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Episode 689

Project E
Mon, 2019-Mar-25 00:52 UTC
Length - 3:36

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Monday, 25 March 2019 is Project E.

Project E was a joint project between the United States and the United Kingdom during the Cold War to provide nuclear weapons to the Royal Air Force (RAF) until sufficient British nuclear weapons became available. It was subsequently expanded to provide similar arrangements for the British Army of the Rhine. A maritime version of Project E known as Project N provided nuclear depth bombs used by the RAF Coastal Command.

The British nuclear weapons project, High Explosive Research, successfully tested a nuclear weapon in Operation Hurricane in October 1952, but production was slow and Britain had only ten atomic bombs on hand in 1955 and fourteen in 1956. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, approached the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, with a request that the US supply nuclear weapons for the strategic bombers of the V-bomber fleet until sufficient British weapons became available. This became known as Project E. Under an agreement reached in 1957, US personnel had custody of the weapons, and performed all tasks related to their storage, maintenance and readiness. The bombs were held in secure storage areas (SSAs) on the same bases as the bombers.

The first bombers equipped with Project E weapons were English Electric Canberras based in Germany and the UK that were assigned to NATO. These were replaced by Vickers Valiants in 1960 and 1961 as the long-range Avro Vulcan and Handley Page Victor assumed the strategic nuclear weapon delivery role. Project E weapons equipped V-bombers at three bases in the UK from 1958. Due to operational restrictions imposed by Project E, and the consequential loss of independence of half of the British nuclear deterrent, they were phased out in 1962 when sufficient British megaton weapons became available, but remained in use with the Valiants in the UK and RAF Germany until 1965.

Project E nuclear warheads were used on the sixty Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles operated by the RAF from 1959 to 1963 under Project Emily. The British Army acquired Project E warheads for its Corporal missiles in 1958. The US subsequently offered the Honest John missile as a replacement. They remained in service until 1977 when Honest John was in turn superseded by the Lance missile. Eight-inch and 155 mm nuclear artillery rounds were also acquired under Project E. The last Project E weapons were withdrawn from service in 1992.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:52 UTC on Monday, 25 March 2019.

For the full current version of the article, see Project E on Wikipedia.

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