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Lunchtime Lecture (London): The Vulcan and the Cold War

15 August 2024

On Thursday 15th August 2024 at 12pm, Julian Grenfell will explore the role the Avro Vulcan played in the Cold War. This talk will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s London site and virtually via Crowdcast.
 
Talk Outline
The talk will begin with a short description of the subject using Douhet, Mitchell, Slessor, and Meilinger. The origin of the Cold War is not fixed firmly in time, so the causes and effects of Russian imperialism is given, ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The V-bomber crews would be coming up against the Войска Противовосс Душная Обероны Страны, known as the PVO-Strany or the Soviet air defence of the homeland, not the Soviet Air Force (the VVS). Since the Vulcan crews would be carrying nuclear weapons, the products of a nuclear detonation heat, blast, radiation, and electromagnetic pulse are described, with some examples given. For the deterrent period in question, we inevitably come up against the bomber versus the missile (ICBM/MRBM/IRBM) so a description of the bomber as opposed to an exoatmospheric weapon in terms of time, warhead yield, and circular error probable (CEP) is made, and comparisons given. The Ballistic Missile Warning System (BMEWS) was crucial to Britain’s Primary Strike capability of getting airborne before the incoming weapons had detonated. Originally, Headquarters Bomber Command (HQBC) had planned for a secondary Strike capability which is also discussed. A description of what is meant by accuracy and how it relates to both bomber and missile is discussed. An air defence system employs a kill chain, a sequence of events starting with detection of a target to the detonation of the air defence weapon warhead is described, together with probability of kill. Probability of kill given hit and for more than one shot is described. The above then leads on to bomber survivability and the issues of susceptibility and vulnerability of bombers.
 
Location
This hybrid lecture will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s London site in the Sunderland Suite. Attendance in-person is free but registration is required via Digitickets.
Livestream
To attend virtually, register via Crowdcast.
About Julian Grenfell
Julian was born in Agra, India, and joined the Royal Air Force in 1960. After completing Air Electronics Officer flying training at RAF Topcliffe, he was posted to 230 Operational Conversion Unit, thence to 27 Squadron on Vulcan B2s. Other squadrons he flew on were, IX Sqn (in Cyprus), 44 Sqn, 101 Sqn, and 617 Sqn though not in that order. Julian was the Wing Air Electronics Officer at RAF Waddington where he was responsible for Vulcan aircrew air and ground electronic warfare (EW) training, he flew war mission flight profiles with other Vulcan B2 crews as an assessor. Moreover, he flew on Red Flag, and was also a Red Flag EW assessor at Nellis AFB, Nevada, in the United States. Julian has some 4,500 hours flying Vulcan B2 bombers.
Julian has a BSc (Honours) degree in Mathematics from the University of Manchester in England; he was a Chartered Mathematician, a Chartered Scientist, and worked in the defence industry in the electronic warfare (EW) environment. Julian worked on naval active off-board decoys, airborne electronic countermeasures (ECM), and radar warning receivers (RWRs). Julian later was Chief Engineer EW for Mass Consultants Ltd in Lincoln before starting his own EW consultancy. Though now retired, Julian manages to keep his hand in with the with the ‘odd’ engineering task, and has found time to write two books on Vulcan operations in the Cold War.

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