Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
I am a military historian and I am performing some research regarding the RAF's tactical nuclear mission during the Cold War.
I am principally interested in the RAF's mission to deploy tactical nuclear weapons against european Soviet and Warsaw Pact targets in the event of a major confrontation between WARPAC and NATO forces.
I am keen to shed some light on the RAF's role in this regard. Much work has already been performed looking at the role of the V-bombers, although relatively little seems to have been done looking at the role of the Tornadoes and the WE177s for example, in addition to the other aircraft and weapons involved in this mission.
I would be very pleased to hear from any air and ground crew, or planning staff, who were involved in this mission and are keen to share their experiences.
I realise that much of the history surrounding this mission may still be classified, but any information which can be shared in the public domain would be very gratefully received.
Credentials I know that some of you asked for some more details about my background. I have worked as a military historian and defence analyst for over ten years. I've published four books (details on two of them can be found here: Amazon.com: Thomas Withington: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle) I've also been a contributor to the RAF Defence Recognition Journal, I've worked for DSTL in the past as a historian and published articles for several publications including the RAF Air Power Review. My interest in this subject is with a view to getting a journal article or perhaps a longer work written on this subject. Have a good day!
It may help your case if you refer people here to some of your previous military history work - a few links to some of your on-line writings perhaps? Or links to somewhere on-line selling a book of yours? As a rule, military folk are happier to converse with you on such subjects if they can reasonably establish your bona fides.
I'm sure the Russians don't regard where their missiles were targetted in 1970s as particularly relevant anymore either.
Had a fascinating encounter that this reminded me of.
After the Berlin Wall et al, I was sat in a bar at a base in Bedfordshire chatting to some Russian and East European chaps. The conversation inevitably got round to what did you do in the (Cold) War chaps.
A russian colonel said he was the commander of a nuclear missile site at ********. I said "Hmmmm you could well have been one of my targets".
He asked "Where were you then?"
My reply was "Bruggen", which brought forth the response "Aaaaah, I know you were one of mine!!"
Whilst we're on the subject of Nuclear snobbery. in the mid 80s I did a radio job in ASU, under escort all the way in, despite being on the same side, We walked past their open air display of inert obsolete devices. Oh said I - Blue Steel! And pointed to the white missile on its trolley. Completely deadpan, my same rank same trade, but right up his own arse escort replied. 'We don't talk about that sort of thing in here'
So why is it on display? was my response.
The US had an altogether more pragmatic approach. On a job in one of their (long defunct) facilities they let me go in on my own, there were no museum exhibits, and the guy on the gate said keep to the path or they'll shoot you. Fair enough.
Apart from some nitty gritty detail of the release authentication procedures the rest is ancient history.
There is some good material in print and on the web about the weapons themselves but an authoritative account of the whole subject has still to be written. It could make quite interesting reading, it would certainly be sobering and might act as a timely reminder.
Bit close to the knuckle this. Whilst some might consider it ancient history, it is very easy in the current age, living in a peaceful Europe to be very naive about these matters but, there are nations out there laughing at us, whilst we are concentrating on matters in the Stan and we drop our security guard. Just because it is not in the current inventory, does not mean it is not in the future. Maybe not by the UK, but possibly by another NATO nation or even someone who wants to use those tactics against us. So go ahead and spill the beans, be a nice test case in the courts!
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
Join Date: Dec 2002
As early as 1974 we had an unclassified targetting exercise on the WEC. Our target was an airfield in east Germany. Our available weapons included the B57 and a Nike-Hercules amongst others.
Considerations were the airfield had 4 dispersed HAS sites and runway redundancy. We concluded that a single B57 would not be suitable for the task. The weapon of choice was the N-H in airburst mode. It offered the biggest yield and the potential to disrupt operations at all sites. It had the benefit of destroying a large part of the adjacent town.
Now it doesn't need an Einstein to look at a map, arc off RoA for different aircraft types, and draw up a list of target sets. The meat that TJW probably wants is the fact that targets had backup aircraft allocated as well as a primary. For instance I was told that an F104G primary target might also have an F4M allocated is the 104 went US. This created a problem as the F104 route and attack speed was greater than the F4M.
I'm with Widger - it also that some countries are seeking to acquire these capabilities, and knowledge of what we used to do could be of assistance - remember that Mr. S Hussein (late of Baghdad) built his first uranium enrichment plant on the (publicly available) blueprints for the Oak Ridge plant which was "too old to be relevant". Oops.