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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsEMMETT SULLIVAN: And welcome back to Topic 5 of the RAF and the Cold War. The surtitle for this particular course is from World War to White Heat. And this week to a certain degree, we're dealing with the white heat, the phrase from Harold Wilson's 1963 speech about the need for Britain to be at the forefront of technological change. And effectively, we are starting in 1965. That's quite a significant point in the history of the development of the Royal Air Force. It really marks two major changes. The first is the cancellation of the TSR-2 project.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 secondsThat would have been at the absolute vanguard of technological development and meant that Britain's commitment to having leading-age aircraft was diminished by the practicalities of an economy that was slowing down. The second point is the change in the role of the RAF in the Cold War. As from 1965 to 1968, the navy is commissioned to sail Polaris submarines. And the strategic nuclear deterrent is transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Royal Navy. We also see a reorganisation of the RAF in this period. So we have the end of Bomber Command, Fighter Command, et cetera, and the beginning of Strike Command after 1968, and the involvement of the RAF in a number of overseas engagements.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsAnd we're going to conclude this particular week dealing with Gulf War 1, which coincides effectively with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, one of the underlying themes this week is technological change and Britain's ability to deal with those switches in both the tactics of the enemy but also the requirements to develop new aircraft. So let's sign off here and move on to the actual course content for this week. Thank you.


Week 5: 1962-65 to c.1991.

During this week, we wanted to explore the implications of Britain’s economic situation on the RAF in the wake of the Skybolt cancellation. By the end of 1965, the other major prestige project associated with the RAF had been cancelled, the TSR-2. Having touched on the Duncan Sandys’ 1957 White Paper before, here we examine it in detail, and look at the implications for British industry of two Conservative governments and then a subsequent Labour-led one cancelling a number of advanced RAF projects 1957-65. At the same time, we examine the implications for the RAF of its increased focus on the NATO Central Front and West Germany from 1968, and its role up to and including Gulf War I.

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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