What is the preoccupation with TSR.2?

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Senior Airman
Oct 18, 2006
A number of the magazines to which I subscribe have, in the last 6 months or
so, run article after article on the British TSR.2, leaving me asking myself why
am I not all hot and bothered by what must be an important relic. Not trying
to be a smart ass here, or ugly, but understand what I might be missing.
There is clearly a soft spot among afficianado's, at least in England - why
the sentimentality? I can understand the love of the Vulcan and even the
E.E. Lightening, but the TSR.2 leaves me a bit bewildered...I am sure you
chaps can give me an earful.
It was a technological marvel for its time. The flight controls and onboard computing were highly advanced and the propulsion system was state of the art. Cancelled due to politics, not technical shortcomings. A cold war gem that likely cost the Brits some serious engineering talent and technological/manufacturing advantage due to its cancellation. Very cool plane. Ultimately lost out to the TFX competition in US (F-111). Irony was both TSR.2 and F-111 ultimately were cancelled and they went with the multi-national Tornado.

Oh. And did I mention that the design was virtually all British? :)

Why are you non-plussed with it? Don't like the looks?

[Unless otherwise noted, pic sources unknown]


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An attractive, distinctively British, aircraft to be sure - I'm an aeronautical engineer with an appreciation for clean lines. What has me wondering is the number of articles about something that never saw service, lovely as it was and sad as her political demise. I subscribe to 4 British publications and it seemed they were all running TSR.2 stories, even a very long dissertation on what might have been and what unit markings she might have carried, and what roles she might have played. I can't recall anything quite like it on any other aborted aircraft design. Perhaps you hit it on the head - there is a sense of political treachery and national loss woven in the stories.
maybe the four magazines all come from the same publisher? and you're nbang on with the political aspect, at less cost than the Tornado we could have had a home grown attack aircraft that had the potential to be the best in the world, and instead of showcasing our technical ability she was cancelled for political reasons, the treason aspect you refer to.........
Didn't the CF-105 have a lot problems with the retractable floats? If it
couldn't operate from a lake, the gov't didn't need it? :D
I think probably the fascination with the TSR2 comes from the fact that it was the last British aircraft; after that, we shared design and build with companies from other countries. Also, an example of short-term political expediency, and the damage that such solutions can cause - here, the demise of the British aircraft industry as an independent force. Finally, there is the "Jimi Hendrix" - or Jimmy Dean - effect; the hero, or potential hero, who despite all the promise he showed, died young.
The TSR2 was an absolutely outstanding achievement of aeronautical engineering in it's day, and would bear up quite nicely even today, the modern age of stealth technology not withstanding. The thing rocked, man. :cool:

...But of course, so too did the Arrow. ;)

Didn't the CF-105 have a lot problems with the retractable floats? If it
couldn't operate from a lake, the gov't didn't need it? :D
Floats, eh? Hmmm...:-k


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Yes, I really do agree, we are talking about the same potential sort of lead that the Germans were starting to have in WW2 over the Allies, with the TSR-1. Even today, a lot of its performance figures would win combat, and that is without even having an upgrade program in place! I really do think that this aircraft would have given the Russians a serious headache in the Cold War. Perhaps some Russian influence in the contractors inflated the price to protect the USSR?

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