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V bombers at low level

CNH

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I wonder if the great minds of the forum could help me. This is a quote from a Treasury document of about January 1963, written immediately after the Skybolt cancellation, and is a footnote to a paper describing how the V bombers are going to be switching to the low level role:
“The Air Staff are reticent about the height and speed envisaged in the new role (? 200 feet and up to 400 knots). But they believe that, even if anybody reaches its target, nobody will return. War Office A. A. gunners don't believe that anybody will reach his target.”
I rather suspect that the Treasury don't know what they are talking about. Would Russia have any anti-aircraft guns deployed? And when were the last anti-aircraft guns decommissioned in the UK?
 

MrT

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The Bofors left the TA about 1980, however 2 years after that with the unpleasantness in the South Atlantic the UK gained some fairly new GDF35s along with radars. These were then given to the RAF who formed a squadron of Auxiliaries at Waddington, even going to the extent of ordering a few more. These however only lasted around 8 years or so before being put aside as part of the Cold War dividend. So 1990 would be my best guess. However the end of AA Command was well before that, was it 1959? certainly a load of TA AA units ended their existence at that time (majority using the old 3.7in AA). Hope this helps?
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Perhaps the meaning was "War Office [former] A.A. Gunners". I'm not sure you can draw conclusions from that.

The USSR used a lot of AA guns postwar - SAMs began to replace larger calibre guns from the 1960s, but the ZSU-57-2 SPAAG came in in 1955, towed ZSU-23-2 entered service around 1960 and in 1964 the self-propelled ZSU-23-4 arrived.

Not sure how deadly it would be to a low level Victor or Vulcan though.
 

CJGibson

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As can be seen from the attached 1955 graph (from British Secret Projects -Hypersonics Ramjets and Missles) the Air Ministry thought the USSR would field SAMs around1960. There would be a load of AAA around in the Soviet Union and once a war kicked off, they would no doubt be activated.

There is a file in Kew that discusses V-Force survivability and last time I checked it was still closed. Might be some clues in there. Unless that's the file you have?

You may recall how effective AAA was in Vietnam and in the 1973 October War against low-level aircraft plus it forced strike aircraft to fly higher in GW1.

Also, a Vulcan is a nice big target even for a Squadiski with an AK.

Chris
 

CNH

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Thanks for your comments.
I quite realise that the Soviet army would still have anti-aircraft guns such as Bofors; what I was really getting at was whether Soviet cities would have a dedicated anti-aircraft gun defence.
The number of guns to provide an effective defence for a city would be quite considerable, and since the Soviet Union hadn't suffered a strategic air attack before, there would be little infrastructure.
I appreciate that a Vulcan flying at 500 feet would provide a very large target, but at night without searchlights would be almost impossible to spot.
I still think the Treasury didn't know what it was talking about!
 

Nick

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I have heard the phrase "A.A. Gunners" used to describe those hidebound idiots in any job, but particularly the Civil Service, who will shoot down any idea that they don't like regardless of how sensible or cost effective it may be. This is similar to the saying "Not Invented Here"...


That said, the Soviet Union did have lots of anti-aircraft guns in service post-WW2 and continued developing them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_mm_air_defense_gun_KS-19
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KS-30 The picture is of the gun in the Czech Air Museum, Prague. It is huge!
 

Abraham Gubler

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Weren't the V Bombers fitted with a jammer specifically for countering the FCS of the Soviet 57mm AA gun?
 

MrT

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Wasn't it the demands of low level flying that spelt the end of the Valiant? Some of the low flying bombers proposed in the 50s look rather interesting such as the low level mini Vulcan with the rather fat body and short stubby delta wing.

The analogy of the AA Gunners being a term to describe certain civil servants does ring a bell!
 

CNH

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I was intrigued yesterday when I read this RAE assessment of the Russian air defences, written just after the Skybolt cancellation:


"The air defence of Russia is, at the moment, notable for the magnitude of the development which has been regarded as an acceptable economic cost; in western USSR and the satellite countries there are currently, in round numbers, some 10,000 interceptor aircraft, 30,000 SAGW and 20,000 AA guns."


What does the team think about the credibility of these figures?
 

JFC Fuller

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Its from a few years earlier but you may find this interesting: http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/89801/DOC_0000269426.pdf

From previous research such estimates were regarded as "spongy" and were given an accuracy margin of plus/minus 25%.

Certainly the SAGW numbers look on the high side, given the deployment of the S.25 and the S.75 missiles and their production schedules I would guess about half that number if not less. That said, S-75 deployment was ramping up rapidly peaking at 800 battery sites in 1968/69.
 

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