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BAC TSR-2

United Kingdom (1959)
Picture of BAC TSR-2 Tactical Strike / Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft

The BAC TSR-2 became a Cold War-era case study of a promising aircraft derailed by ballooning program costs and political meddling.


Detailing the development and operational history of the BAC TSR-2 Tactical Strike / Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/23/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Along the same lines as the prototype North American XB-70 Valkyrie strategic bomber of the United States Air Force, the BAC TSR-2 was to be England's "super" Cold War tactical strike and reconnaissance bomber (the "TSR" in the formal designation equates to "Tactical Strike / Reconnaissance"). The program was intended to provide the United Kingdom with a supersonic, low-level bombing platform capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons with precision. From the outset, the TSR-2 was on pace to become just what was intended. However, ballooning program costs (primarily due to low initial estimates) and political changes in British government soon doomed the aircraft to the pages of aviation history.

The TSR-2 was initially a product of the English Electric and Vickers-Armstrong aviation concerns with the primary aim of replacing English Electric Canberras as Britain's principle long-range, low-level supersonic bomber (as well as possibly the entire family of nuclear-capable "V-Bombers"). Design work began in 1958 to which the project was approved in 1959. English Electric and Vickers-Armstrong were then pushed into a merger with Bristol and Hunting to become the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) in 1960. The aircraft utilized the latest advances in swept wing technology to provide a pleasing airframe with exceptional airflow qualities. The fuselage consisted of a tubular design with slab sides and a raised spine behind the pair of inline cockpits for its crew of two. The main wing elements were set at amidships and high mounted to provide excellent clearance and lift. Intakes were fitted well aft of the cockpit and aspirated the pair of Bristol-Siddeley Olympus B.OI22R (Mk 320) turbojet powerplants. The side-by-side engines exhausted under a single vertical tail fin. At the rear sides of the fuselage were low-set horizontal stabilizers arranges in a traditional fashion. All wing surfaces were swept along their leading and trailing edges. The undercarriage was wholly retractable and of the tricycle arrangement with a two-wheeled nose leg and two twin-wheeled main legs. The undercarriage legs were noticeable long given the TSR-2 a decidedly tall appearance when at rest. Internal controls were advanced and included Heads Up Displays (HUDs), specialized weapons systems and communications (by Plessi) facilities, forward and side-looking (by EMI) radars and integrated terrain-following capabilities (by Ferranti) for low-level approaches. Onboard cameras covered the reconnaissance role. Avionics design was handled by Marconi.

First flight of a prototype airworthy TSR-2 was recorded on September 27th, 1964. While the TSR-2 proved itself enough to warrant a serial production order, the rising development and production costs and the now-governing Labour Party forced the TSR-2 into mothballs and subsequent cancellation in 1965 - just a short six years after the entire project was initially green-lighted. The TSR-2 prototype managed a mere 13 airborne hours across two dozen controlled flights and it was this sole TSR-2 form that proved the only airworthy mount of the 23 total airframes reaching various stages of completeness.
The British military then elected to order the American General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark through a 50-strong order. However, this was also cancelled amidst rising procurement costs. The need was then fulfilled through a combination fielding of the American McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and the Blackburn Buccaneer. The Panavia Tornado eventually superseded the latter in the strike role.

BAC was made defunct on April 29th, 1977. Only two airframes of the TSR-2 project survived the subsequent scrapping initiative posed after the program's cancellation. One prototype can be found at the RAF Museum at Cosford and the other at the Imperial War Museum of Duxford.

As completed, the TSR-2 presented a running length of 89 feet with a wingspan of 37 feet and height of 23.7 feet. Empty weight was approximately 55,000lbs with a maximum take-off weight of 103,500lbs. The Bristol Siddeley Olympus engines outputted at 22,000lbs dry thrust each (44,000 combined) with 30,610lbs of thrust (60,000lbs combined) when use afterburner. Maximum speed was Mach 2.35 with a range (ferry) out to 2,880 miles and combat radius of 860 miles operating at altitudes up to 40,000 feet (estimated). Rate of climb was in the vicinity of 15,000 feet per minute, giving the airframe an excellent response time.

The TSR-2 was designed to carry ordnance across an internal and external weapons arrangement. Up to 6,000lbs of stores were housed in an internal bomb bay with up to 4,000lbs held externally for a total of 10,000lbs of possible weaponry. The airframe would have supported the carrying and release of the "Red Beard" 15 kiloton nuclear weapon or 6 x 1,000lbs of conventional drop bombs. There was noted support for the WE.177 nuclear bomb across four hardpoints. The TSR-2 could also make use of 37" rocket pods for the strike role.






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 Rating
Hi: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (835mph).

    Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the BAC TSR-2's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
23
23


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1959
Type: Tactical Strike / Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) - UK
Production: 23
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United Kingdom
Historical 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 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 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
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the BAC TSR-2 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
89.01 ft


Meters
27.13 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
37.14 ft


Meters
11.32 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
23.79 ft


Meters
7.25 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
54,750 lb


Kilograms
24,834 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
103,573 lb


Kilograms
46,980 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Bristol-Siddeley Olympus B.01.22R turbojets with afterburner developing 30,600 lb of thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
835 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,344 kph


Knots
726 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,877 mi


Kilometers
4,630 km


Nautical Miles
2,500 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
39,370 ft


Meters
12,000 m


Miles
7.46 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
15,000 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
4,572 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an air launched nuclear weapon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (4):

Mission-specific ordnance up to 10,000 lb across internal (6,000 lb) and external (4,000 lb) bay / hardpoints to include nuclear bombs, conventional bombs and rocket pods.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• TSR-2 - Main Series Designation; 1 flyable airframe completed with as many as 23 airframes in various stages of completeness.