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Speckled Jim

RAE/BAC Athena Mk. C.2 - Of No.32 (The Royal) Squadron, RAF

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Specification C.44/52 - Aircraft Requirement, from The Ministry of Supply, London to Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnbrough, 1952

Dear sir's,

I have been requested on behest of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and all those serving on the air staff board, Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Civil Aviation, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Labour and National Service to put towards you a request for a new aircraft.

We understand that recently you have started experimenting with engines capable of supersonic flight, as per the request made for jet bomber aircraft made in 1947, as I am sure as you are also aware the Americans and Soviets are also looking towards getting a commercial jetliner into supersonic flight. It is the opinion of the Prime Minister and all those (Including Her Majesty) forenamed that America and the Soviets should not succeed in that pursuit. The specifications we require are simple an aircraft of any design that can Reach Mach. 2 and is suitable to carry human passengers safely. Failure to meet these specifications could result in the downfall of British Aviation Production as we could be left trailing behind the United States of America in attempting to sell our supersonic aircraft to commercial bidders.

Additionally the Royal Air Force (RAF) has relayed concerns that at the current moment in time there is no appropriate aircraft to support Her Majesty, The Queen and her family and senior Government officials on Transatlantic journeys, with all current aircraft being either too small or under powered for the role of a major sate visit to parts of the Empire and Commonwealth. The Prime Minister Himself has extended concern that the Avro York Which has faithfully served him for the last 10 years is starting to suffer the ill effects of extended service, Lord Mountbatten has also extended comment that whilst in his official capacity of Viceroy to India he had gone through 3 Avro York's, each wearing out faster than normal due to the extreme heat experienced in the region.

Her Majesty the Queen has personally asked, with support of the air ministry, that if this ambitious pursuit of a commercial supersonic jet aircraft is achieved that at least 2 be produced with all military technologies for defence of the Queen and as much Luxuary as can be achieved within a flyable aircraft to make her majesties aircraft a figure of this countries dominance in the remainder of the empire and in the world. This aircraft is to be both a symbol of the crown and government and an effective transport vehicle. Future reference to this aircraft is to be in the way of Air Force One in correspondence to the air board, or those fore mentioned or by the designation "Alpha Foxtrot One". The Queen is willing to commit some funds from the royal household to the development of the aircraft once a suitable engine has been developed. The Minister of Defence, Sir Winston Churchill, has also stated that should the aircraft development be successful he would consider purchasing an unconfirmed number for troop transport and possibly to serve in a bomber capacity.

The Minister of Civil Aviation and the Air Staff Board wish to extend to you their best wishes and reassurance that if you need support from either the RAF or Politically you shouldn't hesitate to ask.

Best Wishes,

Edited by RAF Colonel

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Intriguing! Perhaps a Comet with swept wings or even better a delta wing?

Michael

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Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill's, speech to the Commons,

Prime Ministers Question Time,

28th May 1953

"My fellow statesmen, this the year is the year of change and of innovation and of course of promise. In my first order of Business I would like to officially state that Parliament will not assemble next Tuesday, Tuesday the 2nd of June 1953, as I am sure we all know that day is the date of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and as such Mr Speaker, I have requested in the interests of political fairness that today's Prime Ministers Questions be extended by 10 minutes to give my Hounourable Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition of the Opportunity to fairly question any issues of today's statements or of any matter which he sees fit.

As I have previously stated this is a year of change and innovation, We have came through the war triumphant, Britain has proved itself to be at the forefront of military technology with the assistance of our allies in the United states, we have proved that through the Royal Navy, Supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Merchant Navy and the Navies of the Commonwealth Britain Very much still rules the wavies! Our Army although now turning its hand to Peace time Operations, stands guard against the the constant threats from the East and from perverse and Corrupt leaders who wish to destroy our hard earned Peace. But Once again there is a battle for the skies of not only Britain but western Europe, The Iron Curtain is falling, we will very soon not be able to freely move vehicles into our assets in Western Germany, particularly those in Berlin, Soon we will not be able to safely send ships into the Baltic, to Sweden without fear of encountering hostile ships and submarine crafts. Once again it falls to the skies, we must continue to support the people in western Berlin, and protect those in Western Germany as well as Those here at home from any sort of Aeronautical attack, we must evolve our Royal Air Force, and make sure their Finest hour is never forgotten but is repeated any time the aerial safety of this country is at risk, we must not only look at how we can possess the strongest or biggest bombs, but look at how we can make our aircraft the fastest, how we can transport our men around the globe in the shortest period of time and from there we can look at deploying weapons on these aircraft.

As such, I have approached the Minister of Aircraft production and late last year myself, along with other interested parties laid down specifications to this countries aircraft producers, in those specifications I have asked for an aircraft that can safely transport quantities of people at supersonic speed. This country and its aircraft producers are at the forefront of technological advances, through the Comet we brought the world into what is now being called 'The Jet Age.' It should be our focus to remain at the forefront of the technological advances of the avaition world and be the first country to operate Supersonic aircraft both militarily and in a civil capacity.

In previous years of coronations it has been customary to give the monarch a gift represent that as a gift from the people, in the past these have been coaches, trains and of course Yachts, with the permission of this House and from the Air Ministry I would like to propose that the first aircraft produced as part of Project Alpha Foxtrot One be given to Her Majesty the Queen as a Coronation present from this country. I have been assured from staff at Rolls Royce and the Royal Aircraft establishment that such an aircraft could successfully be produced within 10 years, if not sooner."

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Welcome to the GB James. The back-story is taking great shape ;)

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Good evening Colonel,

Thank you for your interest thus far, at the moment our Technicians in the RAE are completing a repair on an aircraft and should have the first components of the Valyrie started by the morning. I will en devour to update you every 12 hours (or there abouts if possible) so please keep in contact, the history of the RAE/BAC Valyrie is an interesting and unusual one and we shall be looking at it shortly,

Many Thanks,

James,

Chief Engineering Officer of the Valkyrie project

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This sounds intriguing!

Will watch this with interest

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Good morning gentlemen,

Sadly there has been an issue with some procurement of materials and paints and as such no work has been conducted here at Farnbrough. Dont worry the young lad responsible has had a clip round the ear and his wages for a loaf of bread docked and has been sent out with one of our more experienced staff to go and fetch the required materials and paints today, as such we hope to see the first stages of construction this afternoon.

That and our workshop is still littered with the aspects of the previous job which is now sitting in the que for the paint shop.

Thanks,

James

Chief engineering officer project Valkyrie

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To the Head of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farbrough,

From the Minister of Supply

February 1955.

Re. Desires to commercialize Alpha-Foxtrot-One.

Dear sir,

I write you today quite offended, I received your letter yesterday morning and although myself and the cabinet have made concessions to permit you to put a civilian version of the aircraft up for tender for another company to buy, you once again write and ask us for permission to sell off what will be a vital asset in troop movements that will give this country the ability to protect any of its dependencies withing 18 hours, I find that very very offending and quite upsetting.

I understand your situation, I truly do, as does the prime minister which is why you are being permitted to develop a civilized version of the aircraft up to tender. We also know about the situation regarding the Americans, were victims of our own success after the successful flight of the Vulcan in the last week, as we too are under pressure, the Americans are threatening all sorts here in Whitehall if we don't share with Boeing and their military our Supersonic aircraft designs, as they are supplying and assisting in running some tests in Australia is extremely unwelcome. And this is before we hit the matter of the Russians, who cannot at any costs get hold of the systems on board the aircraft. I would strongly suggest you tighten your security again to try and reduce the chances of industrial espionage. For the Americans I have asked the Foreign Minister to throw them a bone somewhere, buy one of their systems, invest in some bonds or increase our payments back across the pond, hopefully this will encourage them to mind their own business. Its doubtful.

I therefore must ask you to hold your resolve ask you to carefully review your applications for tenders of the aircraft, myself and my opposite number in the shadow cabinet have agreed not to get involved and will not be embelishing or supporting any of the companies applications and will leave the decision down to your wisdom.

The last note I must make is a request to change the projects name as the tabloids are starting to get intrested and sadly Project Alpha Foxtrot One will only work for so long as by the time you hit development and testing phases the tabloid will be all over the story.

I will ask again for you to hold your resolve.

Your Faithful Servant,

Selwyn Loyd,

Minister of Supply.

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I say old chap, any more news on this one? About time we had something new to transport the lads around in double quick time!

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Awful nice of you to write old chap,

Sadly this weekend has been somewhat wasted, Ive spentost of it at the Air Ministry trying to convince the ministers that this is a valuable program and not to scrap the darn thing over security concerns. There slightly concerned that the Soviets have seen our plans for the aircraft's electronics systems - which they have seen sort of.... Ive been doing a little counter espionage.... the documents have been faked, not only that they are rigged to make any aircraft that tries to replicate them suffer major failures in their systems, there is a lovely siren akin to the noise level of an air raid siren in the cockpit..... I wouldn't want to be on whatever monstrosity they concoct!

On top of that weve just finished our engine designs and should be ready to show them later tonight!

James

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From the Head of the Bristol Aircraft Company to the Head of Sud Avaviton

November 1957

Dear Sir,

It has come to my attention that like ourselves you are currently in the process of developing an aircraft capable of SST and that you have stated an intrest in our Olympus Mk. 320 engines within this aircraft. Although we have no issue selling these engines word has reached us that SNECMA has designed an 'afterburner' unit to be attached to the engine and to support Supersonic flight. This interests us greatly as it will assist in the manufacture of a future supersonic cargo aircraft as well as open the potential of passenger travel at that level, as such I am writing to offer you no less than 10 engines and a financial compensation for the release of yourself and SNECMA's design work so that through co-operation we can all achieve the dream of supersonic transport

I hope this offer is of intrest to you,

Yours faithfully and in friendship,

T.B. White.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the Head of Sud Avaviton to the Head of the Bristol Aircraft Company

November 1957

Dear sir,

Thank you for your letter. We are indeed interested in your Olympus engines. However before we can make any agreement we must speak with SNECMA for their consent to release the engine designs. I am in London next week would it be possible to arrange a meeting? Perhaps Lunch, I know a nice Restaurant in Knightsbridge where we can discuss matters further and hopefully come to some agreement. I will call you to discuss matters later on in the week.

All the best et au revoir,

Jaques de Blanc

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I say old chap, good to see the loud bits taking shape and wizard idea getting the jolly Frenchies involved, should get this one moving along at a rather good pace. Tip top job.

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From the Head of the British Aircraft Company to the Head of Sud Avaviton

June 1961,

Dear Jaques,

It was wonderful seeing you last week, my wife hasnt stopped talking about our time in Paris, you French certainly know how to be good hosts! I would like to invite you and your family to join us on a hunt in Scotland in the autumn, I am sure our wives would be happy for the opportunity to meet again, they seemed to get along together like a house on fire! It was Jolly nice to see the missus happy!

However my friend I write to you on business, Word has reached us here in London that your government is refusing to put up the money to support the construction of your prototype aircraft. I cannot tell you how sad that makes me after all of the co-operation we have put into it jointly to finesse the engines for supersonic flight. Its such a waste. However I feel I can help, we have friends in the Royal Aircaft Establishment who are making a prototype of a similar aircraft to ours I am sure at the very least we could buy back 6 of the engines, that should go somewhat towards assisting your prototype costs. However if your still having issues our friends at RAE and ourselves would be willing to support yourself and your team to be part of our projects however it would require yourself and your staff transferring into our service.

If its something that intrests you let me know and I can make arrangements for you to meet some of our friends in Farnbrough.

Yours faithfully and in friendship,

T.B. White.

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To the Head of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farbrough,

From the Minister of Aviation

July 1961.

Dear Sir,

I just wish to congratulate you boys once again, that deal with those designers at Sud Avavtion was absolutely amazing! Ive read through your report on what we gain, and even though the Business secretaries nose is out of joint at the fact were now buying back 6 of our own engines I can understand and appreciate it and the fact that they left us unmodified and are returning modified is a bonus! The redevelopment of the wings sounds spectacular and should benefit the end product.

I have spoken with the head of BAC and the cabinet, and you'll be happy to hear after the recent developments were not cutting the funding for BAC's commercial product as both yourself and BAC simply need to finish fabrication and stick your kits together and we'll have two prototype aircraft ready to roll! However this is coming at a price the other project yourself and BAC are working on the TSR-2 is to be audited with the intention of shelving it.... I know you personal supporter of the aircraft however I must ask you to take your personal thoughts out of the equation. Were in debt to the yanks and there calling time on the bill we have to repay! We cannot support 3 supersonic aircraft at the one time its not financially viable, especially when the airliner has only attracted interest from BOAC and Air France! The ministry of defense is tearing itself apart squabbling over the aircraft its becoming nonviable! The audit is scheduled to start at the tail end of the year early next year and should be finished for the middle of 1963, if you wish to save your aircraft - any of the three- you better make sure your costs go down or you drop an aircraft! However I did not recommend that!

Lastly BAC are calling their aircraft the Concorde, apparently its french for union to represent the unity between the british and french designers - although now the aircraft is manufactured entirely in Britain and will never be made by a french manufacturer is a bit of an insult in my opinion, neverless the papers have become interested in the aircraft both of them and Romeo Alpha Foxtrot - Alpha is hardly a name that can be given to the presses I suggest coming up with an aircraft name and getting back to us so we can let the news know.

Consider the things I have said,

Sincerley,

Peter Thorneycroft

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To the Minister of Aviation, Whitehall, London

From the Head of Project Valkyrie, RAE Farnbrough

September 1961.

Dear Minister,

Its is my pleasure to inform you that Project Alpha Foxtrot Romeo - Alpha will hence forth be known as Project Valkyrie and the aircraft will be a RAE Valkyrie Mk. C1. We have chosen Valkyrie as it is a beautiful hand maiden of the gods who supports and protects the proud warriors of Norse times and we think that this is very apt for an aircraft who's primary role is to support our monarchs who have all served within the military as well as recognizes the aircrafts potential use as a fast troop transport. Alternativley it also will confuse any of our enemies as the name Valkyrie is another V name which will make it look like were adding a 4th bomber to our V bomber fleet.

I am at your service to recieve any further correspondence regarding Valkyrie.

Fond regards,

Flt Lt. J. S. Fraser, D.F.C, A.F.C

((And that gentlemen is where I arrive formally in the proceedings, we've been working like bee's here at Farnbrough, the wings are now coming together, we have sealed off the prefabricated windows in the sleeping quarters as well as started to modify the cockpit from the civilian variant after a delivery mistake from out prefabrication unit at Airfix Co. Production photos to come tomorrow.))

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To the Head of Project Valkyrie, RAE Farbrough,

From the Minister of Aviation, Whitehall

December 1961.

Dear, Flt Lt Fraser,

I write to complain about the name of the aircraft, I know you decided the name a few months ago and its circulated in the press but this office has circulated in tthe press that Valkyrie is only the project name like TSR-2 and will not be the end production name. Valkyrie were indeed hand maidens of the gods but they selected which warriors were good enough to die and be rewarded for their actions in Valhalla..... You can see how we cannot have an aircraft the monarch or service personell travel in is called Valkyrie. Not to mention the scarily similar bomber by the name Valkyrie.... we do not need the Queen gunned down due to mistaken identity!

Between ourselves, The Air Ministry and the Royal Air Force we think the name Athena is much more apt and would appreciate you rectifying all documents and files to reflect this decision

Sincerly,

Peter Thorneycroft

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2012-12-19-166_zps0a8b2835.jpg

Laborious masking of an aircraft with no frames.....

2012-12-23-170_zps43a24e50.jpg

An appalling shot of where a cut needs to be made

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Looking down a dry fitted nose at the Visor in the down position, I want it this way so that viewers can see the true glory of my hand made cockpit (ooh err missus!) The Aircrafts visor was normally only down for Taxiing, flypasts and Washing the windscreen however for this instance its standard procedure for the Athena's Visor to be dropped for royal reviews and for boarding of VIP's.

2012-12-26-179_zps1e86aa91.jpg

A fly past of the fuse.... the glare in the background is the natural sheen of the plastic, theres no paint or anything else added!

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Blocking out the windows of the sleeping cabin.

2012-12-28-185_zps195acbab.jpg

Looking aft to a modified cockpit from the main console although its going to be crewed its not yet complete.... and yes the crew will be in shirt tie and helmet.... Formal dress for formal duties!

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Two days to go fella. Think you'll get her done?

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Of course I can! And if I cant I will get damned close!

The wings are done, the fuse is together, the gears have been painted, need assembled, all i need to do is stitch the nose together tonight, make up the tail, start masking and with any luck start spraying the base coat tomorrow, cheat line the day after, decals, gears all the little bits and unmasking in time for finish.....

yea.... easy peasy!

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22nd November 1963

Diary of the Chief engineer J. S . Fraser

The multiple systems aboard Athena are slowing production down, each system must be rigorously tested. The refueling system, the fuel transfer systems, fire extinguishing systems, Defence mechanisms, on board Radar, on board communications, the Major thorn in our side is the fact that our prototype aircraft is still wearing the Vulcan Delta Wing...... BAC are taking a long time in the manufacturing of the French inspired Double delta wing, were expecting it in March, so that 1964 planned were gonna be stuck in development till at least 1965 and by then I can imagine we'll have a tonne of new systems to install and to top it off were not even out of the cockpit yet!

Phone called Received - Urgent 12:30pm .... President Kennedy landed at RAF Fairford, Requesting permission to do a stop visit on the establishment ---- Minister of Aviation and Minister of Air have given consent and are flying from London ASAP to rendez vous with the US president. Kennedy expected at 3 pm, Signed M.

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I hate to say it chaps but this is one gawd awful kit.... its as if airfix wants you never to finish it....

Edited by RAF Colonel

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Shes beaten me.... I normally don't give up but when I nearly cut my pinkie off this morning (not kidding nice big gash through the pinkie of my left hand) while fighting with the main console in the cockpit I have to wave the white flag.... then wrap my hand in bandages.... its a shame however I am down but not out, she'll go back under the bed for now.... I'll order in some spare parts, salvage the cockpit and try again....

I'll upload the final pictures shortly... however I have one story Ive been itching to tell.... the greatest story of the Athena's Career, How the Falklands war was won in 16 hours....

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Sorry to hear she isn't to be completed within the GB but hope you continue fighting with this kit as I'd like to see her finished. Sure it'll make for an impressive sight when ready.

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