Guided Missiles at Hatfield

By Robert Gill

British Aerospace Dynamics, Hatfield - c1980
Firestreak missile on Lightning aircraft
Robert Gill
Red Top missile
Robert Gill
Blue Streak missile
BAE SYSTEMS
Martel TV guided missile and Training Pod
Robert Gill
Sea Slug in launcher onboard ship
Sea Dart on launcher
Skyflash missile
BAe Systems
Sea Eagle being carried on Tornado
RAF
ALARM missile on Tornado aircraft
RAF

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.

Further Information

For more information visit the RAF Museums at RAF Hendon and RAF Cosford (www.rafmuseum.org.uk) and Imperial War Museum at Duxford (www.duxford.iwm.org.uk) – [links open in separate tabs]

This page was added on 25/07/2011.

Comments about this page

  • I was the senior flight test observer at De Havilland Propellers at Hatfield involve in testing the TV guided system on a Sea Vixen FAW1 with a modfied nose containing a captive TV system with a display in the “Coal Hole” The system was blanked out until the skipper switched it on, leaving me to try and verbally guide the plane to various targets. Not easy!

    By Doug Hamilton (15/11/2019)
  • I spent 5 very happy years at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics starting in the mailing office in 1965. Our boss, Rose Baillie was great fun. After 18 months I was transfered to Air Conditioning Dept over in NP3 as a clerk/typist then being promoted to Secretary to Derek Eastwell who was the Chief Engineer. I have always been proud of the fact that we worked on the prototype Concorde and have always retained a soft spot for that aircraft. I spent most nights in the clubhouse either playing darts, practice netball, rehearsing the revue shows or attending the dances. Very happy days.

    By Christine Newman (nee Skinner) (28/07/2017)

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