At Arm's Length

Nicholas Hill

This covers the origins, design and development of British nuclear armed cruise missiles for its bombers which were abandoned for the American Skybolt missile. Cancellation then forced the UK rethink its deterrent. What would have happened if the UK had not obtained Polaris? Research for this book has uncovered much new unpublished material.
Date Published :
November 2019
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781557044
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.15 inches
Stock Status : In stock


The untold story of the hitherto secret projects that lead to the development of inertial navigation in the UK, and the many missiles that were designed for the RAF’s bomber force. The result was the Blue Steel missile, which was deployed in 1963. These were cruise type missiles, and in 1959 the RAF decided to participate in the American Skybolt air launched ballistic missile. But Skybolt was cancelled by the American Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, which brought about a crisis in Anglo-American relations, only resolved when the UK obtained Polaris on acceptable terms.

The cancellation brought about another crisis: Polaris would not be available until 1969, and so short-term stop gaps were needed to tide over the British deterrent until then. Many potential projects are examined in the book.

But what if the UK had not been able to obtain Polaris on acceptable terms? The final chapters examine what options would have been open to Britain: ground based missiles or air launched missiles? What part could the TSR 2 have played in this?

The book is the result of much archival research, and there are extensive quotes from contemporary documents to illustrate the thinking of the time.


'I enjoyed the book and recommend it to those interested in British nuclear policy and weapons research and development in the late 50's and early 60's."


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