It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Design and manufacture proceeded despite these problems and despite poor cooperation between the constituents of BAC. One example of this was that when the engines were ready to be placed in the airframe it was found that they simply did not fit in the supplied tunnels! In addition, some sub-contractors were not working for BAC, but were working for the Ministry instead, with communication problems being a result. The Ministry's interference extended into the design and manufacture of the aircraft itself; they took charge of the cockpit layout, and often had three hour meetings to decide the location of a single switch (and often got it wrong). At the same time the Americans' TFX programme had begun, and much pressure was placed on the UK to buy the TFX (later to become the F-111) instead of the 'more expensive' TSR.2
A BAC delegation had visited Australia and left with high expectations of an export order for the TSR.2; the Australians were very interested in the new wonder-plane. By this time Lord Louis Mountbatten had became famous within the industry for slapping ten photographs of a Buccaneer on a desk followed by a single picture of a TSR.2, and then stating that he could buy that many Buccaneers for the price of a single TSR.2. Then when an Australian delegation visited the UK, Mountbatten joined them to discuss the TSR.2. Afterwards the Australians had lost interest in the TSR.2; we shall never know what Mountbatten actually said, but it had obviously had a big effect, and the TSR.2's export prospects had suddenly disappeared. The Australians chose to buy the F-111 shortly afterward. That this would cost 10 times more than they had been told and would be 10 years late into service was not something they expected.
Engine development problems had also surfaced. The Bristol-Siddely Olympus engines were an all-new development and suffered various problems, which resulted in the destruction of a Vulcan testbed aircraft on the ground. With the first prototype now complete, it was transported in sections to Boscombe Down. Vickers had wanted test flying to begin at their airfield at Wisley, but the chief test pilot, Roland Beamont, objected to this because of the short runway there. English Electric's airfield at Warton would have been ideal, but tas a compromise Boscombe Down was chosen. This meant more delays; neither company had a base of operations there, and the prototype had to be reassembled at Boscombe over a period of three months. On the 6th of May 1964 the fully assembled prototype, XR219, was removed from its hangar at Boscombe Down to begin testing, including taxi trials. Various minor problems occurred, including the failure of the braking parachute to deploy on one fast taxi run (where the long runway came in useful, vindicating Beamont's objection to the shorter airfield at Wisley), but most were overcome.
The cause of the engine problems was finally identified only days before the TSR.2 was due to fly. However, with pressure on the project increasing all the time, it was decided to go ahead with the first flight. The then-Conservative government was in serious trouble; a general election was looming for the end of the year and Labour were widely expected to win. Obviously BAC hoped that presenting the new government with a flying prototype would put some firmer foundations under the troubled project. The final decision was down to BAC's chief test pilot; Roland Beamont. Despite the engine problems (the manufacturers would not guarantee them lasting beyond five hours of use at a maximum of 97% power), despite many items of equipment not being ready and despite expected problems with the undercarriage and braking parachute, he decided the flight should go ahead; he was prepared to accept the risk for a single flight.
Other problems continued, however. Serious vibration problems related to the undercarriage meant that at the instant of landing, the crew became momentarily blinded - the frequency of the vibration matched the natural frequency of the human eyeball. A further serious vibration problem was traced to a faulty pump near the cockpit.
Undercarriage problems were not limited to vibration; there were also sustained problems with hydraulics and sequencing. Malfunctions varied from doors refusing to close to more serious problems like one leg staying extended while the others had retracted correctly. On one occasion the undercarriage came down but the main bogies did not lock into the correct position. Nothing could be done to get the gear down correctly, so Beamont told his navigator that it could be time to leave by Martin Baker (i.e. eject). Beamont, with typical bravery, elected to stay with the aircraft and try to land it, and his navigator stayed with him. In the event, the landing was successful, the bogies rotating into the correct position as the aircraft settled onto the extended gear.
The TSR.2 programme was, however...causing spiralling costs and rumours abounded of impending cancellation...were rife.
The second prototype would never fly; the government, in the Budget Day announcement on the 6th of April 1965, announced that the TSR.2 programme was to be terminated immediately. The aircrew were at the time having lunch in a pub near Boscombe Down; on hearing the shocking announcement they rushed back to the airfield in an attempt to get XR220 into the air and to at least present the government with a second flying prototype. This was not to be; permission was denied. While the management of BAC were informed before the budget speech was made, they were forbidden to tell their employees, who then had to hear the news on the radio. The House of Commons was in uproar over the cancellation; but no debate could take place during the budget speech so not only had the government treated BAC's workforce with contempt, they had tried to slip a major defence project cancellation past the opposition. A debate one week later in the house was a rough ride for Dennis Healey (the new Defence Minister), who tried to justify the cancellation on the basis that the F-111 could be bought more cheaply, though he could not state a cost or exact timescale for the buy. Healey has since stated that getting American backing for an International Monetary Fund loan was not a reason behind the British order for the F-111 instead of continuing the TSR.2 programme. However, the TSR.2 was certainly a serious worry to the Americans, being vastly more capable than the F-111 and could have made a serious dent in the F-111's export prospects. A denial from a politician, as the TSR.2 programme showed on numerous individual occasions, is not worth the paper they refuse to write it on.
XR222 was initially to be scrapped but was instead sent to the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield and later saved for restoration and moved to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. All other airframes were scrapped. All tooling was destroyed; on the production line, as workers completed assembly of some airframes prior to their transport to the scrap yard, the tooling was being destroyed with cutting torches behind them. A wooden mockup of the TSR.2 was dragged out of the Warton factory and burned while the workers looked on. All technical publications were ordered to be destroyed; even photographs of the aircraft were destroyed. Boscombe Down's official records of test flights were 'lost'.
The TFX programme continued in the US; but when it too became massively expensive and development ran into major problems, the UK (and the US Navy) cancelled their orders. Britain was to pay hugely for the TSR.2 cancellation; not only in the waste of the TSR.2 development, but now in cancellation fees to General Dynamics. Instead it was decided to buy the F-4 Phantom II. But the government could not be seen to be buying an inferior American aircraft after this fiasco, so specified that British engines were to be used. The UK Phantoms were to use Speys, an engine generally thought to be unsuitable for a fighter. Problems with the Spey and Phantom marriage meant that not only were British Phantoms the most expensive of all, but they also performed nowhere near as well as the original US models. TSR.2 was long gone, and all we had in its place was an aircraft of nowhere near the capability. Not only did the Phantom not come close to fulfilling the TSR.2's role, it could not adequately fulfil narrower roles such as air defence. The aging Lightning continued to outfly Phantoms until its retirement in 1988.
Flight 14 was XR219's trip to Warton, during which it went supersonic for the first and only time. TSR.2's performance was shown to good effect on this flight; when Beamont engaged reheat on a single engine, the chase aircraft (a Lightning T.5, a mach 2 aircraft and certainly no slouch) was left behind despite engaging reheat on both of its engines!
The SEPECAT Jaguar, near enough a 'baby TSR.2', gave them (BAC) even more experience of this kind of cooperation, and produced a useful strike aircraft, though it did not compare with the TSR.2.
As it turned out, the Tornado became more or less what the TSR.2 was to have been. That it was still slightly less capable than the TSR.2 had been projected to be a full fifteen years earlier says a great deal about how far advanced the TSR.2 project really was. That the TSR.2 was all-British (bar some electronics) and the Tornado required the cooperation of three countries also says a great deal about just how good the British aircraft industry was.
Originally posted by Britguy
Perhaps one of the biggest foul-ups of all time, the cancellation of the TSR2.
More politics than common sense, especially when taking into account the amount of development time and costs already spent.
An amazing and beautiful aircraft and way ahead of anything else at the time, which may have had something to do with it's sudden cancellation in favour of the proposed F-111. Seeing how politics works, there were probably other anglo-American factors at play behind the scenes
So, we scrapped the TSR-2 program, signed onto the F-111 program, wasted moeny there while we got nothing back for our investment, and then after tiring of waiting for the F-111 to appear (it was by that time well overdue) and bought Phantoms with Rolls Royce engines in (which basically shafted them because the British engines were never designed for the Phantom, and thus were overweight, underpowered, awkward to service and thirsty) to save face.