• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

TSR2 or F111K?

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,147
Reaction score
1,875
The title has probably produced a groan. But if you stop a bit, we have not had a serious discussion of the relative merits of the two types.
It has been pretty much the standard mantra amongst Brits that the F111 was not a worthy competitor and that TSR2 was unbeatable.
As more information and books and magazines have appeared, and threads on this site, it does not seem so simple.
TSR2 was optimised to put one or two (depending on type) on a target at low level. F111 had better range and weapons capability. It served both the USAF and RAAF well between the 70s and 90s. But it took an awfully long time to get it to that state.
On cancellation TSR2 was far from ready for service. Costs were uncontrollable. Its design made servicing a likely nightmare. Its electronics fit was potentially out of date.
Probably the best answer was to abandon the requirement altogether. But it did take a combination of Phantoms later Jaguars, Buccaneers and Vulcans to replace TFX as the requirement had become known.
Eventually, twenty years after TSR2 was cancelled, Tornado replaced it.
As an aside the other two 1964 casualties proved easy to replace.
The P1154 was replaced by Jaguar (Ironically the RAF never wanted the P1127 derived Harrier, which survived to keep jobs at HSA).
The AW681 was replaced by the roomier and more rugged C130 Hercules. Its faster speed was not needed and the vstol battlefield supply role was better suited to Pumas and later Chinooks.
TSR2 was a very large aircraft. And a very expensive one. Those were two good reasons in the "flexible response" NATO of the late 1960s to lose it.
 

Attachments

  • 311c11d285c9b8cad6cf62906828972a.jpg
    311c11d285c9b8cad6cf62906828972a.jpg
    58.4 KB · Views: 29

Zoo Tycoon

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
529
Reaction score
704
One aspect not mentioned above was production numbers;- no export sales, an ill defined role with the RAF so numbers would likely to have been in the range of fifty to one hundred. At such low numbers, and new projects getting further apart it didn’t make any sense to BAC. They had recently seen Scimitar, with initial production expectations in the multi hundreds, ending up being terminated at just 76. It was obvious even before TSR2 was canned, the AFVG > MRCA with a run of around 1000 was a much better bet even if divided up with three other countries. Edwards knew this and without doubt, his heart was in the right place. I think his role in the demise has never been, and possible never will, be made public. A few years of TSR2 production, at the expense of no AFVG would see his factory doors shut for good sometime around 1973, so he had no choice. After all the he had just seen plenty of his rivals disappear or wither, Fairies, Gloucester’s, Handley Page etc.

The contraction in production numbers even impacted F111;- originally GD was sejuiced with the thought of making 2500 but even with an on going war in South East Asia they only made 563.
 

kaiserbill

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
1,444
Reaction score
438
I think there was a quite capable 3rd option. One that replaced both the TSR2 and F-111K.

The Buccaneer.

The RAF reluctantly took it on as a replacement for the F-111K when that was cancelled.....and then became a firm fan of it.
It was slated to serve until the late 1990's, but was retired in 1994 as an economy measure following the end of the Cold War.
It was placed back in production between 1973 and 1977 to fulfill an order for 50.
It was much cheaper than both the TSR2 and F-111K, and with proper avionics, could arguably have done almost everything both the others could do, except fly supersonically. But you would have to ask honestly how often the F-111K and TSR2 would actually fly at supersonic speeds.
One could argue that apart from avionics, which the Buccaneer was not given the benefit of a decent upgrade path, the raw performance of even its successor, the Tornado, was not better. There are plenty of reports from pilots of the Buccaneer leaving the Tornado lagging behind on deployment flights, and with its internal weapons bay, it was certainly faster than the Tornado lugging a similar bombload externally.

With the benefit of hindsight, a few more machines in that late production run, to add to the over 200 built, coupled with a decent avionics upgrade path, would have been the right way to go.

This is not a rose tinted view, but I happen to think that if the Buccaneer had been given a proper upgrade path through its life, particularly to its antique avionics, it would have built even further on its already stellar reputation.
I think they got the design very right.

A big missed opportunity imho.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,147
Reaction score
1,875
I think the core problem with TSR2 is given away by its shifting nuclear payload. Canberra like Phantom, Buccaneer, Jaguar and Tornado was designed to heft a single nuke. TSR2 like the Valiants allocated to SACEUR aimed at carrying two.
Ironically the real replacements for the 50 planned TSR2/F111s ended up being 48 Vulcan B2s.
Even more ironically, the Vulcans were replaced by variable geometry aircraft of the type envisaged in the 60s as "succeeding" TSR2 in the 1970s.
As Sir Humphrey Appleby tells PM Hacker about Trident TSR2 was "the kind of weapon Harrods would sell you".
 

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,177
Reaction score
1,898
We have to remember that in the early 1960s everyone was worrying about the proliferation of supersonic SAMs, especially smaller mobile ones.
It wasn't long before the Eastern Bloc nations started getting 2K11 Krug, 2K12 Kub, 9K31 Strela-1, 9K33 Osa around the end of the 1960s/early 1970s. This isn't even counting the radar-guided SPAAGs. This was a serious menace and was thought to require everyone to fly as fast as possible as low as possible to beat the SAM engagement time. Thus supersonics were seen as the way to go.

Reality was a little different, Desert Storm soon showed fast and low was no protection, at least in relatively flat, open terrain.
The Bucc was effective but the major air forces didn't really believe between 1957 and 1980 that a subsonic aircraft had much of a chance. The Soviets followed the same though patterns with the Sukhoi T6/Su-24 and soon all their fighter-bomber and tactical bombers were high-speed types capable of supersonic flight (Su-17s and Yak-28s - admittedly their best speeds were at altitude).
 

zen

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
2,313
Reaction score
1,020
I think there was a quite capable 3rd option. One that replaced both the TSR2 and F-111K.

The Buccaneer.

The RAF reluctantly took it on as a replacement for the F-111K when that was cancelled.....and then became a firm fan of it.
It was slated to serve until the late 1990's, but was retired in 1994 as an economy measure following the end of the Cold War.
It was placed back in production between 1973 and 1977 to fulfill an order for 50.
It was much cheaper than both the TSR2 and F-111K, and with proper avionics, could arguably have done almost everything both the others could do, except fly supersonically. But you would have to ask honestly how often the F-111K and TSR2 would actually fly at supersonic speeds.
One could argue that apart from avionics, which the Buccaneer was not given the benefit of a decent upgrade path, the raw performance of even its successor, the Tornado, was not better. There are plenty of reports from pilots of the Buccaneer leaving the Tornado lagging behind on deployment flights, and with its internal weapons bay, it was certainly faster than the Tornado lugging a similar bombload externally.

With the benefit of hindsight, a few more machines in that late production run, to add to the over 200 built, coupled with a decent avionics upgrade path, would have been the right way to go.

This is not a rose tinted view, but I happen to think that if the Buccaneer had been given a proper upgrade path through its life, particularly to its antique avionics, it would have built even further on its already stellar reputation.
I think they got the design very right.

A big missed opportunity imho.
This really hits the nail on the head here. The benefits of going Mach 1.2 below 100ft are not worth the engineering and design compromises compared with 50ft at speeds around Mach 0.8.

We could argue that had it been known the NA.39 winner would be the most economic solution for the RAF. Then the Shorts PD.13 with higher performance would have been worth the risk.

Certainly a Buccaneer mk3 was discussed with much improved avionics.
Arguably the A7 computer system (Elliott?) Could have made a mk4 quite reasonable and affordable as well.
Both allowing the UK sourced Q-band SLAR and Ferranti TFR set for navigation.
 
Top