TSR-2 – Part II

Prof David Edgerton

David is the Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History at King’s College London.

As well as ‘England and the Aeroplane’, learners on this course may also be interested in some of David’s other work:

‘Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War’ (Allen Lane/Penguin, 2011)

‘The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900’ (Profile Books, 2007)

‘Warfare State: Britain 1920-1970’ (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

In the video step which follows we are going to use a short extract from an interview with Prof David Edgerton from King’s College London. Principally, we are focussing on themes from his book ‘England and the Aeroplane: Militarism, Modernity and Machines’ (2013) and the cancellation of the TSR2.

As a recap or clarification on some of the terms in the video to follow:

The McMahon Act, formally known as the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, was an act for the development and control of atomic energy to be kept with the US federal government. This was despite the fact that the nuclear energy had been developed with its wartime allies Canada and Great Britain, and it caused animosity between the three countries. Such action led to Britain deciding to build its own nuclear deterrent, although an amendment in 1958 meant that the US would now share information with its closest allies, i.e. Britain and Canada, if the need arose.

The Buccaneer was fully retired in 1994.

The phrase “bigger bang for the buck” refers in this instance to its use by Charles Wilson, the US Secretary of Defence under President Eisenhower. He used the expression in 1954 when describing America’s changing attitudes towards defence, arguing that the ‘New Look’ policy initiated by Eisenhower was to decrease defence spending by concentrating on nuclear weapons rather than conventional forces.

Atomic diplomacy refers to attempts to use the threat of nuclear warfare in order to achieve diplomatic goals. Following Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this form of diplomacy became central to not only American politics, but also the general world order and the relationship between the two superpowers. More information regarding atomic diplomacy can be found here.

‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ (MAD) was a phase of Cold War history that threatened nuclear war, and also prevented it. Following the Soviet’s gaining nuclear power, the Cold War immediately escalated in terms of arms production, whereby each side now had the ability to destroy the other many times over. MAD was officially accepted in military doctrine, and began to come to the forefront during the Kennedy Administration following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. MAD reflects the concept that one’s population was equally at risk following a nuclear strike on an enemy’s population, as both sides would face the same vulnerabilities, i.e. whoever shot first would die second. This concept came to define the Cold War era.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War

Royal Holloway, University of London