For the first time, the author met the mention of this interesting machine as a boy sometime in the mid-1960s in his father’s filings of the “Military Foreigner”. The plane then struck with its "swept" look and for a long time formed my opinion on how it should look aviation "tomorrow".
А история TSR.2 takes off in March 1957, when the United Kingdom Air Command issued 339 General Operating Requirements (GOR.339) issued to the aircraft, which will replace the Canberra. It was a very ambitious specification for the end of 1950: the bomber being created must fly at supersonic, both at height and on the ground; it must be all-weather, have a significant radius of action and be a carrier of tactical nuclear weapons. The requirement of operation from unpaved runways was also obligatory, which means a shortened take-off and landing. In the version of the scout, the aircraft was planned to be equipped with modern electronic intelligence.
The British aircraft manufacturers did not have time to familiarize themselves with the requirements for a new car, as clouds began to thicken over it. The "first thunder" was the "White Book" of Defense Minister Duncan Sandys, published in April of 1957. It stated that the era of manned air attack means is a thing of the past, and the entire foreseeable future belongs to rocket weapons. Therefore, the government should review its plans and concentrate on the acquisition of missiles.
Rocket "euphoria" of those years was a strategic mistake not only in the UK. But if the USSR and the United States in a few years eliminated the consequences of the “rocket-addiction” of their state leaders, England did not recover from this strike on aviation.
But back to the end of the fifties. The next challenge for the new project was the fight against the imposition of the Air Force, the NA.39 strike aircraft being developed for the Royal Navy, which later became known as the “Buchanir”.
The argument that NA.39 is transonic and intended for other tasks was not initially taken into account. Moreover, the designers of the company "Blackburn" - the developers of "Bakenira" - and offered a supersonic version of the machine. The commander of the Air Force had to compile a multipage list of arguments than the Blackburn aircraft did not suit them.
The main reason was as follows: NA.39 would under no circumstances be able to fly at twice the speed of sound, and the Air Force needed a high-speed bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.
One way or another, but the development of a new aircraft made a move. The Air Force Command has set a deadline for the submission of promising projects to January 31 1958. Of all the proposals received, the most promising were from English Electric and Supermarine (this company was at that time a branch of Vikkers-Armstrong) - R.17А and "571" aircraft, respectively. At the first stage, English Electric was in the lead, but Vickers-Armstrong had one indisputable trump card: for the first time, the aircraft was viewed as a component of the weapon system, which also included the means of maintenance and ensuring its use.
For a long time, no one gave preference to the competition. In part, this is due to the fact that the British government led the matter to the merger of aviation companies, and the prospect of combining both projects was just right. This goal was served and the new specification "343", issued by the Ministry of Aviation. According to the revised technical specifications, the first squadron was to be equipped with new technology by the end of the 1965.
Such tight deadlines made some confusion in the ranks of the developers, but already on January 1, the 1959 points above the "i" were placed. The Air Department gave the green light to the full-scale development of the aircraft, designated TSR.2 (Tactical Strike & Reconnaissance - tactical strike and reconnaissance). At the same time, the project has a “prehistory”: the designation TSR.1 received (and by right) “Canberra”. And the progenitor of the concept of "shock - reconnaissance aircraft" began to be considered Fairy "Swordfish".
Both firms - developers from the perspective of joint activities were, to put it mildly, not thrilled. Each has its own stereotypes of work, which now had to break. Immediately a problem arose: where to build and test a prototype? Vickers tended in favor of its plant in Brookland, despite the tiny airfield there.
The English Electrician, in turn, insisted on its possession in Wharton, since the plant and the airfield were already adapted to the supersonic theme: it was there that the Lightning interceptor was created. In order not to tempt fate similarly to two sheep from a well-known children's work, both companies decided to work on a "neutral territory" - a base in Bosco Down. However, later it was necessary to revise these agreements.
The controversy was finally eliminated in June of 1960, with the merger of Wikersa Armstrong, Inglish Electric and Bristol Aeroplain, into the holding of British Aircraft Corporation (BAK). Shares of participation between the above components of the corporation in the creation of a new machine were distributed in the proportion of 40: 40: 20. At the beginning of October of the same year, BAK received a contract worth 90 million British pounds, which provided for the construction of nine prototypes. Later it was planned to build eleven pre-production machines.
By the way, the financial side of the project constantly hung over it, eventually becoming one of the main reasons for its collapse. The initial development cost figures increased steadily and by the end of 1962-th rose to 175 - 200 million pounds, and the cost of one machine - to 2,1 million pounds. At the same time, the readiness of the aircraft shifted to a later time, approximately to the end of 1967. In June of next year, the project was already estimated at 197-222 million pounds.
The proposal to reduce the number of machines under construction from 138 to 50 -60 units by the Air Force Command rejected. At the same time, the generals were looking for ways to save the project. The British Secretary of Defense, for example, proposed two options, each of which could reduce the costs of a new offspring of the British aviation industry. Firstly, the export of TSR.2 to the United States, where the licensed Canberra under the trademark B-57 already lived, seemed quite real. Secondly, it was proposed to use the new aircraft not only as a tactical one. The idea was expressed about equipping the bomber with missiles and turning it into a strategic system.
In reality, neither was impossible. Americans were in full swing developing the F-111, the project loomed promising. Equipping the TSR.2 with the existing Blue Steel rocket, created under the Vulcan and Victor, could not be realized due to its considerable size. Nobody would have created a new airborne SD for a plane that already made a significant gap in the budget. And the minister’s proposal to equip the machine with missiles like the American Bullpup for strategic purposes was considered unpromising, which only demonstrated his incompetence: such missiles had a launch range of about 10 km.
The only real hope in this direction was the visit of the delegation of the Australian Air Force, which, during the acquaintance with the project, expressed its intention to purchase 24 aircraft. Subsequently, this chance also disappeared: Australia acquired F-111.
Well, what about the “culprit” itself, around which so many copies broke? From the perspective of today, it was a typical representative of the third generation of combat jet vehicles, which absorbed almost all the achievements of the global aviation industry of those years. Aerodynamics, power plant, onboard and ground equipment - all reflected the trends of the early sixties.
In terms of its layout, the TSR.2 very much resembled the Vigilant A-5 attack aircraft at that time, and, as it turned out later, the domestic Т6.1. The aircraft had a significant lengthening of the fuselage, optimal for flying at high supersonic speeds. The trapezoidal wing of small elongation and 60 ° sweep along the leading edge had cantilevers that were deflected downward, which increased the stability of the track, as well as created an additional increase in lift force on supersonic.
As the power plant used two engines "Olympus" 320-22R. It was the "afterburner" version of the engine, which was installed on the volcano bomber. Some
a conservative approach to creating a power plant did not save designers from problems. In December, 1963 th “Vulcan” exploded while running on the airfield, used as a flying laboratory for testing a new engine. The cause of the incident was the turbine assembly, which entered into resonant oscillations. In July, 1964 th one of the gas generator shafts collapsed during a land race on a stand.
In terms of power, the new version of the engine is far superior to its predecessor. Flying laboratory "Volcano" freely continued flying on one "new" Olympus, turning off its four "old" ones. It should be noted that the engine prepared a better fate, rather than the aircraft under which it was developed. It is these "Olim-Pusy" that still lift the Concordes to the sky.
Since the aircraft was calculated at high speeds and significant ranges, the fuel was “poured” wherever it was possible. Four fuel tanks in the fuselage, two of which were located directly above the engines, plus integral tanks in the wing - the total capacity of the fuel system was 25425 l. It is quite a lot for the machine to take-off weight of 43,5 t. Transfer of fuel for balancing was carried out automatically, thanks to the equipment of the company "Lucas". For refueling in the air there was a fuel-receiving rod installed in the cockpit area on the left side.
To ensure the required take-off and landing characteristics, the wing of the vehicle was equipped with two-section flaps with deflation of the boundary layer located along the entire trailing edge. This was, according to engineers, a low-cost alternative to the variable geometry wing, which was very popular at the start of the 1960-x. During takeoff, the flaps were deflected by 35 °, while landing - by 50 °. According to the calculations of the designers, this solution provided the run-up length of 490 m with normal take-off weight.
To reduce the mileage intended four solid brake flap, placed on the fuselage between the wing and tail. The wing had no ailerons, and roll control was carried out by stabilizers in the scissors mode.
The tail unit TSR.2, which consisted of a whirling keel and stabilizers, equipped with small elevators, was also innovative.
The aircraft landing gear was optimized for operation from unpaved runways. The front desk was equipped with a mechanism that extended it at the end of the run, thus increasing the angle of attack on the take-off. All racks were completed with tubeless low-pressure pneumatic tires.
The main supports had carts with twin wheels arranged in tandem. Later, this scheme was used in the Swedish "Wiggen" and the domestic Su-34. Because of the relatively high main landing gear, the TSR.2 resembled a heron in the parking lot, and this impression was heightened when flying with the landing gear.
The airframe had a mainly aluminum construction, although aluminum lithium and titanium alloys were used in some especially loaded elements. Interesting attachment points of the wing to the fuselage, which, due to the special design, played the role of dampers bending oscillations of planes. This not only created more comfortable conditions when flying in a turbulent atmosphere, but also ultimately increased the glider's life.
The cockpit was also created "by the last word". The pilot and the navigator were located in the ejection seats of the "Martin Baker" Mk.8А of class "0-0", which allowed to leave the car at altitudes up to 17000 m and speeds twice as high as sound. For the first time in the English plane appeared indicator on the windshield, developed by the company "Rank Sintel". The lantern glasses had an increased strength required in a collision with birds, which met the requirements of low-altitude flight.
The aiming and flight-navigation equipment was integrated into a single complex, which included a single-pulse multi-mode radar made by Ferranti.
In addition to the radar, the architecture of the complex included an inertial navigation system (Ferranti), a Doppler navigation system (Decca), a system of air signals (Smith Industries), a dual radio altimeter (Standard Telephones & Cables), as well as an autopilot. The latter was a modified version of the American autopilot "Aeronetiks Verdan" installed on the Vigilant attack aircraft, the Elliott company had adapted to the English machine.
According to the developers, the complex allowed the flight to be performed around the elevation up to 90 m in automatic mode, while the system errors were no more than 30 m. When the electronics failed, the plane was automatically switched to climb, so that the pilot would take control. In addition, the machine was equipped with long-wave and VHF radio communication equipment, identification systems and instrumental landing.
The reconnaissance arsenal included three cameras built into the nose: one installed for perspective shooting, and two on the sides of the fuselage. It was supposed to equip the car side view radar, infrared station with linear scanning, other equipment
TSR.2 had no built-in armament. Bombs weighing up to 2720 kg could be placed in the bomb bay, including atomic bombs: one Reed Beard strategic bomb or up to four tactical WEs. 177 (two in the bomb bay and on the outer pylons).
In the usual version of the bomber was planned to arm free-fall bombs and the NAR, as well as a remote-controlled SD AJ.168 "Martel" with a guidance system. All this, as well as additional fuel tanks, could be placed on the four underwing points of the suspension.
The option of hanging a plane on a refueling unit was considered so that TSR.2 would have the option of refueling “similar” in the air if necessary (as on Su-24 almost twenty years later). According to calculations, the maximum mass of the combat load reached 4,5 T. In general, many of the characteristics of the new machine can only be discussed in the “presumptive inclination”, since the tests have not been fully carried out, and many parameters simply did not have time to confirm.
Since the aircraft was created "at the same time" with the ground-based service complex, a number of ground-support support systems, which were fundamentally new for aircraft of that time, were developed in parallel. This is a variety of test equipment, devices that facilitate and accelerate the preparation of the aircraft for re-departure, as well as the onboard auxiliary power unit (APU), which significantly increased the autonomy of the machine.
The first prototype emerged from the walls of the 4 March 1964 assembly hangar in XNUMX March, but it turned out that the first flight was still far away. When installing the engines, it turned out that they "did not fit" into the airframe, and the tail section must be refined. For the British, this is not the first time that the engines did not approach the car. A similar situation developed in the development of "Meteor". The reason for this is the weak interaction between aircraft and engine builders during the development of aircraft. Here it is, vaunted western standard!
After the engines still installed and began testing them, a serious vibration was discovered. Before the advent of improved engines, engineers decided to limit themselves to half measures, introducing a number of restrictions. As the test pilot R. Beamont later noted, "the position with the engines ... actually dictated the course of the flight tests."
For the sake of objectivity, it is worth noting that when creating a new aircraft in all countries, the problem of the power plant is very often the “problem number one” if the engine is developed directly for the aircraft. And the reason for this is the enormous complexity of creating high-loaded units that are extremely complex in their design, control systems, and much more characteristic of heat engines, called turbojet engines.
Preparation for the first flight was delayed, and the time was running out. It turns out that not only we loved to meet important events with "labor gifts." September was approaching, and with it, another air show in Farnborough, and the British leadership wanted to demonstrate TSR.2 on it, at least in the air. But, not destiny.
The first runs began on September 2, during which brakes and control systems were tested. For a week, engineers fought with brakes that regularly overheated. 20-th and 21-th, after the modifications, they finally earned a regular, and the aircraft prepared for the first flight.
September 27 pilot Roland Beamont, the first to fly into the sky and TSR.1 "Canberra", together with the navigator Don Bowen made on the new machine with the board number XR 219 first flight. The “action” was rather demonstrative, since a number of restrictions were imposed on the flight program: the landing gear was not removed, the air intake control system was not functioning, the engine thrust was limited to 97%, and the autopilot was absent. And yet this is already a victory, which demonstrated to the critics of the program for creating a machine that the "process is underway."
According to the tester, he was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and ease of operation of the machine. In flight, the crew had to worry when they saw white bundles of whirlwinds flowing from the wingtips. The pilots thought it was the fuel from the wing tanks, but then it became clear that they were worried for nothing. White harnesses are nothing more than a whirling footprint of an arrow-shaped wing.
At the same time, R. Beamont said that the next time he would sit in the cockpit only after replacing the engines with the modified ones, they no longer intend to play "Russian roulette" with the navigator.
After the installation of new engines, the tests continued from December 31.
The problem “number two” of the car turned out to be the chassis. Not only that, in the released position, the main pillars created a significant vibration that impeded piloting during the approach, but they still didn’t want to get out. Only by the tenth flight, engineers were able to achieve their relatively regular work.
Supersonic speed TSR.2 reached on the fourteenth flight in February 1965-o on the way to the air base in Wharton. When R. Beamont started acceleration and reached the maximum speed of the engines, corresponding to the number M = 1,01, it turned out that the fast and the furious does not turn on at the second TRDF. However, the pilot turned on the afterburner of the first engine by one third, and thus reached the number M = 1,12. Well, why not a cruising flight with supersonic?
From the point of view of aerodynamics, the bomber was clearly a success, which could not be said about its propulsion system and some systems. The engines continued to be a headache for everyone involved in the tests, the air conditioning system in the cabin could not withstand any criticism. When flying at low altitudes, fuel leaks began.
February 26 Beamont last got into the cockpit TSR.2, then Jimmy Dell took the test, lifting the car into the air and earlier several times. But not for long. The plane managed to make eight more test flights, before his fate was decided. In total, the first flight copy flew 13 hours 3 minutes, 24 times requisitions earth gravity.
The second prototype is even less fortunate. When entering the 1964 of the Wax Down base in September, the car was damaged. They prepared it for the first flight only in early April of 1965, on the day when British Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced the closure of the new bomber program in favor of buying F-111 aircraft in the USA.
This event is considered one of the darkest in British aviation history. The British put a fat cross not only on the most advanced combat aircraft, but also on the entire full-scale development perspective of the aviation industry, since with the tests of TSR.2 it gained invaluable experience in creating a multifunctional supersonic combat aircraft complex. You can't buy it for any money ...
The acquisition of overseas percussion machines by the British government refused already in January 1968. At that time, the beloved brainchild of US Secretary of Defense R. McNamara was experiencing a whole bunch of "childhood diseases", while its value grew prohibitively.
As a result, the Royal Air Force was left without a modern strike complex. In the absence of the best, they had to return to the ten-year-old version — the adoption of the Bukenir attack aircraft as a low-altitude strike aircraft. By the way, "Desert Storm" partially rehabilitated these vehicles in the eyes of the Air Force Command, demonstrating their decent efficiency.
In addition, the British Air Force replenished already well-proven "Phantoms". Why the eyes of the British military did not turn to the American attack aircraft A-5 Vidglunt, which had a lot in common with TSR.2 in design (up to the internal bomb bay) and similar flight characteristics, is very difficult to say now.
Most likely, this is due to lower values of speed at the ground and range in comparison with the British machine, which the British command considered important. Plus, the Americans themselves were not enthusiastic about the "Widget" as a strike aircraft that did not meet their expectations.
Of the nine cars at the time of the cancellation of the program, only three were completely built, the rest were at different stages of construction. In 1972-1973, when the last illusions about the resumption of the program disappeared, almost the entire reserve was sent to scrap.
The last "into the furnace" was the only flight TSR.2. This happened in 1982.
The second and fourth cars were luckier. The TSR.2 with a tail number XR 220 is on display at the Kosford Aerospace Museum (this is the second prototype), another one, though not immediately, was presented to the Imperial Military Museum in Duxford. The nose part of one of the unfinished cars, which is on display at the Weybridge Brookland Museum, was also saved.
Thus ended the program, the implementation of which, for sure, would leave Great Britain for a long time at the club of world leaders in aircraft manufacturing.