quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2011
Engineering Britain's Superweapons
After WWII, Britain was desperate to retain its status as a great power alongside the United States and the Soviet Union. Investing millions in increasingly powerful weapons seemed the only option.
The threat of a nuclear war in the late 1940s and 50s prompted a leap in the capability of aircraft and defence systems.
This, together with developments in jet propulsion and the technical lessons learned from the Second World War, led to the development of a trio of extraordinary and beautiful aircraft: the V-bombers.
With swept, delta and crescent wings and names beginning with 'V' they captured the public imagination, and have remained objects of fascination ever since.
While having access to nuclear bombs provides an immense advantage - they are still limited by the method of delivery - which for Britain in the early 1950s was the V-bomber.
The dropping of nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 changed the world forever - any nation that failed to harness the power of the atomic bomb suddenly seemed extremely vulnerable.
The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction - or 'MAD' - dictates that if two warring nations have access to nuclear weapons, then it would be folly for either side to use them - as the inevitable retaliation to a nuclear strike is, of course, a nuclear strike.
So it was that Britain needed to become a nuclear power, and the Hydrogen Bomb - or H-bomb - provided the ultimate destructive force.
Ballistic missiles provided the more effective solution, capapble of carrying nuclear warheads over vast distances, even between continents.
So in 1954, Britain began the development of Blue Streak, a mid-range ballistic missile capable of launching nuclear strikes at ranges of up to 3700 km.