John Boyes on Blue Streak
Blue Streak was an intermediate range ballistic missile developed in the UK from the early 1950’s. The rocket was meant to replace the increasingly vulnerable V-bomber force as Britain’s independent deterrent. The missile reached an advanced stage of testing before it was cancelled in April 1960. RAF Spadeadam was used for engine testing of the missile on concrete test beds which survive in an excellent state of preservation.
This book on Blue Streak covers its technical development, the choice of nuclear warhead and the test regime. It’s particularly strong on the political debates surrounding the British deterrent in the period.
A special feature of the book is an extensive coverage of the underground missile silos proposed for the operational deployment of the Blue Streak missile. It was argued that blast proof silos were needed because otherwise the Soviets would not believe the threat of retaliation was credible. John Boyes outlines the design evolution, likely location and prototyping of these silos. The rockets were to be stored underground in the silos, already fuelled with 27 tons of kerosene. Sixty sites were required. Each silo would have used concrete equivalent to 10 to 20 miles of two lane motorway at a time of concrete shortage. The dilemma was clear: either Blue Streak or 1,000 miles of new motorway. An enjoyable, straightforward and informative account of the issues.
Blue Streak: Britain’s Medium Range Ballistic Missile by John Boyes, Fonthill; 2019. Price £25