View Full Version : TSR-2 (Merged a few times)

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Shaggy Sheep Driver
12th Aug 2002, 11:47
Any ideas on what really caused TSR 2 to be not only cancelled when pretty well ready for production, but jigs broken up? It was over budget, but by then the money was spent and the rewards were about ready to be reaped.

We've heard all the conspiracy theories - but can any one throw any real light on this apparent mystery?


Windy Militant
12th Aug 2002, 12:46
Mr Sheep Driver,
Have you read "Project Cancelled" by Derek Wood it gives a good oversight of the whole sorry affair. And If memory serves he also raises the interesting point that when BAC offered to use the TSR2's that were completed for flying test beds for the Concorde programme they were told in no uncertain terms that this would not happen under any circumstance.

12th Aug 2002, 12:58
I also recomend reading "The Murder of TSR2" by Stephen Hastings if you can get hold of a copy. My grandfather was working for Rolls Royce at the time and the cancellation really upset him.
Politics was the problem, the Americans didn't want the British selling a bomber that could compete with and beat the F-111. I believe that when the project was cancelled the RAF was meant to buy F-111s which they never did and when they eventually got Tornadoes in the 80s the aircraft were not really more capable than TSR-2 would have been if produced 10 years earlier!
A great tradgedy, yet again British designers came up with a world beater and didn't get the backing!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
12th Aug 2002, 13:20
Not read either book, but I have a video on TSR2. On it, Dennis Healy says "wasn't me gov, and I don't know who it was" when asked who ordered the jigs to be destroyed.

There were rumours that Healy wanted US backing for UK to get an IMF loan, and cancellation was the price the US demanded. But this is the conspiracy theory - anyone know anything concrete?


12th Aug 2002, 14:03
I haven't read the books either but I do remember sitting on a airfield in 1968, listening to two Boscome Down test pilots discussing it (anything was better than trying to teach me to fly).

They said that the reason that it was scrapped was that it would not do what it was meant to do - fly to Moscow supersonic at low level and return. It could not carry enough fuel.

The same thing applied to the F111 which is why we didn't buy that either.

They could both do the trip just subsonic but the Buccaneer could do that better than either of them. This was why the Buccaneer was transferred from the Navy to the RAF.

As I said, this was the informed opinion of some current RAF test pilots at the time. I do remember reading a novel at about this time which seemed to be based on the TSR2 and, to stop the Soviet's cunning plan to takeover the West, the Brits had to demonstrate that they could deliver a bomb into Red Square. They used the TSR2 knowing it could not get back, and then quickly pick up the crew from a crash landing in the North Sea to show that they had returned. Can't remember the author bu it might have been James Beatty.

12th Aug 2002, 21:53
Unfortunately as the TSR-2 did not complete it's test program and go into service I guess we will never know if it would have done the job it was designed to do. Military aircraft rarely if ever enter service at their full design potential and improvements are made during the production run and retrofitted to earlier airframes. I am sure this would also have been the case with the TSR-2.

13th Aug 2002, 02:40
I remember visiting Boscombe Down in 196? as an air cadet. We were allowed to scramble all over a TSR2, and I vividly recall a mock heraldic device had been pencilled on the fuselage with the motto "Harold Wilson's Folly'.
The whole navigation and weapons system was analogue, so must have weighed a fair bit. With a digital update it might have done what it was designed to.
There was a rumour that a couple of airframes were kept in a flyable condition for some time after they were all supposedly scuttled.
The design of the Jaguar also seemed to have borrowed many of the TSR2's characteristics, albeit on a smaller scale.

13th Aug 2002, 04:36
The aircraft was certainly good enough. Without wanting to disclose matters which are probably still classified, the range of the Vulcan was also pretty limited if you are talking about an out-and-return flight....

TSR2 was murdered by Wilson, Brown and Healey. It had been mortally wounded by Mountbottom with his love for all things Navy and support for the infinitely less capable Buccaneer. When government support was looking chancy, the airships of the time lacked sufficient spine to do the decent thing - and last of all BAC should have refused to comply with the decision to destroy all evidence of the aircraft's existence.

A quite appalling episode; the aircraft wasn't perfect and was difficult to fly at low speed, I am told - but then so was the Buccaneer. However, TSR2 had immense potential. The scrapping of all jigs, destruction of plans etc was carried out so that the decision was irreversible.

Whenever I see a picture of those bumbling Labour idioits, I have a burning desire to kick them hard in the slats!

Who has control?
13th Aug 2002, 08:14
Ok - I'd like to toss a fairly large spanner in here now.

I am old enough to remember the TSR2 (but only just) and the uproar when it was canned. Since then, I have been given the impression that the TSR2 was the answer to all our prayers.

So with the passage of time and hoping that there are a few ppruners who were closer to the project than I was, (at school), I'd like to pose the question.

Just how good was the TSR2?

PS - I think it was a superb aircraft.

13th Aug 2002, 08:39
When I was with 'Bee' Beamont at the signing of our TSR2 prints for the PPRuNe Fund (we still have plenty if anyone wants one - £35 inc p&p) in April of last year. I had the opportunity to discuss the TSR2 with Bee and his anger at the project being cancelled, though controlled, was discernible. He could never understand it. When I asked him what its potential was, where it would be today, if it had been completed he said "it would be still be operational and there would never have been a need for Tornado at all". I also asked him what speed it would have achieved if the trials had continued on and he quickly said "mach 2.35".

I was accompanied by New Bloke in a hotel in Wilton, near Salisbury, for the signing, and we were both in awe of this man so simply called 'Bee' - but we also knew that we were in the prescence of one of the greatest aviators this country had.

As BEAgs says it was a gentleman whose name I hardly like to utter who sold TSR2 down the river. What a terrible thing to have happened.

BEAgs. I thought it was Callaghan, Jenkins and Healy. They are the ones Bee like to hate most anyway.

Btw, our prints of TSR2 were the last prints that Bee ever signed.

Boss Raptor
13th Aug 2002, 10:00
Echoing the comments above...

TSR2 was before my time...but I have to comment that maybe there was something wrong with the design...hence the embarrased scrapping of the project and all the jigs etc...not saying there was but be nice to know more...

Anyone out there work on the project?

13th Aug 2002, 11:08
There was nothing wrong with the project. Things happened that happen with any new design and prototype. Bee said that this aircraft was an absolute winner - had the government given it the support it deserved, and BAC deserved.

The scrapping of the project WAS an embarrassment to the government. They also committed an act of sheer vandalism by giving instructions that all the jigs, mock-ups and documents connected with the project should be destroyed. With much outstanding cash to be paid to the contractors, they were ordered to destroy them or forfeit their payments. Not much of a choice was it! This act of destruction was done to prevent the Conservative government resurrecting the project if they returned to power. How's that for wilful destruction?

There are several sites with news of TSR2 and its sudden demise. But I find this one particularly close to the truth.

brain fade
13th Aug 2002, 23:10
When 'politicians' meddle in aviation the results are often less than optimal. Anyone spot what the following debacles have in common?
1. TSR-2 cancellation?
2. Government promotion of the SR 177 instead of the Lightning?
which ruined its prospects of selling into the countries that bought the 104
3. Cancellation of the Miles M.52?
4. The belief that missiles were going to do the work of aircraft so lets cancel loads of 'unneccesary' projects?

answers on a postcard please:confused:

15th Aug 2002, 07:48
Beags is correct to say that Mountbatten drove the final nail in the coffin. He went on a state visit to Australia. At the time the Aussies were looking at the TSR2, against a US offer of F111 and Herc package. The Aussies were known to favour TSR2, but Mountbatten knew that if they took the US option, it would kill off the project. He told the Australians that in all probability TSR2 would be cancelled.

The Aussies couldn't wait around forever, so decided to cut their losses and accept the immediately available US deal. This gave the labour gov the chance they had been waiting for and used the Aussie cancellation to re-inforce the non-viability of the aircraft.


15th Aug 2002, 20:10
Well, I definitively wasn't around at that time, but that doesn't relieve me of the feeling of having missed something great.

Although the jigs for the TSR2 were destroyed as ordered, there are some leftover bits still around. Having spent some time around the Brooklands museum I know of a corner there where you can find quite a few concrete blocks lying in the brush. They look innocent but they are formers that were used to create the skin panels of the TSR2. It looks as though they were just dumped in a corner, which may not be all too far from the truth I guess....

And for the really adventurous ones amongst us: there is a rumour, or so I've been told, that one airframe has not been accounted for after the destroying was done. The rumour goes a bit further and speculates that it was buried somewhere at Brooklands! It would be great of course if this was to be true, but then, I'm not holding my breath (or buying a metal detector) yet.

15th Aug 2002, 20:18
I visited Duxford about 3 years ago. In one of the hangers they have a TSR 2 which looks complete, I think it was used as a instructional airframe.

Also don't underestimate Lord Mountbattens input which contributed to the demise of TSR 2. He was on a vist to Australia in 64 when the Ozzies were looking for a Canberra replacement - he told them that TSR2 was disaster and would never be procured which lead to the selection of the F111 for the RAAF.

Of course this had nothing to do with the RN's carrier CVN1 competing for funds with TSR2.

15th Aug 2002, 20:35
Some good friends of mine used to work at Broadlands, Mountbottom's home before he was murdered by the IRA.

I was down there visiting them once when I was struggling at the Buccaneer OCU - and was introduced to Mountbottom as being in the RAF. "A flier?", he asked. "Yes, sir- Buccaneers", I replied (keeping my back firmly against the wall). "Really? An excellent Naval design. Enjoying it?" "Well, they're not too bad. But they were the RAF's fourth choice after the brilliant TSR2 was killed off by incompetent idiots and then the F-111 and AFVG went the same way", said I (we'd had a pretty good liquid lunch.......)

"Nice to have met you" mumbled Mountbottom - and promptly turned away......

Cornish Jack
15th Aug 2002, 23:07
I WAS around at the time of the cancellation and fumed about it mightily. However, at that time I hadn't been exposed to the excruciating activities of the 555 committees and the ability of the P E to modify a basically good design into a 'dog'. It may well have been that TSR2 could have withstood such inputs but we'll never know.
What I did note at the time was the frequent correspondence from one particular reader in 'Flight' magazine decrying the aircraft and its concept. These letters naturally ceased at the time of cancellation and, as far as I know, the particular gentleman has never ventured into aviation correspondence since.
"Curiouser and curiouser", said Alice. :confused:

Biggles Flies Undone
19th Aug 2002, 15:10
I know where the 'Duxford' airframe was in 1971. At a show in the SE, after a bit of a liquid lunch, I was asked if I 'could keep a secret' - after swearing on the latest Pooley guide that I could, I was ushered into a hangar and there it was. Seemed not a big deal to me at the time, but then nothing does when you're young.....

21st Aug 2002, 16:45
As I understand it, the only reason the Duxford TSR2 survived was that some forward thinking manager at the Shoeburyness gunnery range had the foresight to "lose" this airframe at the far end of the site and cover it with a tarpaulin till the heat died down. How true I don't know but it makes a good tale.
Apparently it had the computing power of a first generation laptop. Imagine what it could still do with modern refits. It still looks the business and is a monument to the view that politicians don't have the first idea about aircraft procurement. Can anyone tell me who the current Minister is? Bet he doesn't even have a PPL

22nd Aug 2002, 18:21
I guess most of you will already know this, but there are two TSR2s still with us:
The second airframe is complete and preserved at Cosford, while Duxford has the fourth (or fifth, I'm not sure) airframe which is unfortunately not complete. It lacks engines and a lot of internal stuff, but it still looks the part though!

In addition to these two airframes the Brooklands Museum has a TSR2 cockpit section that was used for pressurization testing.

22nd Aug 2002, 21:03
The TSR-2 at Cosford is in good nik. It never flew because it was damage while it was being transported. By the time it was fixed it was to late. I used to work on the Cosford one when I worked at the museum before I joined the RAF. Iwas lucky enough to chat to "Bee" when he visited the museum. We were stood next to the beast and I was in awe.

Another good book worth a read is "TSR-2 Phoenix or Folly?" by Frank Barnett-Jones ISBN 1 870384 27 X


27th Aug 2002, 08:06

A few posts ago BEAgle commented on 'Mountbottom'. A very apt title for the man in my view.

The Daily Mail last week came up with the 100 WORST Britons.

There was one 'nominated' by Simon Heffer:

Earl Mountbatten of Burma....Charlatan, poseur, incompetent, disastrous Viceroy of India, mediocre service chief, complete phoney.

That just about sums up my opinion of him too. I also suspect that 'Bee' Beamont is sitting on cloud somewhere, grinning from ear to ear.

27th Aug 2002, 16:53
People I once knew told me about the way he handled HMS Kelly. Not totally brilliant, I understand.

However, decency prevents me commenting further on the man himself. For it was on this very day in 1979 that he was murdered by Irish terrorists.

John Farley
27th Aug 2002, 17:33
It is the Nostalgia forum I know, but Bill Waterton convinced me that a tp should always tell the truth regardless.

I always thought they were right to cancel these four as I believed they had fundemental flaws:

TSR2 Not enough wing

P1154 Exhaust gas pressures and temps too high to allow
any operating site flexibility (which iswhat VSTOL has
to be all about)

AW681 Helicopters would do the tactical support job more
cheaply and reliably

Rotordyne The noise of a tip jet driven rotor was never going
be acceptable in city centres

Mind you I realise they were not cancelled for these reasons

27th Aug 2002, 19:34
But JF, do you think that Camm's TSR2 competitor, the P1129, would have fared any better with the Air Staffs and government of the day?

Perhaps it was the fault of the Air Staffs of the day in demanding that aircraft such as TSR2 and P1154 were to be so cutting edge? Whereas Camm's rather more conservative P1129 and P1150 would perhaps have had an easier gestation?

I've heard another tp suggest that the TSR2 was a $od at low speed, but wonderful above 350 KIAS. Was the wing too small - or the effort to obtain a clever Cl alpha curve too clever for its own good?

But it still looks terrific!!

John Farley
27th Aug 2002, 20:33
BEags. Cor that lot would take a book and a lot more info than I possess to answer your specifics with any certainty.

Some minor comments. Whatever the shape of the lift curve there is the matter of wing area. Without that the whole thing has to work too hard. The Vulcan (ah!) is the only aeroplane I have ever flown where I never felt short of wing. The aerodynamics (nothing else) of the TSR2 always looked too much like those of the 104 to me and that was a specialist interceptor design where much (everything?) was sacrificed for speed.

I think interservice rivalry certainly played a part in the poor contractor performance that eventually resulted in many cancellations. (P1154 for one) Then too many designers finish up designing what they want to do rather than what would be most use for the chap in the crewroom. Too many designers get a good idea about a new whatever and press on with it without thinking the whole thing through. The bottom three in my list are classic examples of that. Perhaps its human nature at work – the navigator who sees four things on his map that fit the place under the nose beautifully and chooses to ignore the one feature that does not fit - type of behaviour.

Certainly in that period of history service staffs tended to hear of a new thing and automatically just add it to the aircraft they were considering like mum wanting an extra for her car just because she has heard about it. But then many of the OR staffs were not educated or trained to know better, so we must not lay too much at their door. More the system that gave them the responsibility without the training.

Sorry I’ve had a bad day!

27th Aug 2002, 20:56
Sorry you've had a rough day, John!

TSR2 had an aspect ratio of 1.97. Vey, very flat lift curve slope as a result. No snag when you're going at the spped of heat and there's plenty of V squared to compensate for the lack of Cl and S, but a real trial at low speed, particularly when you've got as much wing as a plucked fly. So much cleverness needed in the sucky squeezy blowy department and some very clever flappery to try to stop it falling out of the sky and to try to make it fly acceptably well enough on the approach for the pilot to be able to see the runway threshold over the nose during landing!

All the shots of TSR2 on the approach give the impression that it was pretty awkward to fly in that regime. Long flat approaches with very high incidence angles and hight thrust settings.

Apart from the shots of 'Bee' wazzing Warton at 420KIAS+ !!

27th Aug 2002, 21:17
John. If you are going to have any more bad days let me know. Somehow you are at your best. ;) Great double act with BEAgs there.

Didn't understand it! But it was good. ;)

27th Aug 2002, 21:44

Don't think the 104 was an interceptor design. Gun armed air superiority fighter more like. Only later fitted with AI radar. Used by the RCAF in a ground support role. Most unsuitable.

John Farley
28th Aug 2002, 17:56

I’m sure you are right. The prototype 104’s did have an APG-34 fire control radar but I accept that is not AI stuff. Back then (the ‘50s) we considered an interceptor to be a fighter designed to get as far away from base in the direction of the incoming raid as quickly as possible while the location of the target was entirely by following the fighter controllers instructions based on his ground radar. Speed and time to height was all that mattered. I’ll go back to my deck chair now.

28th Aug 2002, 18:57

I think that the Canadian version had a full AI radar in it. It didn't have the Hardcore afterburner mod. It was also designed for ground support. I don't think it did either well. When it was sold to the West German Air Force in the '60s I am told they nicknamed it Canada's Revenge as it accounted for more GAF pilots than were ever shot down by Canadians during WW2.

PPRuNe Pop
28th Aug 2002, 19:24
I knew a German Luftwaffe Pilot, a General he was, and when I asked him why so many F104's crashed his answer was: "when you have so many you are bound to have more crashes than anyone else!" Well, you have to admit it was a novel answer. Far removed from actuality I fancy.

brain fade
29th Aug 2002, 00:10
I've been told that the easiest way to acquire a luftwaffe Starfighter was to buy an acre of farmland in Germany....................and wait.

29th Aug 2002, 00:32
I thought the germans liked these in the ground attack role because -

a) the high wingloading meant it was very stable and smooth on the deck.

b) it had a low RCS.

c) it was very fast on the deck.

29th Aug 2002, 01:31
I've been told that the easiest way to acquire a luftwaffe Starfighter was to buy an acre of farmland in Germany....................and wait.

The same was said about the Jaguar in Scotland.......

29th Aug 2002, 12:52
Oops, we've wandered off a bit here, but I must add my 104 piece. Back in the 70's the papers were full of F-104 Widowmaker stories; and of course the WGAF/WGN did lose a lot of 'em. But, as was said, with 800+ (I think) aircraft, it translated to a loss percentage in the low 20's.

By loss rate comparison, more Lightnings were lost in accidents (About 27% if my memory serves correctly) Another factor was that German pilots were (and still are) trained in the clear blue skies of Arizona initially; then they zoom about in the low level clag that covers Europe - of course they crash a lot!

Anyway, back to the TSR2; wasn't the one at Duxford used by Cranfield for years? I did read 'Project Cancelled' and it actually brought tears to my eyes just to think of what could have been - of course prototypes don't always live up to promises, that's what development is all about. Looking at the military aircraft that are still about today (F-111, B-52, KC-135, et al) it shows what can be achieved over the years - they must bear hardly any resemblance to their original versions, except in the purely visual form.

At least the HS681 got built - it just took twenty years and a name change to the BAe146!!!!!

Biggles Flies Undone
29th Aug 2002, 13:53
Yes, the Duxford airframe was at Cranfield in the early 70's.

John Farley
29th Aug 2002, 13:55
Some confusion at the end of your post I suspect. The AW681 was a VSTOL transport that used Pegasi.

29th Aug 2002, 15:41
The Starfighter had its origin in a November 1952 unsolicited proposal by Lockheed for a lightweight and unsophisticated air-superiority fighter. Johnson had visited Korea in December of 1951, and while there he had talked to fighter pilots then flying in combat over North Korea. He asked them what kind of fighter plane would be ideal. Their general consensus was that the trend toward ever-increasing weight and complexity had gotten completely out of hand, and they would gladly trade in their existing fighters for a lighter, less costly fighter with clearly superior speed, ceiling, climb rate, and maneuverability.

Even though the Air Force had no official requirement for such a fighter, Johnson was nevertheless authorized by Lockheed management to proceed with an initial private venture design.

In late 1952, Lockheed presented an unsolicited proposal to the Air Force. Even though the USAF did not have a standing requirement for such a fighter, they thought sufficiently highly of the general idea that they issued a General Operational Requirement in December 1952 for a lightweight air-superiority fighter to replace the North American F-100 in TAC beginning in 1956 followed by a contract.

By the time that the F-104A was finally ready for delivery, requirements had changed and TAC lost interest. However, there were delays in the delivery of the F-106 to Air Defense Command, and the USAF decided to accept the F-104A and assign them to ADC as a stopgap measure. The high climb rate made it attractive and it was hoped that they could fill in until the F-106 became available. The aircraft were fitted with the interim AN/ASG-14T-1 radar fire control system until it could be replaced by the more capable AN/ASG-14T-2.

However, Its short range was a problem for North American air defense, and its lack of all-weather capability made it incapable of operating in conjunction with the SAGE. Service with the ADC was consequently brief, and they were replaced by the end of 1960.

They were transferred to three ANG squadrons, the 151st, 157th and 197th FIS. These three squadrons were called up for active duty during the Berlin crisis of 1961 and were deployed to Europe. Following the end of the Berlin crisis, thee squadrons returned to the USA in 1962. The F-104As, however, were retained by the USAF and were transferred to two ADC units, the 319th and 331st FIS at Homestead AFB.

The last USAF squadron to operate the F-104A, the 319th, was disbanded in December of 1969.

The F-104C was the tactical strike version of the Starfighter. It was designed to meet the needs of (TAC), which had earlier found the F-104A to be unacceptable because of its low endurance and its inability to carry significant offensive payloads. AC felt that it needed a supersonic tactical strike fighter to fill the void between the F-100C and the F-105 Thunderchief.

The F-104C carried a removable refuelling probe, thus allowing the range to be extended and was designed tactical nuclear weapons on a centerline pylon, which could alternatively carry a 225-US gallon droptank. Equipped from the start with the AN/ASG-14T-2 fire control system, the F-104C was capable of operating in clear night as well as day conditions, although it was not truly capable of all-weather operations. The internal 20-mm rotary cannon of the F-104A was retained, as was the ability to carry a Sidewinder on each wingtip.

The first F-104Cs entered service in 1958 with the 479th TFW in the nuclear strike and ground attack role.

In 1961, the F-104Cs were modernized with the addition of hardpoints which enabled an additional pair of Sidewinders to be mounted underneath the fuselage. They were also given the ability to carry and deliver a larger variety of air-to-ground weapons. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, they were deployed to Key West, Florida to protect against attack on the USA. They were also tasked to carry out air strikes against targets in Cuba in case an invasion proved to be necessary. Whether these would have been conventional or nuclear is not known.

In 1965, a squadron of the 479th deployed to Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam. Their job was to fly MiGCAP to protect bombers from attack by North Vietnamese fighters. They flew these missions armed with their 20-mm cannon and four AIM-9 Sidewinders. Unfortunately, the range of the F-104C was too short to make it a useful escort fighter, a fact which the North soon discovered. They simply waited for the F-104s to turn back before launching their own fighters in safety.

On September 20, 1965, An aircraft was shot down over Hainan Island by a pair of Chinese MiG-19s. The navigation system had failed whilst on MiGCAP over the Gulf of Tonkin and the pilot had gotten lost. He ejected and was taken prisoner. While the rest of the squadron was out looking for him, two other F-104s had a midair collision while returning to their base and both their pilots were killed. A week later, another aircraft was shot down by enemy AAA, and its pilot was killed.

After these four losses, the remnants of the 479th were rotated back to the USA. A new contingent of F-104Cs returned to Vietnam in 1966. This time, all four squadrons of the 479th TFS were involved and were assigned to Udorn Thailand. These F-104Cs were mainly tasked against ground targets in the CAS role. The F-104C proved unsuited for the ground attack role, due to their low range and inadequate weapon load and were replaced by F-4Ds in July 1967. The 479th was then rotated back home.

Following their withdrawal from Vietnam, the surviving F-104Cs were transferred to the Puerto Rico ANG. They were replaced by A-7Ds in 1975.

The Joy of High Tech - Paean to the F-104 (http://www.dcr.net/~stickmak/JOHT/joht12f-104.htm)

29th Aug 2002, 16:54

I can remember seeing the TSR2 at Cranfield in '72-73 is.
A group of us from NATS Bletchley had been helping move a Cranfielder's boat and we ended up in the bar there (what a surprise!). After a few drinks he took us round the collection of oddities that were stored in the hangers, the TSR2 being the culmination of the tour - he implied that it was something of a secret that it had survived the destruction of the project.


29th Aug 2002, 18:48
The TSR2 at Duxford, had a lot of panel damage, this was if I remember correctly put back into order by Bae(formerlyBAC, formerly English Electric) my father in law and several other skilled people from Warton and Salmesbury spent several weeks living down in the Duxford area making and fitting by hand all the new panels that were missing from that A/c. They were picked for their skill and the fact that they had all been original prototype workers on this good looking A/c.

30th Aug 2002, 12:27
I stand corrected, John...I seem to recall an HS681 project which looked like a little C-141 Starlifter. Thought that the AW681 was the precursor of that. Getting me numbers muddled, I think!

30th Aug 2002, 18:33
You're both right. The '681 went through various evolutions before the Labour government axed it. There was a Pegasus VSTOL version (barking mad, in my view. Lift must exceed weight for VTOL - and where on earth would the necessary thrust levels to do that on a jet cargo aircraft be acceptable? ). There were other versions with Comet wings, C-141 wings...... All were much bigger than the BAe 146, incidentally.

31st Aug 2002, 16:23
On Mountbatten, one of his Staff penned the following ditty in 1943-44

Mountbatten was a likely lad;
A nimble brain Mountbatten had,
And this most amiable trait:
Of each new plan which came his way
He'd always claim in accents pat,
"Why I myself invented that!"
Adding when he remembered it,
For any scoffer's benefit,
Roughly the point in his career
When he'd conceived the bright idea--
As "August 1934"'
Or "Sometime during the Boer War".

When he visited CAS RAAF in the early 1960s, he pulled out three model Buccaneers telling him "You can have three of these for the price of one of these" (brandishing a model of TSR2)

2nd Sep 2002, 15:49
I was stationed at Henlow in 1975 when XR220, the aircraft now at Cosford, was wheeled out of storage and taken to bits for transport. I managed to get a few pics, which I'm sure I still have somewhere.

The terrain following radar for TSR2 was first flown in a Dakota (TS423) by Ferranti in Edinburgh. The same aircraft featured in the TV series 'Airline' in the 80's and is now in the States. The radar never made it into TSR2 but flew regularly in a Buccaneer operated by Ferranti from Turnhouse. Despite being analogue it was very reliable and gave pilots great confidence in terrain following down to 200 feet.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
3rd Sep 2002, 13:31
wub - are you sure the TFR never made it into TSR2? I'm sure I've read/seen on video Bea Beaumont extoling the virtues of TSR2 as terrain-hugged its way at ultra low level, very smoothly, across the Pennines?


3rd Sep 2002, 15:30

I'm sure TFR didn't make it into TSR-2. When Bee did his low level trans-Pennine flight he flew visually, it was a daylight flight after all and I believe he was accompanied by Jimmy Dell in a Lightning T5, so the terrain-following wouldn't have been too severe.

The TFR programme did continue for a while after the demise of the great white beast but it ultimately came to nothing despite having some pioneering display techniques.

4th Sep 2002, 11:06
I was still at school when TSR2 was cancelled (but in uniform - if CCF counts!). One of our least military english masters became famous at school for his off-the-cuff comment:

"Shelley would never have cancelled the TSR2 - it's too beautiful!"

Correct sentiment - not sure about the reason!

Who has control?
4th Sep 2002, 11:24
Shelley was ,of course, correct.

But the question is:- Could the TSR2 have done then what the Tornado (for example) is doing now? In terms of payload, range, etc etc?

4th Sep 2002, 12:21
Who has control?

I have mentioned this before. It has been written up by Bee Beamont, and I asked him at the signing of our prints a similar question.

His answer: "There would have been no need for Tornado at all if TSR2 had not been cancelled. It would still be the best front line aircraft today." That comment was made on 21st April last year.

He further stated that TSR2 was perfectly capable of development to Mach 2.3. Makes you think eh?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Sep 2002, 14:28
Wub - I stand corrected.


8th Sep 2002, 06:04
Reynolds1 -
I'm no expert, but I remember reading that the TSR2's weapons system was the first airborne application of an early digital computer. Can anyone contribute?

Flight Safety
8th Sep 2002, 06:41
I found this nice website for the TSR2...

TSR2 website (http://www.aemann.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/aircraft/virtraf/tsr2.html)

25th Jan 2003, 01:10
Bit along the lines of the Nene thread but the actions of the "Government " on aviation will always be source of amazement!

Aerodocks at Southampton developed a system of aircraft recovery based on the hovercraft principle.
Very clever ( well I though so!:) ) consisted of a series double floored 8 foot square" boxing rings" that were about 2 foot thick with plates on all four sides. Each unit had a mounting for a Coventry Climax engine ( I think!) driving a big fan on the top of each unit.
You decided how many units you needed for the weight of the aircraft and then bolted 2, 4 or 6 of them together with the side plates removed where the squares butted together and mounted a Climax unit on one of the units. A skirt went all round the perimiter and "voila" a hover craft.

I was working as one of the aeroplane interface consultants getting weights, where to lift etc!. The lift was actually done by airbags on the platforms.
The first demo was on a Hermes (??) at London., across a ditch, which was of course the sales pitch that we could cross any kind of terrain ( and water)

Then I got a call to go to RAF Henlow.

I got here and there was nothing spectacular, it was an RAF grass airfield with light aircraft and gliders. We all met and went across the airfield with all our machinery to a couple of hanger right on the far side or the airport.

Well what a sight.:cool: In one hanger was a complete TSR2 and the other hanger had a guy breaking up Shackletons ( I think !!)
Well we did our party piece and lifted the TRS2 on the 2 hover platfroms, 1 under each wing, and transported it to the main airport area where it was loaded onto a low loader and sent the a RAF museum ( was it Cosford?).

The aircraft was complete and looked suberb. Another "Labour" victim!:mad:

I was tolds that particular one had flown and I have no idea how it got the Henlow but I am sure some pruner will know:) :) :)

That the nice thing about Pprune you can come up with long forgotten tales and some will always fill in the gaps !!:D :D :D

25th Jan 2003, 09:00
Doubtful that the one you lifted (great story by the way, never knew about that equipment!) actually flew. The one at Duxford (XR222) never flew for sure as she was number 4 off the production line. The one at Cosford (XR220) was number 2 and stood ready to make her first flight when the cancellation announcement came through. The flight crew actually went out to the aircraft to see if they could still fly it but apparently others prevented this. The only TSR2 that ever flew was shot to pieces on a firing range, bl@@dy shame!

(hope I remembered the correct numbers!)

25th Jan 2003, 09:47
I dont know, if it was lifted on a cushion of air, then perhaps it has "flown" after all! ...and history gets re-written:)

Nobody ever said an aircraft had to have a pilot to "fly", and one or two aircraft (RN HUnter post ejection) have proved quite capable of flight without man.

25th Jan 2003, 14:30
GotTheTshirt - well how about that!

I watched you load the TSR-2 onto that wagon and I took pics. It was XR220, which is now restored at Cosford, and it never flew. I have more pics which I'll scan and post later, if I can find them, so check back here for the URL. Great story too! Incidentally, it was July 1975!


25th Jan 2003, 18:22
GTTS- I remember reading somewhere that the RAF were considering a hovercraft based recovery system similar to the one you describe, however in this article it said that the aircraft would taxi onto the hovercraft, then move off to dispersals. It was to be used in rough/unprepared areas. Is it the same system?

Great story though-wonder what would have become of Britain's aero industry had the government not killed it off in the 60's?


25th Jan 2003, 19:02
wub - might I prostate myself at your feet and beg to include such photos in the galleries on my site in the TSR.2 section?


25th Jan 2003, 22:04
XR220 is indeed at Cosford and I was lucky enough to have a hand in its up keep several years ago before I joined up when I was a volunteer worker at the museum. The one that flew was XR219, now sadly gone forever.

There are several good books about the ac though the only one still in print is "TSR2 Phoenix or Folly" and it is a sad but interesting read.


25th Jan 2003, 23:09

I just knew someone would come up with all the detail !! Thanks.

I was sure it was complete with wings and tail when we moved it from the bottom hangar, which is why I thought it had flown it -was THAT complete.
We parked it on the apron in front of the hanger and left so I guess the RAF guys de-winged it to put on the trailer.

We were demonstrating the system for the RAF ( so I guess they got the move for free ;) )

The hover platforms on sat about 2 feet high ( except the one platform that had the power unit on - and that could be on any one of the platforms)

On top of the platform we then had the normal lifting air bags.
So we manoevered the platforms under the wings , and / or fuselage and inflated the air bags lifting the aircraft clear of the ground so it didnt matter if the aircraft was on its wheels or belly landed. Once the aircraft was clear we then started the hover units and the whole thing floated and was ready to move.
The units had no motive power so we then connected by cable to a couple of tractors and off you went. If you were where gound vehicles couldn't drive then you just ran a winch cable out from firm ground and reeled it in.

It worked as advertised on the ones I was with and of course completely air freightable.
It was of course expensive but the idea was to try and get the insurance companies to buy them and place them at key places. The sales pitch being that it cleared the airport quickly with no additional damage to the aircraft.

Must have been a good idea because no one took it up
:p :p

26th Jan 2003, 10:24
I'll send you a private message


I remember seeing the aircraft intact in the morning and when I returned from work that afternoon it was on the trailer. By the time I got my camera the trailer with the wing on it had gone!

Incidentally, the building in the picture was called 'The Pickle Factory', now demolished, because it was said that it had been built back to front - the large doors are on the opposite side to the airfield! and as a result, the foreman in charge of the job was 'in a pickle':D

Another interesting fact about Henlow was that the control tower was constructed from Hurricane packing cases, I believe aircraft were shipped to Henlow and assembled there, that was the story when I was there anyway.


29th Jan 2003, 13:12
GtTS and Wub, thanks for the posts - its stuff like this that really makes PPrune.
And TSR2, bloomin' long isn't it!

29th Jan 2003, 14:18
My pleasure, it's good to contact fellow enthusiasts :D

30th Jan 2003, 12:36
Superb pix, wub.....there was certainly a Hurricane repair section at Henlow, because that's where father did his first stint of hands-on work as an apprentice, rebuilding battle-damaged aircraft. Would have been 1940 or thereabouts; by 1941/2 he was on Wimpeys.

30th Jan 2003, 18:54

Inside the tower at Henlow was unpainted in certain places and you could clearly see stencilled things like: 'Hurricane starboard wing', followed by a reference number.

Back to the TSR2 for a sec; the terrain following radar, designed by Ferranti in Edinburgh, originally took to the air in a Dakota, TS 423, which still flies today. The funny thing about using the Dak was that the terrain climbed faster than the aircraft could!

The radar was then tested in a succession of Canberras and ultimately in the second production Buccanneer, XK 487, which hurtled about the Scottish Highlands as low as 200 feet.
I have a pic but can't post it just now, because PBase, my photo repository is down. Check back later.

31st Jan 2003, 04:57
Uncanny similarity to the history of the Avro Arrow. Canadians talk about that in the same tones too.

31st Jan 2003, 18:14
Just bought a DD video on TSR2. Excellent viewing, lots of info from Beamont. Happy to post it on in exchange for a contribution to the Pprune fund. Zat OK Don? E-mail me direct.


1st Feb 2003, 03:18

Just watched a documentary on the Avro Arrow. Yes it sure was a great aircraft that suffered the same fate as the TSR2 except the Canadians managed to hang on a bit longer :( :(

I saw Darryl Zanuck ??? doing aerobatics with the Arrow in Farnborough one year ( I am sure someone will tell me which - the memeries going!)

He did the tail slide which was considered impossible for Jet ( in those days)

Good documentary ( Discovery I think)

1st Feb 2003, 12:04

Pretty sure you are imagining this. The Arrow flying programme only lasted from March 1958 till Feb 1959, when it was cancelled.

Wasn't Darrl Zanuck a film producer?

The Arrow test pilot was Janusz Zurakowski.

While flying the CF-100, Jan demonstrated a new aerobatic maneuver called the "falling leaf". This involves the aircraft doing a succession of alternating sideslips, with the appearance of a falling leaf -- a light, graceful maneuver. One would never have thought that an aircraft as heavy as the CF-100 could do such a thing but in the hands of Jan Zurakowski, it could. Jan entertained the crowd at the 1955 Farnborough Air Show in England with this manoeuvre.

1st Feb 2003, 14:52
Photo of Ferranti's Dakota which first flew the TSR2 radar, known as forward looking radar (FLR)


1st Feb 2003, 15:29

OK you drove me to the attic !!!
A lot of it was correct.:D
It was Farnborough
It was Zurakowski ( well it did begin with Z;) )
It was doing aerobatics
It was an Avro Canada Fighter
The only error was it was the CF100
:cool: :cool:

Sorry ! (Holding hand out for smack:( )

2nd Feb 2003, 10:59
My current Father-in-law was one of many skilled engineers to have nearly lost his job when that pipe smoking Gannex wearing jerk of our Prime minister chopped the TSR2, however he was then moved onto other A/c type with the then English Electric at Preston, however much later on he and about six others of his ilk were persuaded to go and lodge down at Duxford to carry out repairs to the cosmetics of the TSR 2 currently on view there, it seems seven very highly skilled engineers spent quite a lot of time making by hand without any plans or patterns parts to refit to this A/C, so younger folk could see what superb machinery we Brits can make, my FiL was a staunch Labourite! not now though!!;)

2nd Feb 2003, 12:16
Anyone know which TSR2 used to be part of the College of Aeronautics collection at Cranfield? I think it was used as an avionics training airframe by the students. Must have been sometime in the '70s - I saw it during a hangar visit with my uncle who was then a lecturer at the College.

2nd Feb 2003, 13:35
I think that it was XR 222. When I was learning to fly Cessna 150s at the Bedfordshire Air Centre in 1968, we students used to nip off to the College hanger to have a look at the treasures therein. The biggest and best was the TSR2, but there were all sorts of other very interesting items in the hangar!

Wilson, Healey and Brown weren't the chief murderers. You can blame the late Earl Mountbottom for killing off the aircraft's export potential........

2nd Feb 2003, 17:08

Thanks for the info. There were indeed many aeronautical treasures in that hangar - the TSR2, a V2 rocket and the Morane-Saulnier Paris (G-APRU?) stick in my memory.

What a pity that the collection had to be dispersed to make room for more modern hardware. To coin a phrase - Where Are They Now? :confused:

2nd Jul 2004, 23:37
This is probably a silly question, but does anyone know if the TSR2 was given a name (or if one was under consideration for it)?

I'd always assumed that the cancellation of the project meant that naming was never considered. However, I was re-reading notes I'd taken at the PRO about the RAF's intended procurement of the F-111 (which would've been called 'Merlin' in RAF service, BTW) and realised that policy at the time called for a name to be considered either at first flight or when the contract was placed. So did anyone ever consider naming the beast?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
3rd Jul 2004, 00:04
Healey's Folly?


PPRuNe Pop
3rd Jul 2004, 06:43
Don't forget Jenkins and Callaghan. :mad:

At the signing of the TSR2 prints I sell for the PPRuNe Fund, 'Bee' Beamont told me that although there would never have been any need for Tornado if the TSR2 had not been cancelled, Tornado might have been a appropriate name for it - but maybe tongue in cheek, it was hard to tell.

But he was very cynical about the above trio and very angry too!

3rd Jul 2004, 06:49
The biggest TSR2 assasin was actually Lord Mountbottom......

PPRuNe Pop
3rd Jul 2004, 06:51
Yes BEags. Entirely agree.

Sir George Cayley
3rd Jul 2004, 12:01
Interesting comment about his late Lordship

Care to expand on it for those not in the know (or born)?

Sir George Cayley

3rd Jul 2004, 12:48
Sir George Caley
You will understand the comments about Mountbatten if you watch the video called TSR2 or read the book titled Project Cancelled??::mad: :mad:

3rd Jul 2004, 15:04
Sir George:

Have a look at http://www.spyflight.co.uk/TSR2.htm

3rd Jul 2004, 15:58
This has always been a highly contentious issue and one that will forever live as perfect example of politicians interfereing in matters they have no conception of. They, and their advisors, make crass decisions that make or break a country or, indeed, the industries within it. Those that are power hungry are worse than any of the idiots who call themselves politicians.

Those with power, like Mountbottom as BEAgle calls him, I suspect because he doesn't like using his name in the same breath as TSR2, was a perfect example of a power hungry, toffee nosed aristocrat who used his position to abuse the system one way or another but always for his own ends. A Commander he wasn't, and proved it with his disastrous raid on Dieppe and then persauded those who questioned his integrity and wisdom which cost so many uneccessary lives, that it was "worth the trip" to test the German defences. But who but a bloody clown would dare send tanks on to a shingle beach with cliffs in their faces? Crass stupidity. A track laying vehicle cannot cope with soft shingle like that at Dieppe but he ignored the advice given to him.

Then we get to TSR2. He thought that he could save the Royal Navy buy belittling TSR2 and daring to say to Australia, you can have five of these (F-111's) for one of them(TSR2) - another crass example of his stupidity when trying to be a politician.

He cost this country dear and used his grandiose position as a platform to enhance his own self importance I refuse to mention Burma but I will mention that he proved to be a fool as Viceroy of India so maybe it was, at last, that someone stood up to him and bought him home.

The end to his life is not one I would wish on anyone but it did somehow seem a strange end for a man who would have expected the grandest of the grand. That he didn't get it does have a sense of justice I fancy. But then who am I to say.

I loved TSR2 and it will always be that its cancellation was a huge mistake. Why is it that the aircraft industry has been consistently destroyed by politicians who wouldn't know one end an aeroplane from the other!

Dr Jekyll
3rd Jul 2004, 16:56
I understood that Mountbatten told the Australians they could have 5 Buccaneers for 1 TSR2. The Aussies never had any interest in the Buccaneer, but decidided that if even Mountbatten was against TSR2 it was obviousy going to be cancelled so they had better order F111's.

The reason the government wanted to cancel TSR2 may have been pressure from the USA who wanted to export F111's and rightly regarded the TSR2 as serious competition.

3rd Jul 2004, 17:25
That was indeed one of Mountbottom's typically inane views..

Servicing 5 a/c instead of one, training and paying 10 aircrew instead of 2.....and the Buccaneer had nothing like the potential of the TSR2.

But it made sense to Mountbottom - somehow. Never was one to be confused by facts when he had his own made-up opinions.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
3rd Jul 2004, 19:38
I thought Healey wanted US support for his application to the IMF for a loan. The Yanks said "no probs, Dennis, you can rely on Uncle Sam to support you. Just bury that promising damned aeroplane so we can sell some F1-11s".

Allegedly, of course:rolleyes:


Golf Charlie Charlie
3rd Jul 2004, 21:02
SSD, the application to the IMF for a loan (1976) was 11 years after the cancellation of the TSR-2, and thus the two events were in no way connected. The only common factor was Denis Healey himself (first MInister of Defence, then Chancellor of the Exchequer).

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Jul 2004, 18:33


Facts getting in the way of good story yet again:cool:

But the whole affair stinks, of that there's no doubt. I wonder if we'll evr know what went on?


5th Jul 2004, 14:45

A long departed dear friend who was deeply involved at the time always claimed that there had been an Air Staff decision to call TSR2 the Claymore S1 in RAF service.

Conspiracy theories abound but at the end of the day it was way over budget, the RAF could barely afford 50 of the things, no-one else was going to buy it, the economy and the currency were in a right old mess, and at the time of the cancelation it didn't actually work!

It would have worked, they would have sorted the engine, vibration and undercarriage issues, and it could have gone into service.

But would that have been a good thing? If we had 50 Claymores we would have had no Phantom FGR2's, MRCA would probably not have happened and the UK industry would have taken the same hit anyway, just a year or two later.

It was a classic low under the radar nuclear strike aircraft that would have been entering service just as NATO was abandoning the nuclear tripwire and going over to measured response and a period of conventional warfare. Would it have been as good at that as Tornado? I don't know but I doubt it.

5th Jul 2004, 20:24

Thank you. Now I've got a possible clue, I'll see what happens to be lying about the archives (assuming no weeding, flood damage, retained for xx years, etc, etc).

'Claymore' would fit in with the documents on the F-111 , since there were references in the early stages of the intended procurement of that aircraft to the possible use of 'Rapier' but this was rejected as it had been 'reserved' for a missile system (I wonder which that could have been :) ?) . What didn't make sense to me at the time of looking at that was the appearance of that name in amongst birds of prey (and 27 Aboriginal names). Evidently, their airships moved from weapons to birds of prey for the proposed name for the F-111.

At least they didn't try to call the thing the Harrogate B.1 (which was the fate that could've befallen the F-111!)

5th Jul 2004, 21:06
I was lucky enough to clamber all over a TSR2 at Boscombe Down as an air cadet in the 60's. One lasting image is of the mock coat of arms pencilled on the side, bearing the motto "Harold Wilson's Folly".....

6th Jul 2004, 11:08
I believe the four axis simulator continued in use for some time afterwards at Weybridge. It was capable of giving the +4/-2g ride that 600kts at 50' would be like.

6th Jul 2004, 15:15
But there WAS an IMF or some sort of "be-nice-to the-cousins-and-we'll-get-some-cash" connection.

I remember 2 things from school VIth form years - which were 64-65 and 65-66.

English master with no military experience who loved the "romantic" shape and sight of TSR-2, coming into a poetry class with a "Hurrumph! Shelley would never have cancelled TSR-2!!"

Discussing in economics class possibility of shady deal with Spams to cut some loan deal - Callaghan was Chancellor I think.

Can't be precise on dates, but certainly within those 2 academic years.....

6th Jul 2004, 15:52
Anyone read Boscombe ETP Mike Crossleys book "Up in Harms Way" ?

He was not too dewy eyed about the demise of the TSR2 in his book

But maybe it is nice to continue to speculate about how good an aircraft it might have been,, had it been given half a chance...:}


6th May 2006, 16:48
Hi all,

Would anyone have any 'period' photographs of the TSR2 during any of its flight testing that they could email to me (for my own personal use), higher resolution the better

All the best

Mac the Knife
6th May 2006, 18:35

and if you Google Images for TSR-2 there are lots more....


7th May 2006, 10:46
Many thanks, thats just what i was looking for

7th May 2006, 18:13
Also check out ->

It's a wonderful site, lots of very interesting items in it.

9th Jul 2006, 22:53
After a visit to the lesser known post war base at Hemswell last week, i looked up some history on tinterweb. I knew the canberras had been based in the mid 50's but i thought that, like other bases in the area, it had closed after its use as a thor missile station.

I read on one site that Hemswell was to be the test base for the unfortunately ill fated TSR2 program. Does anyone know if any more on this subject i.e was the aircraft ever flown into Hemswell? What was planned for the base had the TSR2 continued?

Also not to do with this topic, was their ever plans to keep Binbrook and Leconfield open as RAF stations with other based units after the lightenings reign?

Any info on these topics would be much appreciated.


10th Jul 2006, 16:27
Worked with a guy who told me he was instructed to buy new chains & paddocks for everybuilding that was to be associated with TSR2 Programme at Hemswell upon the annoucement of the TSR2 cancellation. Im sure he told me that shortly thereafter Hemswell was declared as no longer required and was to be sold off.

Agaricus bisporus
10th Jul 2006, 20:32
was instructed to buy new chains & paddocks

Presumably that was when the poor old TSR2 was put out to grass...?

15th Jul 2006, 08:13
It wasn't sold off quite that quickly. It remained in use for recruit training until at least the end of the sixties.

15th Jul 2006, 08:27
After a visit to the lesser known post war base at Hemswell last week, i looked up some history on tinterweb. I knew the canberras had been based in the mid 50's but i thought that, like other bases in the area, it had closed after its use as a thor missile station.
I read on one site that Hemswell was to be the test base for the unfortunately ill fated TSR2 program. Does anyone know if any more on this subject i.e was the aircraft ever flown into Hemswell? What was planned for the base had the TSR2 continued?

The history regarding RAF Hemswell and its relationship with Thor Missiles and the TSR2 can be found here.

18th Jul 2006, 17:14
Drove past there in '73 and it was full of Ugandan Asians chucked out by Uncle Idi, plus there was an Aero Commander parked by the tower.

25th Jul 2006, 13:46
Not quite a reply this, but I could use some help. We're a TV production company called Wide Angle and in the process of developing a documentary about TSR2. It's story with a lot of unanswered questions and we'd be interesting in hearing from - and talking to - anyone who has either a point of view on the subject or some special knowledge. I can be reached by emailing [email protected]. Thanks.

27th Jul 2006, 09:30
Take a look at any of Roly Beamonts books; he was the TP who did first flight and knows the 'political' side of things intimately!

28th Jul 2006, 08:33
It was cancelled because CAS Elworthy knew it was late, inoperable and unaffordable - see R.Gardner's Bouncing Bombs new official biography of Sir George Edwards. But if you want a fun story around one of the conspiracy theories you need a principal on camera, such as a colleague of the late (Baron, formerly Sir Cranley) Onslow, 1970 Tory Trade Minister. He asserted the chop was a deal between Wilson and CND, a sop to cover retention of Polaris. Lord Healey would deride such things and tell you the small quantity we might afford made it a Counter-Value capital asset, not to be expended in Counter-Force precision for which it had been designed. Jutland Dreadnoughts again. So he bought Phantom mud-mover plus nuclear penetrator F-111K, all on credit at fixed prices.

10th Feb 2007, 11:38
I'm developing a documentary on TSR2 and am aware of much of the controversy surrounding its cancellation. The available theories seem to divide into two principle camps: (1) Too expensive, too many development problems (2) Pressure from the USA to buy American. Of the various additional 'conspiracy' theories, nobody seems to want to articulate these very clearly. For my part, aspects of the story that raise issues were the obsessive way that records, blueprints, tooling etc were destroyed. If, as many people believed, the aircraft was so advanced (might still be flying today etc), is it possible that TSR2 was seen as seriously destabilising to the then 'balance of power' - this in an era where the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) influenced most military investment. Was it simply too good?

10th Feb 2007, 11:40
Try reading Roly Beamont's book about aircraft he has test flown; he has some very specific things to say (sorry can't remember the title of the book)
All the early teething troubles were being fixed or had a fix in the works apparently; he reckons it was an entirely political decision.
Don't forget Labour cancelled a lot of other aviation projects at this time eg the Hs681 four engined high winged military transport, which the later HS/BAe 146, although smaller, looked very similar to(but the yanks wanted us to buy Hercules). I seem to recall a derivative of the '681 would have had four Pegasus engines (as fitted to the Harrier, then being test flown as the Hawker P1127) thus giving it very short takeoff performance.

10th Feb 2007, 11:53
Two books by Roland Beamont covering this topic are,

Testing Years, published in 1980 by Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 1072 2.
The Years Flew Past, published by Airlife in 2001, ISBN 1 84037 299 0.

This should provide a good starting point in your research,
Best regards,

10th Feb 2007, 12:33
Thre is also "The Murder of the TSR2", but can't remember the author.

10th Feb 2007, 12:36
The cancellation conspiracy theory thread has run though the whole history of the TSR2 project and has in my opinion been done to death, much like the plane really.

This aviation debacle like so many other labour contrived fiascos need only to be compared too the Canadian Avro project, similarly cancelled along with rabid destruction of all equipment and technical drawings of the offending airframe.

Who was it offending. Look no further than Uncle Sam and his aviation cohorts whom I suggest placed so much political arm twisting on the then Labour Cabinet that they had little option but too cancel TRS2 and a number of other projects.

It’s doubtful that any political figure from that time will have the genital fortitude to come forward and offer for public scrutiny the true facts about what took place but it’s effects on British Aviation and it’s supporting industry are a matter of public record, So I would suggest that you include TRS2 in your documentary by all means but concentrate the main theme on the demise of what was once a great and innovative aviation industry destroyed by it’s own government in pursuit of political ends contrived by another countries government.
Maybe you could even answer one of my own questions, ‘Who coined the Phrase Special Relationship, and what ever were they thinking’ ??

10th Feb 2007, 12:49
The North American A5/RA5 Vigilante bears an uncanny similarity to the TSR2???
Both Aircraft are of a similiar vintage. Any thoughts? :8

10th Feb 2007, 13:20
It wasn't just the aircraft the yanks were jealous of; it's systems were well in advance of anything they had eg F111 had simple terrain avoidance radar (tells you when you're about to hit a hill), TSR2 had terrain following radar(flies the aircraft over the hill maintaining the same MSD)(MSD = Minimum separation distance) .

10th Feb 2007, 13:23
I understand that the main purpose of the TSR2 was to deliver nuclear weapons to the heart of the Soviet Union. It was designed to do this supersonic at low level. Unfortunately it could not carry sufficient fuel to do this. Neither could the F111 which was initially ordered instead. This was cancelled too, and for the same reason.

It was then realised that supersonic intrusion into the SU at low level was impossible, if you wanted the aircraft and crew back. The Buccaneer was the best airframe in the world to do the same job at subsonic speeds. This was why it was transferred from the RN to the RAF.

Anyway, that's what I overheard a group of Boscombe Down test pilots saying in 1968.

So, if it wouldn't achieve it's primary role, what else was it so good at?

A marvellous bit of aeronautical engineering it probably was. But what use was it?

10th Feb 2007, 13:37
So, if it wouldn't achieve it's primary role, what else was it so good at?

A marvellous bit of aeronautical engineering it probably was. But what use was it?

Doing this over the 'Stan and Iraq


10th Feb 2007, 16:23
The book you are thinking of is 'Phoenix into Ashes' - now out of print.

There are many theories concerning the cancellation. Although the pro-navy biased thoughts of Mountbottom didn't help, perhaps the desire of the closet communists of the Wislon era to appease their Soviet masters was the key?

TSR2's 1000 mile radius design sortie with a 2000lb bomb load was a climb to just above 20000ft, a cruise at M0.92 for about 500nm, followed by a supersonic acceleration and climb at M1.7 to around 48000ft. Then a rapid descent at M1.7/600KIAS to ultra low level for a 200nm ingress at M0.9. After weapon release, it would egress at M0.9, then climb to around 30000ft at M0.9 and return at M0.92......

Which would have made a nuclear attack on Moscow and return to RAFG quite achievable, though very risky.

Alternatively, a 700 nm radius sortie could have been flown entirely at 200ft and M0.9 - sufficient to fly from RAFG to the Ukraine and back.

10th Feb 2007, 17:45
"Thre is also "The Murder of the TSR2", but can't remember the author.
Stephen Hastings IIRC. (written much too close to the event to be considered anything but very subjective I suggest )
The discussion of the arguments surrounding the cancellation of this aircraft runs on and on over the years with all shades of opinion being supported by a very selective rendition of largely second-hand "facts".
Doubtless the "experts" will entertain us for years to come.

10th Feb 2007, 17:50

I accept that that was the TSR2 "design" sortie. But do you have any information which confirms that it could achieve it? As I said, I heard that it couldn't.

10th Feb 2007, 18:47
To be honest, I simply don't know.

But I have no reason to doubt the payload/range figures, nor the specific fuel consumption of the TSR2's engines, given normal development time scales.

Although I remain convinced that the Wislon government's cancellation was for more than mere fiscal reasons....

...and we lost a world-beater as the result :ugh:

10th Feb 2007, 19:20
Harold Wilson, George Brown and Healey, were the up and comming PM and gang, they could not face down the unions with the amount of cash the TSR2 was needing , plus the now much written about knowledge that Wilson and others were in the pocket of the Rooshians.

The ex colony of The god ole boys were offering such goodies as the F111 and the Phantom as a VERY cheap stand in, so to cash strapped Wilson and his gang of misfits this seemed the easy way out, the rest as they say is history.

My father in law worked for English Electric at that time, and he was one of many people who was tasked to destroy press tools and other such priceless items and spares whilst being closely watched to ensure rigid compliance .

Sniff out the Rooshian connection with The Gannex wearing Pipesmoker, then you will start to find reasons.

Peter R-B:suspect:

11th Feb 2007, 11:16
Nickdc: No. (and there's more: I know who really killed Princess Di. ditto JFK *)

There is a reason why, these 42 years, no TV prog has "exposed" the truth: it's because there is nothing to expose. The nuclear deep penetrator/Moscow role, grafted on in 1960, was taken by Macmillan's Polaris, confirmed by Wilson. A scarce tactical asset the length of Vulcan became unriskable against the low-value precision targets, like one tank, that its hot, frail sensors sought: RAF could deal with them cheaper with F-4D, so Wilson offered to buy 50 TSR.2 for an East of Suez Task. Geo.Edwards/BAC wouldn't play ball on money - he could just have taken the £750Mn. on offer and later blamed, say Ferranti (10% of total R&D cost) after the User was hooked (see Astute, Nimrod MRA4) - so CAS was able to do the sensible thing: buy a fixed price batch from a planned US run >3,000.
Sources:B.Jackson/Lord Bramall, MC, ex-CGS/CDS, The Chiefs,Brassey’s,92,P361:1964 Tory Minister Thorneycroft TSR.2 “an albatross round our necks (Healey) took the decision which would have had to be taken by (PT. MoD was saying TSR.2) would have (to go) it was just that (Labour) took the opprobrium.” Maj.D.Healey(Anzio beachmaster),The Time of My Life,Penguin,1990, P272: Post-681/1154 Sir R.Dobson,Chairman of HSAL “which lost work by our decision, gave a TV interview which put all the blame on the Conservative “twerps”:‘(in) light of what has happened before (it) is very difficult to quarrel with Jenkins and Healey’”.

Conspiracies and smears, as rehashed here, like all drama require suspension of disbelief. The only Tory Minister to go public on fellow-travelling was gadfly Sir Cranley Onslow, to be ’72/4 Trade Minister (Aerospace), who blamed the influence of CND unilateralists. The only reputable historian to do so is Maj.Gordon Corrigan (5 TV), Blood,Sweat and Arrogance,Weidenfeld,2006, who with no attribution refers to Jim Callaghan's (Chancellor in April,1965) "KGB liaison". Ah, yes,Wilson, he that inherited a Yellow Sun 2 Force where “loss of 70-90% (was) conceded” by Planners" A.Pierre,Nuclear Politics,OUP,1972,P184, who bequeathed SSBNs, laydown WE177A/B, and funding that led to their highly credible delivery by RAFG. Ah, yes, Lt.Callaghan, who secured Trident C4 (Mrs.T made it D5).

Neither Wilson, Healey, nor the Kremlin, was responsible for the move from P.1154/TSR.2, via F-111K, to Harrier GR.1/F-4M/Buccaneer S.2/Jaguar/Tornado. That was CAS Sir Charles (to be CDS, MRAF, Lord) Elworthy DSO (1941 W/C, low level Blenheim). Nor was it wrecker Capt.D.Sandys, WIA 1941 that deleted much in April,1957, but CDS MRAF Sir W.Dickson, DSO,AFC. There were very good reasons for all of it, which is why they did not resign.

There is a techno-story for TV, such as by The Discovery Channel, tracing avionics and pivots from first sketches, 1956, to deployment of Tornado, 1982. But too good? No. Go to T.Buttler's Secret Projects, Bombers, MCP,2003, P124 and see the schemes to the TSR.2 replacement Requirement, OR.355 put out in October,1961 for Service c.1975.

(*: the driver and the crazy. Sorry Oliver Stone. The truth is boring).

Brewster Buffalo
11th Feb 2007, 19:40
"I understand that the main purpose of the TSR2 was to deliver nuclear weapons to the heart of the Soviet Union. It was designed to do this supersonic at low level...."

I thought it was supposed to be a Canberra not a V bomber replacement?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
11th Feb 2007, 23:21

I'm developing a documentary on TSR2

Where and when will this doc be shown?


Lucy Lastic
11th Feb 2007, 23:48
>>>It was then realised that supersonic intrusion into the SU at low level was impossible, if you wanted the aircraft and crew back. The Buccaneer was the best airframe in the world to do the same job at subsonic speeds. This was why it was transferred from the RN to the RAF.<<

Some of the V-force pilots said that they didn't expect to get back either and saw the trip as a one-way.

And, if I recall correctly, the Buccaneer was given the RAF role only after the Labour govt had spent further millions on the abortive attempt to buy the F111. And yes, it did carry that role out well.

But I do wonder what there is new to establish on the subject. I don't think there is much we don't know. The financial position of the UK economy at the time, some below-the-radar pressure from the US, inter-service rivalry led by Mountbottom and the traditional Labour Party hostility to the services all meant she was pretty much doomed.

Still, I would be interested to see any programme showing her in flight

12th Feb 2007, 02:32
Quite a lot of discussion about TSR2 on some of these threads:


12th Feb 2007, 06:14
There was a BBC doco some years back which occasionally appears on the History channel of Foxtel.

95% of the time when something goes wrong it is a stuff up.

The conspiracy only occurs 5% of the time and it is to hide the stuff up!

12th Feb 2007, 11:05
Those of you who think the United States was behind it need to consider the cancellation of the B-70 and A-12/F-12A/SR-71 on this side of the Atlantic in the same time frame. The later even included an order to break up the tooling.

It was simply a bad time for advanced projects everywhere.

13th Feb 2007, 11:56
quote : "Who was it offending. Look no further than Uncle Sam and his aviation cohorts whom I suggest placed so much political arm twisting on the then Labour Cabinet that they had little option but too cancel TRS2 and a number of other projects."

I agree, one of the other projects was the little known Blue Water battlefield tactical missile which was cancelled by the feeble Macmillan goverment in 1962 due to US pressure.

13th Feb 2007, 12:05
Wasn't Blue Water the one that, it was claimed by its detractors, used to blow its Bedford launch vehicle over on firing?

13th Feb 2007, 16:51
Not as bad as Swingfire which, so I'm told, occasionally had its gyros 'toppled' by the launch, and subsequently reversed course and took out its own launcher.
I was told this by a Cpl who was i/c a Milan team.

13th Feb 2007, 19:18
Cancellation of TSR-2 was only one of a number of major UK projects cancelled at this time in a misguided attempt to keep the economy from slipping further out of control. There were others such as the Channel Tunnel (yes, it was going ahead at the time though to a smaller scale than what eventually materialised).

Interestingly at Monino Soviet Air Force museum outside Moscow there is a prototype of a very potent-looking Sukhoi 100 (http://www.moninoaviation.com/24a.html) which, just like TSR-2, and at the same time, was cancelled at the prototype stage. There is a sad-looking notice under the nose making the point that "It was NOT cancelled due to any deficiency of the design", obviously put up by someone with project involvement, just like those who defend TSR-2 so vigourously.

The one "high tech" project to escape in the 1960s was Concorde, and this was attributed entirely to MP Tony Benn having a marginal Labour seat at the Concorde factory in Bristol (he'd already lost the seat once and regained it). He was Minister of Technology at the time and key to the decision, and also Minister for saving his own job it seems. The Channel Tunnel was in leafy Conservative Folkestone, TSR-2 was designed in bourgeoise Weybridge (built in Preston I believe but all those I know who were involved were at Weybridge) ..... you get the picture.

13th Feb 2007, 20:03
Prototypes were built at Brooklands (Weybridge) but I believe production aircraft were to be built at Warton.

PPRuNe Pop
14th Feb 2007, 15:40
There were THREE politicians who were involved in the 'death' of the TSR2. Jim Callaghan, Roy Jenkins and Denis Healy. In the documentary that the BBC did, with a huge input by 'Bee' Beamont, all three denied it! Their "nothing to do with me" stance was nothing short of lies. Then, of course, there was Mountbatten, who had little of an aviation background but who stabbed the TSR2 project in the back, with the help of the lying three above, by making a supermarket style offer of three F-111's for the price of one TSR2 to the Australian government. The RAAF were said to have paid three times the originally quoted price by the time the bugs had been eliminated, years later.

I met 'Bee' in April 2001 at a signing ceremony of our TSR2 prints at which time, over an extended lunch, he related a few stories which Tim Deadman, a PPRuNer and I sat enthralled by. He also made it clear that the TSR2 should not have been killed off. He told of his test flights, some of which were conducted up and down a N/S line from Warton over the sea. He achieved supersonic speeds frequently and told that the TSR2 would have been capable of 2.3M. He also said that had the project not been cancelled there would have been NO requirement for the Tornado!

TSR2 was a worldbeater and would have still been flying today probably! 'Bee' seemed to always carry his design sortie and I noted a few posts back that BEagle had posted one. That is it EXACTLY. Quite something.

Here today, nothing has changed. The politicians still interfere on the back of a distinct lack of knowledge and control. They will never learn that the money they need to enforce their own power hungary ill thought out ideas comes from the people. I just to see the true figures exposed after the Tories get back.

But, sadly, with a quick return to the topic!!! The finest builders of aircraft have been let down time after time after time! Sickening!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
14th Feb 2007, 16:10
The one "high tech" project to escape in the 1960s was Concorde, and this was attributed entirely to MP Tony Benn having a marginal Labour seat at the Concorde factory in Bristol (he'd already lost the seat once and regained it).

I thought Concorde survived because of the 'no get-out' clause negotiated with the French by Conservative minister Julian Amory. It was, ironically, devised so that the French couldn't pull out and leave the Brits with all the costs.

Ironically, it turned out to be us that wanted out, but were tied in by that clause!


14th Feb 2007, 18:46
Prune Pop - it was reportedly 5 for 1 Buccaneers which that fool Mountbottom (probably the worst CDS of the era) used to pull out of his pusser's grip when back-stabbing TSR2...... The concept of paying for 5 times as many crews didn't cross his blinkered naval mind, it seems.

I'm told that TSR2 was a bit of a pig to fly at low speed (as was the Buccaneer) - but outstanding at high speed.

PPRuNe Pop
14th Feb 2007, 20:44
BEags, I bow to your correction. Indeed it was. Infuriating wasn't it!!

15th Feb 2007, 10:46
As a end of school teenager in the 60s I can remember sitting half way up Peny-gent watching the TSR2 fly between the two hills in the Ribble head Valley on and around Ingleborough , and on towards the sea at Lancaster, never thought I was watching history in the making!

Peter R-B


Double Zero
15th Feb 2007, 19:27

Take a look at a Jaguar and you'll see a lot of TSR2; if that aircraft is anything to judge by, we're a lot better off without the thing, like most Wart on products !

A modernised Buccaneer, with cockpits designed by humans, would still be a force to be reckoned with, and isn't it surprising the F-35 is going back to internal weapon carriage ?!

I was once told at Boscombe that a loaded Tornado at high speed could just about reach the Isle of Wight from there...

I don't buy the 'loony leftie' theories, and IMHO reckon the TSR2 was a very restricted machine, at best.

For all tory lovers, take note that BAe Kingston had a full scale mock-up of the P-1216 supersonic VSTOL fighter in the late'80's, which made the F-35 look like a Sopwith Camel, but when Margaret Thatcher was shown it she refused funding - the Sea Harrier had already saved her political arse...

16th Feb 2007, 11:01
Would that be the same Jaguar thats attended most of the wars since Op Granby without a loss to enemy action?

Double Zero
16th Feb 2007, 19:00
And would that be due to design excellence, or small numbers and luck ?!

The Jag' was infamous for bleeding off speed whenever asked to turn.

The Tornado wouldn't have lasted a minute in WW2; however fancy your ( vietnam vintage ) jamming pods, they won't stop bullets or cannon shells !

It took a lot of effort to even make the Jaguar able to designate targets...

17th Feb 2007, 14:01
DZ, the shape of an aircraft tends to be the result of its intended use. Buccaneer is a product of its age, as indeed Jaguar and Tornado were,
F35 needs weapons bays for stealth and stealth only, otherwise it becomes neccesary to design stealthy expendable stores. This is why there are similarities in aircraft types doing similar tasks. Remember it does take rather longer to design, test and introduce an aircraft into service than it does to build the Airfix kit of it.
As for your drivel regarding Tornado survivability in WW II and Jaguars designation capability, I guess you are on a slightly different planet than the rest of us.

Regards Kb :ok:

Double Zero
17th Feb 2007, 15:35
I very probably am from a different planet by the sound of it - greetings from Earth, we come in peace...

Internal weapon carriage has a lot more going for it than just stealth !

ie a fully loaded Phantom was slower than a likewise Buccaneer...the only aircraft I know which virtually ignores stores is the Harrier, by virtue of its' engine characteristics ( ask Roy Braybrook, or better still Mr Farley ).

As for Tornado survivability, how come they fell in droves in the first few days of GW1 ( and the F3's were kept back as they were and still are an embarrasment ) to be later sent on medium altitude sorties only, which the RB199 was not designed for to say the least.

If they couldn't manage the Iraqi's at low level, I don't see the Skyshadow or chaff & flares stopping AAA over WW2 Germany either !

As for the TFR, I believe it isn't used much these days - rather obviously it gives a 'here we come' signal, even if the precise direction is obscured.

Fine for wazzing about as a sports-car to impress the girlfriend, ( at least I hope it's a girlfriend ) and it did indeed set some IAS low level records, but hopeless as a war machine.

Realization of this led to the deletion of JP233 from the inventory, a suicide weapon if ever there was one ... yes it was claimed, conveniently, to contravene the Geneva Convention - at the test range where I saw it used, it was well known to have a pathetic effect - if any - on the target runway.

Load Toad
18th Feb 2007, 01:11
JP233 was withdrawn because it's submunitions included land mines. The UK is a signatory to the agreement not to use landmines.

From Wiki: 'There is a myth that a number of British Tornadoes were lost to Iraqi ground fire while carrying out JP233 attacks during Operation Desert Storm. Only one of the JP 233 missions were shot down, and that was three minutes after the attack had been completed. The other Tornado losses were incurred when lofting 'dumb' bombs on Iraqi air defense installations.'

'But with the increasing availability of standoff attack munitions capable of the same mission with little risk to the flight crew and aircraft, as well as the British entry into the Land Mines Treaty (which declares the HB-876 illegal), the JP233 has been withdrawn from service.'

Given you are wrong about that I'm guessing the rest of your post is in error too.

PPRuNe Pop
18th Feb 2007, 08:10
Back to the topic please.

Double Zero
18th Feb 2007, 16:20
I agree we'd gone off topic, apologies for my part in that ( though I stand by what I said & have not seen any reliable argument yet !).

The TSR2 had a very high wing loading, and despite the illustrations with Jaguar - style over-wing pylons was certainly not a fighter ( nor was the Jag' ) it was a largeish aircraft with tiny wings, would have been hopeless at higher altitudes - an example of how it should be done might be the B-1 Lancer...

Low level penetration is hopeless nowadays - radar isn't the only sensor to say you're coming - and as I mentioned, even in WW2 which countermeasures stop cannon shells ?!

Brewster Buffalo
18th Feb 2007, 18:59
"Low level penetration is hopeless nowadays - radar isn't the only sensor to say you're coming - and as I mentioned, even in WW2 which countermeasures stop cannon shells ?!"


The F-111 performed pretty well in Vietnam ...flying some 4000 sorties between October 1972 and March 1973 with a combat loss rate of 6 (0.15%) lowest of any combat type...which was the time period when the TSR2 would have been in service..

Double Zero
18th Feb 2007, 22:26
Hello BB,

you seem to have proved my point ! The F-111 and TSR2 ( maybe the latter ) were suitable for their time only - and neither had any magical way of deflecting bullets, as I recall all 'peasants' were trained to fire upwards whenever they heard an aircraft.

So 'darkness' is of zero effect, unless given silent engines ! Though there is I suppose the hope they took out a few of their own aircraft...

The F-111 at least has a decent wing loading.

23rd Feb 2007, 12:47
Some people may find this site interesting, although somewhat biased in point of view re the actions of certain key players it does go into useful detail about the requirements for the aircraft: http://www.spyflight.co.uk/main.htm and select TSR2.

DZ I should have brought this up earlier- Bucaneer didn't do the recce thing, and if you want to go for internal weapons only, TSR2 packed about twice as much as the Bucc. Start hanging stuff outside the frame and the speed/range equations go to the BAC product.

Personally speaking I am neither for nor against an unproven aircraft, it may have been great, then again it may not. If it was in service during the GW1 period would we have been putting up our hands in shame in deploying a complete attack force of 30 year old aircraft? What came after did a good job for many years after its sell by date, but I suspect it didn't do as good a job as the requirement that dictated TSR2 actually wanted.

Brewster Buffalo
23rd Feb 2007, 19:12
"..the 474th TFW had plenty of flak shot at them, though most of it was aimed at the sound of their jets and thus fell far behind them.

...anti airfield strikes were generally effective. Like all F-111 operations they were single ship, first pass, low level TFR sorties.." at night of course


time expired
25th Feb 2007, 14:33
As a Canadian I have followed this thread with a sense of deja vu,Heard it all before,evil yanks, dumb politicos,conspiracies,in my case it was a different
aircraft namely the AVRO Arrow.IMHO both were very expensive one trick
ponies that it would have very difficult to adapt to any other role and as
such would have not remained in service for very long.That being said, in
both cases their cancellation did immence damage to their respective
aircraft industries.

26th Feb 2007, 13:21
I think there are a whole host of reasons why TSR2 was eventually cancelled. The RAF specification was over-complex, for instance it called for the aircraft to be able to operate from semi-prepared strips - why? It would have been a much less complex design if the requirement had followed on with the V-Force policy of operating from a variety of dispersed airfields with a 6000ft runways and some basic support facilities. As BEagle explained earlier, the over-promoted oaf of a CDS Mountbottom worked tirelessly behind the scenes to run down the TSR2 and promote the RN Buccaneer instead - hardly a ringing endorsement. There were also many high-level RAF officers who had their doubts and this view can only have gradually trickled down within the MOD. It would have been a great plane, a vast improvement on the Buccaneer, but it lacked both the necessary amount of high-level political and military support and, when money is tight, that will eventually prove fatal.

28th Feb 2007, 22:49
I recall reading of a US general type, who was over watching the demonstration of the prototype.

His attributed comment was basically that it was "a damn shame" that an arrangement could not be found where "you design it and we build it". In other words, not dissimilar to the Harrier and AV-8 projects.

Looking back on the technical and performance side of it all now, maybe the original TSR2 was more akin to the Kestrel. Once properly developed with an uprated engine and longer range, it may have turned into the kind of aircraft that was as far removed from the original as the AV-8 is from the Kestrel.

The US bods definitely seemed to be impressed with what it offered. Does anyone else see a slight resemblance to today's Rockwell B-1B, albeit scaled up with a swing wing? Or is it old age making me hallucinate? :ooh:

Dr Jekyll
2nd Mar 2007, 17:42
From a side view, the B1 always looks to me like a scaled up Hunter.

Kieron Kirk
2nd Mar 2007, 20:51
"All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR.2 simply got the first three right."
- Sir Sydney Camm

5th Mar 2007, 14:29
I believe the Canadian Arrow was also subject to the complete destruction of all tooling and airframes.

Politicians do not like evidence of their stupidity left lying around for all to see.

How Blair and co must hate the site of the millenium dome!!!!!!!!!!!

The next expensive embarrasments will be the London olympic stadium and a couple of large (and much needed) aircraft carriers without fuel.


5th Mar 2007, 15:52
Allegedly the CF-105 programme was riddled with Soviet agents.....

5th Mar 2007, 19:28
"I believe the Canadian Arrow was also subject to the complete destruction of all tooling and airframes."

Did the Canadian government owe the yanks like our lot did.

"Sure we'll lend you the money to get you out of the mire but you make sure that 'plane can't be resurected in the future, just protecting our aircraft industry you see"

6th Mar 2007, 09:13
I'm looking for information about the main U/C retract mechanics. Certainly it was a relatively complex operation looking at the size of the main bogies and the space available.
Ideally it would be great to get hold of some video where the U/C was actually retracted but seems unlikely to exist?

6th Mar 2007, 09:27
Ask the guys at Duxford http://duxford.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.00d00j

They have one there and I'm sure, with a load of photographs of knuckles etc, it'll be possible to work it out.

6th Mar 2007, 09:33
Hmmm. Maybe it's not as easy as I thought. :eek:


6th Mar 2007, 09:45
I have collected a huge quantity of photos and various drawing that show 'this part only on XR219' and others bits marked 'only on XR220' and close ups of the bogies and links etc and TBH its 'doing me 'ead in' :ooh:

Hence the request for any possible video.

6th Mar 2007, 12:11
The following is an extract from an article on the TRS.2 “Concept versus Reality” written by Frank Barnett-Jones and published in July 1997 copy of “Aeroplane Monthly”:-
“The prime consideration in the undercarriage design was the accommodation of a rough-field landing requirement. This necessitated a landing technique similar to that used by carrier-borne aircraft, so the system had to be strong to withstand a non-flare landing on a semi-prepared surface.
The responsibility for the undercarriage lay with Vickers, which designed the undercarriage with a simple hydraulic telescope tube arrangement, together with a tandem wheel configuration. A similar system was already in use on the Vickers Valiant, so the technicalities were understood. However if one studies the undercarriage on the Valiant it will be seen that while the design characteristics are similar because of the differences in physical layout the results are somewhat different. In the landing phase the weight of the aircraft is transferred from the wing to the undercarriage and the wheel makes vertical contact with the ground at 2ft/sec. Ideally, therefore, the oleo compression should move at the same vertical angle to place less stress on the undercarriage.
On the TRS.2 this was not the case, because the oleos splayed out to accommodate the maximum–track requirement. At the same time the large ankle on the bogie extended the wheels well beyond the point where the vertical weight was being applied. This meant that the compression of the telescopic legs was not vertical, as on the Valiant, but at an angle of approximately 15 degrees. Therefore, as the wheels touched the runway and compression began, the bogies would be dragged inward as the legs compressed. Such a reaction not only imposed stress on the ankle, but also induced a strong weaving effect on the tandem wheels as the aircraft settled on the undercarriage. There was evidence to show that the system was vulnerable when the ankle on XR219 sheared without warning during trial at Shoeburyness.”

Hermano Lobo
6th Mar 2007, 12:13
I remember years ago a contact in British Aerospace told me it was pressure from the Soviets and not the Americans wanting us to buy the F-111. We never bought the F-111.

Chapman Pincher has some interesting things to say about the Labour Government at that time:-
Chapman Pincher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapman_Pincher)

Their Trade is Treachery (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Their-Trade-Treachery-Chapman-Pincher/dp/0283988479):cool:

6th Mar 2007, 13:07
Fascinating. Were many landings made at Shoeburyness?

6th Mar 2007, 13:07
There is a DVD available entitled "Classic British Jets TSR.2" do a search on Google and you will quickly find a supplier.

7th Mar 2007, 09:29
I recall reading that one of the two prototypes had an issue whereby the main u/c bogey, which had to sort of rotate around itself during the retraction sequence to enter the bays, failed to unwrap itself thus at leat one landing was carried out with the bogey inverted. As far as I am aware no serious damage was suffered, but it may well explain, at least in part, why ionagh has the photos illustrating differences in u/c detail.

7th Mar 2007, 10:19
GOLF_BRAVO_ZULU stated:- "Fascinating. Were many landings made at Shoeburyness?"
Frank Barnett-Jones wrote "There was evidence to show that the system was vulnerable when the ankle on XR219 sheared without warning during trial at Shoeburyness"
I think you will find what he meant was that the evidence of this failure could be seen at Shoeburyness as XR219, XR221 and XR223 were taken to the shooting range at Shoeburyness to be destroyed as 'damage to aircraft' targets.
The following is a photograph showing the sad end for XR219, shot to pieces at Shoeburyness.

7th Mar 2007, 12:26

Copied; thanks for clarifying that point.

12th Mar 2007, 21:25
Lovely model TSR2, ionagh :D
What's the powerplant - is it gas-turbine powered?

I believe the main gears pivoted 180degrees around the 'ankle' joint during retraction - similar to the Russian Tupolev designs, but forward retracting instead of to the rear. The Illyushin 18 turboprop airliner retracts/pivots forward in this manner.
The TSR2 did indeed seem to have quite complicated retraction dynamics, but spare a thought for another supersonic prototype(s) that never made it: The XB-70 Valkyrie. The 4-wheel bogies had to pivot 90 degrees 'sidways', then 90 degrees 'up' before the gear legs swang back into the bays with the bogie effectively lying on it's side in the bay.

13th Mar 2007, 07:35
Thanks DH106, power is 2 electric ducted fans; about 2,5kw total (around
45N thrust). I think you could buy a small car for the price of putting 2 gas turbines in a model :eek:

13th Mar 2007, 10:16
Wow - 2.5Kw, they're big ducted fans. Has it flown yet?
I love 'exotic' models - I built a smaller XB-70 Valkyrie years ago with a pusher engine. Now that electrics have moved on so much I'd love a bigger DF version, or if I had the dosh a turbine one.

Any more piccies?

13th Mar 2007, 10:47
Not flown yet but you can see the building here:

Fans are 90mm types so they are just about limit at this power level.

13th Mar 2007, 19:42
Thanks for the link. I'll be monitoring. :)

9th Feb 2008, 19:29
Sad, it was never to be :{


Max Shutterspeed
9th Feb 2008, 20:36

Where's that been hiding?

I always used to think it looked a bit odd from some angles, but when the gear retracts, it suddenly looks the bollocks.


9th Feb 2008, 21:29
No doubt I will get loads of flak....

Am I the only one that finds it quite ugly and out of proportion?

Out Of Trim
10th Feb 2008, 00:47
Am I the only one that finds it quite ugly and out of proportion?


A Fantastic aircraft - I'd love to see it fly again...

If only..

PPRuNe Dispatcher
10th Feb 2008, 09:19
One of my earliest memories is of my dad, RAF Chief Tech. Jim "Yanto" Butler, being angry at the cancellation of the TSR-2. At the time we lived very near Warton.

He never did tell me exactly what his involvment was, and he died 31 years ago so I'll never know. However, what my dad didn't know about gas turbines wasn't worth knowing.

I still have an original (now faded) photograph of XR219 on my study wall....

10th Feb 2008, 09:20
What fantastic film, kokpit - thanks for digging that up. There seems to be other good stuff on sonicbomb.com as well.

One of the many fascinating things, to me, in the TSR2 film, was the amount the undercarriage oleos scrunch up when the weight comes on them. (Which perhaps partly accounts for the rather dorky look when the dunlops are dangling) Anyway, if I remember right, part of the spec required TSR2 to be able to operate from grass strips - and this from an aircraft (with short stubby wings) that rotated at about 180kts! Hence one of the problems was how to make an undercarriage that could cope with that.

It certainly seemed to be able to bounce ok......

Anyway - a fascinating glimpse of 'if only' - and don't forget this was supposed to replace the Canberra, amongst others!

Another lovely touch - the chase aircraft, a Frightning and a Meatbox. Wonderful pics - and all to some rather appropriate music. And the scrapyard ending, too - that made my blood boil.

Thanks again kokpit.


PS If you haven't done so, do go and see the TSR2 at the Museum at Cosford. When you stand beside it, it's unbelievably huge, and it definitely looks the db.

Roland Pulfrew
10th Feb 2008, 09:32
Am I the only one that finds it quite ugly and out of proportion?

Yes. And let's not forget that (if the TSR 2 fans are to be believed) both the Sovs and US were worried about this jet - just too far ahead of it's time!

10th Feb 2008, 09:40
Fantastic footage....Which I watched, despite owning the video it comes from!:}

Maybe I'm way off the mark here, but if we had lived with a government that had actually wanted TSR2, then maybe we would would have ended up keeping P1154 as well. Then possibly we could have "son of P1154" right now out in the sandy places.....rather than waiting for "Dave" to show up one day.
(just think how much WEBF would have loved a super fast SHAR!)

This is not in any disrespect to any flyers we have have now doing a stirling job. But it seems to me that the UK was getting quite a few things right at that time of aircraft production (despite the government of the day)

The video/DVD the footage comes from is "TSR2 the untold story" available from DDHE, catalogue number (hopefully) DD1092

Barnstormer 1968

mr fish
10th Feb 2008, 13:53
a lot bigger than i thought,fanarr etc. seriously though, is there any substance in the stories about the yanks leaning on wilson to cancel and just how far ahead of the curve was she ( i love that phrase)!!!

Al R
10th Feb 2008, 13:57
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjN3PE4ICj0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjN3PE4ICj0)


eta: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8kx-Prw3bA&feature=related

The Helpful Stacker
10th Feb 2008, 15:13
Apparently the TSR-2 had once left its Lightning chase aircraft struggling to keep up with only one reheat lit. A bit quick then!

10th Feb 2008, 18:48
IF you want to cry, try reading "The Murder of the TSR2"...:{ Can't remember the links.....hic

11th Feb 2008, 02:23
thanks for posting that - another very sad day for the British aircraft industry

I've ordered the DVD

11th Feb 2008, 16:00
Apologies if this is slightly off thread but ...

Does anyone know where I can purchase a copy of "TSR2 with Hindsight" ISBN 0 9519824 8 6 published by the RAF Historical Society 1998?

Pse PM me if you can help

Many thanks

BTW ... the RAFHS has none for sale

11th Feb 2008, 16:14
See it at Cosford - it's HUGE! Wilson has a lot to answer for.

11th Feb 2008, 17:27
Sorry, I disagree, you are all allowing nostalgia to get in the way of reality. BB besides, it was one of the most ugly aircraft the UK has ever produced.

11th Feb 2008, 17:28
Yes, I've seen it at Cosford many years ago and I remember being awestruck by the size of it - it is much bigger than I had imagined. The members of the Wilson government who are still alive should be hanging their heads in shame although Lord Mountbatten had something to do with it as I recall - I think he was CDS at the time

Had she reached squadron service there would have been probably: No F4s in RAF service in the strike role; No Buccaneers in RAF service; No Jaguars in the strike role; No Tornado. There certainly would have been no brief flirtation with the F-111 and AFVG. Britain would have built something else (better than the F4 and Tornado F3) to replace the lightning or, perhaps more likely, bought F15s from the US.

With the TSR2's range and likely payload, The RAF of the 1970s onwards to the end of the cold war would have been quite different and much more potent. That was probably the reason for its demise.

I wonder what name it would have had?

12th Feb 2008, 00:05
I wonder what name it would have had?


The two landings at 2.40 - 3.00 look entertaining. Was the first one the legendary tiptoe landing? Does not look like it, but that bounce and roll must have given the guys religion. The next landing's like an F-15: hold nose high for a long time to help slow down.

Definitely a cool-looking jet. A bit Vigilante, a bit of F-104/U-2 lines as well. Big internal weapon bay, tiny wings, hugely blown flaps, farging big tails, monster pure turbojets. The landing gear looks huge... a little bit of insanity going in the requirements department if they were really serious about grass strips.

29th Jul 2008, 21:44
I been looking for a copy of "The Murder of the TSR2" for years. I found one at Farborough this year


Army Mover
29th Jul 2008, 22:08
There's currently a copy for sale on E-bay - auction expires on 3 August 2008

Clicky (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/*RARE-BOOK-The-Murder-Of-TSR-2-TSR2-by-Stephen-Hastings_W0QQitemZ180269984785QQcmdZViewItem?IMSfp=TL0807281 12a29738)

Double Zero
29th Jul 2008, 22:43
From what I've read, the U.S. certainly put great pressure on to scrub the project, and Mountbatten was indeed involved in ending it along with the P1154.

Whether it would have been any good or not is open to debate ( forever ) - if relying on low level laydown for conventional attacks, then as the Tornado proved, it wouldn't have passed muster in WW2 - seems it took a lot for some people to realise jamming systems don't save one from a lot of lead thrown in the air above a target.

If it was purely to deliver nuclear bombs, the sub / ICBM had already come up with a system much more likely to succeed.

I agree re. the looks, slab sided & dubious looking wings - what was it like at medium / high level ?

I always understood the Jaguar inherited some aspects of the TSR2, notably the gear, empennage etc - look & compare the two.

As for the P1154 someone mentioned, and 'we might have had that too', I've always thought that was over ambitous even before the bickering service requirements knobbled it, and we had a lucky escape, going instead for what was to become the much more viable Harrier ( the Harrier GR1 received the INS & HUD intended for P1154 ).

If you want to talk about missed VSTOL opportunities see the late 1980's Kingston P1216 projects - various versions offered, my favourite was a twin tailboom type with an F-35 style nozzle between, and shutters forward rather than nozzles, to avoid drag.

There was even a forward swept wing version, using carbon fibre manufactured in such a way that the wingtips CONVERGED under aerodynamic load - now THAT is what we should have instead of the JSF !

There was a full scale mock-up at Kingston, which the prime minister of the day was shown around and promptly rejected the project - Margaret Thatcher...

29th Jul 2008, 23:28
I was waiting with baited breath for this one to pop-up!!!:}

Let me, if I may be so bold, to express my opinion on the matter of the infamous claims of "superiority" of the TSR2 over, well, every aircraft that has ever existed.
Firstly, I would like to retort in Haiku:

Fabled British Plane,
Uglier Than Sin Itself,
Total Piece Of Sh!t

And, if the meaning of the Haiku is too obscure for some, here is a metaphor I think is very appropriate: About 40 years ago, whilst out fishing in a tinnie in Port Phillip Bay, I caught a Blue Whale using 10 pound line and a hand reel. You may not have seen this but, trust me when I tell you (and my friend's brother Davo who was on the tinnie will back me up) it was without out a doubt the greatest fishing event EVER. Okay, now when I say I caught the whale, whilst not ever actually landing it on the tinnie (the fisheries department came along just as I was hauling it in & demanded I release it immediately) it was as good as in the boat. And when I say I hooked it, well, it never actually took the bait, but it gave it a loooong hard look. And when I say it was a blue whale, well, it er, umm... looked like a blue whale. It may have in fact been a flathead... but it was (may have been) a BIG one!! TRUST ME!

My point is this. Everyone has a "one that got away" story that grows in stature as the years pass. The TSR2 story seems to posess an especially exaggerated list of capabilities. Here are some of the things over the years I have heard the TSR2 was capable of:

Ability to create World Peace
Could make two atoms occupy the same quantum space
solving Degasperis-Procesi equations
perfect cold-fusion
write a Pulitzer award-winning novel.

I understand the fervour and national pride stirred up in people when it comes to home grown products, but, there has to be a "realism" element in assessing an aircraft that never proceeded pass the prototype stage!! Yes I know it was politics that eventually killed the thing but come on, there wasn't any shortage of problems with it either!! Undercarriage, engines (serious problems with the Olympus fit in the TSR2 from memory) and as a result an almost entirely theoretical list of specs.

DISCLAIMER: I have flown the Pig hence have a soft spot for it, & of course I never flew the TSR 2. (nor do I know anyone who did). Also, I am no Aero Eng or TP but I reckon I'm a good judge of "horse flesh", and the old adage that "if it looks good it flies good" is true more often than not. Based on this and an up close and personal inspection of the airframe at Duxford Air Museum I feel confident in saying that the TSR2 was/would have been a total frickin' dog!!.

For a tactical/interdiction strike aircraft this thing was ENORMOUS...
* with a hideous slab sided rectangular fuselage and the smallest freakin' wing area for an aircraft of its size I have ever seen!!
* For its size (about 20% larger than a Pig) its internal weapons bay (an overly complex arrangement if ever there was one) was quite small.
* The tiny wings probably resulted in a wing loading higher than that of an F-104 (and we all know how well that turns!) and were clearly incapable of carrying large external stores, IF anything at all.
* Landing Gear?? I think you could have completed a Rubik's cube before the complex arrangement would have retracted.
*The Olympus engines, impressively large and powerful as they were, would have chewed through the juice like a fat chick with a Maccas shake and
any substantial fuel reserves (which I don't think it had) would have been for nought.

Anyway, the TSR2 is dead... Long live the TSR2!!:p

30th Jul 2008, 08:30
I understand you are a fan of the pig (as most pilots who flew her are it seems) but let not get carried away.
From memory the F111 had more initial problems than the TSR2, and took longer to get off the ground. So while it is/was a very capable aircraft, the TSR2 may well have been also. Many of the components of the TSR2 have gone on to be very successful in other aircraft or other technologies (ISTR that the F111 used many of the systems the TSR2 would have, i.e. terrain following radar).
IMHO the F111 succeeded, due to a proactive U.S. government, while the TSR2 failed due to lacklustre and spineless British ones.
If the TSR2 had gone on to have a long and useful career we will never know. We do know it was MUCH faster than an F111 (useful if being chased by a Mig 21 at the time). It is also VERY apparent that no matter how good the F111 may have been, it never became an export success, and was hardly a NATO standard, such as the F4, F16 etc. Even the Lighting had a better market in sales!

Anyway rant over:E

Like most Brits, my venom is not directed at anyone outside of the British government of the day.

Booger, I envy you in having flown an aircraft, someone had the Bo**ocks to fund in the first place.


30th Jul 2008, 10:08
Booger, ignoring most of your post which is of no substance and skipping to the last para - the TSR2 wing is substantially larger than that of a Tornado, and stores trials were going to be carried out on the 3rd airframe (I think - the one at Cosford anyway). You can still see the pylon mount points on it and I've seen pylons and bombs and tanks hung under a mockup in a couple of books now. Don't let the wing's size in comparison to the airframe mislead you into thinking that is a small wing. Sure it's highly loaded, it was meant to be for a good solid ride down low.

30th Jul 2008, 11:27
The problem with the initial TSR2 engines was a tendency to explode at maximum power. (A fact known to the pilot when carrying out the first take-off). This was caused by a cooling airflow on the HP turbine setting up a vibration causing catastrophic faliure. The problem was sorted however and a development of the engine was used in the Concorde.

Doctor Cruces
30th Jul 2008, 11:52
Saw it flying as we were passing Warton one day when I was but a lad, beautiful.

I've got "Murder..." up in the loft, best I get it down and treat it a bit better!!!

Doc C


Roland Pulfrew
30th Jul 2008, 12:59

Never let the truth get in the way of a good rumour.....

The tiny wings probably resulted in a wing loading higher than that of an F-104 and were clearly incapable of carrying large external stores, IF anything at all.

Total internal fuel capacity was 5588 gallons. Extra fuel was available in the form of 450 gallon under-wing drop tanks, a 570 gallon tank in the weapons bay and a jettisonable ventral tank holding 1000 gallons under the fuselage. Production aircraft would have had an in-flight refuelling capability. (From Target Lock)

I will leave you to do the maths as to how many lbs/kgs that is?

What was the F111's internal + external fuel capacity? 7400 gallons-ish? US gallons??

with a hideous slab sided rectangular fuselage

Of course the F111 is a paragon of stealth, isn't it?

For its size its internal weapons bay (an overly complex arrangement if ever there was one) was quite small

TSR 2 Weapons Bay (http://groups.msn.com/TSR-2researchgroup/bactsr2weaponsampsystems.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=835)

F111 Weapons Bay (http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com/AWA1/201-300/walk217_F-111/images_Everett_McEwan/F-111_01_bomb_bay_from_back_looking-forward.JPG)

Looks narrower but deeper to me.

Double Zero
30th Jul 2008, 14:11

With respect I hardly think the F-111 used any TFR developed for the TSR2 !

I also am intrigued by the latter's capability to carry anything on the wings, not just for their relatively tiny size & high loading, also for aerodynamic effect - carrying & releasing / firing tanks or as might have come along, Sidewinders cleanly seems interesting.

As for the wings being 'larger than a Tornado' well I should certainly hope so, as the thing's several factors the size & weight ( & Tornado's don't exactly worry F-16's ).

No-one's answered my query as to what the TSR2 would have been like at altitude (the obvious guess being 'bloody useless' ) which as the Tornado found out is where to be if having any desire to return relatively safely.

Even if the thing was a go-er, we would now - and ideally long since - be arguing about it's replacement - not Tornado, with similar defects to an extent, as inflicted by committee.

Much more likely increasingly stealthy & intelligent cruise missiles & possibly UCAV's - I will never say Duncan Sandys was ahead of his time, he was just a misguided prat - but hey presto, we're in the 21st century.

And on the ' if it looks right it is right' scale, - Yes, it was ugly.

30th Jul 2008, 14:36
Had the project gone ahead.

What would have been the in-service date? And would we still have them now?

Ewan Whosearmy
30th Jul 2008, 14:37

I don't think that the F-111 would ever have any difficulties out running a MiG-21. A MiG-23, yes, but not a Fishbed. Also, the APQ-110 TFR was built by Texas Instruments specifically for the F-111, not the TSR.2.

You were correct that the F-111 was troubled (to say the least) in its early days, and the F-111C that the Aussies bought took 5 years to be delivered from the time it was ordered.

Double Zero
30th Jul 2008, 16:02

Are you sure you got the MIG -21 & 23 the right way round ? Or is this a low-level thing...

One interesting little idea has just sprung to mind; what use would the TSR2 have been on long range trips to the Falklands a la Black Buck ?

I'm no particular Vulcan fan, though every bit of me applauds the efforts of the team who've got her back airborne, - I can guess, but I'll leave you worthy gents to discuss.

Incidentally, someone working on a grounded Concorde ( at Brooklands I think ) found structural evidence of a half-plan to fit hard points, presumably for 'Skybolt' etc of the time as a plan B -it's nice to know someone somewhere has a little forethought, though maybe not the knowledge of weapons carriage / separation / firing trials, let alone a guidance system !

Have a nasty feeling things were along the A-12 mode / ( later SR71 ) - chuck a Hughes nuke warhead among the incoming reds !

Ewan Whosearmy
30th Jul 2008, 20:52

I was thinking in the low-level environment.

Guys I have talked to who flew MiG-21s and MiG-23s during CONSTANT PEG in the 1980s say that while the MiG-21F-13 could initially out-accelerate most types in a drag race, it would soon be left behind by the likes of the F-16, F-15, F/A-18 etc. As for the MiG-23BN/MS, they claimed it was untouchable in terms of raw speed and acceleration.

The fastest Blue Air type at the time was the F-model F-111 with the TF30-P100 motors, and the Flogger easily out accelerated them and had a higher top end speed.

One guy told me that he's had more than 850 knots from a Flogger on the deck, and that it had still been accelerating when he realised his speed and promptly raised the nose and simultaneously throttled back. This incident occurred when he had been making a stern conversion on two F-111s under GCI control; he'd started five miles behind them, but was seven miles in front of them by the time he popped back up for GCI to give him a new vector!

30th Jul 2008, 21:27


Seriously... You're right that the TSR2 was very early in development when it was chopped. It's probably fair to guess that the avionics would have given at least as much trouble as they did on the F-111, which didn't really work properly until they got to the F-111E, but the UK would never have had the luxury of building lots of As and Ds.

Otherwise - from an aeropropulsion viewpoint the TSR2 was a way to meet an F-111-like requirement without swing wings or augmented turbofans. The result was a bigger aircraft, but I had never thought of it as a bad design. It had its flaws but so did the F-111. (You see a lot of airplanes around with dual exhaust ejectors and quarter-cone underwing inlets, don't you?) The wing was not optimized for high altitude but the idea was that there was enough dry thrust (the weak point of the Tonka) to push the airplane along and enough fuel to keep the engines running.

The Upright Man
30th Jul 2008, 22:24
I heard that Wilson went to the Americans to borrow money as we were in so much debt and they would let us have some as long as we cancelled Concorde. He agreed, but when he got back and tried to tell the French they refused to let us scrap concorde, so Wilson went back to the Americans and offered to scrap TSR-2 instead and buy F-111s. The Americans liked that idea so gave us the money, hence no TSR-2.

The F-111s had just gone operational in Vietnam and lost quite a few in the first few weeks, so the RAF said no we don't want that pile of rubbish, and the very nice lads in the navy suggested the Bucc.

And so history was rewritten!!:)

30th Jul 2008, 23:15
In my above post I was trying (and seemingly failing) to point out that the theoretical (according to Booger) capabilities for the TSR2 were the same kind of things the Americans strived to put into the F111. Obviously the systems were totally different, but the point was supposed to be that it seems a bit silly to slander the TSR2 in comparison to the F111 when both aircraft were not too dissimilar in concept.
Also I never once stated that an F111 could not outrun a Mig21, but merely suggested that the TSR2 could do it easier. After all, many of us have seen the TSR2 totally outrun (on film or video) a Lightning with only one afterburner lit. ISTR it was Jimmy Dell in the Lightning at the time (but it is very late, and I'm far too tired to be sure)


31st Jul 2008, 03:25
Roland Pulfrew - I would just like to take the time to say that is a superb moniker. Now, enough mutual masturbation - allow me to retort!!

Fuel: Thanks to my "Seppofication", I've never been good with IMP Gallons and litres et al. All I know is the Piggy would carry 32,000lbs internally (~14,500kgs??) and a sh!t tin more under the wings. Suffice to say in order to minimise the 'rhhoids we hardly EVER carried external fuel. Combine that fuel load with the TF30 turbofan optomised for LL (as opposed to the undoubtedly higher SFCing turbojet for the Olympus) meant the Piggy had a darn fine range/payload combo.

Weapons bays: as per my original quote, I said "for its size" the TSR2 had a "relatively small" weapons bay. I've stood in both (slipped under the rope at Duxford - naughty naughty!!) and I stand by my comment. I guesstimate the TSR2 is about 20% larger than the Pig overall, but its weapon bay is comparable in volume.

"Hideous slab-sided fuselage": It's true, the TSR2 DOES have a hideous slab-sided fuselage!! But I digress, the point of this comment was not an observation on either aircraft's LO qualities (no pun intended). Let's face it, apart from the SR71, LO wasn't high on aircraft designer's list of priorities in the 50s/60s. The point I was trying to make was meant to be aerodynamic - with wings fully swept for super flight, the Pig lost about about 25% of it's wing surface area (into the underwing fairing). But here's the kicker, supersonic, the Pig developed around 80% of its lift from the ogival, semi-blended fuselage! Now THAT's aerody efficiency for you. No such chance on the TSR2 with that fuselage/wing combo that looks like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

Now lets not bicker about whose aircraft is better that whose... It's all for nought. Lets just accept that the TSR2 COULD have been the greatest aircraft that ever graced the face of the planet, but that it WASN'T!:ok:

31st Jul 2008, 16:52
Stacker, the only reason a Lightning couldn't keep up with any bomber would be that he had one engine shut down to save fuel!! Other than that, no contest.

India Four Two
31st Jul 2008, 19:56
I thought I knew quite a bit about the TSR-2, including hearing Bee Beamont give speech at a UAS Annual Dinner, but it was only after viewing the movie, that I noticed that it had an all-moving fin. Is there any other aircraft that had this feature?

1st Aug 2008, 04:44
I believe the RA5C Vigilante had this feature from memory ? Probably not. This aircraft seems to have been forgotten yet seems to have similarities to TSR2.

I wonder if the RA5C design influenced the TSR2 in any way ? RA5C slightly older design of course. In many ways both aircraft have a similar configuration (slab sided, twin reheat engines), fuse length and mission profile (well originally for the A5 - ultra low level, high speed, nuke delivery). As a recce aircraft of course if was very successful in Vietnam.

A cursery glimpse at the performance stats also indicate a similarity. Food for thought.
What do you guys think ?

Interestingly I read that a few were shot down at low level by "lead clouds" - maybeTSR2 ultimately could have ended up in a similar recce or medium level bomb delivery role if introduced ? A5 appears to have been more manoubreable with its larger wing.

Love the TSR2 footage - looks very predatory with the wing tip anhedral and flat top - "Peregrine" seems appropriate as a name. Awesome looking aircraft - wondered if the nose cone would have been modified in service - ala Harrier Gr3 ??

1st Aug 2008, 12:00
I42 - I was idly looking through the 'directory of british aircraft' site and noticed this pic of XR220 at Cosford, regarding the all-moving fin:


Specifically, it appears to have moved to a completely different location altogether...

11th Aug 2008, 23:00
Hello chaps,

Have a look at this 'what if' vid on youtube.

YouTube - Tsr.2 || what it was...and what it could have been || (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQTXwKZvza8&feature=related)

If only eh?

17th Aug 2008, 20:32
How good was the TSR2?

Read the test pilots' comments

The Beamont Files (http://www.airsceneuk.org.uk/oldstuff/2005/bee/bee.htm)

about 3/4 down the webpage (the rest is a good read)

22nd Aug 2008, 00:44
Here's the main thing with TSR.2

It may or may not have been a cracking warfightin' aeroplane!
So if we'd had a war,thenit might have had a chance to perform it's only duty, killing our enemy.

No such war occurred.

So either our leaders were thickies- and should have ordered buckets of the things- which would have done NO GOOD AT ALL- as war was avoided

Or (heaven forbid) they reckoned the war wasn't coming, so just bought a load of F-4 on the cheap.

At least it flew:ok:

And frankly, by now, they'd all be on the scrapheap anyway!

phil gollin
11th Oct 2008, 10:40
There is a discussion regarding the TSR.2 and some design decisions here :-

TSR-2 - Tanknet.org (


24th Oct 2008, 19:36
TSR-2 - Tanknet.org ( link not working :(

So if we'd had a war,then it might have had a chance to perform it's only duty, killing our enemy.

Err, no. Deterrence was/is the main duty. On the scrapheap? Why? Is the B52 on the scrapheap. If the thing could trundle away from a Lightning then it was probably quite good.

12th Jan 2009, 18:41
Have your say,

Vote and pass it on!

Petition to: Resurrect the TSR2 Strike Bomber. | Number10.gov.uk (http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ResurrecTSR2/)

Tim McLelland
13th Jan 2009, 10:15
Can we start one to resurrect the Varsity too please, while you're at it?

13th Jan 2009, 13:06
Much a I think that the TSR2 was a beautiful (in an ugly sort of way) aircraft, it was designed in the sixties. I do not think that you could just do a "quick" update of the systems to bring it into the modern world. You would really have to start from scratch and I can see too many problems. There is also the problem of who would build it. In the sixties we still had a manufacturing base, today we do not.

I also disagree with Tim McLelland, bring back the Sunderland, not the Varsity.

14th Jan 2009, 01:24
I once had the great pleasure of sitting in the TSR2 currently at the aerospace museum at Cosford. The rear cockpit was extremely roomy (even though there was no forward visibility) and the front had a fantastic amount of forward vision. I remember sitting there thinking "With the sort of avionics we have today it would be easy to really make something of this airframe" Unfortunately withthe paperwork required it would take 10 years just to get it ready to fly! I've signed the petition, and would lvoe to see it fly again.

16th Jan 2009, 20:48
I suppose it's natural to dismiss references to the political beliefs of the people who made up the Labour Government at the time the TSR2 was scrapped.
Unfortunately for those who scoff at the talk of political sabotage, the break up of the USSR opened up access to information which indicates that there were Soviet agents and sympathisers in the Labour Party at that time.
What other country in the West would have had a former card-carrying Communist in charge of its Defences? The same Denis Healey who claimed he left the Party in 1939 became Secretary of State for Defence in 1964 and stayed in that job for six long years until Labour lost the 1972 election.
He was the longest serving Defence Minister ever and would normally have been promoted into a higher ministerial position.
Of course the Prime Minister at that time was Harold Wilson who has been directly accused of being a Soviet agent by defecting KGB officers.
It was Harold Wilson who, it is claimed, ordered the destruction of jigs, tools, blueprints etc so that any incoming Tory government could never restart the TSR2 programme.
So, how successful was Denis Healey during those six years?
Dunno, but I'll bet the Russians thought he did a great job!

17th Jan 2009, 10:54
It was Harold Wilson who, it is claimed, ordered the destruction of jigs, tools, blueprints etc so that any incoming Tory government could never restart the TSR2 programme.

Maybe it was, but your looking at the wrong side of the cold war fence for who leant on him.

Tim McLelland
17th Jan 2009, 10:55
Just in case anyone has been patiently waiting, the much-advertised Aerofax book on the TSR2 (by Joe Cherrie) will not be getting published. The various adverts on Amazon and the like are based on a dummy cover and I'm afraid that's all that actually exists of the book, so don't bother placing an order!

It has long since been abandoned and we're hoping to produce a replacement book (not an Aerofax title though). However, due to various circumstances, even this has been put on-hold for a while so I don't know when or if the book will finally appear (plus I'd have to write it first, doh!).

Incdentally, the notion that information on the TSR2 still exists is optimistic to say the least. In actual fact, virtually nothing seems to have survived. BAE Heritage have rescued some stuff but it amounts to no more than a few papers and brochures. I have copies of every photograph that was ever taken (save for about four pictures it seems; the total comes to about 300 images but most of these are construction shots) and a copy of the provisional Aircrew Manual, and that, alas, is just about all there is. No conspiracy theory here though, it's just that in time-honoured tradition, once the project was dumped, the manufacturer hadn't got the slightest interest in hanging-on to any of the material associated with it and most of it was simply binned.

As for the age-old stories of dark plots and political manoeuvrings, I'm afraid most of this is also fantasy. The truth of the matter seems to be pretty clear - the project was just hideously unaffordable, partly because the aircraft represented the beginnings of a new era when all such weapons systems are by their very nature monumentally expensive, but also because the project was seriously mis-managed, largely due to the company shake-up which resulted in two companies supposedly acting as one, but effectively conflicting or duplicating. When you mix-in the "Ministry" input, you see that the aircraft was simply a victim of circumstances - the right aircraft at the wrong time. You also have to accept that despite all the hype, the aircraft was never some all-powerful "superplane" and the F-111 would have done the same job just was well. In many respects, the Buccaneer was a perfectly acceptable replacement and it's a pity that this fact wasn't accepted a lot sooner than it was. But whatever might or might not have happened, the TSR2 would now be a Museum exhibit no matter what.

Sad business!

17th Jan 2009, 11:34
All very true Tim.

The tragic saga of the UK Aerospace industry fromthe late 1950s onwards is real story.

TSR2 was a notable victim of monumentally poor planning and project management. It was the icon it became because unlike most of the other cancelled projects, it had actually flown and there was some room for optimism. All the others were just drawings.

The financial state of the UK at the time meant we could not afford anything of any scale. Remember that Harold Wilson tried to pull out of the Concorde project, but the contractual terms were too tight for him to wriggle out of it.

I just wish I felt that governments had learned this lesson from history, but, sadly, they haven't.

You'll see in the Military section a regular item asking why the UK insist on 'UK-ising' any aircraft purchased from the US or elsewhere. The F4, C130, F-III were all made more expensive thanks to this policy.

Tim McLelland
17th Jan 2009, 12:48
Well as I'm sure you know, the "make it British" business is all to do with politics, on the basis that a purchase can be presented to the public as being somehow more acceptable if a significant proportion of the aircraft is British. Of course it's absolute folly, as the purchases would be either less expensive or more practical if they were simply "off the shelf" from the US... but try convincing a politician of that!

The Phantom was one of the best examples of how stupid the concept is. A waste of money putting British engines into an aircraft which performed just as well (better in some respects) with the standard US engines.

The poor old TSR2 was just unfortunate to come along at precisely the wrong time when the Government was running out of money, and thought that they could bully the various aerospace companies into merging, in the hope of saving cash. The result was that an aircraft which could have been easily produced by English Electric, became the victim of a never-ending series of committee decisions and inter-company squabbles, primarly because Vickers evidently thought that the project was essentially theirs - or at least that it should be. When you add that situation to the unavoidable cost of developing such a complex aircraft, the difficulty of relying on completely new and untried engines, and pressure from America to buy their product, then the aircraft was under attack from all angles and it's hardly surprising that it got chopped.

There's no real mystery to the saga at all - it was just a classic case of gross mismanagement. The notion that there was some dark motive behind the hasty destruction of the TSR2 jigs and surviving airframes doesn't bear scrutiny either. Obviously, once a project is abandoned, then everything associated with the aircraft is dumped. It seems entirely reasonable that Warton and Weybridge would clear everything away when they had other projects which needed the space (for example, Warton had to shift some parts of the Lightning programme in order to make space for TSR2). Likewise, the notion of using the two flyable TSR2's on test duties was considered and it was only the cost of doing it which seems to have discouraged the Government from going ahead. It's easy to say that there was some dark plot to destroy everything either to keep America happy or to spitefully ensure that an incoming Tory government couldn't resurrect the project but in reality, America probably didn't care about TSR2 that much, and no incoming government would have seriously considered re-starting the programme in any case.

Ultimately, the TSR2 saga has suffered from the "Elvis Presley Syndrome" with all kinds of myths being attached to it because it was cut-short at just the moment when it started to show some promise. It's easy to speculate on what might have been when there's no chance of ever finding-out! Being dead is always a great career move!

17th Jan 2009, 17:48
Obviously, once a project is abandoned, then everything associated with the aircraft is dumped.

There is a difference between dumping and the complete destruction of everything involved in the project. :ugh:

Why waste time and money cutting and burning things that could just be left in a pile?

Tim McLelland
17th Jan 2009, 19:10
Well I think we can guess why that would be - after all the controversy surrounding the project at the time, I doubt if anyone had the appetite for leaving anything laying-about. Besides, I guess it depends on what u mean by "complete destruction" - all that happened was that the jigs were dismantled and the wooden mock-up burnt - the partically completed airframes were sold for scrap and the the rest is history. There's nothing suspicious about it really, it's just that so many people have tried to paint it that way.

18th Jan 2009, 18:00
I'm with ZH875, the jigs wern't just dismantled, they wewe cut up in pieces with torches.
Is there much difference between what we do (did) to bought in aircraft and what we now sell abroad, like the Jag or Hawk to India. Offsets as they call them now are a necessity. I remember when I started my apprenticeship the training school was next to the Phantom rear fuse assemly line, so I didn't consider it a 'foreign' aircraft.

18th Jan 2009, 18:45
If the cancellation was not political, why were we instructed to cut up all tools immediately.
That prevented any resurrection. I was working at a subcontractor at the time.

John Farley
18th Jan 2009, 19:11
I believe there was a common denominator to the TSR2, AW681, P1154 and Fairy Rotodyne cancellations and that is the industry was out of control contractually as it was wedded to cost plus contracts (which were never going to make designers stop and think before they cracked on with some pet notion).

From my point of view I believe all these four projects were technically flawed although I do accept that the Government did not cancel them because of that.

TSR2 not enough wing, AW681 a VL transport just to take a P1154 engine into a field (why not a chopper?), P1154 silly exhaust gas temperatures and velocities preventing any operating site flexibility (to say nothing of immersing the fuselage and tail in said exhaust in conventional flight) while the Rotodyne was 'designed' to operate from a city centre (Hyde Park Corner and the Champs-Elysées) using a rotor driven by tip jets.

IMHO cost plus had a lot to answer for.

Tim McLelland
18th Jan 2009, 19:16
As I said in my last post, I guess it's all down to how you choose to perceive such things. I accept that the story has gone-around for decades that BAC were "instructed to destroy" everything but like so many of these stories, there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support it. It seems entirely reasonable that BAC would want everything cut-up, burned and cleared-out as soon as the project was scrubbed because they had other programmes that needed the space and manpower. I guess the way to look at it is to reverse the situation and ask why they wouldn't want to do that? What advantage would there be in hanging-on to what was effectively a pile of junk?

Like I said before, I think this story is based on the premise that there was either political (and financial) pressure from the US to get-rid of the aircraft. It's a good theory but there's no evidence to support it. Let's be realistic - no matter how many "dark deals" might have been struck, it would be stretching credibility to suggest that the US had enough influence to force a foreign government/manufacturer into destroying every bit of a project just because they thought it might be some sort of commercial threat to the F-111. Besides, if that situation was in any way likely, then how come this only applied to the TSR2 and not other aircraft too? It just doesn't add up.

Likewise, the only other possible explanation would be if the Government wanted to ensure that any incoming Tory government couldn't resurrect the project. But again, there doesn't seem to be a shred of evidence that this was ever going to be a possibility. What government would want to re-start a hideously over-expensive project which had already caused so much embarrassment? Again, it just seems like a non-starter and there's never been so much as a mutter to suggest that the Conservatives had even entertained the idea.

I know it's a symptom of human nature to enjoy fantasies of dark political wranglings (heaven knows there are plenty of 'em!) but the more you look at this saga with a clear head, you have to conclude that all the conspiracy theories are simply down to gossip and sensationalism. The TSR2 was a brilliant piece of technology and engineering but it would be wrong to make the aircraft into something it wasn't. It showed great promise but it was just too expensive, thanks to the way in which it was created and managed. Ultimately, there doesn't seem to be any logical reason to suppose that it wasn't dumped because of that very fact. The other stories sound great but like so many stories, the truth was probably much more mundane.

Okay, I'm willing to be convinced otherwise but as I've said before - where is the evidence? It's a bit like the M.52 thread I've been following on here and the Flypast forum - the same stories of political conspiracies and destruction of jigs, transfers of data and so on, but no evidence to support it, indeed one former Miles man insists that it's just not true. And yet the stories continue, with even the great Eric Brown planning to write a book on the subject, perpetuating the same myths (although I hear there are efforts being made to ensure that he doesn't fall into this trap!).

Frankly, I'd be quite happy if the TSR2 saga did contain some dark conspiracy as it would make my job as a writer more interesting, but what should I do? Simply re-trace the same comments made by everyone else over so many years, without stopping to ask on what basis these comments have been made? It's pointless to write "facts" on the basis that they've merely been written before, and even worse to base "facts" on what seems to be mostly personal opinion and gossip.

I fear the TSR2 saga will never be resolved one way or the other, but my own view is that it is better to re-tell the story as it was, without any need for conspiracies. The simple story of how a brilliant design can fall victim to the people who manage it is enough in itself don't you think?!

PS, just noticed the post above from the great JF - I'm firmly with his view there!

Kieron Kirk
18th Jan 2009, 20:36
Freedom of Information in the USA has finally revealed the truth behind the cancellation of the Avro Arrow- yes "pressure" from the Eisenhower administration, plus the "excuse" by the Canadian PM, Diefenbaker, that the project was too expensive.
Remembering the enormous political row in 1965, my guess is possible de-classification of documents after 50 years, a variation of the 30 year rule, in 2015 or total silence!
Stranger things have happened.
Why was the crash report following the death of Harry Hawker kept secret for 50 years?


I do not subscribe to various conspiracy theories, it was a badly managed project, as much the fault of BAC as the brain dead Air Marshalls who concocted the ridiculous specification in the first place.

Tim McLelland
18th Jan 2009, 22:22
Well I know nothing about the Arrow project but I'd be inclined to think that maybe the same comments apply? Okay, if information has become available through FoI then that's one thing, but precisely what information and where? Are you talking about direct transcripts or someone's report? I say that because this is often the problem with such stories - they sound like facts but when you trace them back you find that you reach a dead-end. There's a big difference between finding conclusive "conspiracy" dealings through FoI for yourself, and reading about such material having been found - inevitably, in the latter case, you find that when you check, the original source of the information doesn't actually say what people claim it said.

It's okay though - I don't want to start a thread about the Arrow, I'm sure you know what I'm getting-at - just the general principle of how these stories often develop.:)

I'm at risk of going-off at a tangent here, but one classic example I'm currently looking at (for my Lightning book) is the infamous story of how a USAF exchange officer supposedly chased a UFO. When you look into it, all the reports and information are complete nonsense but they keep getting repeated as if they're factual. The only thing that comes close to "fact" is the transcript of the R/T conversation which the BBC has published on their web site, and when you read through that you see that absolutely nothing unusual is reported and even the transcript looks a little suspect in parts! I guess it's a manifestation of the way in which the internet allows a simple piece of information to grow and develop until it bears no relation to the original point!

18th Jan 2009, 22:44
I'm looking for information about the main U/C retract mechanics. Certainly it was a relatively complex operation looking at the size of the main bogies and the space available.
Ideally it would be great to get hold of some video where the U/C was actually retracted but seems unlikely to exist?

Did you find what you were looking for, here (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=A5hI8LxvOx8) is a TSR-2 video showing the U/C retracting at around 0.50 into it.

18th Jan 2009, 23:35
it would be stretching credibility to suggest that the US had enough influence to force a foreign government/manufacturer into destroying every bit of a project just because they thought it might be some sort of commercial threat to the F-111

What if that foreign government was almost bankrupt and was begging for a bail out?

19th Jan 2009, 02:04
Didn't the 'Cousins' force a cancellaton of the Israeli IAI Lavi fighter, even though they funded it, which was alledged to be a direct competitor to the F16 and a whole lot more capable?

Dr Jekyll
19th Jan 2009, 05:56
The only export customer for the F111 was Australia, who originally wanted the TSR2 but switched because they realised it was going to be cancelled. Then when it was cancelled the RAF ordered F111, only cancelling that at a very late stage. So the TSR2 certainly could be considered a threat to the F111. In hindsight perhaps they should have been the same aircraft.

Tim McLelland
19th Jan 2009, 08:35
Well in short:-

What if that foreign government was almost bankrupt and was begging for a bail out?
Lord Healey was asked about this and he insists that the two things are not connected. I'm inclined to agree with him as the saga is history now and Healey is an old man - he has no motive to tell fibs about it any longer.

wanted the TSR2 but switched because they realised it was going to be cancelled

Not true - the Australian Public Records Office holds the original documents exchanged between the Prime Ministers and the simple fact was that Australia chose F-111 because they were offered a better deal.

19th Jan 2009, 09:26
Seems the most natural course of action of any to me that the makers of a new, advanced piece of defence equipment were asked to destroy everything associated with it when it was cancelled.

The alternative would have been to keep all jigs, models, blueprints etc etc under secure, guarded, audited conditions, indefinitely. Remember this was a time when the airliners from the East looked (un)surprisingly similar to their Western counterparts.

Shame, but no conspiracy, just plain good economic sense (unless you are an aviation enthusiast!).

And don't forget, the US are quite happy to assimilate other people's hardware if it's better than their own (Canberra, Harrier). Much easier than putting pressure on an Ally to dump a project (giving a left wing govt perfect anti-US PR at the same time...)

Imagine how good the Tornado would have seemed now if they'd cancelled that at a late stage....

Tim McLelland
19th Jan 2009, 13:49
Actually that's another point you have there that I hadn't even considered - if the TSR2 design was that great, you would indeed think that the US would have either pursued it themselves, or come-up with something remarkably similar. As it was, it seems that they were happy enough using another "borrowed" British concept - the swing wing!

Dr Jekyll
19th Jan 2009, 17:05
You could equally argue that the F111 can't have been any good or BAC would have copied it. The two were designed in parallel so neither could have copied the other. At the time the US still hoped to operate the F111 from carriers, and the TSR2 designers rejected VG on the basis that not enough research had been done. Apparently not being impressed with (or even fully aware of) what Vickers had done.

Tim McLelland
19th Jan 2009, 22:33
Well, I don't suppose there would be any appetite for copying the F-111 - we simply bought it instead!:)

20th Jan 2009, 13:40
...as the US did with those truly groundbreaking a/c, the Canberra and Harrier - ie no need to copy/sabotage/pressurise. If the TSR2 was really that good, that's what they'd have done.

As someone said, dying is the best career move a rock star can make....

Dr Jekyll
20th Jan 2009, 16:31
By that line of argument the Starfighter must have been vastly better than the Lighting, and the Lancaster and Hunter should obviously have been cancelled as soon as they had flown.

There is a wide range of possibilities in between "so brilliant and innovative the US buy it even though they didn't invent it" and "so bad it should never be out into service."