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TSR-2 (Merged a few times)

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TSR-2 (Merged a few times)

Old 12th Aug 2002, 11:47
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TSR-2 (Merged a few times)

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?

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Old 12th Aug 2002, 12:46
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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.
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Old 12th Aug 2002, 12:58
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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!
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Old 12th Aug 2002, 13:20
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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?

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Old 12th Aug 2002, 14:03
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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.
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Old 12th Aug 2002, 21:53
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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.
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 02:40
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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.
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 04:36
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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!
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 08:14
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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.
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 08:39
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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.

Last edited by CamelPilot; 13th Aug 2002 at 09:58.
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 10:00
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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?
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 11:08
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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.
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Old 13th Aug 2002, 23:10
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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
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Old 15th Aug 2002, 07:48
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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.

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Old 15th Aug 2002, 20:10
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TSR2 leftover bits

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.
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Old 15th Aug 2002, 20:18
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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.
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Old 15th Aug 2002, 20:35
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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......
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Old 15th Aug 2002, 23:07
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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.
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Old 19th Aug 2002, 15:10
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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.....
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Old 21st Aug 2002, 16:45
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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
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