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OR337 (SR177) The Winner If Competitive Tender

Zootycoon

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I’ve just read Dan Sharps excellent “Cold War Interceptor” which reveals the mismanagement which resulted in the loss of the vital opportunity for U.K. Industry in the mid fifties.

One key observation was that delivering OR329 was a competition which drew proposals from the cream of British Industry but, alas railroading their proposals into a niche which rapidly became obsolete. It was notable that after down selection, there was a very last minute enquire to Faires as to If they could offer a wider appeal, smaller, and tactically suited FD3 (“A blown up FD2”). However OR329 was in such a precarious state that even pursuing such noble objective would have killed it.

In the same timeframe as OR329, a companion specification OR337 was issued for just such a tactical fighter but as far as I can tell was never competitively tendered;- it went straight to a contract for the Saro SR177. Considering that after Sandy’s 57 review, there was an effort to keep the SR177 going with an unsuccessful application for Mutual Defence Aid, I believe someone realised the magnitude of what was being lost. In reality the prefection of reheat technology made the complication associated with the rocket unappealing/unaffordable and indeed obsolete.....it had no chance.

So had it been the other way around;- OR329 going straight to contract with Fairy and OR337 a competitive process, say not requiring a combined power plant, who would have proposed what and who would have won?

With a slightly different mindset within a few people and this could have easily become a reality.
 
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zen

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oh gods I can't remember everything.

Give us OR.337, requirements and then we can start.

Ok found it.

December Air Staff issued O.R.337. The preamble stated that the main threat to the country was still subsonic, but attacks by aircraft capable of speeds up to M = 1.3 at heights up to 55,000 ft. might be expected in 1960/62. The main features of the O.R. were:-
(a) Climb to 60,000ft at M= 1.6 in not than than four minutes.
(b) 1 1/2 G ceiling - 65,000 ft. at not less than M =1.6.
(c) Speed supersonic speed above 40,000 ft.; not less than M = 1.6 at 60,000 ft; M= 2 for a short period.
(d) Endurance - about 4.5 minutes, depending on flight profile, extensible to 75 minutes with overload tanks.
(e) Armament - 2 Blue Jay with 2 rocket batteries as an alternative.
The flexibility given by A.I., navigation aids and auto-pilot facilities was essential.
The aircraft was required in service as soon as possible and not later 1959.
 
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uk 75

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The real threat to the UK from 1959 came from Soviet Medium Range Ballistic missiles for which the only answer was the threat of retaliation by the V force protected by Bloodhound SAMs.
I also have this excellent and very useful book.
The Lightning was more than adequate for intercepting Beagles, Badgers and Bears.
Any fighter that had emerged to these specs would have been a noble prototype like TSR2 and the Avro Arrow. Like all Unicorns beautiful but mythical.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The only real alternative to SR.177 for OR.337 given the timeframe is Lightning. In service by 1959 tends to favour development of an existing type.

A better option would be a developed Avro 720, area ruled, with more jet engine but retaining the rocket engines, but it would have been helpful to this scenario if the original Avro 720 prototype had been built.
 

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Zootycoon

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In essence OR329 called for a Interceptor “fighter” (Neil Wheeler Deputy’ Director OR, early 57 ”I frankly cannot see a fighter of the OR329 type being used in any role as a fighter”) in the 20+ton weight class.

Now OR 337 was seeking a fighter in the 12 ton weight class. So my guess would be Hawkers would have submitted an aircraft of the P1103/1116 configuration, single seat Initially, dual seat with development, powered by maybe a reheated RB140 Medway(leading to Spey), optional wing rockets (quietly dropped as development progressed), AI 23 enabled and AN/AWG10 capable.
We’re now in F16 type territory.
 

zen

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The only real alternative to SR.177 for OR.337 given the timeframe is Lightning. In service by 1959 tends to favour development of an existing type.

A better option would be a developed Avro 720, area ruled, with more jet engine but retaining the rocket engines, but it would have been helpful to this scenario if the original Avro 720 prototype had been built.
Of the two it's curious that certain figures felt Avro's design was a better solution. Arguably Avro was better positioned to achieve a product.
 

zen

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As per other discussions, and my own musings and the odd calculation.
The missing element is the meduim modern turbojet. These being called for and RR scaled RB.106?, Bristol BS.30 to 33 or AW P.151 designed as the answer.
Sadly the overly large, heavy and thirsty scaled Gyron was chosen.
 

Archibald

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oh gods I can't remember everything.

Give us OR.337, requirements and then we can start.

Ok found it.

December Air Staff issued O.R.337. The preamble stated that the main threat to the country was still subsonic, but attacks by aircraft capable of speeds up to M = 1.3 at heights up to 55,000 ft. might be expected in 1960/62. The main features of the O.R. were:-
(a) Climb to 60,000ft at M= 1.6 in not than than four minutes.
(b) 1 1/2 G ceiling - 65,000 ft. at not less than M =1.6.
(c) Speed supersonic speed above 40,000 ft.; not less than M = 1.6 at 60,000 ft; M= 2 for a short period.
(d) Endurance - about 4.5 minutes, depending on flight profile, extensible to 75 minutes with overload tanks.
(e) Armament - 2 Blue Jay with 2 rocket batteries as an alternative.
The flexibility given by A.I., navigation aids and auto-pilot facilities was essential.
The aircraft was required in service as soon as possible and not later 1959.
Hello Mirage my old friend... I come to talk with you again...

Mirage I > Mirage II > Mirage III-01 > Mirage III-A > Mirage III-C > Mirage III-E / B / R and countless other variants.

Took many twists and turns (and four years, 1955-1959), but it worked... once again, certainly not thanks to the government (moribund French IVth Republic... yups !) or visionary military RFPs.

How did it happened ? Mirage I & II were a mix of NATO LFW with SR-53 & 177 rocket fighter craze.
- end result: shitty small engines, abysmal performance.

Then Mirage III-01 / -A / -C was truly OR.337 as you discuss it here: the RIGHT WAY toward an honest-to-god interceptor.

Next step: turn the interceptor into multirole aircraft - two-seater + recon + AW ground attack + clear weather ground attack and on, and on. 1422 build: 1/3rd for France, 2/3rd to export.

Make no mistake: as an interceptor, the Mirage III-C had many flaws
- Cyrano is trash
- R-530 was horse manure
- needs a belly rocket pack SEPR to get itself above 60 000 ft
- supersonic endurance is merely 5 minutes
- range is average at best
In the end only 95 were procured. Not a huge number.
Yet it was good enough for 1958, and what's more important, the airframe was sane, it worked well, and it was cheap and rugged enough, to be procured and build in large numbers, including in all kind of variants.
 
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Archibald

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As per other discussions, and my own musings and the odd calculation.
The missing element is the meduim modern turbojet. These being called for and RR scaled RB.106?, Bristol BS.30 to 33 or AW P.151 designed as the answer.
Sadly the overly large, heavy and thirsty scaled Gyron was chosen.
And this drove myself crazy 15 years ago when I red Tony Butler books.

Avon, Sapphire, Olympus, Gyron, Conway, so many others, plus improved variants... you british seemed to have a never-ending supply of excellent turbojets (designs, prototypes, in service...) Even better than the Soviets, and second only to Uncle Sam wonders like the J79...

In France, it was Atar 9 or - zippo, nada, zilch. An engine derived in 1948 from the BMW 003 (or was it the Jumo 004 ?) and that lasted until 2014 in Mirage F1 and SEM.

Makes one cry. Life in unfair.
 

Archibald

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The real threat to the UK from 1959 came from Soviet Medium Range Ballistic missiles for which the only answer was the threat of retaliation by the V force protected by Bloodhound SAMs.
I also have this excellent and very useful book.
The Lightning was more than adequate for intercepting Beagles, Badgers and Bears.
Any fighter that had emerged to these specs would have been a noble prototype like TSR2 and the Avro Arrow. Like all Unicorns beautiful but mythical.
My gut feeling about this was that GB, amid the 4 WWII winners, was trapped in a no-man's-land between USA / USSR and France.
If I were to put it bluntly...

France
1940 hammer blow brutally made France a 2nd power status. Like it or not, and there was no glory in that, nor with Vichy.
The only positive thing of that shameful quagmire that was WWII for us: after 1945, we never tried to join USSR / USA in the new superpower race called the Cold War.
De Gaulle tactic was to bit the "2nd power status post 1940" bullet - and do the maximum he could, from there. Including being a pest / ally / non-aligned troublemaker. All too often he was reminded that France means were limited.
Getting a nuclear deterrent large enough to incinerate 80 milion Soviets (400 nuclear warheads + varied vectors) immediately meant that conventional weapons procurement would suffer - carriers, bombers, submarines...

Great Britain
- In the 50's at least - got the worse of both France and superpowers statuses, altogether.
Facing the same odds as the former (the end of the colonial empire with all the bush wars)
- with an economy in bad shape (no 30 glorieuses)
- while trying to maintain a superpower, global status close enough from USSR / USA
(nuclear weapons, IRBMs, strategic bombers, aircraft carrier fleet....)
I think the post-Suez alignement on the United States (Nassau, Polaris) was the only right way post 1960, considering the economic hardships faced in the 70's... since there was a "special relationship", then go, use it.

Of course to De Gaulle this was anathema, so France took a different stance. Then again our economy was in far better shape - actually better than even today :( So we could afford being a pest toward Uncle Sam, up to a certain point of course.
 
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uk 75

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I am often accused of bringing the Phantom into every discussion as the solution, but this time I must say that France was spot on with the Mirage family. In the absence of the US domination of NATO the Mirage would have served instead of the F104 with Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, and then Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. Ironically the Australians (usually Brit or US kit) realised what the Mirage could do.
Whether the West Germans would have gone for Lightnings and Buccaneers or Mirages would have been interesting.
Sadly cooperation between the strong willed Marcel Dassault (should he be played by Jean Reno or Gerard Depardieu?) and the British companies like Fairey or Hawkers was not possible. As Charlotte Rampling and Jane Birkin showed in the 60s Anglo French cooperation could be beautiful. Another thread suggested that an Anglo French fighter replacing Jaguar would have been as elegant as Rafale. Oh well we have Kristin Scott-Thomas.
 

Archibald

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Michel Blanc would be a closer match from Marcel Dassault. Avec un D comme Dusse.
 
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