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Bloodhound: Cold war walks

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posted on Dec, 17 2007 @ 08:08 PM
-Corrections and constructive feedback welcomed-

Some web research and Google Earth loitering….

The Bloodhound was a surface to air missile deployed by the British and several other countries from the 1958 through to the 1999. It was, at face value, similar to the more conventional Thunderbird SAM used by the British Army, but mounted two Thor ramjet engines above and below a fuselage. It was unusual for a SAM in having a monoplane configuration (see CIM-10 Bomarc for a similar layout) .
The Bloodhound SAM was loosely equivalent to the Soviet SA-2 and American Nike Hercules, deployed from fixed sites to defend against medium and high altitude targets at medium/long range. In terms of performance it was shorter ranged than its American equivalent, but still almost twice the range of the Soviet counterpart. A basic stats comparison is a good place to start:
1st. Nike Hercules: 140km
2nd. Bloodhound: 80km
3rd. SA-2D Guideline: 50km

1st. Nike Hercules: Mach 3.65
2nd. SA-2D Guideline: Mach 3.5
3rd. Bloodhound: Mach 2.7

Overall length (at launch):
1st. Bloodhound: 8.5m
2nd. SA-2D Guideline: 10.6m
3rd. Nike Hercules: 12.5m
But, behind the stats there are some interesting similarities and differences. At first sight the Bloodhound appears the smallest of the three missiles, but the length is misleading, because unlike the others its launch boosters are mounted beside the fuselage not behind it. In the final ntercept stage all missiles are about the same overall dimensions, although the Nike Hercules is noticeably fatter than the other two:

(top: Bloodhound, middle: Nike Hercules, bottom: SA-2)

And again, in launch configuration:

Of the three systems the SA-2 was most mobile although all three were regarded as static systems throughout the cold war. Whilst the’ rose’ of SA-2 positions is regarded as the classic SAM site, the Bloodhound and Nike Hercules also had distinctive site layouts. The Bloodhound, being an RAF missile, was deployed at air fields, but rather than simply parking the launch turntables on taxiways and aircraft dispersals, the RAF built special purpose circular pans, connected to access roads, in groups of four. Two grounds of four (rarely, six) dispersals would be connected to a single fire control radar which was often mounted on a mast. Missiles at one quad could be rearmed whilst firing was commencing from the other. Each launch position would have a single missile on a turntable.:

There were no blast embankments as per the SA-2, and the system could be deployed on any flat concreted surface. But whilst the trim airfield grass and neat concrete pans might seem luxurious compared to the dirt of many SA-2 sites, it was nothing compared to the incredible complexity of the Nike Hercules which actually required underground bunkers underneath the launching positions:

Consequently, even when redeployed into a warzone, Nike Hercules sites would still take days to become operational, and were particularly vulnerable to low-level attack. The RAF countered this problem by having two radar choices; a large search radar for fixed positions, and a smaller one for mobile positions. When the radar was mounted on a skeleton tower the system was relatively capable even at lower altitudes. And towers became the norm.

Random fact: In RAF service each missile was regarded as an aircraft of a squadron.

Contrary to popular imagination, where the SAM flies directly upwards at the target, systems such as the Bloodhound and Nike Hercules were launched high up above their targets and dived down – this is in part how such long ranges were achieved, but it made the missiles unsuitable for the evolving battlefield where threats were increasingly low altitude high speed maneuvering targets.

Whilst the Nike Hercules was replaced by the Patriot, and the SA-2 superseded by the SA-5 and then the infamously potent SA-10, the Bloodhound was destined to be retired without meaningful replacement. Sob.

Like the SA-2 and Nike Hercules, some Bloodhound sites are still visible from Google Earth.

(a-typical layout)

Other British Bloodhound bases, mostly where launch positions are no longer visible:
RAF North Luffenham: 52°37'50.26"N, 0°35'48.85"W
RAF Newton (training unit): 52°57'33.92"N, 0°59'25.93"W
RAF Woodhall Spa: 53° 8'3.49"N, 0°11'47.24"W
RAF Dunholme Lodge: 53°17'39.99"N, 0°29'37.25"W
RAF Lindholme: 53°32'51.57"N, 0°58'9.87"W
RAF Donna Nook (secondary): 53°27'37.40"N, 0° 8'58.55"E
RAF Carnaby: 54° 3'38.67"N, 0°15'17.91"W
RAF Watton: 52°34'2.14"N, 0°52'20.08"E
RAF Kuching, Malaysia: 1°29'9.19"N, 110°20'49.10"E
RAF Seletar, Singapore: 1°25'5.15"N, 103°52'2.47"E (also location of Singaporean battery?)
RAF Episkopi, Cyprus: 34°41'0.78"N, 32°50'54.06"E
RAF Bruggen, Germany: 51°11'51.04"N, 6° 8'0.78"E
RAF Wildenarth, Germany: 51° 6'58.94"N, 6°13'8.41"E

Bloodhound in other countries (example sites)


Switzerland (note the missiles):

[edit on 17-12-2007 by planeman]

[edit on 17-12-2007 by planeman]

[edit on 17-12-2007 by planeman]

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 01:21 AM

Originally posted by planeman Whilst the Nike Hercules was replaced by the Patriot, and the SA-2 superseded by the SA-5 and then the infamously potent SA-10, the Bloodhound was destined to be retired without meaningful replacement. Sob.

Planeman, an excellent post. I remember the Bloodhound with great fondness.

I do take exception about a 'meaningful' replacement. The Rapier replaced the Bloodhound and whilst it did not take to sea travel very well en route to the Falklands, once ashore and operating correctly, I believe it was an excellent SAM.

Rapier Mod 2 or 3 is now the dog's bollocks and my mate tells me the R2D2 'Dustbins' can do 'stuff' that was never dreamt of in the 80s.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 03:04 AM
A very good post, planeman. Thank you very much.

But I agree with Fritz. I vaguely remember a cryptic government announcement after September 11th about "certain measures" being taken to protect the skies over London. Seems like the RAF deployed Rapier & the Royal Artillery deployed Starstreak, both to protect London and civilian nuclear facilities.


I've only seen a Bloodhound missile once, as a static display on Air Day at RNAS Culdrose in 1976. It looked enormous, it had huge fins and must've been mobile to some exent because there was a green coloured low loader parked right beside it. I didn't take much interest in it tbh, it didn't "do anything", unlike the Luftwaffe/Bundesmarine pilots who frightened the crap out of the public with their low level flying. I remember my Grandad talking to the Bloodhound operators for ages and me being bored stiff ... cos I wanted to go see the Royal Navy Phantoms from my Dad's ship, the old HMS Ark Royal, instead of looking at boring old rockets. Ha.

"Thanks for the memories"

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 02:56 PM

thats the Army Thunderbird mobile SAm - which was very similar to the Bloodhound (and road mobile) pg

piccie of it being moved

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 03:16 PM
Bloodhound is replaced by Rapier .. what do they use these days instead of sea dart and sea wolf ? Is Alarm still in use , how much better is Rapier Mk 3 to Mk 2 ?

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 03:19 PM
Sea Dart has been (or is being) phased out and replaced by VL Sea Wolf and eventually ASTER

ALARM is Air Launched Anti Radiation Missile -used for hitting radar`s etc.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 03:59 PM
Yes, they used it extensively against iraqi radar sites in 1991 , just wondered if they had another system in use these days.

posted on Dec, 18 2007 @ 05:18 PM
ALRAM is very effective - so why replace it?

[edit on 18/12/07 by Harlequin]

posted on Dec, 19 2007 @ 11:45 AM
a very good post, planeman.

Thank you very much. i live in Lincolnshire and it is a shame as most of these old sites are disapearing into housing estates and farmers fields.
i actually work in an old cold war bunker here in Lincolnshire that was saved from demolition.
have you seen this site for lincolnshire sites ?? :



posted on Dec, 28 2007 @ 07:54 PM
Great feedback lads.

I remember going for family walks that passed an operational Bloodhound site as a kid, and they impressed the hell out of me at the time, although hardly an obsession. I think that Thunderbird will be my next study.

Re the Rapier comment, I think it stands that Rapier is not a true replacement for Bloodhound or even Thunderbird. Rapier is SHORAD - short ranged and low altitude. Compared to other SHORAD it is actually quite short ranged even, but completely in a different league than the long ranged Bloodhound. I recall the running joke that in order to avoid Rapier, all the enemy pilot has to do was fly with the window open and he'll hear the generators before he was within range. Also on the negative side, it's commonly accepted that the 'official' Rapier record from the Falklands war was grossly over-optimistic; for every Argentine aircraft downed over the bay numerous units claimed the kill and few were refused for morale reasons. Having said all that, Rapier is good at what it does, just not in the same league as Bloodhound.

Modern equivalents to Bloodhound are systems like Aster-30, Patriot, S-300 et al.

posted on Dec, 29 2007 @ 03:36 AM
reply to post by planeman[/url]

Planeman. Where do I start?

Your assumption that Rapier did not work in the Falklands campaign is due - no doubt, to all the stories written about San Carlos Sound.

Of the two sams deployed in the conflict, Blowpipe only faired marginally better and its faillure was the inability to 'lock on' at very short ranges.

Rapier on the other hand, did not travel very well and salty spray took its toll of the 'software' causing several malfunctions.

Another factor never taken in to account, is the original Rapier R2D2 dustbins needed to be sited on high ground for 'line-of-sight' target acquisition.

Once the dustbins were dried out and recalibrated, I am led to believe that the system operated perfectly and Rapier is credited with at least 1 or possibly 2 kills, the remainder being claimed by the Harrier CAPs.

Rapier Mod 3 is nothing like its original cousin. It can 'do' far more than it says on the tin and my mate Chas positively enthuses about it.

Incidentally Planeman, Rapier Mod 3 outperforms Patriot in every way. Please feel free to U2U me for details.

posted on Dec, 31 2007 @ 07:32 AM
hey , great thread - here are some ` boots on the ground ` shots of bloodhound infrastructure at RAF west raynham

#1 cluster of 4 launch cites

#2 close up of the mount points

#3 the SAM training facility [ traineeds would stand in the centre with a simulator - and attempt to engage targets projected onto he dome inner face - all controlled by instructors / operators in the adjacent hut ]

#4 the inside of the dome

#5 my mate for scale

the acousitics are unworldly

all pictures taken 2007

posted on Jan, 1 2008 @ 01:32 PM
great post mate! Is that simulator for Rapier?

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 02:34 PM
reply to post by planeman

here is actually one more,
have just been there last week.......

46'46'17 , 6'57'33

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