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Trying to Record the History of the Rapier GW System

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I came across this web site where someone was trying to find out details of the registration numbers of the FSA Rapier Launcher trailers and the possible source of a Rapier generator Set.

As I am one of the few ex B.Ae. engineers left who was involved in the design and development of the Rapier system, in particular the electrical power generating systems. I have in recent years taken an interest in recording some of its long history in service. Next year 2021 marks the 50 th Anniversary of the into service date of the missile and it has not changed much in this time. There have been a number of versions of the ground equipment which have all been vehicle mounted, so I think can be classed as a military vehicle so is appropriate for this site.

The main versions of Rapier are, Field Standard A ( FSA), evolving into FSB1 & 2, Tracked, originally developed for Iran but was stopped when the revolution took place, subsequently taken up by M.O.D. and Field Standard C ( FSC ) this latter one I understand is still in service but soon to be be replaced by Landceptor. In to day's money it is estimated that Rapier has generated something like eight billion pounds worth of work for the UK defence industry.

I have for the last 8 years been very involved in the Aerospace Bristol museum in Bristol in restoring, acquiring and displaying the guided weapon products that were designed and produced at the Filton factory where I worked for 32 years. Unfortunately the management of the museum are besotted with Concorde and have a streak of political correctness running through them as far as weapons are concerned, so it is an uphill battle to get them to display the equipment we have. Which is a complete FSB1 system, launcher, radar tracker, optical tracker, pointing stick and S.E.Z., a Tracked Rapier and a FSC Launcher. At present only the Launcher less generator set, optical tracker and S.E.Z. are on display.

I have attached pictures of the FSB items on display and of probably the only example of the FSC launcher that will ever be released by the M.O.D. unfortunately this has no internal working parts but externally is in excellent condition as it was re painted by MBDA approximately 2 years ago.  As AB are not eager to display the FSC launcher it resides in a field near Bristol and its future is uncertain.

There are not many of us left now, but at the end of the 1950's I was conscripted National Serviceman ( there were no women involved in those days) into the Royal Air Force where I became an Air Wireless Fitter but never saw an operational aircraft, as I was posted to RAF Mountbatten in Plymouth where the last activities of the sea going RAF were stationed, in very nice billets overlooking Plymouth Sound. In those days there were sometimes visits by Atlantic liners, it was before the jet civil aircraft had taken over totally.

Brian Blestowe

Rapier Launcher @ BACT.JPG

Complete Rapier Launcher towing.jpg

FSC Launcer in Field 2019.JPG

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Hi Brian,

thanks for sharing your knowledge and history.  I was down at Aerospace Bristol last may, and while it is a very shiny and interesting display I did feel it had suffered from the modern need to be interactive and therefore limited in the number of items it displays.

Can you just clarify are the other Rapier items the property of Aerospace Bristol? or are they loaners etc that could make their way to another suitable museum?

Since visiting Aerospace Bristol I have been doing a lot of research (well reading) on the history of Bristol and the surrounding area in the development of aerospace technology.

I would need to check where they are based but I understood that the Bloodhound Missile Preservation group were in the bristol area and that they were looking (in the longer term) to have more missile related items to add the collection they were going to display.

Just wondered if it was worth connecting with them.

Regards,

Julian

 

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Hi Julian

I totally agree with your comments with respect to the equipment display at AB and what effectively the Concorde Trust has done to the original Bristol Aero Collection display that was at Kemble.  Us old volunteers are not at all happy with the outcome, but it seems that when the arts educated museum people take over, this is usually the result.

With respect to the Bloodhound Missile Preservation Group, they do not have a permanent home but have part of a hangar at Cosford where there are restoring a Launcher Control Post and a Target Illumination Radar. The LCP is finished and all the electronics work. The radar is only being restored cosmetically for various reasons. Prior to the Concorde take over it was intended that the at least the LCP would have joined the missile and operating ( or it would be if the above "C" lot had not stopped that as well ) launcher that is part of the present display. I have regular contact with them.

The FSB Rapier system, i.e. launcher, radar tracker, optical tracker and pointing stick were donated to AB after I negotiated this gift from MBDA, in some respects I wish I had not now.

The FSC launcher and good G.S.G.E. are my property and as the Board of AB refused to display it at the end of 2018, as far as I can determine on the ill informed advice of the paid museum director, I will have to determine its fate. I have been trying to get this decision reversed for over a year now and I have nearly given up trying and if a decision is not made by the middle of the year, I intend to sell it to the highest bidder and give the money to a local charity.

 

Brian Blestowe

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Hi Brian,

Thanks for the extra information on the Bloodhound Missile Preservation Group.  I follow them on Facebook, but wasn't aware that they had been hoping to display at Bristol Aerospace.  So that a shame.  Hopefully a suitable home can be found to display all their hard work and this important part of UK engineering history.

I hope you find a suitable and supportive site to display the FSC launcher.  

Julian

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