Although never developed beyond the prototype stage, the British Aircraft Corporation TSR2 was one of the most exciting and controversial British combat aircraft designs of the 1960s. The cancellation of the project is a subject of great debate to this day.
During the mid 1950s, the increasing sophistication of air defence systems led the RAF to consider the procurement of a high speed, low level strike and reconnaissance aircraft to replace the English Electric Canberra. In October 1957, the Ministry of Supply released the first specification for such an aircraft.
On 1 January 1959 the Ministry of Supply announced a design had been selected for production. Christened the TSR2 (Tactical Strike and Reconnaissance Mach 2), this aircraft was developed by a joint design team. A contract for eleven TSR2 prototypes was concluded on 6 October 1960, the first (XR219) made its maiden flight from Boscombe Down on 27 September 1964.
By 31 March 1965 XR219 had completed twenty-four flights, and a second, the aircraft you see here, was to join the programme. Initial reports indicated that the TSR2 was an outstanding technical success. However political opposition to the project led to it being cancelled from 6 April 1965.