TSR.2 Research Group


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2 January 2006
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Great P.17 and PD.17 artwork! Thanks Joe.
Can you tell something about the sources?
Funny, the one comment in that group about the TSR.2 Interceptor. This was actually serious. Canada was looking at the TSR.2 to replace their lost Arrow program. The irony? Back when the Arrow was flying, it was consider for GOR.339, which lead to, ...yup, the TSR.2. Full circle. I still like both the birds, though. ;D
I think you may have just answered your own question about the reference.
The TSR2 was considered for Canada to replace the Arrow because it WAS cancelled. Remember, the RCAF was forced to buy F-101's instead, and they had previously evaluated it before they built the Arrow, and chose the Arrow. Being a lower grade, the F-101 could be seen as an interim aircraft pending something more capable. It was never said WHEN the RCAF TSR2 interceptor idea was proposed, but because it would have been more capable than the Voodoo, it could be seen more as a follow on to the Arrow than the Voodoo. So, even if they looked into the TSR2 in 1965, the role they had in mind was the one the Arrow was going to perform, regardless of the time difference. There is no reference to the Arrow being canceled IN FAVOR of the TSR2, because, as you pointed out, the design was not finalized, and was proposed After the cancellation of the Arrow.
As far as material source, much of the TSR2's material was disposed of. There even may have been a proposal for the US that was destroyed. Who knows. But I have that Wings of Fame article as well and find it would be pointless to included that reference unless there was fact to it. I would contact the author about his references. He may even have information as to whether Canada seriously considered the proposal.
If you factor in the image of the TSR2 being a British TFX, Grumman did build the F-111B interceptor for the Navy. So, looking at the same role for the TSR2 is not such a stretch and Canada would be the ideal customer for a long range, heavily armed interceptor, like the F-111B or the Arrow was to have been.
Your taking the WoF article as Gospel - big mistake. LIke all articles they are written with the bias of the auther. Joe has asked author a number of time in person about this quote and its from a half remembered press conference when the the author was a press correspondence.

Infact the the said conference dates back to 1959 and relates to apdatation of the Vickers 571 design concept not the final TSR2 format !!!!. The TSR2 design and performance parameters was developed from the 571 to meet the supersonic low level strike concept requirement of the RAF, which is why it was regarded as the best aircraft we nvere had as it was purely dedicated for that job. The TFX was an early attemot to try and match two very different roles with one airframe, which it failed to do.

If you check the Model Aircraft Monthly articles by Paul Lucas, you will find that the Ministry did investigate the possibility of an interceptor TSR2 but found it completely unsuitable for the task and offering worse performance than the Lightning.

If you pick up Forbats book on the TSR2 weapon system you might see where the error lies, some of the Vickers staff on TSR2 used some of its systems into the later 581 series of designs that utilised Barnes Wallis's swallow VG data to create a VG interceptor with a secondary stike role.

Not just WoF, but virtually all magzines and books have some sort of bias to them. The trick is to not limit yourself to one source, and piece together the commonalities between them to get the general idea. I have copies of articles dating from the TSR2's introduction up to the present, so naturally there is bound to be some imformation that doesn't match the rest. WoF is good, but it's not the only thing.

Even if the Ministry (by the way, are we talking about British or Canadian?) found it unsuitable, it was still considered. The WoF article never stated that an order was set in stone. There have been plenty of 'investigations' for aircraft in roles that don't seem to fit the primary mission. It all depends on the parameters set by the customer. A fighter for one nation could be used as a bomber for another nation and visa-versa. The Arrow fighter was bigger and more powerful than the Mirage IV bomber, hence reflecting the requirements set by the respected countries. An example of this point. They could easily switch roles and still perform, namely an Arrow bomber for France and a Mirage IV fighter for Canada. Given the exceptional performance of the Lightning and the the fact the the prototype TSR2 matched, and in a few cases exceeded it, a drop in such a performance level would still provide enough to be highly effective. One only has to study the just how much each country had to protect. Unsuitable as an interceptor for the UK, but attractive for Canada. Britian looked at the Arrow as a fighter, but some found it to be too big. So, instead, they looked into buying it for GOR339.

Another area to look at for an example of this is North American Aviation. Namely the A-5. A nuclear strike bomber for the Navy. But, NAA submitted it to the Air Force as an interceptor, with a couple of different versions to choose from. Not produced, but still considered. Which is the main point.

Just because the role may seem out of place, was never built, and only one writer chooses to mention it doesn't mean it should be ruled out completely as being farfetched and 'bias'. Even if it was at an early design stage. Exactly when was it ruled out? Can we be sure the idea died at the conference, or was some time later? How do we know the th idea was not carried over into the final model? Vickers was still the prime contractor, so why not run with it? The more sales, the better, regardless of what it is used for. This was post 1957 Britian and the aviation industry needed to sell anything it could.

The author still has the clear advantage of actually being at this conference, so it's still our word against his, reagardless of any claims of 'bias'.

And one thing I've noticed is that, yes, the dedicated multi-role aircraft is a nightmare to bring to reality. More successful have been single role aircraft that are adapted for other roles. Otherwise, there would be no StrikeEagle, no BombCat, and no Prowler. All of these aircraft took on role they were not designed for and, in the case of the F-15 and the F-14, many refused to even consider it (the 'Not A Pound For Air-To-Ground!' slogan). Yet when the new roles were applied, they found they were very capable, extending their usefulness considerablely. So, proposing a dedicated strike aircraft as a fighter doen't seem all that much of a stretch. Or even opposite. But it is just a proposal.
Coming to this from an "unbuilt warships" board, it seems to me the problems are far greater in relation to aircraft, as it is easier to suggest alternative uses, or conversions.
What I would be looking for in this case is an actual document, (outline spec or drawing) originating from the manufacturer(s) or some official body. It would be far too easy to float an idea at a conference which might quickly be shown to be impractical, but also might become the basis for a serious study at least. The question for me is "Was there a serious study?"
TsrJoe said:
Re. a projected 'interceptor TSR.2' variant...i have not come across anything in any of the company archives (EE. or Vickers) or the National Records Office (PRO.) relating to any such proposal, indeed the one file i have seen which does have a passing mention does so in confirming its unsuitibility for the role!

Id love to know if theres anything over in the Canadian archives possibly relating to this??? anyone had a looksee? one that id love to see laid to rest once and for all!

Another aspect relating to the TSR.2 project id love to try and clear up is the RAF.'s looking at the 'Avro CF.105 Arrow' for 'Specification OR.339', unless this was an unsolicited proposal by Avro Canada, again unfortunately nothing appears in the official files (Avro, and indeed each of the Hawker Siddely companies, having their own projeced designs to the specification!) possibly something tangiable (ie. official) might appear from a Canadian source

One thing i can confirm tho is there is a lot of material in the archives relating to the 'Avro CF.105 Arrow' as a replacement for the deemed useless 'Gloster Thin Wing Javelin' as a long range suppliment to the 'EE.P.1B' (later 'Lightning') until the requirement was rewritten negating the need for the Arrow (the imfamous defence white paper)

Randall Whitcomb mentioned, both in correspondence and in Avro Aircraft and Cold War Aviation that the info he had from Jim Floyd in interviews and such included mention of a OR.339 version of the Arrow with a standoff missile resembling a scaled down Blue Steele. One of the other really comprehensive collections of Arrow data, a total package of several softbound binders crammed full, has further info. *sigh* Unfortunately, I've not seen my copy of this set, and I grabbed one of the last full sets available, since the last move. I seem to remeber the collection was put together by a gent named Dugbey, or something like that.
TsrJoe said:
Re. a projected 'interceptor TSR.2' variant...i have not come across anything in any of the company archives (EE. or Vickers) or the National Records Office (PRO.) relating to any such proposal, indeed the one file i have seen which does have a passing mention does so in confirming its unsuitibility for the role!

I remember reading a small landscape-format book on Bristol Aircraft and projects. Under the picture of their TSR-2 submission (High Ogival wing, low canard aircraft) it stated that an interceptor version of that aircraft had been offered to Canada as a "Commonwealth Interceptor", if I remember correctly...

TsrJoe said:
Re. a projected 'interceptor TSR.2' variant...i have not come across anything in any of the company archives (EE. or Vickers) or the National Records Office (PRO.) relating to any such proposal, indeed the one file i have seen which does have a passing mention does so in confirming its unsuitibility for the role!

This is hardly surprising when you consider that the TSR.2 was so completely optimized for low level flight. Would anyone design an interceptor with such tremendously high wing loading, or so little space for a reasonably sized air-to-air radar set?

It is tempting to compare the Avro Arrow and BAC TSR.2, due to the impressive size and performance of the respective aircraft and the political nature of the cancellatiosn, but the truth is that these two projects were profoundly different.

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