Guided Missiles at Hatfield
By Robert Gill
Following the ending of World War 2, Hatfield became a centre for the design, development and testing of guided missiles. Work began in the late 1940s – early 1950s by de Havilland (Propellers) to the west of the existing de Havilland airfield in facilities which had been used during the war for development and testing of aircraft propellers. By the early 1960s, the company became Hawker Siddeley Dynamics which in turn became British Aerospace Dynamics, and later BAe Systems (Guided Weapons Division) until closure of the site in 1990.
A range of missiles were designed and developed including:
- Firestreak – Air-to-Air Missile, deployed on the RAF Javelin, Lightning and Royal Navy Sea Vixen aircraft
- Red Top – Air-to-Air Missile, deployed on the RAF and Royal Saudi Lightning and Royal Navy Sea Vixen aircraft
- Blue Streak – Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile
- Martel – Air-to-Surface TV guided & Anti-Radar missile – it was an Anglo-French development deployed on the RAF Buccaneer and French Air Force Jaguar and Mirage aircraft
- Sea Slug – Surface-to-Air (ship-launched) Missile, deployed on the Royal Navy County class destroyers
- Sea Dart – Surface-to-Air (ship-launched) Missile, deployed on the Royal Navy Type 42 class destroyers and for a time the Invincible class aircraft carriers
- Sky Flash – Air-to-Air Missile, deployed on the RAF Phantom and Tornado F3, Royal Saudi Air Force Tornado F3 and Swedish Air Force Viggen aircraft
- Sea Eagle – Air-Launched Anti-Ship Missile, deployed on the RAF Buccaneer, Sea Harrier and Tornado GR1 aircraft. Also Indian Air Force Sea Harrier, Jaguar and Sea King helicopter
- ALARM – Air-Launched Anti-Radar Missile, deployed on the RAF Tornado GR1 aircraft
More about Blue Streak
Blue Streak was cancelled as a nuclear delivery vehicle but was a successful first stage of a satellite launch vehicle (ELDO). The Blue Streak design office was initially in London and then later in Stevenage. Hatfield was the centre for a variety of ground-system tests which continued until the ELDO system was cancelled.
The Blue Streak missile structure was built at the de Havillands/Hawker Siddeley Aviation facility and was then transferred to Stevenage for final assembly and checkout.
More about Sea Slug and Sea Dart
Both Sea Slug and Sea Dart were originally developed by Armstrong Whitworth (later Hawker Siddeley Dynamics) at Whitley near Coventry, and transferred to Hatfield at closure of that site in the late 1960s.