Excellent Wiki link, HT.
Cosec59, like your dad, some of my former colleagues in BA
Concorde Engineering, were ex BAC, some from the TSR.2
The bitterness understandably lingers.
But, the rather irrational cancellation in 1965, has long led to suspicions that the LBJ White House, put pressure on the UK, linked to economic issues, for the cancellation of several high tech national projects.
TSR.2, P.1154 and Concorde.
Concorde, being half French, was kept since the government were trying to wear down CDG
's opposition to UK EEC (now EU) entry, having said 'non' already once before.
Plus the costs of unilaterally canceling could be as much as carrying on.
P.1154, well this over ambitious, large, complex, supersonic VSTOL combat aircraft, was trying to 'do a JSF' nearly 40 years before this new combat aircraft.
The Navy had already backed out and ordered F-4's.
Wise to axe it and concentrate on the much more practical, affordable, plain do-able technically and operationally, Harrier aircraft.
We'd never had sold the more complex, more expensive, more difficult, more like the size and performance of rival US machines, P.1154 to the US Marines, (the AV
-8A's, over a 100 of them, were UK built, unlike the later MDD/BAe AV
TSR.2, now flying, seemed safe, despite years of wrangling.
The Chief Of Defence Staff in the early 60's, Royal family relative Lord Mountbatten, was bitterly opposed to TSR.2.
He saw it as undermining support for a new, large, expensive class of 55,000 ton CVA aircraft carriers.
He would even, in public, put down 5 pictures of the new Naval strike aircraft, the buccaneer, then a single TSR.2 drawing.
Commenting that they would each cost the same.
To be fair, he had a point.
Less public was his trip to Australia in 1963, to put them off getting involved with TSR.2 industrially, as a precursor to the RAAF buying it.
Telling the Australians that TSR.2 was bound to be axed, they went out and brought F-111's, suffering long delays and cost escalation, probably worse than TSR.2 might have had.
LBJ had a poor relationship with Wilson, despite LBJ in many ways being as close politically to a then moderate Labour PM
, as a US President could ever be.
Some was poor personal chemistry, Wilson's refusal to send UK troops to Vietnam as well, though the UK never opposed the US diplomatic on this issue.
Wilson had found, to his cost, on taking power in 1964, that when the classified treasury books were opened to him on taking power, the situation was much worse than they had anticipated.
The offer from a perhaps suddenly more conciliatory LBJ, (who was now alarmed at the prospect of UK forces leaving SE
Asia way too fast, what with all the issues he had out there), must have been tempting.
Economic aid, a new RAF strike aircraft much cheaper than TSR.2, hell it was even a product of LBJ's home state, so everyone was pleased, except BAC workers of course.
When F-111 costs rose sharply, coupled with a still poor economic outlook, F-111 too was axed.
The RAF got the aircraft they should have ordered a decade before, instead of ever starting the TSR.2 project, the Buccaneer.
The Navy had spare ones, with more to come, plus some new production.
However, being seen as an interim type, (now Tornado was coming), an across the board avionic update was only instead piece-meal work over the years, adding new weapons, ECM, radios, etc.
In the end, much of what TSR.2 was supposed to do, was realized by a multi national project (so less likely to be cancelled, much more affordable, with production for several large airforces not just the RAF), the Tornado.
Great though the TSR.2 looked, would we have sold them elsewhere in NATO?
Very doubtful, just too expensive, elsewhere too, Australia going for F-111 was a serious blow.
We built over 900 Tornados, including over 120 to Saudi, TSR.2 production would not likely have been a 10th of the Tornado's.
Which one, in the long term, was really better for UK industry?