Faced with worrying advances in Soviet missile technology, in the mid-1950s the United States sought to develop an IRBM to act as a stop-gap until the Atlas ICBM became operational. Intense inter-service rivalry followed before the US Air Force gained the upper hand. The UK, keen to improve its ‘special relationship’ with the US and soon smarting from the Suez Crisis, agreed to accept sixty Thor missiles to be operated by RAF crews. Complex negotiations followed and once sites were identified, American personnel, both civilian and military, crossed the Atlantic to build and commission the bases. Meanwhile, some 1,300 RAF personnel travelled to America to learn the complexities of the Thor system and make a series of twenty-one launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Covering activities on both sides of the pond, Thor Ballistic Missile: The United States and the United Kingdom in Partnership is a thoroughly researched, documented account of the USAAF and RAF’s collaboration, featuring a number of previously unpublished photographs, plans, and diagrams of the missile sites and equipment, and the anecdotes of the servicemen who took part in this exchange.
John Boyes was born in Edinburgh in 1947. Educated at Rugby School, he qualified as a chartered accountant in 1972 and thereafter pursued a career in the motor industry until his retirement in 2005. He has had a lifelong interest in the history of missiles and published his first book, Project Emily: Thor IRBM and the RAF, in 2008. He is the treasurer of the Royal Air Force Historical Society and financial controller of the Bomber Command Association, responsible for the financial management of its memorial in London. He has given a number of lectures on Thor and regularly contributed to the British Nuclear History meetings at Charterhouse. He is married and lives in West Wickham, Kent.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Extent: 240 pages
Illustrations: 70 black-and-white illustrations and profiles