261108 - BLUE STREAK: Britain's Medium Range Ballistic Missile
By John Boyes
In the early 1950s, the United States wished to concentrate its efforts on the development of a 4,000-mile-range intercontinental ballistic missile. As a stop-gap measure, US military chiefs hoped to assist Britain with the development of its own intermediate-range missile.
Despite concerns of limited resources, the Air Ministry proceeded with the missile, called Blue Streak, to fill the role, giving Britain an independent deterrent until the early 1970s. Designed to be based underground, Blue Streak presented a technological challenge and when a more advanced American missile called Skybolt was offered to Britain, Blue Streak was cancelled.
Skybolt would have been carried by the RAF’s V-bombers, but Skybolt itself became the subject of reassessment by the incoming Kennedy administration. A political crisis ensued, which resulted in a tense meeting in the Bahamas between Prime Minister Macmillan and the President.
Skybolt was cancelled and replaced by an offer of the seaborne Polaris missile. Blue Streak: Britain’s Medium Range Ballistic Missile traces the rise and fall of both missile systems.
43 b/w photos