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Thunderbird Surface to Air Missile

Firstly two links to an outline history of Bloodhound and Thunderbird and details of deployment in the UK and worldwide.

Some Thunderbird 1 images taken at East Fortune airfield near Edinburgh, part of the National Museum of Scotland.

This missile was used by the British Army for medium range air defence from 1960. There are few examples remaining and it is often mistaken for the slightly larger and longer range Bloodhound used by the RAF. The Thunderbird missile was built by English Electric.

The missile had a range of about 30 miles and used semi active homing in conjunction with the non coherent pulse radar Type 83 "Yellow River" built by British Thomson-Houston Co. Ltd (BTH). It has replaced in 1965 by the mark 2 Thunderbird which worked with the Ferranti (Edinburgh) AD10 coherent CW radar for improved low altitude performance.

This example has recently been refurbished by RAF Leuchars.

(if you visit the museum during the winter season be aware that the outdoor exhibits are closed much earlier than the museum, phone first to check)

To download the full size images from this server please click on the thumbnail images.

There are only two things that fly, MISSILES and targets, 72 kB

Propulsion is by Four strap on solid fuel rockets and a sustainer in the main body, 82 kB

When the four boosters burn out they detach from the mainbody, 93 kB

This example is missing the lower of the four midbody fins , 89 kB

The launcher is missing a housing that feeds its controls to the missile rear panel, 68 kB

Controls are via the four uppper holes on the panel the radial marking are groups of small vent holes around the central sustainer rocket, 63 kB

Connections to the Launch Control Post (and to the missile) on the lower panel , 56 kB

Thunderbird I , 98 kB

A little more detail of the Booster fixing, 63 kB

The small metal tip of the nose cone is missing, 81 kB

Rear underview, The "spikes" on the four rear control fins are weights to counter flutter, 78 kB

Front booster fixing. The letter box shaped panel is the location of one of 4 proximity fuses, 60 kB

The missing lower fin is obvious by asymmetry , 94 kB

The nose cone is a dielectric (fibre glass) and normally had a natural semi mat light tan finish not painted high gloss green as here, the RAF have got things wrong with raydomes and paint before, 64 kB

It still looks purposeful , 95 kB

Plate on LAUNCHER says No 2, Mk1, 54 kB

East Fortune even have some Targets ! , 59 kB


The same missile in 1979 prior to the repaint. Thanks to Norman Murphy, 63 kB


BAC Brochures


BAC Thunderbird II Brochure


BAC Tactical Missile Systems Brochure


Links to Other Thunderbird images on the WWW

Please follow the links to see the full size images at the original sites.


Thunderbird II at the Muckleburgh Collection


Thunderbird I at the Woomera missile park. (Alwyn Simple)


Thunderbird 2 at the Imperial War Museum



More images at the Bloodhound Missile page

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