Radioflash! Episode 11: V-Bombers and Soviet Air Defence

One of the Cold War’s great ‘what ifs?’ was whether the United Kingdom’s V-Bomber nuclear deterrent force would have been able to reach and attack its targets in the Soviet Union.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, the Royal Air Force’s V-Bomber fleet was the custodian of Britian’s nuclear deterrent. A trio of aircraft, namely the Vickers Valiant, Handley Page Victor and Avro Vulcan series strategic bombers were all tasked to deliver nuclear weapons of varying yields to targets in the Soviet Union (USSR).

Should the Third World War have broken out, these aircraft would have flown to their aimpoints in the USSR across what was arguably the most heavily defended airspace in the world. How likely was it that these aircraft would have reached their targets, delivered their nuclear weapons and escape unscathed? Would the electronic countermeasures carried by these aircraft have successfully defended them against Soviet radar? Could the V-bombers adequately jam the radio communications Soviet air defences depend upon?

A new book by historian Dr. Tony Redding, entitled V-Bombers on Britain’s Nuclear Frontline, lifts the veil on aspects of the V-Bomber force that have hitherto been shrouded in mystery. In this Radioflash! podcast he joins us to tackle such questions and to share other results of his research on the UK’s nuclear deterrent. More details of Dr. Redding’s publications can be found on his website.

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Radioflash! Episode 11: V-Bombers and Soviet Air Defence (37 downloads)

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by Dr. Thomas Withington