A series of assumptions: a Britwank on a budget?

Quotes
“All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics………..” – Sir Sydney Camm.

Objectives -
  1. Prevention of Global War
  2. Winning the Cold War
  3. Maintenance of Britain's ability to fight limited war
Chief of Staff guidelines for military policy 1956

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UK war plans of the 1950s were based on a "three-day war", in which the Warsaw Pact's forces would begin with a conventional attack in Europe, but the war would quickly progress to the use of tactical nuclear weapons. NATOs overwhelming air superiority would win the resulting battle. From that point, if the war continued, strategic weapons would be unleashed and the battle would be between the strategic bombers and the opposing defences. The massive superiority of the western air forces meant this battle would be short and largely one-sided, but the UK would have to survive at least one wave of Soviet attacks.

By the early 1950s, the increasing speeds and altitudes of bombers meant they could "toss" their weapons from ranges outside even the largest anti-aircraft artillery, and plans began to replace these weapons with surface-to-air missiles.

By the mid-1950s, the USSR was known to be developing a variety of ballistic missiles able to deliver nuclear warheads. Split into classes based on their range, much of the attention was on the longest-ranged intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). However, short-range missiles were both less expensive and easier to develop, and these had the performance needed to deliver a warhead to the UK from bases in East Germany. There was no defence from these medium range ballistic missiles and it appeared they would be widespread by the mid-1960s.

The introduction of strategic missiles seriously upset the nature of the UK's defensive posture. Studying the issue under Violet Friend, planners ultimately concluded no effective defense against these weapons was possible. The only way to stop an attack would be to stop it from being launched, and the only way to do that was through deterrence. Although the survival of the V force was required even before this point, there was some expectation that it would survive direct air attack given the ROTOR defence. With missiles, there was no way to do this. Any sign of an attack would require the immediate launch of the V force to ensure its survival - even if an initial attack was made by bombers, missiles were sure to follow. In this case, there was no point trying to defend their airfields - they would either be empty or the war was already lost.

In such a scenario the need for air defences was essentially eliminated. If an attack occurred, even the complete attrition of attacking bombers would have little to no effect on the ultimate outcome when the missile arrived.

Excerpt from ‘Wikipedia’
 
Need for Review
January 1957 was a very difficult time for Duncan Sandys to become Britain’s Minister of Defence. The Suez crisis had ended in disaster for Britain a mere 8 weeks earlier, with a US backed run on the pound leading to a humiliating withdrawal despite considerable military success. This debacle had ended the Eden Prime Ministership leading to a major Cabinet reshuffle alongside an economic crisis and major setback for Britain’s place in the world, both real and perceived.

Alongside Britain’s political and economic problems was a veritable revolution in military affairs in the fields of nuclear weapons, aviation and missiles. Aircraft were getting faster by the year, a mere 5 years earlier fighters were firmly subsonic but now Mach 2 speeds were expected before the end of the decade. Ballistic missiles were complementing traditional manned bombers in the nuclear strike and guided missiles were both enhancing the capabilities of manned aircraft and complementing them in roles such as air defence. Nuclear weapons themselves had drastically increased in yield with the invention and deployment of H bomb thermonuclear weapons

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It was within this milieu that Sandys was tasked with a major Defence Review that included a savings of 100 million pounds and huge cuts to manpower that was so desperately needed in the expanding British economy. He bought his own personal experiences to the role, he had served in a Territorial Army Experimental Anti Aircraft unit using rockets to defend against dive bombers prior to the war and was wounded in the Norwegian campaign. From 1943 he was the chairman of the committee tasked with monitoring the German rocket and missile developments and devising defences against these weapons. This experience made him acutely aware of the potential of rockets and missiles, in particular the power of ballistic missile attack.
 
Sandy's task
A mere three months after becoming Minister of Defence Sandys released a White Paper that encapsulated in a single document a huge array of factors. The great realisation was that World War Three with a measurable victory was no longer a practical prospect with Thermonuclear warheads being the weapons of last resort. The task of the British military was now to deter a Global conflict and fight ‘Limited Wars’ that may arise around the world in the context of the Cold War. This attitude quickly led to the conclusion that drastic reductions in the size of the Armed Forces were desirable, so conscription was to be ended in 1960 with attendant major amalgamation of Army units. The logic of thermonuclear weapons delivered by long range ballistic missiles, and the maturating of Surface to Air Guided Weapons allowed major reductions in the size of Fighter Command.

Aside from these military factors facilitating a reduction in the size of the Armed Forces the US had drastically reduced the Mutual Aid Development Program funding, which had a mere three years previous seen the USA order Gloster Javelins for the RAF to the tune of 36.8 million pounds. A number of aircraft developments project, begun with US funding assistance were no longer affordable so project F155 for a Mach 2.5 interceptor (1), GOR329 for a supersonic fighter (2), RB156 mach 3 nuclear bomber (3) and the Blue Envoy SAM system were immediately canceled, along with smaller developments such as rocket engines for hybrid fighters and the Seamew carrier borne ASW aircraft.

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Sandy’s wartime experiences showed through in the White Paper in his enthusiastic embrace of Ballistic missiles in the form of the Blue Streak MRBM as the replacement for the V Bomber and Surface to Air Guided Weapons to compliment the manned fighter in the air defence of Great Britain. The development of the Blue Steel guided missile for the V Bomber force and Fire Streak anti-aircraft guided missiles for fighter aircraft gave manned aircraft new capabilities which saved them from falling victim to Sandy’s more extreme opinion to declare manned aircraft obsolescent in the White Paper. However Sandy expected the great swathe of aircraft cancellations would encourage the replacement of manned aircraft by missiles in short order.
  1. Fairey Delta III
  2. Hawker P1121
  3. Avro 730
 
Hansard 16 April 1957
Mr. Sandys I should like to say a word about the future of the Royal Air Force. We are unquestionably moving towards a time when fighter aircraft and V-bombers will increasingly use, be complimented by and maybe even replaced by guided missiles and ballistic rockets,(1) but all that will not happen overnight. The introduction of these new weapons will be a gradual process, extending over a good number of years, and even then there will still remain a very wide variety of roles for which manned aircraft will continue to be needed. I therefore hope that young men who have the ambition to be pilots, as well as those who are interested in new technical advances, will continue as before to look to the R.A.F. for a fine and useful career.

Mr. Stokes All right. With regard to the statement that manned fighters will soon be superseded, I was very glad to hear the Minister say that of course he does not want young men to slop going into the Royal Air Force. That was a point which I was going to raise, but the right hon. Gentleman has covered it so completely and openly, and has made clear what is wanted, that I do not wish to spend the time of the House saying anything more about it at all. Quite obviously, manned aircraft will always be wanted for conventional forces, and it would be a terrible thing if it went out from this House or by way of the White Paper that young fighter pilots are not wanted.

Mr. Sandys I think that we can say with absolute certainty that, within five years, manned aircraft required for both Fighter and Bomber Commands will be equipped with guided missiles. Any speculation about manned aircraft being superseded wholly by guided missiles should be thinking at least ten years into the future..(2) There will still be a need for reconnaissance and for conventional strike forces for limited warfare.(3)

Hansard - 16 April 1957
  1. OTL ….”increasingly replaced by guided missiles and V-bombers by ballistic rockets,”
  2. OTL….”for at least another ten years, manned aircraft will be required for both Fighter and Bomber Commands.”
  3. OTL….’Surely there will still be a need for reconnaissance and for small conventional strike forces for limited warfare - “
 
Lucky Lightning
One aircraft to survive the Sandy’s axe was the P1B designed and built by English Electric, by a mixture of good planning and good luck. The genesis of this aircraft was back in the the late 40 with a pair of experimental supersonic aircraft, the resulting P1 prototypes were designed to be as close to an operational fighter as possible with the 2nd prototype having a pair of 30mm cannon fitted in the nose. After a series of successful test flights another 3 P1B prototypes fighters were ordered followed in February 1954 by an order of 20 ‘development batch’ P1B fighters. The first P1B fighter prototype flew on the very day Sandys tabled his White Paper, complete with guns in the nose, a radar mounted in the inlet shock cone and an interchangeable pack for Firestreak air to air missiles or retracting 44 round rocket packs. With another 20 aircraft on the production line Sandy was unable to cancel this aircraft, and acknowledged that it would equip Fighter Command squadrons from the early 60s.
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The RAF reacted to the cancellation of several major projects, which were central to it’s future plans, with commendable speed and clarity. The RAF senor leadership decided that while the Lightning wasn’t perfect it was the only supersonic aircraft available within the next few years and if they didn’t utilise it to it’s full potential they would be stuck with a force structure full of subsonic types in a supersonic world.(1) The RAF met with English Electric to discuss the development of options for the Lightning, particularly as a guided missile equipped aircraft currently in favour with the Minister of Defence. Fortunately the detachable fuselage pack for AAMs or rockets also lent itself to an array of air to ground ordnance, in particular the French AS20 missile and it’s follow on AS30.(2) EE also felt that under-wing and perhaps even over-wing pylons could be fitted to the wings to increase the weapon options.(3)
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  1. IOTL The Lightning was seen an an interim aircraft to only serve until 1963.
  2. ITOL EE proposal for ground attack pack for the F1, F1A and F2 as not taken up.
  3. IOTL this did not occur until the F6 for the over-wing ferry tanks and the export F52 & 53 for wing pylons.
 
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Sadly for Saunders Roe
In contrast to the luck deriving from foresight with the P1A-B another fighter project that wasn’t canceled in April was not so fortunate. Despite having a genesis a mere 2 years later than the P1 the hybrid jet and rocket propelled experimental aircraft from Saunders Roe did not have such a charmed development path. There were understandable delays with the rocket engine but by May 1957, just after the White Paper was tabled, the SR.53 experimental aircraft undertook it’s first flight. However unlike the P1 the SR.53 was not designed to be close to an operational fighter and Saunders Roe was in the process of developing an operational fighter type the SR.177 and had a prototype under construction in 1957.
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The SR.177 was under development for the Royal Navy, West Germany and even possibly the RAF alongside the Lightning.A development contract was issued in February for the RN, however in November 1957 the West German government changed both the requirement and therefore the technical specifications as well as wanting a Government to Government agreement with Britain rather than with Saunders Roe directly. These changes led to the West German Government pulling out of the project and the British Government deciding that the the RN requirement alone was not enough to proceed canceled the project on Christmas Eve 1957.

In addition to the continuation of some military work the civil aviation sector was experiencing a boom and ‘second generation’ jet airliners were on the drawing board. In response to a British European Airways requirement De Haviland had begun design work on a medium range 98 seat airliner powered by three Rolls Royce Medways. On the other hand British Overseas Airways Corporation had a requirement for a long range aircraft to fly ‘Empire’ routes in Africa, Asia and the Middle east. These sectors were known for their Hot and High flying conditions and their shorter runways. In response Vickers-Armstrong had designed a 151 seat long range airliner powered by RR Conways that required 25% less runway length than the Boeing 707, a capability that led to an order for 25 from BOAC.

All the while the germ of an idea was forming at Bristol Aircraft engines of a jet engine exhausting its thrust through four swiveling nozzles. Bristol began work on its BE.53 engine in February and contacted Hawker in the wake of the White Paper which withdrew support from Hawker’s P1121 proposal. From then on Hawker worked closely with Bristol to design an aircraft around this new engine.
 
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Big Bang Theory
While the heavy reliance on nuclear weapons as a way to deter Global War was a difficult concept for a generation of people who have recently fought two World Wars 1957 was a precipitous time to embrace such a strategy. From 1954 Britain and the US had been making progress on an agreement to develop ballistic missiles suitable to carry nuclear weapons, the US developing the Inter-contnental and Intermediate range ballistic missiles while while Britain concentrated on the medium range ballistic missile, the Blue Streak with the US picking up 15% of the development bill. In order to provide the RAF with ballistic missile unit to convert to Blue Streak when it was ready the US and UK had been negotiating to deploy US IRBMs to Britain supplied with US nuclear warheads under the terms of Project E. By March the proposal was for 4 USAF and 4 RAF squadrons each of 15 missiles, however some political issues meant that as the year progressed the mooted USAF deployment was dropped for an RAF only IRBM force.

In terms of nuclear warheads themselves 1957 proved to be a bit of a ‘tease’ until the end. Thermonuclear tests in May and June expected to yield each of One Megatonne resulted in ‘fizzle’ where the thermonuclear secondary did not ignite as designed and the yields were a disappointing 300kt and 150kt. The Orange Herald test was successful and produced a yield of 720kt, allowing Britain to claim she had megatonne class weapons, however this device was a publicity stunt, a backup in case of the failure of the other devices. While Orange Herald was theoretically able to be mounted in an air dropped bomb it was an ever so slightly boosted fission uranium that used 117kg of Highly Enriched Uranium, the total British HEU production in a year and not an efficient and practical path to megatonne weapons. However in November Britain’s luck with Thermonuclear devices changed and the Grapple X test produced a yield of 1.8 megatonnes.
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Sandy’s enthusiasm for missiles, the the national need to take the trends they presented to their logical conclusion also affected the V Bomber force. The Blue Envoy SAM system was canceled because with bombers firing stand off guided missiles and the introduction of ballistic missiles had made extensive SAM defences not cost effective. That same logic was applied to the emerging Mk2 versions of the Vulcan and Victor ordered the previous year. The most obvious route to avoid radars and SAMs with ever greater reach and power was to fly at low level, the Royal Navy had adopted this approach back in 1954 with their NA39 and the RAF was also specifying extremely ambitious low level performance in its GOR339 requirement for the Canberra replacement. Sandys demanded that the Mk2 V Bombers ordered in 1956 be adapted during construction for low level operations and the the Blue Steel missile and it’s Mk2 version under study be adapted for low level launch.
 
Going Global
For the Royal Navy the 1957 White Paper did not have as nearly a huge impact as it did on the RAF and Army. The Royal navy had been moving away from fighting a Global War towards interventions in Limited Wars, although by the time of the Suez crisis this was not yet complete and the RN was forced to improvise which took time.Work was being undertaken to bring modern fleet aircraft carriers into service for the RN to be able to maintain two on station East of Suez and another available in home waters for NATO tasks. Two more light fleet carriers were in the process of being converted to ‘Commando’ carriers, carrying a Royal marine Commando battalion and the helicopters required to land these troops via a vertical envelopment assault.
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The production Sea Vixen which carried 4 x guided missiles started delivery while the NA39 prototype which was designed to fly at low level and therefore avoid SAMs was approaching prototype stage and therefore avoided cancellation. The RNs large Surface to Air Guided Weapon the Sea Slug had been much delayed but was well along in development and Destroyer Leaders were being designed to utilise the weapon. The RN had also begun a programme to replace the 40mm Bofors AA weapon with a small SAGW soon to be named Sea Cat so was on board with the Defence Ministers intent to widely adopt guided missiles. The only major setback was the cancellation of the SR.177 jet-rocket interceptor when the West German Government changed it requirements late in the year, this left the RN without a supersonic aircraft on the horizon as there was no convenient fallback like the RAF had with the P1B.
 
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Stenz

Monthly Donor
Sandys demanded that the Mk2 V Bombers ordered in 1956 be adapted during construction for low level operations and the the Blue Steel missile and it’s Mk2 version under study be adapted for low level launch.
Nice
 
The wheat from the chaff.
1958 started out as a big year for the civil aviation sector with BOAC signing the largest civil contract in British history for 35 VC10s worth some 60 million pounds. This was excellent news for Vickers-Armstrong, however they realised that achieving the Hot and High and short runway performance demanded by BOAC came at the expense of operating efficiency on regular routes. In response to this they began work on a longer VC10 version they called the ‘Super 200’, being 28’ longer than the standard version it was able to accommodate a maximum of 212 seats, some 23 more than the Boeing 707 in the same layout. The following month De Haviland, Hunting and Fairey announced a merger, revitalizing the old Airco name, in order to better market the DH.121 to the Government owned BEA in light of the soon to be released report into aviation industry rationalisation. This move worked as BEA announced an intention to order 24 with options for another 10 soon after, pending Government approval which arrived in June for the 111 seat aircraft.

The RAF started 1958 by assessing the submissions for GOR339, the ambitious specification for a Canberra replacement. Blackburn submitted two proposals based on it’s NA39 aircraft for the Royal Navy, which undertook its first flight in April, the first was the basic aircraft with more fuel while the second included a more advanced avionics package. The evaluation team rejected as it was firmly subsonic and short on range and therefore didn’t meet the requirement, indeed the version with the more advanced avionics was some 10,000lb heavier than the base aircraft and with Gyron Junior engines was woefully under-powered. This impacted on the takeoff performance, particularly in the hot climates where the RAF operated like the Middle East and South East Asia, falling far short of the STOL requirements.

Hawker submitted a further development of the P1103 design that was rejected for the F.155 interceptor requirement, mainly for being too small and not including the ‘weapons system’ concept where the aircraft and its weapons were developed together as a whole. Despite being unsuccessful Hawker was approached by the Deputy Chief of Air Force in 1956 to suggest that the P.1103 might be developed into a multi-role interceptor and strike aircraft, which they did giving the two seat version P.1116 and the single seat version P.1121. The White Paper saw government interest in the P.1121 concept evaporate but Hawker continues to develop the aircraft using company funds, in the meantime designing an enlarged proposal powered by twin Rolls Royce Medways to meet GOR.339. The RAF evaluation team was irritated with this Hawker proposal, having rejected essentially the same aircraft previously as being too small to meet the requirements, in addition it was considered that Hawker didn’t effectively grasp the weapons system concept. Despite this setback Hawker continued work on the P.1121, progressing to mockup stage during the year.
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English Electric submitted the P.17A proposal, which embraced the weapons system concept and utilised their nation-leading experience building Mach 2 aircraft. Shorts even worked with EE to develop a lift-jet launching system known as the P.17D, which met the VTOL aim by launching the P.17A to vertically and giving it forward momentum while airborne. Vickers submitted their 571 concept in both single and twin engine configuration which featured blown flaps to meet the take-off performance requirements. Neither of these aircraft met the requirements either, however they were both selected for further study by the evaluation team.
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In early 1958 the Government was due to receive a report on the state of the British aviation industry. The main finding of the report was that the numerous, small and medium companies that made up the British aviation industry individually lacked the market capitalisation, financial and production resources to take on the sorts of large opportunities that were appearing in an increasingly affluent postwar world. It concluded that with the possible exception of Hawker Siddeley no British company would be able to manufacture the numbers of aircraft being awarded in contracts, therefore British aviation companies should merge. In this environment the RAF decided that the EE P.17 and the Avro 571 designs should merge, the development contract was held out as a possible reward for the two companies to merge and consolidate.
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Kissing cousins
Over in the US several events were occuring that would eventually have a major impact on Britain. The US Air Force began development of a solid fuel ICBM as a crash programme, solid fuel being much more suitable for prolonged storage in hardened missile silos. They also began development of a solid fuel Air Launched Ballistic Missile named the Sky Bolt for use with SACs B52 fleet to give them greater effectiveness by combining the flexibility of manned bombers with the standoff range and unstoppable power of the ballistic missile. These Air Force programmes complimented and indeed were influenced by the US Navy’s startlingly successful programme to develop a solid fueled ballistic missile able to be fired from submerged submarines.

This was important because Britain had followed up the successful Grapple X nuclear test in November of the previous year with another successful test, Grapple Y with a yield of 2 Megatonnes. Given the demonstrated mastery of Thermonuclear weapons by the US’ closest strategic partner there as little point in continuing the restriction of nuclear technology sharing with Britain and signed the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement in May. This had been a long time coming and was the final step in a process begun in 1954 with the amendment of the Mcmahon Act, continuing with project E where RAF bombers were able to use US nuclear weapons in wartime to the dual key nuclear warhead planned for the US supplied Thor IRBMs soon to enter service with the RAF.The immediate outcome was the Americans disclosed the details of nine of their nuclear weapon designs: the Mark 7, Mark 15/39, Mark 19, Mark 25, Mark 27, Mark 28, Mark 31, Mark 33 and Mark 34. In return, the British provided the details of seven of theirs, including Green Grass; Pennant, the boosted device which had been detonated in the Grapple Z test on 22 August; Flagpole, the two-stage device scheduled for 2 September; Burgee, scheduled for 23 September; and the three-stage Halliard 3.
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With this exchange of nuclear secrets the British government decided not to weaponise the devices they had developed and instead adapt the US designs for use with the V Bombers which were coming into service in ever increasing numbers. Indeed just as the earlier Valiants had displaced the Canberra in Bomber Command allowing Canberras to be assigned to SACEUR the introduction of the Vulcan and Victor displaced the Victor. As a result it was decided that four squadrons with 64 Canberra assigned to SACEUR using US nuclear weapons supplied under project E would be replaced by three squadrons with 24 Valiants from 1960. Despite the decrease in aircraft numbers this was to be an increase in capability as a result of the Valiant’s blind bombing system allowing it to operate effectively at night and in all weathers.
 
Over in the US several events were occuring that would eventually have a major impact on Britain. The US Air Force began development of a solid fuel ICBM as a crash programme, solid fuel being much more suitable for prolonged storage in hardened missile silos. They also began development of a solid fuel Air Launched Ballistic Missile named the Sky Bolt for use with SACs B52 fleet to give them greater effectiveness by combining the flexibility of manned bombers with the standoff range and unstoppable power of the ballistic missile. These Air Force programmes complimented and indeed were influenced by the US Navy’s startlingly successful programme to develop a solid fueled ballistic missile able to be fired from submerged submarines.

This was important because Britain had followed up the successful Grapple X nuclear test in November of the previous year with another successful test, Grapple Y with a yield of 2 Megatonnes. Given the demonstrated mastery of Thermonuclear weapons by the US’ closest strategic partner there as little point in continuing the restriction of nuclear technology sharing with Britain and signed the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement in May. This had been a long time coming and was the final step in a process begun in 1954 with the amendment of the Mcmahon Act, continuing with project E where RAF bombers were able to use US nuclear weapons in wartime to the dual key nuclear warhead planned for the US supplied Thor IRBMs soon to enter service with the RAF.The immediate outcome was the Americans disclosed the details of nine of their nuclear weapon designs: the Mark 7, Mark 15/39, Mark 19, Mark 25, Mark 27, Mark 28, Mark 31, Mark 33 and Mark 34. In return, the British provided the details of seven of theirs, including Green Grass; Pennant, the boosted device which had been detonated in the Grapple Z test on 22 August; Flagpole, the two-stage device scheduled for 2 September; Burgee, scheduled for 23 September; and the three-stage Halliard 3.
View attachment 610195
With this exchange of nuclear secrets the British government decided not to weaponise the devices they had developed and instead adapt the US designs for use with the V Bombers which were coming into service in ever increasing numbers. Indeed just as the earlier Valiants had displaced the Canberra in Bomber Command allowing Canberras to be assigned to SACEUR the introduction of the Vulcan and Victor displaced the Victor. As a result it was decided that four squadrons with 64 Canberra assigned to SACEUR using US nuclear weapons supplied under project E would be replaced by three squadrons with 24 Valiants from 1960. Despite the decrease in aircraft numbers this was to be an increase in capability as a result of the Valiant’s blind bombing system allowing it to operate effectively at night and in all weathers.
The Vickers Valiant had tail fatigue issues. This was not expected. Something to do with the wrong aluminum alloy choice and the switch to the low level flight profile when Guidelines started appearing in large numbers.
 
The Vickers Valiant had tail fatigue issues. This was not expected. Something to do with the wrong aluminum alloy choice and the switch to the low level flight profile when Guidelines started appearing in large numbers.

Apparently the tankers had fatigue too so it wasn't only a low level thing. Apparently there's a whole controversy around it, something about how crappy old Hastings were going in for fatigue treatment but nothing could be done for Valiants.
 
Axis powers
Despite being canceled the previous year the Saunders Roe hybrid fighter SR.177 was not dead. At the time of cancellation the design of the main component jigs was 70 per cent complete while the component assembly jigs were almost 50 per cent complete; the manufacture of a quantity production batch was nearing. Japan, which was interested in developing a rocket-jet fighter itself, approached Britain with a request for quotations for the purchase of the two prototype SR.53s along with the completion of two SR.177s. Britain had learned their lesson from West Germany’s withdrawal from the SR.177 project, partly due to a desire for a Government to Government agreement took a strong interest in enabling this deal to occur.(1) Saunders Roe was not in a position to actually build the SR.177 themselves and planned to subcontract out the work to other firms. When approached by the Government Saunders Roe leapt at the chance to recoup some of their investment and retain an interest in a fighter programme without disrupting their current production programme. In the event the Government to Government agreement was as extensive as it was possible for Saunders Roe to make. They sold both SR.53 prototypes, completed 2 SR.177 pre production aircraft and sold those, all the design work done on the SR.187 proposal for the F.155, spare Gyron junior and jets, spare Spectre rocket engines, as well as all the production equipment that had been designed and built.(2) Control of future developments was passed to the Japanese government with Saunders Roe receiving a royalty payment on any production that resulted from Saunders Roe’s work.
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With the loss of West German government support of the SR.177 due to changing requirements from an interceptor to a high-altitude reconnaissance machine, a tactical fighter-bomber, and an all-weather fighter moved it firmly into the wheelhouse of where the EE P1B development was heading. Work was proceeding apace to develop air to ground options for the replaceable pack, increasing range with a large fixed belly tank and the scorpion rocket engine was deleted to save space for fuel, especially given the spectacular climb of the Lightning. The British Government vigorously promoted the P1B to the German Government,(3) boosted by the fact that unlike the SR.177 mere months before the P1B was actually flying in prototype and pre-production forms.The Germans remained interested in the P1B throughout 1958 and into 1959.
  1. ITOL the British Government provided little to no support to this request.
  2. IOTL no sale to the Japanese occurred
  3. IOTL it was later discovered that the British Government representative advised the Germans to NOT buy the Lightning.
 
The good, the bad and.....
1959 was the year that Sandy’s ambitions laid out two years previous began to bear fruit. The first three squadrons of Bloodhound Surface to Air Guided Weapons were activated, replacing Hunter F.6 day fighter squadrons that had been deactivated in 1957. Similarly the mobile Thunderbird SAGW entered service with the Army, replacing heavy anti-aircraft artillery. The Bloodhound Mk2, which opportunistically took advantage of the radars and ramjets already developed for the canceled Blue Envoy SAGW system was undergoing testing with impressive results and was forming the basis of the Violet Friend anti-ballistic missile system proposal. The Firestreak Air to Air guided missile was equipping RAF Javelin, P1B Lightning F.1 and RN Sea Vixens and Britain joined with France to develop and buy the AS30, for the Lightning(1) and Canberra interdiction fleets. Much less pleasing to Sandys were the orders for the Mk2 versions of the Lightning in F, FGA and FR versions for Fighter Command and RAF Germany, initially replacing the Hunter F6 in the day fighter role and other assorted older aircraft in the Fighter Bomber and Recce roles. Sandys was able to soothe his hurt by rationalizing these aircraft as carrying guided missiles as he predicted.

However the deterrence side of his programme was not going nearly as well. The B2 versions of the Vulcan and Victor were entering service, their external modifications mainly limited to clipping their wingtips to reduce flexing(2) and gust response, although their internal structure had considerable strengthening compared to their B1. This reduced their high altitude performance, they did not fly as high or as fast at altitude as their B1 versions although they could both sustain in excess of 400 knots at 1000’.(3) However their stand-off weapon the Blue Steel was not ready to enter service in 1960 as planned, it was still expected to take several years to enter service.

The biggest problems were with the Blue Streak MRBM, some of Britain’s own making and others caused by external factors beyond Britain’s control. The ICBM and IRBM that the US was going to develop were entering service in the form of the Atlas and Titan ICBMs and the Thor and Jupiter IRBMs. In contrast the Blue Streak had already cost over 80 million pounds was not expected to enter operational service until 1965, although admittedly in a much better format than the US missiles. Instead of open launch pads or semi hardened ‘coffins’ taking up to hours to fuel and ready for launch Blue Streak would be held at high readiness in hardened, buried silos and it’s LOX ‘blasted’ on-board the missile in 3 1/2 minutes as the guidance gyros spun up.While the best possible deployment method for the Blue Streak the buried silos caused their own set of problems, mainly due to the limited places where suitable silo site were in Britain, along with the cost of constructing them. Treasury had recently costed the system at 300 million pounds.
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Another problem came from the Soviet Union. The 750 mile range R5M IRBM initially deployed in the Soviet Union from 1956 was forward deployed to East Germany, matching the deployment of Thor and bringing Britain into range. This forward deployment was made possible due to the introduction of the 1,250 mile range R12 IRBM which could hit Britain from the Soviet Union itself. A committee was formed to investigate the vulnerability of Britain and it’s Blue Streak missile force in the immediate future. The Powell committee concluded that Britain could face 300 ballistic missiles arriving in a single minute which would be able to destroy the entire Blue Streak force, further if these missiles were equipped with decoys any ABM system would be useless. This was a stunning blow to the Blue Streak as Britain’s designated successor to the V Bomber force and the Violet Friend ABM system to protect it, but by then it wasn’t up to Sandys to deal with the ramifications of the report as he had been replaced by Harold Wilkinson as Minister for Defence in October.
  1. IOTL the AS30 was initially used by RAF Canberras, not Lightnings
  2. IOTL this was suggested for the Victor B2 when the switch was made to low level, but not undertaken. It was undertaken after their conversion to K.2 to reduce the IFR pods moving too much.
  3. IOTL the Vulcan in the tactical SACEUR role was limited to 350kt at low level, making it’s survival chances somewhat limited.
 
Will follow that. About the SR.53 & everything else: I'm glad to see G.B seizing that opportunity in such oportunistic way. They really need to act like Dassault, backed by the French government. Never, ever, lose an opportunity to make a good sale and start new relationships (and also: fuck the F-104 and Lockheed bribes, in Japan and elsewhere).

I'm curious to see what you will do with Blue Streak. According to secretprojects.com it seems that RR was working on switching RZ.2 to storable / hypergolic by 1960. They had learned the lesson from Martin similar switch, from Titan I to Titan II.
 
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.....the ugly
One aspect of aviation that was not crippled by the hoped for switch to guided and ballistic missiles was transport aircraft. The RAF operated a large fleet of transport aircraft that by the late 50s was approaching the end of its life and in need of replacement. Initially the RAF had looked at the twin engine Armstrmong Whitworth AW66 but found it unsuitable so in 1959 signed up to the Franco-German Transall project (1) to develop a modern medium transport with features such as rear loading ramp door and rough field performance. With plans to order 56 aircraft (2) but coming late to the project Britain was granted a 21% workshare of the project, which primarily consisted of supplying the Roll Royce Tyne engines.

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The development of the DH.121 became the centre of a dispute between BEA, the Ministry of Aviation and De Haviland, as BEA wanted to redesign this aircraft to make it smaller than their earlier specification request. The MoA and De Haviland opposed this change as they thought it would make the aircraft less attractive to other customers, and that making the change to suit the needs of a single airline would be a mistake. With the backing of the new parent company and the government BEA was overruled,(3) as it was decided the cost and delay of a redesign would outweigh the benefits to BEA and that government would cover any losses deriving from over capacity by utilising BEA for government travel. Meanwhile over at Vickers-Armstrong the privately funded VC10 development was running into financial trouble, partly stemming from the decision not to re-use Vanguard jig for VC10 production but to build new jigs on the strength of the 35 aircraft BOAC order.
  1. IOTL the RAF ordered development of a militarised AW650 with 4 RR dart turboprops, these were first delivered in 1964.
  2. IOTL the number of Argosys acquired and about the number of HS.681s planned in the mid 60s.
  3. IOTL De Haviland redesigned the DH.121 into the Trident which was unsuccessful whereas the original sized aircraft was successful in the form of the Boeing 727
 
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Streak, steel, sky, star
Defence Minister Harold Wilkinson entered his new portfolio with a fresh set of eyes and no dogmatic attachment to missiles. He did however have to contend with the escalating cost and increasing vulnerability of the Blue Streak missile system. The Powell committee report basically put to rest any plan of placing the deterrent in fixed locations in the United Kingdom as there was no defence to 300 missiles arriving within a single minute, on top of which was projected to cost 300 million pounds. The other nuclear delivery system under development in Britain was the Blue Steel Mk2, which was a ramjet powered derivative of the rocket propelled Blue Steel launched by the V bomber force. This had the advantage of utilising the investment in the V bomber force, which by its very nature was mobile and dispersed making its total elimination in a surprise attack almost impossible. The missile itself was considerably more capable, with longer range by virtue of its air breathing engine, however the Blue Steel itself wasn’t yet in service and the Mk2 version would presumably come along several years after that.
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However in 1959 Britain was in the process of negotiating with the US for access to Holy Loch as a forward anchorage for its Polaris missile submarines, which gave considerable leverage when looking at US options instead of Blue Streak and Blue Steel Mk2 to replace the V bomber force with its Blue Steel missiles. Two progammes of most interest were the Skybolt ALBM and the Polaris SLBM, both with merits and drawbacks. The Polaris missile submarine appeared to be an ideal system, it was mobile, stealthy to point of being impossible to detect and powerful with 16 ballistic missiles on each submarine.To its detractors it was highly expensive and an unproven weapons system. The Skybolt ABM offered similar advantages as the Blue Steel Mk2 in that it was mobile with the V bomber force and could be dispersed but with a missile of much greater range and penetration capability compared to the Blue Steel Mk2. It also leveraged off the large investment on the V bomber force and as a result was considerably cheaper. Its detractors pointed out that it was still in development and indeed in competition with the USAF Minuteman ICBM programme whereas the Polaris submarines were already under construction for the USN.In addition the B2 V bombers were not ideal carriers for the Skybolt as they had sacrificed speed and altitude performance for better low level-performance,(1) and launching from perhaps 15,000’ lower altitude and slower speeds would have significant impact on the Skybolt’s range.
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In the end it was the surety surrounding the Polaris missile submarine that saw it rise to the top of the home grown and US built options. Of the air launched options the Blue Steel Mk2 was likely to be obsolescent by the time it entered service while the Skybolt was still in development and not ver y well suited to the B2 V bombers while the Powell committee showed the Blue Streak was far too vulnerable for the effort expended on its development and deployment. The talks with the US concerning the use of Holy Loch began including the purchase of the Polaris missile system as an alternative to the Blue Streak and Blue Steel Mk2 (2) and in the final month of the 50s Blue Steel Mk2 was canceled.
  1. IOTL the Vulcan and Victor B2 maximized performance at altitude with a service ceiling over 55,000’ and speed of Mach .92
  2. IOTL the British decided on the Skybolt ABM
 
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