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The RAF had no nukes until the Early '60s

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The RAF had no nukes until the Early '60s

Old 14th Aug 2010, 09:35
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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GEORGE F. KENNAN
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That's an interesting dispatch by Kennan but I suspect by 1952 his thoughts mattered little, the damage was already done by his famous telegram of 1946?

Howard Evans described him as "a victim of Murphy's law of diplomacy: that ambiguous passages will always be read upside down". Kennan spent years trying to undo the misinterpretations.

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Old 14th Aug 2010, 12:24
  #42 (permalink)  

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RIHoward

Knowing nothing about the topic I much enjoyed following this thread and the chat between yourself and others.

THEN I got to your post that said

One fascinating one for me is the production of a swept wing which requires massive dynamic matrix calculations that involve infinite series at the tips and root, a huge calculation. It was only with the advent of digital computers and finite element modelling that this technology could be realised in the West.
Because I happen to know a little about the history and practice of swept wing deign in the 1950s I just burst out laughing. Somebody has been pulling your leg I am afraid.
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Old 14th Aug 2010, 15:09
  #43 (permalink)  
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There is nothing new in what you say about the Soviets not wanting to fight another war in 1945. Still, that didn't stop them blockading Berlin in 1948 - and that came perilously to a shooting match at times.

Quoting from Keenan and the like is pointless. Most wars start from two causes: a pre-existing tension [such as France Germany in the 1900s] and an accidental trigger - in that case, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

Thus in the Cold War: the pre-existing tension, and some one doing something stupid at Checkpoint Charlie.

As for defence costs which you go on about - most of that was spent garrisoning Germany and the Empire, very little on the Cold War. Macmillan was aware of the costs - which is why he used nuclear weapons as an excuse to abolish National Service.

Now let's have some concrete, primary, evidence for the RAF not having nukes before the 1960s - not airy speculation.
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Old 14th Aug 2010, 15:33
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UK's Nuclear Arsenal 1953 - 1970

Richard I really cannot make up my mind up about you, whether you are a wind up merchant or what! I am not too sure where you get your mis-information from, but I think that you ought to revise your sources!

UK's Nuclear Warhead Arsenal 1953 to 1970

Weapon/warhead.....Qty..Operational dates

Blue Danube................20........ '53 to '62
Red Beard...................80 [RAF] '61 to '71
Red Beard...................30 [RN] '61 to '71
*Violet Club..................5.........'58 to '59
Yellow Sun Mk1............10.........'58 to '61
**Yellow Sun Mk2........150........'61 to '72
Blue Steel....................50.........'62 to '70
***Thor IRBM...............60........'58 to '63

*VC. These 5 warheads were dismantled to provide materials for the YS Mk1's.

**YS Mk2. This was a British re-engineered version of an American design.

***Thor. This was NOT an ICBM, it was an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, and an all American weapon. Deployed as a stop gap device untill the completion of the Blue Streak missile. It was armed with a W49 warhead, carried in a Mk2 re-entry vehicle. The warhead had a yield of approx: 1.72 to 2 Mt. Though in use by the RAF and deployed to specialy prepared RAF Stations, the two man principal was maintained at all times by a dual nationality two key launch control sysytem. NO LAUNCH could be executed solely on US or RAF commands, it had to be a joint decision and execution, as both launch keys had to be operated simaltaneously!
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Old 14th Aug 2010, 15:50
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Richard, once again you show your ignorance of security matters and the fact that at THAT time, all servicemen involved in the handling or coming into contact with such weapons, were subject to the Official Secrets Act. They were reminded of this regularly during their monthly security briefings. The following would have been the stock reply to ANY query regarding nuclear weapons!

1. Given that one ex Air crew when asked if there were any bombs in the RAF pre '62 replied Only iron ones.

Had this individual replied any differently, doubtless he would have been taken to task and been interviewed and reprimanded by his CO had the matter been made public. I have on many occasions in my time replied in a similar vein.
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Old 15th Aug 2010, 14:18
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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RAF Nukes

Being employed by a contractor developing carriage equipment for "special" weapons in the 60s, I was obviously interested that they might be used.
I do not think the USSR seriously considered an all out attack, but I would not have ruled out expansion into western Europe. Would the USA have authorised a nuclear strike on Moscow if the Soviets had walked into Vienna or Helsinki or even Munich, and threatened full scale retaliation if attacked ?
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Old 15th Aug 2010, 14:33
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@ Exnomad

Surely the whole purpose of NATO was then summed up in: "An attack on one is an attack on all".
That phrase might in fact have been "pour décourager les autres" across the Iron Curtain rather than a definitive statement for all time of US policy, but the important thing was that at critical times "les autres" were discouraged enough not to go further.
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Old 15th Aug 2010, 19:32
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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I guess the basic point here is that the whole story is based on stuff casually written in a book! Surely, even if one chooses to ignore the very obvious facts of history and pursue some bizarre "conspiracy theory" we all know that just because someone writes something in a book, it doesn't necessarily mean it's true! Book shops are packed full of books revealing dark conspiracies and they're all complete claptrap - they make good reading though.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 00:27
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Depends on the book. I don't think anyone who has read US Nuclear Weapons by Chuck Hansen or visited Amarillo could ever believe that the US did not build tens of thousands of nuclear devices or had no intention to use them if provoked.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 13:25
  #50 (permalink)  
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@brai

In my last post which you either have not read or failed to understand. there were at least 5 quotes from 'original sources' 3 CIA documents a dispatch from the US Ambassador in Moscow and a memo from Macmillan to Eden from your beloved TNA.

I'd suggest you read Professor Margret Gowing's (an eminent Historian) 2 Volume official history of the British nuclear arms effort. She spent a lot of hours going through the records so we don't have to.

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@Hipper
Hi Michael

Just to say we've found Simon Wickham he came to the 50 year Memorial Service as did Lynda F/l Lt Ireson's daughter, so we had representatives from four of the families there, which was nice!.

The first statement comes from an e-mail exchange with Stirling University's emeritus professor of History, George Peden. Here is what he said about this in full.

Treasury officials are always looking for arguments to curb expenditure. For example, in 1953 the head of the Treasury's division dealing with defence expenditure drew attention to the fact that there was no prospect of enough atomic bombs being produced by 1958 for the 240 V-bombers that the Air Ministry planned to have in service by that date 'even on the assumption that no atom bomber ever returns'.
My interpretation was that there would be 'no bombs' for the aircraft that the Treasury wanted scrapping.

The second statement comes from a chap I met who was in the RAF at this time.
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@Noyade

George F Kennan's assessment of the Soviet threat was accurate and that's the point really. It was the Lobby power of the Industrial Military Complex made sure he wasn't heard by policy makers. His assessment is confirmed in many other sources including brai's favourite 'primary sources' from the CIA.

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@John Farley

Hi John then you might know this paper by Hemp 1950?

"On the Application of Oblique Co-Ordinates to Problems of Plane Elasticity and Swept-back Wing Structures" (ARC R&M 2754) - Hemp (1950)

I've also had some e-mail exchanges with Albert Kitchenside who studied under Argyris the inventor of finite element modelling techniques.

So maybe Hemp and Kitchenside were 'pulling my leg'. Have you got a better explanation of why Russian wing designs were more advanced than the UK's 'delta' and 'crescent' compromises?

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CNH

The point I'm trying to establish is that the Soviet Threat was exaggerated in the media of the time. The public were being told that there was a real and prescient threat of a global nuclear conflict and that the Soviets would be the ones to start it. This was a total deceit.

Keenans view was the realists view, and this is confirmed in other sources such as the CIA (primrary sources) documents I have quoted, you're paying too much attention to the messenger and not the message.

The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand was an Intel Op funded by the UK and Russia! (Ha! more 'conspiracy' for you, BTW this is not a WW1 thread)

My point about no nukes pre the Yanks coming in is more or less confirmed by Valiant XD818's post and my previous posts and in Margret Gowings work, the nukes the RAF had numbered less that 25 and they were all lab built and the Yellow Sun 1's were not very safe (Heath Robinson is too kind!), at that time (pre '61-'62) then the reality of the UK's 'deterrent' was that it was more propaganda than substance.

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ValiantXD818

An armorer at Wittering in the '60's also present at the meeting said with a sheepish grin "Oh that's a secret"

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Exnomad
IMO the Cold war was about stopping the spread of Socialism. It's about stopping an Ideology and not material take over of territory. If you look through the history the USA set up more foreign bases and intervened in more countries that the Soviets in this time. The USA have killed by a conservative estimate 20 million people in the years since WW2.

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Jig Peter

The point is the historical record tends to suggest that 'les autres' had no intention of 'going further'

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Tiny Dr Tim

The 'casually written book' are actually BOOKS and original source material, These books were written by Professors of History at least one of whom is an 'Emeritus Professor' and another is the definitive official history of the UK nuclear efforts.

Tim you're showing a lot of ignorance some of it seemingly wilful, this smacks of what Bob Altemeyer describes as 'The Authoritarian Personality Type' first described by Adorno in the 1940's when he studied the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. No Offence!

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ColinB

The thread is about the British effort pre the Yanks intervening around '58

Last edited by RIHoward; 17th Aug 2010 at 20:48.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 13:35
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Given that one ex Air crew when asked if there were any bombs in the RAF pre '62 replied Only iron ones.
The statement comes from a chap I met who was in the RAF at this time.
Can't argue with that!
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 13:45
  #52 (permalink)  
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Taken together with ALL the other evidence this chaps statement rather confirms that the UK's 'deterrent' was propaganda not substance.

It's anecdotal evidence and should be seen as such.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 16:59
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ColinB
The thread is about the British effort pre the Yanks intervening around '58
I think it is about credibility and the use of suspect sources leading to irrational and bizarre conclusions.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 17:11
  #54 (permalink)  
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ColinB Can You Be More Specific?

Suspect Sources?

Irrational? Bizarre?

like for instance?
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 18:30
  #55 (permalink)  
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Quote:
Treasury officials are always looking for arguments to curb expenditure. For example, in 1953 the head of the Treasury's division dealing with defence expenditure drew attention to the fact that there was no prospect of enough atomic bombs being produced by 1958 for the 240 V-bombers that the Air Ministry planned to have in service by that date 'even on the assumption that no atom bomber ever returns'.
My interpretation was that there would be 'no bombs' for the aircraft that the Treasury wanted scrapping.
That would seem a very odd interpretation indeed. What the Treasury are saying is that there is no point having 240 V bombers unless you have 240 bombs - and no one is trying to claim that the UK had 240 bombs by 1958.

The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand was an Intel Op funded by the UK and Russia! (Ha! more 'conspiracy' for you, BTW this is not a WW1 thread)
Please tell us this is a joke.

It was the Lobby power of the Industrial Military Complex made sure he wasn't heard by policy makers.
Ah, more paranoia. Your evidence for this? Or is it just another assertion?

The public were being told that there was a real and prescient threat of a global nuclear conflict and that the Soviets would be the ones to start it.
You mean - as in Cuba in 1961?
Oh, and 'prescient' means 'knowledge of things before they exist or happen; foreknowledge; foresight'.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 18:57
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@CNH

That would seem a very odd interpretation indeed. What the Treasury are saying is that there is no point having 240 V bombers unless you have 240 bombs - and no one is trying to claim that the UK had 240 bombs by 1958.
Yes but the Treasury managed to virtually halve the numbers of V-bombers, this reflects the difficulty in producing bombs seen as they were hand made, luxury devices that eventually numbered around 25-30 by 1958, built by very expensive skilled engineers . I would expect that the MoD would object to having their bomber fleet reduced by such an extent, apart from the V-Bomber's conventional capability 25-30 Bombers wouldn't look like a credible deterrent, certainly not as a propaganda deterrent.

Joke?

The operation was paid for by a Serbian royal prince related to Victoria and the Tsar, make of that what you will, but the strategy of the Allies in WW1 was to utilise the nationalistic Slavs in order to destabilise the Balkans which made the Axis plans of building a railway from Berlin to Baghdad problematic. This is not a WW1 thread though!


More Paranoia?
No this was reported by various US Presidents and overtly referred to in Eisenhower's farewell Address on January 17th 1961.

Cuba 1961
Who actually had nuclear missiles stationed on foreign soil pointing at the 'home' territory of either of the protagonists?. Which of the two protagonists climbed down? Which of the protagonists actually used the threat of nuclear annihilation in that crisis?

Yes 'real' because that's how the media span the American intelligence assessments that the Soviets might be able to start a global war by 1967.
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Old 16th Aug 2010, 20:29
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this reflects the difficulty in producing bombs seen as they were hand made, luxury devices that eventually numbered around 25-30 by 1958
But ... surely you were saying the RAF had no nukes until the early 1960s, and now you're saying they had 25-30 in 1958. I'll agree that they were virtually handmade; why you describe them as 'luxury devices' I'm not quite sure.

Right - so the strategy in WWI was shaped by the desire to prevent the Berlin Baghdad railway ... ah well, by now you have so little credibility that it's difficult to lose any more.

overtly referred to in Eisenhower's farewell Address
As is well known. That doesn't mean that you can attribute anything and everything to the 'Military Industrial Complex'.

And as to the public being told the Soviets would start a nuclear war - the Russians were busy telling their people that the Americans would start a nuclear war. Both sides were equally paranoid. It was a very paranoid period.

But you do across as one of those people who think that the press/media/military can hoodwink and spin things to the general population, whereas you, who are more discerning, more intelligent, can see through the spin and the deception to the truth behind ...
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Old 17th Aug 2010, 05:13
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The purpose of the UK nuclear weapons

I only know what I picked up from the (good) newspapers at the time, but I always thought that the purpose of the independent deterrent was that if the USSR sent the tanks westward (unlikely by the 1960s, but profoundly believable from a Western European perspective in the 1940s and earlier 1950s), the UK would ensure US involvement by using nuclear weapons, thus escalating a conventional conflict in Western Europe into a global nuclear exchange. The USSR were, of course, supposed to know this, so they would be deterred from launching an attack. For these purposes, a few handmade, clumsy, luxury, unreliable nuclear weapons would be perfectly satisfactory. There is all the difference in the world between saying that the UK weapons were not enough by themselves to deter the USSR, and from the claim that "the RAF had no nukes until the Early '60s".
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Old 17th Aug 2010, 09:12
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You could go round in circles on this story forever. We know the realities of Britain's struggle to build a bomb, the over-estimation of Soviet capability, and so on. But so what? To suggest that there was some dark conspiracy to fool the British or US public is nonsense. If somebody wants to write a book suggesting otherwise then good look to them, but let's not confuse sensationalism and money-making with factual accounts.
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Old 17th Aug 2010, 10:09
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RIHoward

So maybe Hemp and Kitchenside were 'pulling my leg'.
Of course not.

What made me post was you saying:

One fascinating one for me is the production of a swept wing which requires massive dynamic matrix calculations that involve infinite series at the tips and root, a huge calculation. It was only with the advent of digital computers and finite element modelling that this technology could be realised in the West.
This (to me) implied that because of this (you felt) we could not make and fly successful swept wings in the 1950s. That is what made me laugh. Until the advanced mathematical tools became available the industry used a mixture of wind tunnel and flight experiments to measure (not calculate) what was going on with the aerodynamics and ground test rigs to measure (not calculate) the loads involved.

As to my reference to somebody pulling your leg I should clearly have added a few extra words:

‘Somebody has been pulling your leg I am afraid if you really believe that successful swept wings had to wait until comprehensive aerodynamic and structural mathematical approaches were available’
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