English Electric TSR.2
English Electric TSR-2 Mach 2 tactical strike and reconnaissance aeroplane, evolved from the P.17A concept.
The TSR-2 remains the classic example of technical and operational promise ultimately stultified by economic worries and finally denied by political prejudice. It resulted from a May 1957 Royal Air Force requirement for a tactical strike and reconnaissance aeroplane to replace the English Electric Canberra, which would be able to operate at very low levels at supersonic speed, deliver heavy weapon loads over long ranges with very high accuracy, and operate from short runways through the provision of STOL capability.
The two most promising contenders were those from Vickers and from English Electric in collaboration with Shorts. The RAF opted for a combination of features from the two designs, and the government virtually forced English Electric and Vickers to merge as the British Aircraft Corporation, which also incorporated Bristol Aircraft. The development of the new aeroplane pushed forward the technologies of the time quite considerably in a number of fields, and inevitably involved a number of companies other than BAC (overall responsibility and airframe) and Bristol Siddeley (powerplant). Other major contributors were Elliott Automation for the integrated automatic flight control and inertial navigation systems, Ferranti for the terrain-following radar and nav/attack system, EMI for the side-looking radar used for reconnaissance and additional navigation input in long-range flights, and Marconi for the avionics.
The design was frozen in 1962 and construction of the prototypes began. There were many problems to be overcome, but the promise was a warplane more advanced than any in service or under development anywhere in the world at that time. Pitch and roll control was entrusted to the all-moving tailplane working collectively or differentially, and this allowed the entire trailing edge of the wings to be used for the blown flaps that contributed signally to the TSR-2's STOL capability. The nav/attack system was extremely advanced, and in combination with the automatic flight control system permitted supersonic terrain-following flight at heights down to 200 ft (61 m).
The Bristol Siddeley Olympus development became the pacing factor for the project, falling behind schedule and continually plagued with problems. Even when the TSR2 eventually got airborne for the first time, it did so with strictly non-airworthy engines, which had to be operated at reduced power.
Eventually the first prototype, XR219, became airborne for its maiden flight on 27th September 1964, six and a half years after the original requirement was raised. In the event, it was to be the only prototype to fly. The second one, XR220, fell off the back of a lorry on delivery to Boscombe Down, and it says much for the strength of the airframe that the subsequent rigging checks revealed nothing out of alignment. It was just ready for flight when cancellation came. It carried one of the few noticeable external differences, this being the fitting of camera fairings to each side of the engine intakes, to photograph under-wing stores separation tests. The third machine, XR221, was intended to be the full electronics test aircraft, and was under-going trials at Weybridge prior to flight. The fourth, XR222, was also virtually complete.
All the flying was done by XR219, lasting barely six months, and totalling only 24 flights.
In the first Budget Speech by the newly elected Labour Government in 1965, the cancellation of the whole programme was announced. Not only was it to be cancelled, but to ensure that the project could never be resurrected, all jigs, production drawings and completed components were to be totally destroyed. A proposal was made that XR219 should be kept flying for pure research purposes, but this was also rejected, and the contract was officially terminated on 6th July 1965, in favour of the General Dynamics F-111. The F-111 programme then suffered a number of severe problems and escalating costs, and the British order was cancelled.
At cancellation, in addition to the three completed aircraft, there were 17 others on the production line, as well as major components for several others, with long-lead items for a total of a further 50 aircraft.
The first prototype was sent to Shoeburyness to act as a gunnery target to assess damage to modern air-frames. XR220 was allocated to the Royal Air Force Museum and XR222, after a spell at Cranfield, to Duxford as a part of the Imperial War Museum's collection.
Engines: two Bristol Siddeley Olympus Mk 320 turbojets, 30,610 lb (13,885-kg) afterburning thrust
Wingspan 37 ft (11.28 m)
Length 89 ft (27.13 m)
Height 24 ft (7.32 m)
Wing area 700 sq.ft (65,03 sq.m)
Maximum speed at high altitude 1360 mph (2185 km/h) or Mach 2.05
Maximum speed at sea level 840 mph (1352 km/h) or Mach 1.27.
Empty weight 44,850 lb (20,344 kg)
Maximum take-off weight: 95,500 lb (34,500 kg).
Ceiling: 16500 m / 54150 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 6840 km / 4250 miles
Range w/max.payload: 1280-1850 km / 795 - 1150 miles
Operational radius 1,152 miles (1853 km) with 2000lb (907-kg) internal warload
Armament: internal 6000-lb (2724-kg, 4 x underwing hardpoints max 6000 lb (2722 kg)