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NATO SACEUR and TSR 2

uk 75

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In older books about the TSR2 authors have criticised the Labour Government for dissing
TSR2 as a purely nuclear system with little relevance to other roles, such as the emerging
need for conventional weapons carriers in the 60s rather than nuclear ones.

We now know that TSR 2 was virtually a one trick pony-designed to carry two WE 177 nukes
to targets. Its conventional bomb load was puny and it had little developed options for
precision weapons apart from the poor Martel. In fact TSR 2 was intended to replace the Valiants
(24 aircraft) and the Canberras (48 aircraft) allocated to SACEUR's nuclear theatre strike force.
It also allowed for a nuclear contribution to CENTO (Near East) and SEATO (Far East) replacing Canberras. 48 TSR 2s gave way to 48 F-111Ks until they too were cancelled. Eventually SACEUR got his WE177 platforms in that form of 2 Buccaneer squadrons in Germany and Vulcans in the UK freed up from deterrent duty after 1969.

Similarly P1154 was seen as a tactical strike aircraft carrying US supplied stores like the German and other NATO F104s. Again it had little in the way of conventional ordinance and its MArtel role was dropped to save money. The F4 fitted SACEUR's requirements much more closely as did the later Jaguar.

Perhaps if the UK had produced a Buccaneer to meet NATO specs for bomb carrying from the off it could have saved a lot of money. Alternatively if the pre-1964 nuclear massive retalation doctrine had not been faced by the Cuban Missile crisis we might have got TSR 2.
 

CNH

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The nuclear role was relevant, but the TSR2 was not necessarily relevant to that role. Why the rough field requirement, other than for deployment in the east? Why did it need to be supersonic, other than the Air Staff's obsession that they had to have the latest, and if it wasn't supersonic it wasn't the latest.

Lovely aircraft, but I hate to say it: Mountbatten was right [if not necessarily for the right reasons].
 

alertken

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In 1957 the Requirement was precision strike with iron, during the orderly withdrawal Phase in face of massed armour on the Luneberger Heide, then "tactical" nuke as the horde approached Antwerp. So: some form of autobahn operation, plus precison strike on the turret of a tank, then Red Beard on a mass or fixed target. vice Close-up 2ATAF iron fighter-bombers, then Mark 7/Canberra B(I)6/8. By 1962-ish we decided that's not how we would fight. From 11/12/62 RAF Requirements Staff piled on every toy in Aviation Week (see whiffs for Blue Water ASMs &tc) because: is (TSR.2) that all there is? well, yes.

Nuclear immorality was the excuse Wilson used to chop the beast. He chose not to dwell on inoperable maintenance man-hours per flight hour, and SLL's wholly correct scoping point because the same industry and Officers continued to serve...him. His predecessor, Douglas-Home, "had always found (HW) very good to deal with on national security questions” www.britac.ac.uk/ pubs/review/perspectives/
0703cabinetsandbomb-2. Wilson needed to chop unaffordable TSR.2, whilst deploying something effective: that emerged as Tornado.
 

JFC Fuller

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TSR-2 was designed to carry Red Beard, 2 x WE177 was only shoehorned in later- and with great difficulty. Not that there was much in the way of PGMs available in the early 60s (Paveway was not used in Vietnam until 1968) but TSR2 could have been equipped just as the Buccaneer was. The 6,000lb internal bomb load was actually very impressive. The problem with TSR2 was that it became a black hole for money (in the midst of severe economic difficulties) with an ever slipping in service date. The fact that Vulcans and Buccaneers took over the role in 1969 (with WE177) demonstrates the fact that the nuclear role TSR2 was designed for remained relevant.

alertken said:
From 11/12/62 RAF Requirements Staff piled on every toy in Aviation Week (see whiffs for Blue Water ASMs &tc) because: is (TSR.2) that all there is? well, yes.

Ken, I take issue with the above, I agree that the RAF massively over specified TSR2, what I dispute is that they did it because they thought that was all they were getting- quite clearly it was not, as shown by P.1154, continued Lightning buys/rebuilds and other toys.

I would add that the TSR2 being the last manned aircraft thing (whatever you want to call it) is one of the many hollow sticks used to beat Sandys following his big review. I have come to admire the man; like McNamara he was bestowed a defence department that was spending far more of national wealth than could be sustained and was spending it on some of the wrong things- high altitude, high speed manned bombers (Avro 730) and the associated manned interceptors (Fairey Delta III) and high altitude long range SAMs (Blue Envoy), Sandys did a more effective job of reorientating that force towards something cheaper and more credible. As the carnage of the 60s demonstrates, he did not go far enough, but given the scale of his task I believe he performed admirably and left behind a sensible collection of programmes that suffered through poor execution.
 
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alertken

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I agree re Sandys and would just add: his boss, the PM, Macmillan, directed the policy of shifting money from nugatory defence into useful things, to be exported, such that the next Election could be fought on "Most of our people have never had it so good"; and: no Marshal resigned. That means that brass accpted that their Masters determined what was to be done...and then gave the Services the tools they neede for that defined Task. It was not for uniforms to determine the Task.
 

pathology_doc

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They were right to ask for a plane that could do M2.0 at height and M1.0+ down low without breaking a sweat; what they were wrong to ask for was an extended period of each. They were also wrong to structure the program the way they did (EE should have been made clear leader) and to screw around with the engine choice. If they were that desperate for Bristol-Siddeley to survive or Rolls not to have a monopoly, they could have requested RR to give them favourable licence terms on the Medway and assistance with Olympus development, or something along those lines.

In the end it was neither fish nor fowl and paid the price. A theatre nuclear bomber needs to make one takeoff and one only, because there's going to be nothing to come back to, and if you're not off your 10,000ft concrete ribbon before the first nukes land it doesn't matter where you are. A tactical CONVENTIONAL bomber in a cold war turned hot doesn't need to fly 1000nm unrefuelled, because the targets you will be hitting first are enemy tank armies, command centres, bridges etc. to preserve your thin red line, and their immediate resupply capacity - anything you fly 1000nm to hit deserves a visit by massed B-52s with a strong fighter escort.

What it offered was an incredibly fast and smooth ride down low with a rather small warload - and until reliable and fairly compact laser and EO guided conventional weapons came in, that wasn't enough to save it. And even in the absence of anti-fighter bias, any ADV proposal would have come to naught without a decent long-range (25nm+) AAM, which Red Top certainly was not.
 

zen

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IF you want a history debate about the this then putting it in the Alternative History and Future Speculation section seems a flawed move.


If you want to speculate on alternatives however...


6,000lb is not to be sniffed at, and one of the key objectives of the OR was accurate delivery. This was rather pushing things, and the computer side of matters shows it.
In fact on this side we can safely say that the approach taken makes any and all aircraft unable to meet the OR until a such a computer becomes available. As it did with the A7.


Part of this can be solved by doing something earlier on a modified V-bomber, but the other side of things is dependent on the development of compact computers of the capability desired.


In conventional operations of a 'out of (NATO) area' sense, the objective was certainly cheap and cheerful. Namely the likes of dumb bombs and unguided rockets.


Mach 1 burst was do-able, but questionable.
1000nm was 100nm too much.
Mach 2 at altitude was debatable, mach 3 was more valid.


Combining high altitude and high speed with low altitude supersonic ride was multiplying the combined costs of each role. Especialy when demanding the short field operability, from I seem to reccal reading, rough fields in Eastern France. Who's exit from NATO made the range and rough field requirements dubious.
 

pathology_doc

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zen said:
1) Mach 1 burst was do-able, but questionable.

2) Combining high altitude and high speed with low altitude supersonic ride was multiplying the combined costs of each role.

1) isn't the idea here that the TSR.2 going full-burners in the weeds is going to be substantially faster than most Soviet fighters, given that Atoll was a tail chaser and most of the Soviet SARH or long-range IR missiles were big, draggy things?

2) Aren't you looking for the same thing in both categories, at least aerodynamically?
 

uk 75

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Thanks as usual for some fascinating info.

My understanding was that in the early 60s it was still thought necessary to replace
TSR2 and Buccaneer with a smaller aircraft capable of both land and carrier operation.
This was a "fighter/attacker" like the various BAC designs of 1964. However, it was
recognised even as early as 1962 that European cooperation would be necessary to pay
for it.
In the end we got the Tornado which is very similar (except for the short range to allow the Germans to take part). It is a shame that France and the UK could not produce a Tornado design
as successful as the Jaguar. Tornado might then have looked a bit like AFVG/Mirage G.

Alternatively, the Aussies have made the F-111 work. It was based in the UK from the 70s through to the end of the Cold War. 50 F-111s in the RAF would certainly have pleased SACEUR.

Emotionally I still like the TSR 2 P1154 combo. It would have been a very British force.
 

robunos

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My understanding was that in the early 60s it was still thought necessary to replace
TSR2 and Buccaneer with a smaller aircraft capable of both land and carrier operation.


Wasn't this the idea behind the original Vickers Type 571 (small) ?
I still think that this was the best solution to the requirement -
IF - they could have made the miniaturised systems work, which I doubt greatly........




cheers,
Robin,.
 

zen

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Problem with low level flight is the tendency to fly higher when flying faster, its also a control and reaction issue as well as a vibration one.
So flying supersonic is tends to drive up the altitude where it can safely be done.
Studies by some of the companies tendering suggested just this, and so they tended to prefer transonic speeds. It was also cheaper and easier to engineer.
Supersonic is really to get clear of the bomb on the one hand and to escape a persuing fighter on the other.
A recce/bomber for high altitude really needs speed, so on the one hand a high wingloading can help but its not quite the same as a mach 1 dash amongst the weeds.
Vickers Type 571 single engine does seem the most logical path if its developed as 'variants' for the differing roles. Still falls foul of the computer side of things, but its easier to leave that to a variant and continue forward with others until its been worked out.
 

pathology_doc

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Alternatively, the Aussies have made the F-111 work.

Made it work? Perhaps we did, but IIRC we had to wait ten years between purchase and delivery of reliable airplanes. I suspect if HM Government had been more serious about getting behind TSR2, we Antipodeans might have bought a bunch.

The harsh part was TSR.2 getting ditched in favour of an aircraft which was in turn ditched, much the same as what happened with the thin-winged Javelin and the CF-105. If you're going to cancel X for Y when several examples of X are already on the production line, it behooves you to put money down on Y right away (which might also have saved the Arrow), otherwise you're just playing stupid games.
 
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