80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softbound
For their fifth volume on X-Planes, Osprey has chosen the TSR.2. There are few aborted aircraft projects that have reached the near cult following of the TSR.2, though the CF-105 would be as much of an contender.
The need for such an aircraft (Tactical Strike/Reconnaisance) came from looking ahead and wanting a replacement for several aircraft types. The TSR.2 was to replace pretty much all current bombers including the Canberra and the V-bomber fleet of Valiant, Victor and Vulcan. It was to be a mach 2 aircraft that would be able to operate at low altitudes so it could dash in, unload its munitions, and scurry out as fast as it could. The munitions in many cases being of the nuclear variety, hence the white paint and faded insignia/serials.
The TSR.2 was one of those aircraft where a lot of 'firsts' were being put into a single airframe. As we know from history and experience, this often provides huge challenges, but none of them seemed insurmountable. It did mean the most advanced avionics and the most powerful engines. Rolls Royce submitted a design that was initially planned, but later the MoD went with a proven design, the Olympus as it was already being used in the Vulcan. An infinitely variable reheat unit was to be included in the design.
Avionics were to be something that needed some development as, like the F-111, the TSR.2 was to have terrain following autopilot where one punched in the waypoints and let the airplane go. This is all quite commonplace now, but in 1959/60, it was cutting edge.
As things went on, it was realized that the aircraft was not going to come in at the price that was originally quoted. This seems to be standard stuff with aircraft development and I'm constantly surprised that the politicians do not realize this. But there you have it.
To cut a very well told story short, the first prototype was built and flew and the second was built. However, the cost overruns were getting ridiculous and with a change in government during this time, the TSR.2 was cancelled. It was felt that the F-111 would do the same job and be less expensive. However, the failure of the Skybolt missile program in the US pretty well but the brakes on the F-111 buy as well. At least the British didn't destroy the prototypes as the Canadians did with the CF-105s and the Americans with the initial Flying Wings.
The author has undoubtedly done his homework on this and tells a very good story of the planning, development and demise of this aircraft. He also goes into considerable depth on the systems developed for the aircraft as well as the sometimes confusing political situation at the time, for it was very much politics that killed the project. An interesting comment was made that if the TSR.2 would have entered service, the UK would never have operated the Phantom, the Jaguar and perhaps even the Tornado. Despite the blow to the British aviation industry, the end of this project forced the UK to work with other European nations when it came to military aircraft development, a situation which is now the norm.
It makes for a superb read in more ways than one and is a book I think all will enjoy.
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