The TSR2: The Greatest Plane Never Built.

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cheddar cheese

Major General
Jan 9, 2004
WSM, England
The TSR2 (The initials stood for Tactical Strike and Reconaissance 2) can deservedly be called the greatest plane never built. Originally concieved as a replacement for the RAF's Canberra bomber, the design process started in 1956 with a protracted series of proposals and counter-proposals between aircraft manufacturers and the now-defunct Ministry of Supply. With the cost of developing modern aircraft soaring, it became necessary for companies to pool their resources in order to compete, and it was the merging of English Electric with Vickers to form the British Aircraft Corporation, or BAC, that secured the tender to develop the TSR2. The process of tendering had not actually been so protracted that this contract was not actually awarded until January 1960, with the first flight scheduled to be January 1963 and the plane to be in service by 1966.
The government of the day was keen that the management of the project proceed efficiently from now on and to this end looked at American methods of product management, implementing their results with the TSR2 - with disastrous consequences. A nightmare of bureaucracy was born. At one meeting the chairman was concerned that there were too many people present and requested that they reconvene with only essential personnel present; more people turned up for the second meeting than had been at the first! At another the Ministry of Supply had a three hour meeting to decide the positioning of a single switch in the cockpit, only to have it pointed out to them by the cheif test pilot Roly Faulk that the position fixed on made it impossible to reach!
Not suprisingly under the circumstances, the project slipped into delay and overspend and it was not until May 1964 that the first prototype was ready to commence trials. To complicate matters, there was an election looming, and, with the cancellation of the whole project a very real possibility, all the stops were pulled out to get the prototype airborne. Despite dire warnings from the engine manufacturers the flight was duly made on the 27th of September of that year. The flight itself was successful, even though it was impossible to retract the undercarriage!
As time progressed the numourous problems with the TSR2 were slowly ironed out, and from the mass of problems began to emerge an aircraft of quite glittering performance. The undercarriage problem was finally rectified after the 10th test flight, and on flight 14 the aircraft went supersonic for the first and only time, this being achieved with only one engine in afterburn. Things, however, were not well with the project as a whole and on Budget Day, 6th of April 1965, the project was scrapped without warning, to be replaced with F111's bought from the Americans. All toolings and drawings were destroyed, and parts scrapped with only two incomplete prototypes surviving.
In 1981 the government briefly looked at reinstating the TSR2 project, but with the Tornado about to enter service this was soo quietly shelved, perhaps because a brief comparison revealed the TSR2 to be still the superior machine 16 years down the line!


After 14 test flights the TSR2 finally exceeded the speed of sound, but figuratively speaking, the project never got off the ground.


Although it was commissioned in 1959, the TSR2 underwent a long and protracted phase of design and the fir5st prototype was not revealed until 1964.

(All information from the book Speed and Power, all pictures scabbed from people off Google.)
i have a book called "british secret bombers" in a time period but i can't remeber exactily lol, i'll look for it in there.............
Please don't tell me you only just found out about the TSR-2? The amount my dad has complained about it not being brought in is silly. It would have been the greatest and most advanced aircraft for years to come.

It's always the same with the British government though. They sit there with their fingers in their arses and they are tight fisted. Things only get paid for when they really need them, like if the threat of war comes about and even then they're still tight fisted - just a little less so.
Take the Lightning for example it took from 1947 to 1960 to get from design to service. Then you've got the recent Chinook incident with them being so tight they wouldn't pay for a full digital control system and opted for half analogue/half digital which screwed the thing up. Now they have to pay even more to get it fixed, a problem that would have never occured if they'd paid that bit more for full digital.
Hell no, I had the book since 1999 and ive known bout it since then. I only recently found it again, I had some spare time so I put that up.

Ive always loved the TSR2...Id love to go see one of the unfinished prototypes, theres one at Duxford aint there?
plan_D, you're preaching to the choir here. I work for the military of "the land of the cheap-ass government"! :rolleyes:
Believe me, I know all about the type of frustration you're talking about!

It was the same story here with the old Avro (Canada) Arrow, back in the 50's.
Yeah but your Canada, no one expects you to have good stuff. :lol: The TSR2 was a brilliant design but, as usual, politicians with NO military service had their fingers in their arses. And their other hand gripping every last penny

I think it is in Duxford, yes.
No, Canada just buys old stuff - cheap. Like rotting F-18s...and diesel Submarines from Britain that set alight.
Well, what have I been saying? :rolleyes:
Btw, I'm all too well aware of the crap our government buys, including those rotting, cobbled together Brit subs. :confused: I lost a friend in one.

Thanks for your two pence, though. ;)
You lost your friend in that one off the coast of Scotland?

I'm quite amazed anyone would buy a diesel sub these days, and aren't you going to be a submariner?
'Fraid so. And believe it or not, the concept of the diesel submarine is anything but obsolete. They still have their uses. They're generally small and very, very quiet.

Personally (just my opinion, I'm no Admiral :rolleyes: ) I'd like to have seen us go with German Type 209's or the Aussie Collins Class. No offence intended, but those damn Upholders are absolute junk! And the public is only now finding out what we've known in the service for a while: that we've been had by the government again!

I know, I know: "Well, we're talking Canada after all." :confused:

Forgive me plan_D if I grow tired of discussing this stuff, it's my own damn fault for continuing to bring it up. ](*,)
Those British Subs we sold you, were junk. I think the British government have good salesmen, we even managed to pass on old crappy F.3 Lightnings off as brand new F.53 Lightnings to the Saudis.
A few of the subs I have done ops on were diesels as well...... Quiet like u have no idea quiet.... Rubber coating on the hull..... Even the decking is rubber coated....

Diesels are great, as well as they are maintained properly.... They have many stealth and intelligence gathering purposes....
Many setting themselves alight and needing to resurface to charge the batteries purposes as well.
I didn't actually mean to put many...where that came from, I have no idea. :oops:
I know, they have their uses...
They do, there is a movie, 'Down Periscope' which is about a naval exercise, where using cunning the odd-ball commander of the old WW2 diesel sub manages to outwit the Commander of a USS Los Angeles Class Attack Sub. They have the advantage of being able to hide on the surface in fog and darkness if an enemy sub is detected and the noise would sound exactly like a fishing boat. Thus allowing the sub to escape close detection and sinking.
They certainly have their limitations as well. They need to constantly come to periscope depth, in order to "snort" to replenish their batteries and change their air, and they're not as fast as a nuke nor can they operate at the same depths.

For all of that, however, they're extremely quiet and make excellent "lying in wait" boats, if deployed correctly, and can wreak havoc on an enemy force. They make excellent harassers and patrol submarines.
Their relative small size and stealth make them ideal for intelligence gathering, supporting covert ops, drug interdiction duties, etc. They're quite well suited for inshore work as well, and they can get into areas where the nukes would have difficulty operating.

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