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Saunders-Roe P.154

Single-Seat, Rocket-Powered Interceptor Proposal

Saunders-Roe P.154

Single-Seat, Rocket-Powered Interceptor Proposal


The Saunders-Roe P.154 was conceived of as a rocket-powered fighter at a time when rocket propulsion seemed to be the future.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1952
STATUS: Cancelled
OPERATORS: United Kingdom (abandoned)
National flag of United Kingdom
Technical Specifications

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Saunders-Roe P.154 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
POWER: 1 x Twin-chamber rocket motor developing a combined 8,000lb of thrust; PROPOSED: 1 x Turbojet engine (for cruising); Rocket boosters for take-off assistance.







2 x 25 RP aerial rockets contained in retractable rear-fuselage housings (total of 50 rockets).

2 x "Blue Jay" Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs).
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Variants / Models

• P.154 - Base Series Designation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Saunders-Roe P.154 Single-Seat, Rocket-Powered Interceptor Proposal.  Entry last updated on 5/4/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
For a time in military aviation history, the rocket-powered fighter / interceptor stood as the potential future of aerial combat. This approach was laid down in the World War 2 period (1939-1945) when German engineers realized the Messerschmitt Me 163 "Komet", a single-seat, single-engine rocket-powered fighter / interceptor (detailed elsewhere on this site). The design was not without its issues for its fuel was highly volatile - making it as much a danger to its pilot as to any Allied bomber - and the stores burned rather quickly - giving the little warplane very limited endurance when intercepting bomber formations; perhaps enough burn to complete two strafing passes into the group. To this was added the lack of an onboard undercarriage requiring the pilot to land his aircraft in a relatively smooth open field on a simplistic belly-mounted skid.

From this approach came the vision that the future of aerial warfare would be dominated by fast and nimble rocket-powered warplanes, capable of exceptional inherent speeds and sporting an outstanding rate-of-climb. In Britain, there were many projects drawn up for this very purpose though few were eventually realized due to the post-war draw-down - and the turbojet ultimately became the fixture of warplanes for the foreseeable future which left rocket-centric vehicles to power the various space programs that unfolded in the Cold War period (1947-1991).

The need for rocket-powered interceptors was driven home with the fear of ever-increasing capabilities of Soviet bombers and reconnaissance planes as these high-flying terrors might push the limits of ground-based air defense systems and those manned interceptors relying on air-breathing turbojet engines. A rocket-powered interceptor, therefore, could provide the answer, giving a reach upwards of 60,000 feet and beyond, providing a direct counter to marauding enemy warplanes.

Against this backdrop, the British concern of Saunders-Roe penciled out what it believed to be a sound rocket-powered interceptor contender in the "P.154". The company is long-remembered as a flying boat builder and its designs were used throughout the fighting of World War 2 in various capacities. However, it also knew how to push the boundaries of aeronautics design for its part in aviation history with many forward-thinking and unique proposals offered during the post-World War 2 period.

The design of the aircraft was certainly modern by 1950s standards, incorporating a short nosecone assembly ahead of the single-seat, pressurized cockpit. The pilot would sit under a two-piece canopy that offered generally unobstructed views (though the rear was partially obscured by the raised dorsal fuselage spine). The wing mainplanes were situated at midships (and were mid-mounted along the fuselage sides) while given a large-area surface. The leading edges were supplied good sweepback for the high-speed flight envelope while the trailing edges countered with straight lines, these also containing the needed control surfaces. The tail unit had just one vertical fin and mounted its elevators low (yet above the mainplane's wash). Internally, there would be a twin-chambered rocket motor outputting a combined 8,000lb of thrust (one or both of these chambers could be selected by the pilot based on flight phase: covering general cruising or high-speed interception actions as needed). Since the rocket engine did not require air-breathing (as a turbojet would), no intakes were present. The unit exhaust by way of a conventional ring positioned at the extreme rear of the design and under the tail fin in the usual way.

As with the wartime Me 163 rocket fighter, the P.154 was to have relied on a jettisonable, three-wheeled "dolly" for its ground-running /take-off action and have to land on a skid-equipped belly for the return trip.

Beyond the proposed internal rocket engine, which would have been an in-house Saunders-Roe-developed rocket motor, the design was also proposed with additional take-off thrust by way of rocket boosters and another idea involved the installation of a compact turbojet for propulsion power for the return trip home.

In terms of armament, the P.154 was envisioned as having two retractable housings at the rear section of the fuselage to contain 25 x RP aerial rockets each. Only later was thought being given to supporting 2 x "Blue Jay" air-to-air missiles. In either case, both weapon arrangements were strictly intended for the interception role and mainly for large enemy warplanes such as bombers (whose airframes often went on to double as reconnaissance platforms due to their inherently good range).

While never built, SARO engineers provided some estimates for their proposed creation: it would have a maximum speed reaching nearly Mach 2.5 at altitudes of 60,000 feet and climb-rate would be in excess of 13,500 feet-per-minute - qualities brought about by the focus on rocket propulsion (though at the expense of limited range due to excessive fuel burn). The aircraft was to have reached 60,000 feet in a little over two minutes and, beyond this, the structure would see a running length of 37 feet with a wingspan of 26 feet. Gross weight was to reach nearly 13,300lb.

At any rate, the P.154 was not furthered beyond its paper stage though Saunders-Roe's own "SR.53" development, detailed elsewhere on this site, at least went on to make it to the prototype stage before being terminated.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1900mph
Lo: 950mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,873mph).

Graph average of 1425 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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