The SR53 and SR177.

The SR 53.

Saunders Roe SR 53 rocket interceptor
The first take off from Boscombe Down on May 16th 1957. The flare of the rocket exhaust is very obvious!
Saunders Roe SR 53 rocket interceptor
And this is the aircraft landing at Farnborough. Notice no rocket thrust now, Firestreak air to air missiles on the wingtips, and the leading edge flaps on the wings deployed.



After the cancellation, Saunders Roe were keen to promote the SR53 as a research aircraft, and devised a variety of ingenious ways in which to extend the flight envelope - one of which was airlaunching from a Valiant. It was estimated that a height of 48 miles could be reached that way, or Mach 3 at over 20 miles height. Ultimate development was, believe it or not, estimated to give a height of nearly 100 miles - or Mach 5 at 24 miles height!
What these estimations overlooked, however, was the unsuitability of the SR53 for the purpose. Being aluminium, its top speed was limited to around Mach2, and the height experiments would be useless as the vehicle was not fitted with controls for use in vacuum.


The SR177.

Saunders Roe SR 177 P177 rocket interceptor
Artist's impression of the SR 177.

Saunders Roe SR 177 P177 rocket interceptor
courtesy GKN Aerospace

Not an artist's impression at all, but the mock up in the hangar at Cowes. This would be built to check the drawings, that there is room for all the various components, and so on. Some metal cutting for the first prototypes had also begun by the time of the cancellation.

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