This is a very British story of remarkable technological ambition from a country adjusting to decolonisation and a dangerous nuclear arms race close to home. Britain and the Bomb tells one of the great British stories from the Cold War – the transition of the nuclear deterrent from the Royal Air Force to the Royal Navy. The author draws upon insights from the laboratories, the military, popular culture and from politicians to make sense of a complex time and to challenge some widely-held perceptions that Britain in the 1960s lost her technical ambition and ability. Rather than industrial chaos and short-termist leadership, there is instead a story of shrewd, but pragmatic, moves in the chess game that was the Cold War. The author looks at how Britain saw the role of nuclear weapons, providing insights for the decisions that now lie ahead for Britain in the twenty-first century. The story pivots around a single day in April 1965. The recently-established Labour government very publicly cancelled the much-vaunted TSR2 nuclear strike bomber, causing dismay among aviation enthusiasts. By taking a wider view, the merit of the 1965 decision is apparent, providing better understanding of the even bolder and more ambitious decisions that were needed into the 1970s. Those bold actions were once highly secret and are still not widely-known or understood. While Britain very publicly cancelled her strike bomber ambitions she very secretly pursued a different nuclear weapons project: the `Chevaline’ upgrade of the submarine-based nuclear deterrent. That engineering success deserves to be remembered. This is a fascinating book that takes us back to a time of British boffins, supersonic test pilots, mods, rockers and Cold War spies.
There are no reviews yet.