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V Bombers instead of TSR2

uk 75

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The fatigue problems led to the Valiant being replaced from 1965 in the tanker role by converted Victors but the squadrons assigned to SACEUR at Marham were not replaced until 1968 when Vulcans gave up carrying Blue Steel.
Frustrated by TSR2 being out of control with no cost estimates sticking, the Home government finds itself still in office with a majority of three.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Maudling (there s no money cock!) tells the newly formed MOD its big ticket items must go.
TSR2 heads the list of projects. With dollars to valuable to spend on F111 or F4 the RAF is told to run on the Vulcan B1 as a UK based replacement for Valiants and Canberras assogned to SACEUR. From 1968 they will be replaced by Vulcan B2.
Sale of BuccaneerS50 to S Africa continues. The RAF is told to buy S2s to replace P1154 in RAF Germany.
The RAF lobby hard to have Hercules replace the troubled 681 They are told to buy a mix of Hercs and more Belfasts.
The Navy are told that F4 is to be cancelled to save scarce dollars and that CVA01 is too complicated and expensive. It must run on two existing carriers (Eagle and Hermes) into the 70s.
It is encouraged to work with RAF on a fighter derived from the BAC P45 which becomes AFVG in 1966, UKVG in 67 and MRCA in 68.
The resulting aircraft is small and powerful enough to operate off Hermes. Two new carriers (Furious and Illustrious are laid down in 1972 and 1976 A third, Ark Royal, is laid down in 1980).





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Archibald

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Victor B.2 with the most powerful Conways, will rule the skies. Screw Vulcan. Invest massively in what is left of the Victor fleet. Those birds were amazing.Give them SRAM, and later, AGM-86B.
 

uk 75

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The.Victors are earmarked as tankers and recce machines as in real life. They also were better at carrying a big conventional load than Vulcans.
But the Vulcan B1 and B2 were ideal for carrying the US supplied nukes and then WE177.
If the Tories had returned to power in 1964 they would have carried on with Polaris. The fifth boat (Royal Sovereign not Ramilles) might have survived the above cuts and made the operation of the R boats easier.
 

zen

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The fatigue problems led to the Valiant being replaced from 1965 in the tanker role by converted Victors but the squadrons assigned to SACEUR at Marham were not replaced until 1968 when Vulcans gave up carrying Blue Steel.
Frustrated by TSR2 being out of control with no cost estimates sticking, the Home government finds itself still in office with a majority of three.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Maudling (there s no money cock!) tells the newly formed MOD its big ticket items must go.
TSR2 heads the list of projects. With dollars to valuable to spend on F111 or F4 the RAF is told to run on the Vulcan B1 as a UK based replacement for Valiants and Canberras assogned to SACEUR. From 1968 they will be replaced by Vulcan B2.
Sale of BuccaneerS50 to S Africa continues. The RAF is told to buy S2s to replace P1154 in RAF Germany.
The RAF lobby hard to have Hercules replace the troubled 681 They are told to buy a mix of Hercs and more Belfasts.
The Navy are told that F4 is to be cancelled to save scarce dollars and that CVA01 is too complicated and expensive. It must run on two existing carriers (Eagle and Hermes) into the 70s.
It is encouraged to work with RAF on a fighter derived from the BAC P45 which becomes AFVG in 1966, UKVG in 67 and MRCA in 68.
The resulting aircraft is small and powerful enough to operate off Hermes. Two new carriers (Furious and Illustrious are laid down in 1972 and 1976 A third, Ark Royal, is laid down in 1980).
Vulcan will need avionics and ECM/EW updates. Arguably money better spent that in RL as the dark arts of EW have longer term benefits.

Most logical to opt for a mkIII Buccaneer, a lot of TSR.2 and P1154 avionics can be fitted into new production airframes. RAF opposition can be neutralised by STOL through quick acting blow and RATOG or 'fire hose' catapult. Trails but abandoned for conventional operations.

Cheapest option is not VG, but blown wing and tail. So BAC P.45 with the delta wing or HSA (Bough) P.141 NGTA. Savings piled behind AI set.

Carriers?
What sort of carriers?
 

uk 75

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The reason for choosing an alt Tory govt was to force Maudling to make cuts which in real life were dumped on Labour.
Vulcan and Buccaneer happened in real life but I get rid of F4 and have more Bucs. The VG route is again real life.
The two new carriers are close to Eagle with a bigger version of the County and Fearless power plants.
 

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Certainly there's a story of Mountbatten storming into one meeting and throwing down 10 pictures of the Buccaneer and one of the TSR.2. Stating this was the cost difference.

Mass production of Buccaneer would have notable impact on Brough's standing inside HSA.
And if that cost difference is correct then RAF can achieve the numbers desired.
 

Archibald

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I don't know what kind of stuff Mountbatten drank or smoke, but it was probably powerful... 10 Buccaneers for 1 TSR-2... ??!! and if my mom had wheels, I would call her a wagon...

Then again, RAF famously called tectonics to the rescue, by moving Australia 600 miles closer from GB than its real position, to make TSR-2 range a little more relevant...

Reminds me of that old joke...

On a warship, the Captain is making navigation and positioning,, visibly having some very hard time. After he comes to a result he triumphantly pass the chart and ship position to his second-in-command.
Only to see the man kneeling, praying and singing "hallelujah !" to the Lord.
The captain, puzzled, stares at him and asks
"Are you nut ? WTF is happening to you ?"
"My Captain, according to your calculations, our ship is right in the middle of Notre Dame de Paris..."
 
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Michel Van

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i think if Skybolt had enter service it would have save V-bomber and killed TSR.2
Best chance would have Victors to be Skybolt carriers

But the Victors need major update in aerodynamic and avionics and ECM/EW updates.
 
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Archibald

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What's your Vector, Victor ? Roger ! Oveur. What ?
 

Hood

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Still mystifies me why after putting literately the entire resources of the aircraft industry into building them that the V-Bombers never got any improvements following the Mk.2 versions beyond adding a TFR to the Vulcan and tinkering with some SLAR technology for Victor and of course the Blue Steel saga. The Vuclans still had a nominal nuclear strike role until 1980 and yet were flying museums of state of the art circa 1957.
Admittedly some of the 'Bears' coming the other way were just as antiquated but some of them had at least attempted to keep up with the times.

Short of stripping out the H2S/NBC system and re-wiring the whole airframe I can't see what could have been done to improve weapons capability for the 'semi-smart' age (good luck trying to integrate SRAM with analogue computers with whirring cogs), but even ECM improvements seem to have been lacking. A case of hanging on too long.


Certainly there's a story of Mountbatten storming into one meeting and throwing down 10 pictures of the Buccaneer and one of the TSR.2. Stating this was the cost difference.
Was that not a pack of playing cards he had specially made? Sure I've read that in numerous places. I think perhaps the myth has grown in the retelling.
10 Buccs for 1 TSR is all well and good if you've got the carriers to fly them from. I don't really think Mountbatten was thinking of boosting the RAF to have a greater fleet of Buccs than he possessed.
 

zen

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Still mystifies me why after putting literately the entire resources of the aircraft industry into building them that the V-Bombers never got any improvements following the Mk.2 versions beyond adding a TFR to the Vulcan and tinkering with some SLAR technology for Victor and of course the Blue Steel saga. The Vuclans still had a nominal nuclear strike role until 1980 and yet were flying museums of state of the art circa 1957.
Admittedly some of the 'Bears' coming the other way were just as antiquated but some of them had at least attempted to keep up with the times.

Short of stripping out the H2S/NBC system and re-wiring the whole airframe I can't see what could have been done to improve weapons capability for the 'semi-smart' age (good luck trying to integrate SRAM with analogue computers with whirring cogs), but even ECM improvements seem to have been lacking. A case of hanging on too long.


Certainly there's a story of Mountbatten storming into one meeting and throwing down 10 pictures of the Buccaneer and one of the TSR.2. Stating this was the cost difference.
Was that not a pack of playing cards he had specially made? Sure I've read that in numerous places. I think perhaps the myth has grown in the retelling.
10 Buccs for 1 TSR is all well and good if you've got the carriers to fly them from. I don't really think Mountbatten was thinking of boosting the RAF to have a greater fleet of Buccs than he possessed.
You have hit a nail there on the lack of upgrades to the V-Force fleets. Though clearly in the early stages EW etc was being invested in, it all seems to first move over to the supersonic successor and then dies because of ballistic missiles.
Yet OR.339 TSR.2 rather would need increasing EW capability to stay relevant.

The obvious thing is to replace the avionics rather requires new build airframes and one can imagine this would seem a waste to their perspective.

As for Buccaneers, this is a matter of cost, not the Navy in this scenario. Even if the ratio is 2 Buccaneers to 1 TSR.2, then the Buccaneer is more affordable.
And new build was ordered for the RAF.
 

JFC Fuller

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Still mystifies me why after putting literately the entire resources of the aircraft industry into building them that the V-Bombers never got any improvements following the Mk.2 versions beyond adding a TFR to the Vulcan and tinkering with some SLAR technology for Victor and of course the Blue Steel saga. The Vuclans still had a nominal nuclear strike role until 1980 and yet were flying museums of state of the art circa 1957.
We have a thread on V-bomber avionic developments here.

It's probably just a matter of roles and timing, the last major planned upgrade for the Vulcan was the conversion for Skybolt carriage, and that was limited to what was required specifically for the Skybolt mission. Once that was cancelled the Vulcan fleet was always interim to something, Polaris, then F-111K (only very briefly), then AFVG and then MRCA, which became Tornado but arrived significantly later than planned. Much of this during the lean times of the 1970s.
 

zen

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It's plausible that had Blue Boar and Green Cheese entered service that the V-Bombers using them would gain improvements in avionics.
 

uk 75

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I clearly specified the Vulcans operational role in support of SACEUR and not the national deterrent role, which passed to Polaris as planned in 1968.
Given that the RAF did use the 48 Vulcan B2s in this role from 1968 to 1983 all I am doing is suggesting that the RAF should have accepted this was all they were going to get and saved the UK taxpayer the TSR2/F111K saga.
When Tornado finally arrived, it was a Jaguar/Buccaneer replacement as the Vulcan range and payload had been dropped after 1968 (earlier since TSR2/F111K were not V bombers). This should have been accepted earlier and Vulcans acknowledged as hanging on longer than planned. Their crews never got proper ejection seats.
 

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It's plausible that had Blue Boar and Green Cheese entered service that the V-Bombers using them would gain improvements in avionics.
Both of those were obsolete in the 1950s,
 

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FWIW, there were plans circa 1959 to fit all the V-force with the OR.3600 nav/radar improvements, which gave stabilised SLAR mode and a rapid-processing display unit (giving similar-ish fixing capability to TSR2 navigation system). In the end only the Blue Steel carriers got them (as NBS Mk 2).
 
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Archibald

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The B-52H is a vibrant proof of what can be done with 1961-62 vintage airframes. This more or less matches the last Victors and last Vulcans B2s.
But Buccaneer was the real lost opportunity, as far as TSR-2 go.

Well a mixed Victor / Buccaneer fleet with "OTL TSR-2 / Tornado avionics" would have been completely awesome. Keep the Victors alive the indirect way as tankers and reconnaissance aircraft.
When the Buccaneer proves unable to strike the Falklands even with a boatload of Victor tankers, then the Victor just say " forget it, I will take that matter within my own hands".
 

uk 75

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There is a reference somewhere to the RAF suggesting that after 1968 it would get rid of the Vulcans altogether and retain one bomber squadron of Victors as well as tankers and recce machines. This was when TSR2 was expected to replace the Valiant and Canberra.
If you replace the P1154 (2sqns in Germany, 2 in UK) and the 50 TFX needed for nuclear delivery in support of SACEUR after the decision to withdraw from East of Suez with 6 to 8 sqns of BuccaneerS2s, the Victor option does make a lot of sense..
Of course the result is a rather smaller RAF than emerged in the 70s. Jaguar is not really needed and the P1127RAF probably dies as well. The F4s might replace Lightnings faster or Lightnings might have to soldier on alone if the F4 order is cut right back or cancelled.
 

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What exactly was the role of the TSR2?
 

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Glad you asked that. I've been avoiding asking that question since about 10 replies ago!

Chris
 
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zen

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What exactly was the role of the TSR2?
And we come back to the targets....
And thus one can grasp the 600nm ROA just fine.
But 1,000nm?
From the Eastern UK that barely gets you to the Polish-Byelorussian border and more like central to Eastern Poland.
Even if you take off from West Germany, you're not getting to Moscow...let alone beyond the Urals.
So what was the target set?
 

uk 75

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The clearest description comes in Peter Hennessys Secret State which contains a brief for new PM Wilson on nuclear weapons programmes. TSR2 or TFX (F111K) is to replace nuclear armed Valiants and Canberras.
The fact that TSR2 was simply a carrier for free fall Red Beard later WE177 bombs sealed its demise with its skyrocketing cost.
The targets were not strategic like Polaris but E European and modern Belarus
 
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JFC Fuller

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There is a reference somewhere to the RAF suggesting that after 1968 it would get rid of the Vulcans altogether and retain one bomber squadron of Victors as well as tankers and recce machines. This was when TSR2 was expected to replace the Valiant and Canberra.
This was Plan P, March 1964, which shows two Victor B.2 (Blue Steel) Squadrons being retained through to at least 1976. I don't have a copy of the file this is from, AIR 20/11708, at the moment but my speculation is that the proposed retention of these aircraft was related to commitments to provide a nuclear deterrent capability East of Suez. V-bombers had a SEATO nuclear reinforcement role, the RAF's famed 'Island Stance' was a proposed expansion of the infrastructure required to support that deployment. India, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, made a request for a nuclear guarantee from the UK (the same request was made of the US and USSR) in December 1964 against China, it resulted in a lot of study work on deploying Polaris boats to the Far East.
 

uk 75

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Thanks JFC.. I think F111K has been getting a much better and more balanced coverage recently.
I live not far from Upper Heyford and the USAF F111s were familar to me over many years from the excellent open days at the base. The two USAF wings in the UK, the other at Lakenheath, were equipped with the later versions of F111 with the bugs worked out.
50 F111s would have (after much development) given the RAF a significant capability from the 70s to the end of the Cold War. But the price might have been no Tornado.
 

zen

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What this rather shows is the overambition of the requirements.
For EoS arguably the Buccaneer and the RAAF's preference for the Vigilante is 'good enough'.
While for Europe it's arguable that the avionics were more important than the platform.
But we see the opposition to the Buccaneer here.
 

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Certainly there's a story of Mountbatten storming into one meeting and throwing down 10 pictures of the Buccaneer and one of the TSR.2. Stating this was the cost difference.
The version I heard was three, which is far closer to reality. Source is Project Cancelled by Derek Wood.
 

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Still mystifies me why after putting literately the entire resources of the aircraft industry into building them that the V-Bombers never got any improvements following the Mk.2 versions beyond adding a TFR to the Vulcan and tinkering with some SLAR technology for Victor and of course the Blue Steel saga. The Vuclans still had a nominal nuclear strike role until 1980 and yet were flying museums of state of the art circa 1957.
Admittedly some of the 'Bears' coming the other way were just as antiquated but some of them had at least attempted to keep up with the times.
Tu-95 have a clear role of long-range transpolar bombers & long-range ocean strike aircraft. Neither role demanded much more than range; they were supposed to arrive into general area of target, launch their missiles & get away. So, it make sense to have them up-to-date.

British V-bombers did not have such clear role. After Polaris missile took over strategic deterrent, it was not exactly clear how to use them at all. And Britain did not have as much money as Soviet Union to maintain non-essential bomber fleet.
 

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It dawned on me, would TSR-2 weapon bay large enough to hold a Skybolt ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAM-87_Skybolt
In a word, no.

Carrying the missile externally underneath the aircraft meant blanking off the Doppler radar. In addition, the star seeker in the missile would be obscured.

Alternatively, it could be carried on top of the aircraft, but to release it, the aircraft would have to fly upside down. Not the most clever of arrangements.
 

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Were the V-force bomb bays big enough to hold a B-52 like rotary launcher for SRAM/ALCM? I think they are long enough (Victor certainly is), do they have the diameter? Or for a smaller 6 rather than 8 missile launcher?
 

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50 F111s would have (after much development) given the RAF a significant capability from the 70s to the end of the Cold War. But the price might have been no Tornado.
50 F-111K was too small a number for any long-term force. 50 airframes would not have lasted the RAF until 2010!
Such a small 'silver bullet' force of F-111Ks only made sense alongside a larger fleet of AFVG strike aircraft. In contrast the RAF brought 229 Tornado GR.1. Admittedly a larger force than was planned even for TSR.2.

F-111K was expensive (had we continued with it, the final price would have been pretty eye watering) and reliant on US production, which was scheduled to end in 1974 but which did trickle on until 1976. Plus all the negative reports in the US press would not have been conducive to Parliament simply waving through a second order. We could wait for surplus US airframes but that might be 20 years....
MRCA was at the right time and right price, hits the sweet spots like most strike projects don't post-1960.

British V-bombers did not have such clear role. After Polaris missile took over strategic deterrent, it was not exactly clear how to use them at all. And Britain did not have as much money as Soviet Union to maintain non-essential bomber fleet.
True, but in he nuclear role they were restricted to tactical free-fall weapons and iron bombs for conventional strike. That puts them right over the target and with not that much flexibility in what they can do. Arguably you could say the same about most fighter-bombers too in this period, but at least a Jaguar/Phantom/F-111 can egress at faster speeds and is a smaller target.
 

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As an aside and on a purely technical basis, it would have been possible to design a twin or three seater, twin engined strike machine of between 1,500nm-2,000nm ROA carrying several internal Skybolt missiles.
And this could have succeeded the V-Force.
Fitted with the avionics needed and a potential for supersonic speeds.
An earlier 'mini-B1' if you will.

But....this was never specified or required.
Which is sad, because this would fit the needs perfectly and be flexible enough for a long service life.
And if we were to fund a domestic strike system, then that, not a inbetween stalls 'replacement' (not really) for Canberra, was were the money ought to have gone....if we're replacing the V-Force....

But..... if we're replacing the tactical strike force, cutting ROA down to 800nm (just like the US specified) and focusing on the avionics and systems for modest supersonic flight.....then that was definitely achievable within budgets. Even if it meant pioneering a new compact computer and sufficient robust memory.

And if we stuck to the 600nm ROA this was very achievable at affordable prices.
 

Dilandu

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True, but in he nuclear role they were restricted to tactical free-fall weapons and iron bombs for conventional strike. That puts them right over the target and with not that much flexibility in what they can do. Arguably you could say the same about most fighter-bombers too in this period, but at least a Jaguar/Phantom/F-111 can egress at faster speeds and is a smaller target.
Well, F-4/F-111 could also deliver low-altitude toss bombing.
 

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But....this was never specified or required.
Which is sad, because this would fit the needs perfectly and be flexible enough for a long service life.
But for what reason such machine might be needed? The main concerns British military have was nuclear deterrence. For credible deterrence, the ability to ride out the first enemy strike was essential. And no new bomber, hovewer advanced it was, could improve here much: bombers are very vulnerable on ground. Britain was in range of Soviet IRBM since 1957 at least; by 1960s it became painfully obvious, that in case of war, most RAF bases would be nuked before more than a handful of bombers could took off even under most favourable conditions. In worst case - none at all.
 

zen

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But....this was never specified or required.
Which is sad, because this would fit the needs perfectly and be flexible enough for a long service life.
But for what reason such machine might be needed? The main concerns British military have was nuclear deterrence. For credible deterrence, the ability to ride out the first enemy strike was essential. And no new bomber, hovewer advanced it was, could improve here much: bombers are very vulnerable on ground. Britain was in range of Soviet IRBM since 1957 at least; by 1960s it became painfully obvious, that in case of war, most RAF bases would be nuked before more than a handful of bombers could took off even under most favourable conditions. In worst case - none at all.
Exactly.

Which is why the failure of the domestic ballistic missile effort and the failure of the ABM research told so potently.
 

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But....this was never specified or required.
Which is sad, because this would fit the needs perfectly and be flexible enough for a long service life.
But for what reason such machine might be needed? The main concerns British military have was nuclear deterrence. For credible deterrence, the ability to ride out the first enemy strike was essential. And no new bomber, hovewer advanced it was, could improve here much: bombers are very vulnerable on ground. Britain was in range of Soviet IRBM since 1957 at least; by 1960s it became painfully obvious, that in case of war, most RAF bases would be nuked before more than a handful of bombers could took off even under most favourable conditions. In worst case - none at all.
Exactly.

Which is why the failure of the domestic ballistic missile effort and the failure of the ABM research told so potently.
ABM research primarily demonstrated the impracticality, inefficiency and practical limits of ABMs as an approach.
And the “failure” of the UK ballistic missile effort (not more of a decision that it just wasn’t a good idea rather than a technical failure?) eventually lead to the adoption of a far superior solution (Polaris armed nuclear subs) which everyone (apart from the RAF) wanted instead of Skybolt armed V-bombers (or any follow-on deterrent bomber) anyway.
 

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Unsuccessful, well yes and no;- A lot of what was learnt in the UK early 60’s ABM effort went into Chevline particularly its decoys.

After decommissioning a number of serviceable Chevlines buses were supplied to the US to fill the role of target vehicles with advanced penetration aid in ABM validation tests.
 

zen

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But....this was never specified or required.
Which is sad, because this would fit the needs perfectly and be flexible enough for a long service life.
But for what reason such machine might be needed? The main concerns British military have was nuclear deterrence. For credible deterrence, the ability to ride out the first enemy strike was essential. And no new bomber, hovewer advanced it was, could improve here much: bombers are very vulnerable on ground. Britain was in range of Soviet IRBM since 1957 at least; by 1960s it became painfully obvious, that in case of war, most RAF bases would be nuked before more than a handful of bombers could took off even under most favourable conditions. In worst case - none at all.
Exactly.

Which is why the failure of the domestic ballistic missile effort and the failure of the ABM research told so potently.
ABM research primarily demonstrated the impracticality, inefficiency and practical limits of ABMs as an approach.
And the “failure” of the UK ballistic missile effort (not more of a decision that it just wasn’t a good idea rather than a technical failure?) eventually lead to the adoption of a far superior solution (Polaris armed nuclear subs) which everyone (apart from the RAF) wanted instead of Skybolt armed V-bombers (or any follow-on deterrent bomber) anyway.
Strictly at the time, it's all down to speeds, processing speeds, missile speeds, communication speeds, sensor fidelity etc...
At the time it was beyond the state of the art and beyond bleeding edge technology. It was a mammoth enough task for the much easier proposition to achieve such for the US. Were distances and reaction times were some much greater.
Yes in UK ballistic missiles, the lack of hyperglycolic gel propellant work (not beyond ICI's capabilities though) and a decision for the more efficent but problematic LOx/Kersone rocket.
HTP was much easier and practical in comparison despite it's inefficiency compared to LOx.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
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The Tornado was essentially a miniature F-111 without the flaws and with a lower unit cost shared with Germany and Italy. End result: 229 IDS, 165 ADV. It was a very good bargain.
 
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