and data to facilitate Anglicisation, as was being done on W-59 for Skybolt;

24/12/62: JFK makes the same SSBN Offer {we do not know about warheads} to CDG. I.Clark,Nuc.Diplomacy & the Special Relationship,Clarendon,1994,P.419;

13/1/63: CDG “Non” again to UK's Application to join the EEC; soon: Non, Merci, SSBNs;

6/4/63: Polaris Sales Agreement: 4 firm, 1 Option {taken up, 25/2/64} SSBNs;

10/6/63: UK selects A-3T. So: 90 warheads for Skybolt, suspended in ROFs for 1966/7, become (2/64) 287 ET.317 to be built 1968-c.1972. Delay/deletion of other UK AW;

7/63: CVA-01 detailed design is funded: CDS Mountbatten's coup: 4 (2/64, 5) SSBN+3 (he had wanted 4) CVA.

So: POD is that no SSBN is offered to UK, 12/62. Q: What should he have asked for? My A: phased re-Tasking of UK from Central Front to blue water/East of Suez.

RE.179's UK Primary was funded 6/62 to be adapted as the Improved Kiloton Bomb (to be WE177A) with many clamourous Users: CVA-01, TSR.2, Naval/RAF MR NDB...but it is now cancelled as Skybolt Primary. More Red Snows for longer will be needed for gravity Yellow Sun 2. He also has Defence issues anywhere-but-on-the Central Front: we had rescued Kuwait, 7/61, an Exchange of Letters then comprising a Defence Assistance Agreement...but Sov Aid will doubtless go beyond MiG-17 (Mig-19/21 and Tu.16 did arrive in 1963). In the sub-Continent, India+USSR faced Pakistan+PRC: snow suspended the Sino-Indian Border Conflict, 20/10-21/11/62: UK could not have inserted even a buffer-policing Force so high.

On the distant briney and East-of-Suez there were no Strategic fusion targets: when, not if, PRC deployed AW there would be many fission targets. Scope, then for a UK Rapid Reaction Force, ANZUK/Commonwealth Military Assistance Groups in Malaya, Gulf, logistics/training/transport to UN Peacekeepers in the next Congo...Need for iron, boots, boats and a modest fission inventory of Red Beard until WE177A; RN as Power Projection Expeditionary Force; proper transports - say Tyne/C-130E and Chinook; maybe bail an Essex until CVA-01. All afforded by tilting down in the Central Front. Delete TSR.2 because when penetrating defended airspace EoS we can survive higher than 200 ft., and anyway RAF has issued an ASR for its replacement, its avionics not with hot, frail valves but cold, small chips. Forget NATO V/STOL. Do an RAF/RN V-S swinger.

Basta!
 

Purpletrouble

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Your knowledge/notes are incredible btw, although require concentration to read through!

So basically abandon strategic nuclear weapons and stick to tactical? Switch from NATO with the nuclear missions (leave to US?) and reinforce world policeman role?

I just can’t accept the UK would have gone ahead with a switch from NATO to EoS as surrogate US, at a time when it desperately needed to build European credentials. And in doing so abandoned even the facade of home defence (a facade often being enough btw and a hell of a lot more than no facade for domestic politics...). We know in reality the UK remained NATO focussed at the expense of EoS when resources required a choice - yes in this scenario the UK isnt doing it’s big nuclear role, but would that not require a switch to a more conventional posture? As the US for instance never went quite as far as the UK in giving up on a prolonged conventional conflict and so given it went dual key and was as you say putting AWs everywhere, then I can’t see it supporting it’s principal European Ally in downscaling its NATO role. Indeed in this scenario one can see US change of mind coming, perhaps even direct supply of systems as the impact sinks in/becomes apparant.

I personally think the most likely outcome is a fudge, some form of project to put a missile on a bomber, or keeping land based missiles and going for a SSBN later.
 

zen

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Back to plot.
"We have to have the bomb " Minister FCO adamant after exposure to US attitude towards UK and gets first hand why French bite hand that fed them. CdG knows exactly what US guarantees cost.
US cut off loans and demands repayment before UK has turned Warmachine economy back to civilian. Played nasty over new Loan and wiped 20% off in a week of trading had to backtrack on.
US doesn't want to hear Cold War and Iron Curtain, wants out of Europe and Europe out of the world. At any price, caring not one jot about natives, just markets, and markets all for them, exclude Euro's.
Only when reluctant US accepts Cold War Iron Curtain etc...and cannot leave weakened Europe to Soviet, cleaning House back home and readying for WWIII in FRG. Korea is wake up, time to cascade money.
Cascade cut off when Euros look like market share threat.
Too late to leave as Hurricane and UK AW reality, betrayal just got pricey.

McMillan might contemplate AW Strategic give up, Party hearing Country says otherwise. Compromise is saviour....of Party Establishment and Labour half of Establishment see AW proof of patriotism, our kind of Socialism....
US military figures see softening and possible betrayal of US aims for Soviet peace. Western Europe main test of wills, UK and FR "keep your friends close" plays counter move, "we stay faithful or they act anyway and we get the fallout" figures in US give this the nod.....
Kennedy (anti-Us and soft on Commi until prove your a Patriot Cuban Crisis) Skybolt is lure to AW give up, get them committed and then cut them off. grand success until Nassau confronts reality. Betrayal will leak back into public and trigger replacement with hardliners. Give Polaris and they urinate out of allied tent. Than to disarm by backdoor and urine comes inside the tent......

McMillan maybe realised the game or maybe just a pawn. Outcome is strategic lockstep and UK can trigger retaliation against US.
Enemies closest. After I die, you die, when they think you struck for our revenge.

Chevaline is counter move to Carter's attempt at repeating Skybolt move.
Trident is solid after Reagan, cleaning house again.

So no Nassau, McMillan tries to abandon AW strategic, and AW tactical. Establishment revolution comes early, new PM triggers new system, Establishment Gaitskill give nod and wink. Wilson will back, tactical less important than strategic.

The harder Kennedy plays to push UK out of AW, the stronger the doubt about him grows, and the harder a line he has to take elsewhere to prove he's not soft on Commies.
 
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Justo Miranda

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The 1962 Nassau Agreement which provides the UK with its nuclear deterrent was not a foregone conclusion. A 1960s novel by a respected journalist, Chapman Pincher, THE PENTHOUSE CONSPIRATORS has a later US president trying to put electronic locks on the UK Polaris.
McNamara in particular opposed giving the UK or France nuclear weapons without US controls.
The Cabinet did have options for developing a UK missile to replace Skybolt, but all were seen as too expensive. Macmillan was resigned to giving up the deterrent but never admitted it in public.
So in real life, Kennedy could have forced the UK to accept the same status in NATO as West Germany and Italy. Given the UK's declining economy and the growth of CND it might even have been a sensible if humiliating move.
Now for the bit where I ask those who dont like British daydreams to leave the room or at least tolerate our musings.
As France demonstrated, it was possible to develop and deploy a Triad from national resources. (In reality the US provided a lot more help than it or France let on).
The UK could have developed its own systems. Assuming Macmillan had been willing to give you the go ahead, would you go for a triad or stick to a submarine based missile.
Polaris was made possible by the relationship Earl Mountbatten built up with Rickover. Would this have continued if Kennedy had opposed it.
The UK had the technology to develop its own solid fuel missile, a sort of two stage Minuteman. A road mobile version making use of large tracts of land owned by the government might have been feasible, though probably later than the 1968 in service date.
The RAF would have found ready allies in Industry for the whole panoply of projects covered in Thor's Hammer.
MiG-15 engines revenge?
 
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."FDR who tried National Socialist takeover thwarted by courts prior to WWII. "

really makes SPF look like a madhouse of alt right and conspirationists...
 
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