The Suez Crisis 1956

uk 75

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As someone who "does not understand this at all" but enjoys collecting sensible information and comments from posters here, I thought I would expand on a throaway line I made in another thread.
Rather like CVA01 and TSR2, the debacle at Suez in 1956 generated a saloon bar myth. This went something alon the lines of "If Eden had not been chronically ill and we had had a tougher Prime Minister, we would not have let the French down and packed in at Suez."Then is usually added:"the Yanks pulled the plug on us by causing a run on the Pound and it was Dulles who started it all by not giving Nasser the money he needed to build the Aswan Dam. ."
Reality was that the UK had already decided it could not hold the Canal Zone and had withdrawn from Egypt several years earlier. The Egyptians made the action even more farcical by sinking ships and blocking the canal, which required Egyptians to run it day to day.
So, just as no amount of what-iffery can get squadrons of TSR2s into RAF service by 1968, nothing can stop Suez from being a total fiasco. However, part of the fun of what-if is seeing how far can push them. By all means counter foolish assertions like mine, but remember this is a bit of light hearted discussion not an impeachment hearing!
 

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Earl Mountbatten amongst others agreed with you. But jingoism in the 50s brought votes, and Eden sat uneasily in Churchill's chair.
 

CNH

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Jingoism might have bought votes, but if you're going to go in there, you've got to be sure of winning [cf Thatcher/Falklands. She was nearly talked out of it,]
 

uk 75

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Interesting on Thatcher. I thought the military were solidly up for it and only Nott was half-hearted. Wd like to read more.
On Eden. I agree that Suez couldnt work but he was under personal and political pressure in the Tory party to show he was not an appeaser. Munich loomed large in those days as Iraq does today
 

Dilandu

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From the purely military point of view - the Royal Navy wasn't exactly in top shape at this time. Essentially it was still the World War 2 era navy with sprinkles of modern weapon & technology. In case things get really ugly on Mediterranean, they would be in very... unfortunate situation, being forced to face Soviet modern jets and missiles with largerly outdated arsenal.
 

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In 1956 the Soviets were not so capable at sea, apart from a lot of submarines and some cruisers. Kruschev threatened to rain missiles down on UK and France. But with Hungary to worry about I think the Russians were happy to see the operation collapse without their help. It made the West look as bad as the Russians painted it and won them friends in the Middle East and Africa. All in all a fiasco.
 

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For a taste of how a British French occupation of the Canal Zone would have been even worse for them than packing in, you only have to read accounts of France's war in Algeria or the British in Aden in the 60s. Nasser was a charismatic leader who would have found numerous ways to make life hell for the occupiers.
 

Dilandu

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In 1956 the Soviets were not so capable at sea,

Doesn't matter, because we already were quite capable in air. We already have Tu-16KS and Tu-4K bombers, armed with KS-1 ("Kennel") anti-ship missiles, as well as Tu-16T and Tu-28T torpedo bombers, armed with RAT-52 rocket-propelled torpedoes. What exactly Royal Navy of 1956 could do with the massed attacks of modern fast bombers, carrying standoff cruise missiles?

The only deck all-weather interceptor they have was "Sea Venom", which was actually slower than Tu-16 (not a lot, but still), and was armed only with cannons. To intercept Soviet attacking bombers with anything like high probability of success, it would be forced to initiate tail chase - not exactly the best idea, when the target is as fast as you are.

And behind "Sea Venom"'s there were essentially nothing, that could actually stop attacking missile. Ok, maybe STAAG mounts could (theoretically) shot it down, if they get lucky. But I wouldn't exactly bet much on it.
 

Foo Fighter

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Personally, I believe the loss of 'Empire' to be not only an advantage but a bit of a blessing. What with the huge 'adjustments' to the defence budget how much worse could things have been had we retained responsibility in these regions?
 

uk 75

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In 1956 the Soviets were not so capable at sea,

Doesn't matter, because we already were quite capable in air. We already have Tu-16KS and Tu-4K bombers, armed with KS-1 ("Kennel") anti-ship missiles, as well as Tu-16T and Tu-28T torpedo bombers, armed with RAT-52 rocket-propelled torpedoes. What exactly Royal Navy of 1956 could do with the massed attacks of modern fast bombers, carrying standoff cruise missiles?

The only deck all-weather interceptor they have was "Sea Venom", which was actually slower than Tu-16 (not a lot, but still), and was armed only with cannons. To intercept Soviet attacking bombers with anything like high probability of success, it would be forced to initiate tail chase - not exactly the best idea, when the target is as fast as you are.

And behind "Sea Venom"'s there were essentially nothing, that could actually stop attacking missile. Ok, maybe STAAG mounts could (theoretically) shot it down, if they get lucky. But I wouldn't exactly bet much on it.
An interesting dimension. I am not as well infomed on Soviet air power in this period. Tu16s and Il28s would have needed friendly bases to operate from. But assuming they could get these, a 1956 fleet would be vulnerable.
 

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At the time of Suez we operated with the French AND the Israeli's. The Il 28's were not too much of a problem, how many TU16's did they have?
 

uk 75

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i assume Dilandu has in mind a possible Soviet attack on the carriers and amphibious forces while they were underway from Malta in open sea. Hunters and Mysteres were available in some numbers from Cyprus and Israel.
The Soviet Union was much more careful than its reputation in the West suggests. I doubt Kruschev would have risked such action
 
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