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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 11th Aug 2010, 12:34
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The RAF had no nukes until the Early '60s ?

Given that the first production run at Winscale lasted 35 days and produced 135 grams of fissile material and the fact that it takes 4.5 kilos to make a 'Fat Boy' Bomb, that means it would take 4 and a half years to make a single bomb. Given that the UK's fake 'H Bomb', 'Orange Herald' used virtually all the available fissile material in it's manufacture, i.e. a single device used up all the (edit) fissile material leaving none for any real bombs. Given that the treasury were trying to half the size of the V-Force because there were 'no bombs' to put in them. Given that one ex Air crew when asked if there were any bombs in the RAF pre '62 replied Only iron ones The UK's cold war effort was purely propaganda. There were no (or very few) bombs before the yanks stepped in in '62. Always courting controversy Yours etc...

Last edited by RIHoward; 17th Aug 2010 at 19:57.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 13:23
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When you say:
"The UK's cold war effort was purely propaganda."

You are aware the cold war ended a very long time after 1962 aren't you?

Plus, do I take it you mean the RAF 'V' force only, when you say UK?
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 13:49
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One obvious error: Orange Herald didn't contain any plutonium. It was entirely U235.

Just because the first run produced 135g doesn't mean that all runs produced 135g.

Also the PIPPAs start coming on line -1957?

And why does getting American designs suddenly result in a plethora of plutonium?
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 14:13
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Maybe the information came from the Ladybird Book of Slightly Confused RAF History, n'est ce-pas? Seem to recall it had a Violet cover and there was a special Club edition
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 14:24
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...and what were the Aldermaston marches all about?

Orange Herald was detonated during the Grapple series on 31 May 1957
Grapple X was our first Thermonuclear device, detonated five months later on 08 November 1957, giving a yield of 1.8 Megatons. Some bluff!

Last edited by Blacksheep; 11th Aug 2010 at 14:45.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 14:44
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Yup

Yes I'm aware that the cold war went on longer than the '60s and that I'm referring to the RAF when I say UK. Humphrey Wynn's official account has 5 'kits' for nuclear devices being delivered to BCDU Wittering no fissile material for those kits is recorded. ORB Records for RAF Wittering 59-60 show one flight per month with a 10,000 lb DB device (the size of a nuke). The flights lasted about 5 hours. The information about the quantities of material being made comes from the horses mouth as it were i.e. the engineers that ran the reactor at Winscale. The facts about the treasury come from a book by George Pedden emeritus professor of History at Stirling University, ``how do I break this text up into paragraphs?
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 14:48
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Bomber Command never flew live nuclear weapons (except during the tests). We did regularly load and fly inert weapons for training - the regular Exercise Mickey Finns for example - and several weighted casings were dropped for aerodynamic testing.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 15:28
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I believe the Navy flew real ones on occasion.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 15:31
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Originally Posted by Blacksheep View Post
Bomber Command never flew live nuclear weapons (except during the tests). We did regularly load and fly inert weapons for training - the regular Exercise Mickey Finns for example - and several weighted casings were dropped for aerodynamic testing.
And continue to foul fishermen's nets off Jurby Head. There is plenty on Google on that.

Jurby range was cleared for practice bombs up to 10,000 lbs in weight.

Later, about 1967, we used West Freugh for similar drops.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 16:37
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What about..............

.............. Thor?

That was a nuclear weapon and we had 60 of those from about 1958
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 16:41
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So inert weapons and dummy bombs, I'd suggest that all or most of the real bombs went for testing. As for the Aldermaston comment, I'm not suggesting that it was common knowledge that there were no real bombs in the RAF, the propaganda took care of that. All you had to do was explode a few real ones and the press do the rest. As for Thor did they have 'real' warheads? Wasn't Thor a defensive missile there were certainly no ICBM's until Polaris AFAIA. The Aldermaston record shows about 20 devices being made in total.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 16:53
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Uranium Bombs

The first test at Alamogordo was to test the more economical and complex plutonium device. The first bomb at Hiroshima was the crude and expensive uranium device and the one at Nagasaki was plutonium.
I think it may be possible that if you look at their shape all the subsequent aircraft A-bombs were plutonium devices. I would be happy to be corrected on this. in a rational way.
The device we first tested at Monte Bello had plutonium from the Canadian reactors in it.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 17:31
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RIHoward, try researching Calder Hall without your absurd pre-conceived bias of nonsense....
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 20:11
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RAF had really very few 'real' nuclear weapons in '61

Blue Danube (Mark 1)
Essentially a lab-built, limited production weapon
Only about 20 were manufactured by early 1958 when production terminated. It remained in service until 1962
Red Beard
Was in service from 1961 to 1971. A maximum of 80 bombs were in RAF inventory, and about 30 in the Fleet Air Arm stockpile
Violet Club
Deployed in early 1958, only five were planned for deployment.
Yellow Sun Mk 1
Akin to the U.S. "emergency capability" thermonuclear weapons, that is, they were thermonuclear systems that would work, and could be delivered, but cut a lot of corners in engineering and military requirements areas like safety, reliability, cost, stockpile life, flexibility, efficiency, etc. Probably only a few were deployed. 1958 brought Yellow Sun Mk 1 manufacture and development to a halt.
Yellow Sun Mk 2/Red Snow
Entered service in 1961. During their initial deployment, they displaced the similar sized Blue Danubes then in service. The Mk 2s remained in service until 1972, when they were phased out by the WE-177. A maximum of 150 were built.
Blue Steel
Entered service December 1962, full operational status being achieved during 1963 about 40 were deployed
WE 177
Entered service with the RAF in 1966
Polaris Warhead
Design is said to be completed in the spring of 1966, with production beginning in 1966 or 1967

I make that 30 ish Bombs in the stockpile at the start of 1961, 20 of those were 'Lab Built', 5 Violet Clubs, and an unknown number of Yellow Sun Mk 1's also a Heath Robinson 'lab built' device.

The Nuclear Weapon Archive - A Guide to Nuclear Weapons

Last edited by RIHoward; 11th Aug 2010 at 20:23.
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 20:47
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What About the Project E Bombs?

Project E - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you link the above you will see a short article on the joint use of American bombs assigned to SACEUR under dual key and stored on RAF stations.
There was an apocryphal story that if things got sticky when the American opened his sealed orders he would see a code word but the British guy's orders said Shoot the Yank.
I believe there were about 60 of them and they were straight copies of the Nagasaki uranium devices and some were armed in flight by inserting "the pit"
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 20:53
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ColinB

.... the Nagasaki uranium devices
Given your previous post I know you didn't mean that....
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Old 11th Aug 2010, 21:56
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SACEUR

SACEUR bombs were American W28 designs 'Anglicised' as Red Snow deployed from 1962 to 1972 under the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program and possibly as warheads for Blue Steel again in '62. This makes sense because you're not going to take a W28 and attach it to a Canberra a Valiant or Blue Steel and expect it to work. Looks like the lead in was 3-4 years from the 1958 agreement.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 01:20
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ColinB, you're quoting Wikipedia as a source??? In the U. S., high school teachers don't accept Wikipedia references in student term papers. Read the "discussion" part of that article (a tab at the top).

Wikipedia is an amateur encyclopedia. Free, and worth every penny.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 09:06
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I have a wealth of information on this topic and considered the limited Wikipedia reference to be a good entry point which would introduce and open the topic up.
The idea was to communicate with everyone the idea that the USA provided atomic weapons in our fallow years and located them on RAF bases. Ours were not really service ready weapons in the 1950s.
It is a fascinating topic.
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Old 12th Aug 2010, 09:33
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Thor warheads

There has, I know, been some speculation that the Thor warheads were dummies but this is largely based on the fact that the RAF launch crews never had proof positive that live warheads were loaded. The panic that happened after the major LOX spill on a Thor at Ludford Magna seems to more than confirm to the casual observer that warheads were in place. The evidence from the USAF Authentication Officers who held the keys to arm the wraheads in the event of a live launch and the activities of the 99MMS would were the custodians of the warheads puts beyond doubt that the warheads were live.
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