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Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the BAC Vedette, our first line of defence in the Second Cold War 1967-97.

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NB: In order to write a back story for this what-if, I've had to take some terrible liberties with the history of the 20th Century. I've written an alternative universe where some good guys may be transformed into very bad ones and vice-versa. There is no offence intended to any person or nation mentioned. Please think of this as a work of fiction, rather like Luft '46 or the Steampunk multiverse. It's solely for amusement and justification of my pretend "Last of the V's". It may well make you think though...

Edited by per ardua ad ostentationem
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The French military term vedette (formed from Latin videre, to see),

also spelled vidette, migrated into English and other languages to refer

to a mounted sentry or outpost, who has the function of bringing information,

giving signals or warnings of danger, etc., to a main body of troops.

The term has also been used for specific naval vessels (see USS Vedette),

and a class of flying boat (see Canadian Vickers Vedette).

(See Wikipedia entry 'Vedette')

Edited by per ardua ad ostentationem
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Ever since the Arab Israeli War of 1948 there were numerous and increasingly serious border clashes between Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly Syria. Since the Arab countries were politically supported by the Warsaw Pact and the Israelis counted on US support, the 'Middle East Problem' was rightly seen as a potential detonator which might turn the Cold War very hot indeed. In early 1960s the clashes, and international tensions mounted inexorably.

In early November, 1966, Syria signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt, raising fears in Israel that their country, encircled by enemies since its birth, was likely to be attacked and soon. The Israeli's had no doubts that the Arab's war aims would include Israel's destruction as an independent state.

Soon thereafter, in response to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerilla activity, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) attacked the city of as-Samu in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, killing 16 and wounding 54. Jordanian units that engaged the Israelis were quickly beaten back. Clearly the Israelis would not be intimidated. The Samu raid shattered the fragile trust between Israel and Jordan, leading the Jordanian leadership to believe Israel's strategic goal was to occupy the West Bank. In response, King Hussain decided to sign a joint defense pact with Egypt, a move which further alarmed the Israelis.

In May 1967, Israeli officials began to publicly threaten military action against Syria if Syria did not stop Palestinian terrorists from crossing the border into Israel. At the same time Nasser received reports from the Soviet Union that an Israeli attack on Syria was imminent. The Soviet assessment that Israel was about to launch an attack was somewhat exaggerated but essentially well founded and Nasser began massing his troops in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel's border and at Sharm al Sheik on the Red Sea, potentially cutting of Israeli trade routes. Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that any closure of the Straits of Tiran would be considered an act of war. Undaunted, Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli shipping on May 22–23. On May 27, he stated "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight." The gloves were off!

International diplomatic pressure was applied to both sides by their respective Great Power supporters, each anxious to avoid a full scale East-West confrontation. The US president, Lyndon B Johnson was especially anxious to avoid being enmeshed in another war, Vietnam being much more than the US could handle with conventional forces at that time. Johnson was under much presure from the Hawks in the US military heirarchy who favoured a more robust, even nuclear solution to regional conflict. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the Russian leader, Leonid Brezhnev, was a politically cautious man, always careful to consult with his Politburo colleges before making decisions, a habit which kept him in power (and alive) but which at times could lead to delay and confusion in the Kremlin.

At the same time as the diplomatic pressure towards peace, the military forces in the Soviet Block and the USA (together with the rest of NATO) were mobilising for war. The US Sixth Fleet, supported by British and French aircraft carriers, faced off the Russian Black Sea Fleet in international waters south of Cyprus. The USS Liberty, a United States Navy electronic intelligence vessel patrolled a line 13 nautical miles (24 km) off Arish (just outside Egypt's territorial waters). The full purpose of the Liberty's mission remains unclear to this day but her role in the events which followed seems to have been crucial.

On May 30, Jordan and Egypt signed a defense pact. The following day, at Jordan's invitation, the Iraqi army began deploying troops and armored units in Jordan. They were later reinforced by an Egyptian contingent.

On June 1, Israel formed a war cabinet, and on June 4 the decision was made to fight. The next morning, Israel launched Operation Focus, a large-scale surprise air strike that was the opening of the Three-Day War.

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I have secured the donor kit for modification into the Vedette. Whooo-hoo! Should be here by early next week so I can make a start on plastic as well as text.

I'll write the next chapter of the backstory over the weekend, all being well. It starts getting a lot more interesting after the beginning of June '67.

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I'm just desperate to find out what kit you are using and the modifications you have planned for it.

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On June 1 1967, Israel formed a war cabinet, and on June 4th the decision was made to fight. The next morning, June 5th, Israel launched Operation Focus, a large-scale surprise air strike that was the opening of the Three-Day War.

It's fascinating to speculate on what might have happened if Op Focus has gone according to plan. Before the war, Israeli pilots and ground crews had trained extensively in rapid refitting of aircraft returning from sorties, enabling a single aircraft to sortie up to four times a day (as opposed to the norm in Arab air forces of one or two sorties per day). This would have enabled the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to send several attack waves against Egyptian airfields on the first day of the war, overwhelming the Egyptian Air Force, and allowed it to knock out other Arab air forces on the same day. Pilots were extensively schooled about their targets, and were forced to memorize every single detail, and rehearsed the operation multiple times on dummy runways in total secrecy.

Israel's first and most critical move was to be a surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force. Egypt had by far the largest and the most modern of all the Arab air forces, consisting of about 420 combat aircraft, all of them Soviet-built and with a heavy quota of top-of-the line MiG-21 capable of attaining Mach 2 speed.

Of particular concern to the Israelis were the 30 Tu-16 "Badger" medium bombers, capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israeli military and civilian centers. On June 5 at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the IAF launched Operation Focus (Moked).

All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets left the skies of Israel in a mass attack against Egypt's airfields. The Israelis knew that the Egyptian defensive infrastructure was extremely poor, and no airfields were yet equipped with hardened aircraft shelters capable of protecting Egypt's warplanes. Most of the Israeli warplanes headed out over the Mediterranean Sea, flying low to avoid radar detection, before turning toward Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea.

Had the day gone according to plan, the Egyptian Air Force would have been wiped out on the ground in the opening hours, closely followed by the equally damaging attacks in the afternoon upon the other Arab Air Forces. Lacking air support and facing a well prepared armoured 'blitzkrieg' from the Israeli army, it may be presumed that the Arab coalition would have been forces to sue for peace inside a week. As we all know, the plan failed to account for the work of the Pishpesh, and thus failed utterly.

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The Pishpesh was (is?) the most influential individual of the 20th Century while being one of the least known. The facts are rare and the questions many. 'She' was probably a woman, though this has been disputed. She bore the codename Pishpesh (Hebrew for Bedbug) in recognition of her very special talents in seduction. It is said that she was not a conventional beauty and would pass unremarked in a crowd. However, to make eye contact with her was to be lost in a false love which time after time, overpowered honourable men and their love of country. She was almost certainly working for Egyptian Intelligence in the late sixties, though it is not unlikely that she was also in the pay of the Russians, Americans, French and possibly the IRA and PLO at the same time.

What is beyond dispute is that she had insinuated herself into many beds in Israel and had totally compromised the Israeli surprise airstrike. The fatal flaw in the planning of Op Focus was its detail and complexity. Everything was written down, routes, times, targets, communications codes and so on. All was known to the Egyptians weeks in advance of the raids. More than enough time for a very sophisticated ambush to be laid.

In the days leading up to 5th June, the Egyptians withdrew every single serviceable aircraft from their bases, redeploying in twos and fours in Lybia, Jordan and Lebanon. As each aircraft left Egypt a locally made decoy was errected in its place. While this subterfuge was being enacted, the Egytians deployed the most intense anti-aircraft system in history around the known Israeli targets and routs out of Egyptian airspace. This audacious move left Egypt's cities and army totally vulnerable to air attack but protected it's most valuable asset, the Air Force. The Arabs staked everything on the word of the Pishpesh.

Edited by per ardua ad ostentationem
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On June 5 at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the IAF launched Operation Focus. Nearly 200 operational jets left the skies of Israel in a mass attack against Egypt's airfields. All seemed quiet as the aircraft approached their targets fast and low, even the air defence radars being switched off. Then, the 'sky exploded' in the words of a surviving Israeli pilot. Thousands of guns, hundreds of SAMs simultaneously opened up on the waves of attackers. Layer aftr layer of perfectly sited defences shredded the IAF in the last few miles of their run-in to target. More jets went down over the targets with scantdamage even to the Egyptian decoys. It has been estimated that fewer than 80 aircraft survived to turn for home.

Unfortunately for the attackers, the return courses were also well defended and the SAMs and guns continued to scrape a whole airforce from the smoking sky. Few of the survivors were undamaged as they recovered to their bases in Israel, shocked and demoralised. Worse was in store as the survivors were met over their homeland by an estimated 500 Arab fighters. Outnumbered more that ten to one, even the superbly trained IAF pilots went down by the score. Only four aircraft survived t land at ther bases and even these were destroyed on the ground by Arab strafing attacks.

Israel's shield and sword, the Air Force, was shattered. The Arabs had lost less than 20 fighter aircraft. Some damage had been done to Egypt's airbased but this was minimal and repairs were well underway. Within the afternoon of the first day of the Three Day war all 30 of the Blinder bombers were back on their home bases and ready for action against largely undefended targets in Israel.

The world held its breath. The Sixth and Black Sea Fleets went to Defcon One. What next?

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The 6th June saw the main Arab attack begin. Despite determined resistance by Israeli armoured forces, the overwhelming air supremacy of the Arab coalition was the deciding factor. Egyptian columns rapidly crossed the border from the Sinai. Gaza was liberated in a single day and a second force surrounded Be'er Sheva. Air strikes were made seemingly at will against the strategic heart of Israel and it was forecast that Egyptian forces would be in Tel Aviv by the end of the following day. The situation was a desperate one for the Israelis.

Politically they enjoyed little overt support worldwide. The fact that they had been the initial aggressors dissuaded many non-aligned states from taking their side in the United Nations. An Arab oil embargo was placed on any state which did venture to support her.

Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia was as vociferous in her support of the Arabs as the USA was for Israel. Britain was undecided. A member of NATO and officially allied to the USA, Britain was led by the European minded Harold Wilson. Wilson's refusal to commit British troops to the Vietnam War, had already provoked something the 'Atlantic Divide', and British public opinion wavered uncertainly. France was 'officially' pro-Israel and supplied much of their war materiel. However, France also had strong and friendly links with the Arab states dating back to colonial days. The remainder of the NATO alliance were also ambivalent in these critical hours and days. Notionally China stood aloof but was understood to support any enemy of their great enemy, the US. Internationally, all eyes were on the two great naval forces in the Mediterranean, the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the US Sixth Fleet supported by the French and British Navies.

Stated Arab war aims included the destruction of the independent state of Israel and the restoration to power of the Palestinian refugees. It seems that this political aim was interpreted by radical Israelis as a continuation of Hitler's Final Solution, the extermination of all Jews. To avoid this fate, almost any measure could be considered. The night of the 6th July saw vehement and occasionally violent debate in the Knesset over how far to pursue the war. Moderates advocated suing for peace and a joint sovereignty arrangement with the PLO, while the hard liners saw no choice but unrestricted and total war to the death. In the end, the Knesset did not make a democratic decision at all. Hard line politicians and military figures took matters out of the public sphere and threw off all restraint.

The events of the 7th June are not fully understood even now, each side in the Global Schism having it's own version. What follows is perhaps the most likely sequence of events.

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By the way, is anyone else liking this counter-factual history or should I just stop blathering and make a model?

(p.s. Please note the 'all persons and events portrayed are fictional' type warning in post #1)

Edited by per ardua ad ostentationem
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By the way, is anyone else liking this counter-factual history or should I just stop blathering and make a model?

(p.s. Please note the 'all persons and events portrayed are fictional' type warning in post #1)

It's a great read, keep going.

Just waiting to get to part where the model makes an appearance.

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By the way, is anyone else liking this counter-factual history or should I just stop blathering and make a model?

(p.s. Please note the 'all persons and events portrayed are fictional' type warning in post #1)

Get on wiv it :P

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The one thing that is not in dispute about the events of “7667”, is that a nuclear weapon of approximately 100 kiloton yield was detonated shortly before dawn in or near to the harbour of Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.

It seemed likely that the weapon was of Israeli origin; they were losing a war and were known to have a nuclear weapon program despite never having detonated a test device. With no effective air force or medium range missile system to employ, the delivery may have been carried out by the Masada Special Forces Unit, an organisation which embraced the ideal of the suicide attack. The most devastating and modern weapon ever used may thus have been brought into action on a simple sailing vessel.

Within seconds, the city was virtually destroyed, with immediate casualties in the hundreds of thousands. I will not dwell further on the Alexandria Catastrophe, since it has been fully documented elsewhere. It is the political explosion caused by the bombing that concerns us here.

There was an initial period of denial as every side attempted to comprehend the impact of this most deadly escalation of the crisis. Fortunately, since the Cuban Crisis of ’62, the main players in the drama were in constant contact with each other, which allowed a faint possibility that the Doomsday Clock, surely standing at one second to midnight, might yet be halted.

If the Arabs had not wished to exterminate Israel before, they certainly did now. The Israeli parliament was horror-struck, realising that the attack had put them ‘beyond the pale’ of civilised society. The Russians, bound by treaty obligations to Egypt were on the verge of launching a nuclear attack on Israel’s cities from their fleet. The American president, LB Johnson was vociferous in defence of Israel, denying that the Alexandria bomb was of Israeli origin. He affirmed that a Soviet attack on Israel would be considered an attack on the USA and would trigger a full retaliatory strike on Russia. In turn, the Russian premier Kosygin declared that any attempt by the US to interfere in the Mediterranean would similarly trigger mutually assured destruction. Harold Wilson reportedly told Johnson to “Calm down laddie” and pointed out that the US could find itself at war on two fronts both of which might go nuclear at once. Meanwhile the French Fleet was given confusing orders to watch everyone and do nothing until after lunch.

It was a standoff while everyone waited for someone else to blink.

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The blink came at 11:30, when analysis of the fissile materials contained in hi-altitude samples collected by RAF Canberras, indicated that the weapon was of US manufacture (though this has never been admitted by the USA). World opinion expressed at the UN, swung against America and Israel. France, Germany and Italy immediately repudiated the North Atlantic Treaty. The United States became increasingly isolated, and increasingly belligerent.

That afternoon, Egyptian bombing of Israeli military targets was scheduled to resume, despite pressure by virtually everyone at the UN. Nasser gambled that American Navy fighters would not be launched in Israel’s defence while the Russians held the nuclear gun to America’s head. Nasser was wrong.

The USS Liberty, an electronic intelligence ship, patrolling off the Egyptian coast detected the launch preparations of the Blinder force. The news was flashed to the Pentagon where the general staff issued orders to the Sixth Fleet to intercept and destroy the bombers. The signal was copied to the Royal Navy, America’s remaining NATO ally, requesting assistance from the British carrier force in the area.

It seems that everyone had underestimated Harold Wilson. His persona as the pipe-smoking bluff Yorkshireman in the Gannex mac, concealed the most incisive and decisive mind in global politics since JFK. Wilson had anticipated events perfectly. He realised that The Americans could not be allowed to commence military operations in European waters, but that the Russians could not be allowed to stop them. In an act of Machiavellian brilliance he secretly ordered the British submarines escorting the RN carriers to target the Americans, "just in case" as he put it. While the Americans were occupied watching the Russians, they exposed their backs fatally to the small but vibrant remains of the greatest Empire ever known – The British.

On receipt of the pentagon strike order, Wilson’s, "let ‘em have it lads" went into the history books.

Four US carriers went to the bottom of the Mediterranean in minutes. Since Wilson freely admitted his actions, the immediate threat of US-Soviet war was averted and a breathing space achieved.

American anger towards Britain was muted by the presence of several Vulcan bombers, with Blue Steel missiles, at Gander, Goose Bay and Cold lake in Canada – well within the US air defence lines. In addition the brand-new nuclear submarine HMS Resolution, ironically armed with American Polaris missiles, was known to be ‘working up’ somewhere in the North Atlantic.

A period of stability had been achieved for the world to reorganise itself. Johnson’s famous “Et tu, Brittania?” emphasized the radical nature of the Great Schism when the world's treaties and alliances were cancelled and rewritten within a few days.

And Israel? Israel surrendered militarily on the third day of the war. She also surrendered the hard-liners who were involved in the Alexandria Bombing, most of whom committed suicide rather than be interrogated. The precise involvement of other nations is still debated today. Over the following years, finally sickened after two thousand years of bloodshed, the Arab and Jewish races integrated peacefully. Palestine became the Switzerland of the Middle East, neat tidy and prosperous, well armed and peaceful, a federation of many different races, cultures, and religions. In fact a wonderful example not followed by the rest of the world.

Globally, the effect of the Three Day War was to split the world along a new fault line. The Old World Alliance of Europe, Asia and Africa faced their New World enemies across the Atlantic and Pacific. The USA and South America, together with the Canadians (something of a surprise to the British!) and Japan became the United States of Panamerica. The Second Cold War settled in by winter.

In Britain the armed forces had the major task of turning round and facing the other way. The threat now lay in the West and a long way off across a huge ocean. At the other end of the OWA, Australia India and much the Far East faced the USP across an even larger body of water, the Pacific ocean.

Clearly, new weapons were needed for this new global situation. Fortunately, an economic boom in the OWA was caused by the opening of new markets and the optimism generated by the New Start. This enabled massive investments in defence technology.

One thing greatly needed was a strategic reconnaissance capability. While both sides of the schism had satellites, in the sixties and seventies, they were of limited capability and coverage. The USP had the SR-71 Blackbird, a Mach 3 high altitude aircraft which was remarkably effective and much coveted by the RAF. Development lead-time for an aircraft of such high performance is measured in years and the great aircraft designers of the British aviation industry cast around for short cuts.

Where could they find a very new, very high tech aircraft, which could fly far, high and above all - fast? Was there an aircraft already in development in 1968, big enough to carry a crew of ten and an array of sensors capable of looking sideways into the American heartland? Could there perhaps be such an aircraft, the original purpose for which had become irrelevant? Perhaps this would be a project too big for one nation, even Britain, to build alone? Was there already a multi-national cooperative working on cutting edge aircraft development?

Well, what do you think? Do you know what it is yet?

Edited by per ardua ad ostentationem
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John and Nomad are joint top of the form!

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The SUD-BAC Concorde was a joint venture high-tech SST intended primarily for the transatlantic run. Two prototypes were in construction and they type was due to fly for the first time in 1969. The Great Schism rendered the airliner almost redundant, although some routes were still feasible if not necessarily profitable. It is unlikely that the high costs of development would have been justifies had it not been for the military applications.

Concorde was not the first cilvil airframe to be modified for military use. One thinks of the FW-200 Condor for example. Like the Condor, Concorde was not structurally strong enough for conversion into an efficient ofensive weapons carrier. It was, again like the Condor, excellently suited to long over-water reconnaisance flights.

Even as an airliner Concorde's high cruising altitude (60,000ft) together with its long range (3,900 miles) and high speed (Mach 2.02) meant that it could effectively sweep almost the entire Atlantic seaboard of the USP in a single mission. Upgraded to military specifications by the installation of the more powerful (though more expensive) Olympus II engines and increased fuel tankage the figures became 80,000+ ft ceiling, Mach 2.9 cruising speed with a maximum speed of Mach 3.0+ and a range of 4,300 miles without inflight refueling. Of course the Vedette, as the military Concorde was dubbed, rarely operated without AAR support and so its range became limited only by crew endurance.

Flight crews consisted of two pilots, two navigators and a flight engineer together with as many as ten AEOs who operated the complex sensor suite. This included a magnetic anomaly detector with which to track enemy submarines; a sideways-looking radar capable of examining the American homeland as far West as the Rockies, from the Atlantic, and as far East as the Rockies, from the Pacific coast (operating from Australia). Passive radio and radar analysis and intelligence gathering were also carried out routinely as was 'good old-fashioned' photographic reconnaisance. The AEOs also operated the Vedette's own self protection ECM gear. No weapons were carried and it was found that speed and cunning were sufficient to defeat USP attempts to bring down the 'Big Black Bird'. The Vedette was camouflaged in a special radar absorbent dark grey paint, admirably suited for operations at altitudes where the sky itself turns black.

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Ooh... What modifications will you be making to make the airframe Mach3-capable? It would take a bit more than higher thrust, methinks.

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Ooh... What modifications will you be making to make the airframe Mach3-capable? It would take a bit more than higher thrust, methinks.

If I can re-write the twentieth century so easily, changing the laws of aerodynamics will be simples! Though I think some airframe work might be needed to improve lateral stability...

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