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Synopsis

This is a history of the 4-year period from 1959 to 1963 when RAF bomber command operated 60 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles as part of the UK nuclear deterrent force. In 1956 the US approached the UK to explore the possibility of basing IRBMs on UK soil amid growing concerns over Soviet missiles. Seeds were sown for the RAF to become sole operator of 20 squadrons with 3 missiles each. However, once bases were established in Continental America, the US considered the IRBM obsolete and it was decided to draw down the Thor force in 1962, 5 years earlier than originally planned. The Cuban Missile Crisis changed things and 59 of the 60 missiles were brought to operational readiness during the crisis, but despite their efficiency the squadrons were disbanded by summer 1963 and subsequent UK plans for a follow-on programme scrapped. Illustrated with aerial photographs of the missile bases today alongside photographs, maps and diagrams of sites and the launch pad, the book is the definitive work on the project.

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