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The TSR-2: Catastrophe, or the catalyst for change?

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For many in Britain, a nation saved by air power in World War II, military aircraft are colossally symbolic. The wartime Spitfire and Lancaster were figureheads for British pride, and throughout the 1950s, the nation’s futuristic jets were much trumpeted. Here, in thundering rivetted aluminium, was a tangible reminder that this was a technologically advanced superpower. The future was fast and high-flying and we were making it, forging it in the deafening afterburners of the Lightning and the devastating invulnerability of the Vulcan. In 1965, Britain had a supersonic bomber superior to anything else in the world — the TSR-2 — but before entering service with the RAF, the project was axed. For some, this left a wound that over half a century later has not healed. The subject remains an emotive one and even today can provoke angry impassioned debate. However, the popular myth of TSR-2 may not be all it seems. We asked Jim Smith, who had significant technical roles in many of the UK’s leading military aviation programmes from ASRAAM to the Eurofighter Typhoon, to consider both the effectiveness of the aircraft and the real impact of its cancellation. 



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In my eyes the british aircraft industry had the same problems like the british automotive industry. In a relativly short time the mass of this industries died and only some specialiced manufacturers survived, mainly in cooperation with manufacurers abroad.

The TSR-2 was overambitious. It was a nice project, a nice plane, but one or two numbers to big for UK. Perhaps a "low tech" approach like France or Sweden made it, would have saved more of the british aircraft industry.

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