Building and deploying Blue Danube: Britain’s first atomic weapon

Posted: July 18th, 2017
When:
March 15, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
2018-03-15T19:30:00+00:00
2018-03-15T21:30:00+00:00
Where:
BRISTOL, BAWA
589 Southmead Rd
Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG
UK
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Secretary

A lecture by Jonathan Aylen, Building and deploying Blue Danube; Britain’s first atomic weapon (Joint meeting with the Bristol branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society).

Jonathan Aylen of the University of Manchester pieces together the remarkable technical development of “Blue Danube” – Britain’s first atom bomb.  Its technology relied on pragmatic solutions to solve new technical problems. Some of the biggest difficulties arose not from the fissile nuclear components, but from everyday practical concerns such as fuze design, the trigger mechanism, shaping conventional high explosives and getting the free-fall bomb to actually leave the bomb bay of the aircraft. At one stage Britain’s nuclear posture was threatened by a shortage of clockwork components!  The Government turned to a maker of tank engines in Leeds for key components. Vital parts of the bomb depended on a firm making hot water bottles in Barnsley. When first deployed, the atom bomb was a craft built prototype which was continually modified in service in a search for greater reliability.    Britain’s first atomic bomb was a truly awesome weapon, but developed after it had been pressed into service as a front-line deterrent on Britain’s V-bomber force.  Britain’s post-war nuclear deterrent was the product of a “suck it and see” evolution. There are clear lessons for modern innovation.  Technology seems simple – you spend on R&D and new products appear.  But, in practice, innovation is a messy, gritty and chance process improvised using resources to hand.  Mis-steps often involve the simple parts of a new design. In practice innovation is often a process of problem solving. New designs emerge by a process of trial-and-error. Jonathan Aylen is senior lecturer at Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at Manchester Business School, Vice-Pesident of the Newcomen Society and author of earlier papers in the Newcomen journal on the construction of the Shotton steelworks strip mill and on the development of the Ferranti Argus computer used by both ICI and the Bloodhound 2 guided missile.  Jonathan’s paper will also show how the atomic bomb reached the West Country!

 

  • Forthcoming Events

    Jan
    2
    Wed
    2019
    7:00 pm The Cobb Land Speed Record Car @ BIRMINGHAM ThinkTank, Birmingham Science Museum,
    The Cobb Land Speed Record Car @ BIRMINGHAM ThinkTank, Birmingham Science Museum,
    Jan 2 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
    A lecture by Dr Jim Andrew
    Jan
    9
    Wed
    2019
    5:45 pm The ‘Vergniais’ cast iron arch b... @ LONDON Dana Studio
    The ‘Vergniais’ cast iron arch b... @ LONDON Dana Studio
    Jan 9 @ 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm
    A lecture by Bernard Espion: The “Vergniais” cast iron arch bridges: a French capital venture in times of technological change (1850-1860)
    Jan
    10
    Thu
    2019
    7:30 pm Lecture TBC @ BRISTOL BAWA
    Lecture TBC @ BRISTOL BAWA
    Jan 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
     
    Jan
    15
    Tue
    2019
    6:30 pm Steam Reforming – The Technology... @ PORTSMOUTH Room PO 1.11, Portland Building, University of Portsmouth
    Steam Reforming – The Technology... @ PORTSMOUTH Room PO 1.11, Portland Building, University of Portsmouth
    Jan 15 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    A lecture by Dr Fred Starr: Steam Reforming – The Technology that Saved the Gas Industry, with special emphasis on Portsmouth Gas Works
    Jan
    28
    Mon
    2019
    6:30 pm Who Designed the Clifton Suspens... @ SHEFFIELD Kelham Island Museum
    Who Designed the Clifton Suspens... @ SHEFFIELD Kelham Island Museum
    Jan 28 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm
    A lecture by Julia Elton: Who Designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge – Fact and Fiction. Construction of I K Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge was abandoned in 1853 and not completed until 1864 to a different[...]
    Jan
    29
    Tue
    2019
    6:30 pm It’s not just about the robot! @ MANCHESTER Museum of Science & Industry
    It’s not just about the robot! @ MANCHESTER Museum of Science & Industry
    Jan 29 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    A lecture by Bob Bowden: It’s not just about the robot! The development of automated welding
  • Bloodhound supersonic car project axed https://t.co/mTPZRnotTU

    'TOPS - British Rail's 1st Computerised Train Operating System'

    Wed 5 December 7pm @thinktankmuseum Our next FREE talk provided by @Newcomen_Mid & @BM_AG

    Thanks @railwaymuseum @BCLM @svrofficialsite @GWSR @ChasewaterRail @LlanfairLine @MidlandRailway @ComputerHistory @BCS

    Load More...

  • Latest News

    • The Newcomen Diary

      Calendar Add to Calendar Add to Timely Calendar Add to Google Add to Outlook Add to Apple Calendar Add to other calendar Export to XML When: March 15, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm 2018-03-15T19:30:00+00:00 2018-03-15T21:30:00+00:00 Where: BRISTOL, BAWA 589 Southmead Rd Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG UK Cost: Free Contact: Secretary Email UK Western […]

    • Newcomen Links 247

      Calendar Add to Calendar Add to Timely Calendar Add to Google Add to Outlook Add to Apple Calendar Add to other calendar Export to XML When: March 15, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm 2018-03-15T19:30:00+00:00 2018-03-15T21:30:00+00:00 Where: BRISTOL, BAWA 589 Southmead Rd Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG UK Cost: Free Contact: Secretary Email UK Western […]

    • Newcomen Links 247

      Calendar Add to Calendar Add to Timely Calendar Add to Google Add to Outlook Add to Apple Calendar Add to other calendar Export to XML When: March 15, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm 2018-03-15T19:30:00+00:00 2018-03-15T21:30:00+00:00 Where: BRISTOL, BAWA 589 Southmead Rd Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG UK Cost: Free Contact: Secretary Email UK Western […]

    • White Salt Industry, booking extended to 19 October

      Calendar Add to Calendar Add to Timely Calendar Add to Google Add to Outlook Add to Apple Calendar Add to other calendar Export to XML When: March 15, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm 2018-03-15T19:30:00+00:00 2018-03-15T21:30:00+00:00 Where: BRISTOL, BAWA 589 Southmead Rd Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG UK Cost: Free Contact: Secretary Email UK Western […]

    • More News...