Britain's Nuclear Deterrent - the early days

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Deleted 60082

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And the weather...;)

But in all seriousness, the U.S. had deeper pockets to "recruit."
As did the Russians. And again, contrary to received wisdom, German scientists and engineers were actively recruited and willingly went to work in Russia. They were extremely well paid and often given their own research institutes. They could take their families and servants and were housed on a lavish scale. The Soviets weren’t fussed about NSDAP or SS affiliations. However, when Sputnik was launched in 1957, the American quip was “their Germans are better than our Germans”. In 1950-51 Stalin had a purge of German scientists (some were held In Purdah for 2 years) and they then returned to the West. So much of the effort of the Soviet space programme was home-grown; the Soviets had been experimenting extensively with rocketry in the 1920s and 30s.

The chief engineer from Peenemünde, and perhaps second only to Von Braun was Walter “Papa” Reidel, who worked at both Farnborough and Westcott, developing the rocket engines for Blue Streak and Black Knight. However, he met his untimely end in a hit and run in East Berlin in 1966. Suspicious?

ETA: the File surrounding his death won’t be released at the National Archives for about another 49 years...
 
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Britain’s problem was, as ever, a lack of money and the lack of vision. There was very little effort in the immediate postwar period to exploit German rocket technology. The head of guided projectiles within the government, Sir Elwyn Cook, regarded the V2 as inaccurate field artillery and saw no strategic use for it. Moreover, the civil service had no easy means by which to contract German engineers and scientists, and only about 58 cane across to the UK and most had left by 1950, with MI5 concerned that they would steal British secrets to rearm Germany (or more likely) go to Russia where they were much better paid and treated than in the UK (or the US, for that matter). Those that did stay did contribute but it wasn’t until 1953 that the RAF showed any interest in ballistic missiles and the Blue streak programme didn’t get underway until 1957/58, a full decade after the US and Russia. Britain was lost in space and, arguably, has never recovered.
My dad worked on the Blue Streak project at Spadeadam.
Took him on a tour of the place just before he went into residential care (bastard Alzheimer's) in 2011.
Funny how he remembered lots of stuff from way back then but couldn't remember something from that morning.
 
Britain’s problem was, as ever, a lack of money and the lack of vision. There was very little effort in the immediate postwar period to exploit German rocket technology. The head of guided projectiles within the government, Sir Elwyn Cook, regarded the V2 as inaccurate field artillery and saw no strategic use for it. Moreover, the civil service had no easy means by which to contract German engineers and scientists, and only about 58 cane across to the UK and most had left by 1950, with MI5 concerned that they would steal British secrets to rearm Germany (or more likely) go to Russia where they were much better paid and treated than in the UK (or the US, for that matter). Those that did stay did contribute but it wasn’t until 1953 that the RAF showed any interest in ballistic missiles and the Blue streak programme didn’t get underway until 1957/58, a full decade after the US and Russia. Britain was lost in space and, arguably, has never recovered.
Blue Streak and Black Arrow were the last hurrahs of the UK with regards to that stuff..

 

Yokel

LE
Blue Streak and Black Arrow were the last hurrahs of the UK with regards to that stuff..

Our retarded politicians and civil servants could fund either a launcher or Concorde. They could not see any commercial application for launching satellites.

They opted out of Ariane too! I would love to see launcher components being made in the UK.
 
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Deleted 60082

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Our retarded politicians and civil servants could fund either a launcher or Concorde. They could not see any commercial application for launching satellites.

They opted out of Ariane too! I would love to see launcher components being made in the UK.
And the UK has yet to recover from decisions made almost 75 years ago...
 

Tyk

LE
And the UK has yet to recover from decisions made almost 75 years ago...
Never will recover, once the scientists and engineers in aerospace and rocketry have only non domestic places to work and gain experience then it's a done deal. Starting from scratch is ludicrously expensive and politically unpalatable. We can see that in any field of engineering that's been killed off in the UK, it can be a bit depressing really

While working in UK satcoms I had a superbly clever project resource, on a night gassing in the pub over a few pints I quipped that he really was a rocket scientist (as in absurdly bright and able to make a few bean cans and some old string make it to orbit) to which he replied "no, I'm a satellite scientist, my dad was the rocket scientist", his dad had worked on Blue Streak and Black Prince/Black Arrow, went to NASA after the work was canned and was apparently quite miffed.
 
Never will recover, once the scientists and engineers in aerospace and rocketry have only non domestic places to work and gain experience then it's a done deal. Starting from scratch is ludicrously expensive and politically unpalatable. We can see that in any field of engineering that's been killed off in the UK, it can be a bit depressing really

While working in UK satcoms I had a superbly clever project resource, on a night gassing in the pub over a few pints I quipped that he really was a rocket scientist (as in absurdly bright and able to make a few bean cans and some old string make it to orbit) to which he replied "no, I'm a satellite scientist, my dad was the rocket scientist", his dad had worked on Blue Streak and Black Prince/Black Arrow, went to NASA after the work was canned and was apparently quite miffed.
Engineering is slowly disappearing from the UK - because of higher wages and more importance given abroad. People are leaving if they have the means and are offered a position elsewhere..
 
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Deleted 60082

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Engineering is slowly disappearing from the UK - because of higher wages and more importance given abroad. People are leaving if they have the means and are offered a position elsewhere..
I would disagree. Perhaps the UK doesn't do dirty, heavy engineering any more but we can produce safe reactors, submarines, aircraft engines, aircraft carriers, complex weapons systems, nuclear warheads, combat aircraft, satellites, racing cars...

Yep, not a lot.
 
I would disagree. Perhaps the UK doesn't do dirty, heavy engineering any more but we can produce safe reactors, submarines, aircraft engines, aircraft carriers, complex weapons systems, nuclear warheads, combat aircraft, satellites, racing cars...

Yep, not a lot.
Airbus wings, cutting edge jet engines, ejector seats, high speed trains...
 
I would disagree. Perhaps the UK doesn't do dirty, heavy engineering any more but we can produce safe reactors, submarines, aircraft engines, aircraft carriers, complex weapons systems, nuclear warheads, combat aircraft, satellites, racing cars...

Yep, not a lot.
More like design..and a bit of production....don't mean to belittle you though.
 

R0B

Old-Salt
Engineering is slowly disappearing from the UK - because of higher wages and more importance given abroad. People are leaving if they have the means and are offered a position elsewhere..
If it's purely down to wages I wonder how the Germans manufacture cars? They have Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW and Porche. I'm sure their workers get a reasonable salary.
 
If it's purely down to wages I wonder how the Germans manufacture cars? They have Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW and Porche. I'm sure their workers get a reasonable salary.
Because they can charge a premium, because they have "posh" badges?
 
Bullshit.
Right. I Recon the current Ford Mondeo in the UK is better than a 3 series for more features but lesser price for a similar trim level but Brits buy more BMWs and other German cars for badge snobbery..personal opinion.
 
Right. I Recon the current Ford Mondeo in the UK is better than a 3 series for more features but lesser price for a similar trim level but Brits buy more BMWs and other German cars for badge snobbery..personal opinion.
What does that have to do with UK manufacture of commercial aircraft wings & engines, compact nuclear reactors, high speed trains & umpteen other examples of advanced engineering?
 
What does that have to do with UK manufacture of commercial aircraft wings & engines, compact nuclear reactors, high speed trains & umpteen other examples of advanced engineering?
Absolutely nothing - we were talking about cars for a sec.

I admire the R&D skills of British firms...I used to work for one subsidiary in the U.S...which did a lot of work on your MRAPs..
 
Of course this thread's actually about the UK's early nuclear deterrent & there's nowhere better to start than with this:

Test of Greatness.
Excellent book. I especially liked the dit from the Montebello Island tests when the people nearest the bomb didn't think it went off properly while the people further away were bricking it as the mushroom came right for them. PS, the Air Power Journal link at the top of the thread is now broken - has anyone got a working one?
 
the Air Power Journal link at the top of the thread is now broken - has anyone got a working one?
Yes...

(For various dull reasons, the revamp of the RAF website saw all the APR stuff move there - the last 19 years worth of APR can be found here; the 1998 and 1999 editions will be uploaded when someone finds where the electronic copies of them are, AIUI....)
 
Engineering is slowly disappearing from the UK - because of higher wages and more importance given abroad. People are leaving if they have the means and are offered a position elsewhere..
Utter pish. I've worked in Scotland my entire career.

I spent a decade working in the UK design center of a large chip company, that had to recruit from all over Europe; it did bleeding-edge work, and I've got the patents to prove it. The Ph.Ds and first-class honours types came, because a) it paid bloody well, and b) there weren't any comparable sites within a couple of thousand miles. These are quite literally, the most complex ICs in the world.

I spent another decade before that, working in one of two sites in Europe capable of designing and building top-end airborne radars (it's rather tricky problem, demanding RF, heavy electrical, electronic, software, mechanical, reliability, and production engineering in man-millenia amounts).

But nooooo, everyone focuses on a bunch of Roberts working on assembly lines to bolt together components and churn out cars, just like every other car production line around the world, because that's something that they've seen pictures of.
 

Tyk

LE
Utter pish. I've worked in Scotland my entire career.

I spent a decade working in the UK design center of a large chip company, that had to recruit from all over Europe; it did bleeding-edge work, and I've got the patents to prove it. The Ph.Ds and first-class honours types came, because a) it paid bloody well, and b) there weren't any comparable sites within a couple of thousand miles. These are quite literally, the most complex ICs in the world.

I spent another decade before that, working in one of two sites in Europe capable of designing and building top-end airborne radars (it's rather tricky problem, demanding RF, heavy electrical, electronic, software, mechanical, reliability, and production engineering in man-millenia amounts).

But nooooo, everyone focuses on a bunch of Roberts working on assembly lines to bolt together components and churn out cars, just like every other car production line around the world, because that's something that they've seen pictures of.
It's undoubtedly true that Britain still has some centers of engineering excellence, but compared to the amount lost it's a tiny number. The UK used to produce the scientists and engineers that led the World and much of that is gone for good, other countries encourage innovation in a way the UK doesn't.
 

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