Handsome illustrations of rockets and missiles

Originally published at: Handsome illustrations of rockets and missiles | Boing Boing


I had no idea about the Black Arrow. It makes the hyperdrive “ahh, the Americans are coming in two days. We will wait for them!” scene even funnier:


They’re down with OPM.

The Blue Streak rocket (listed there as “Blue Strike”) also flew – it was developed with other European countries as a satellite launch vehicle after being cancelled as an ICBM.

In fairness, given the apparent need to ship it to Australia to launch it, I’m not sure how practical a Garbage Island ICBM could ever have been

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Those are some great rocket illustrations!

I like how the USSR’s program for the longest time was just “keep slapping V-2 rockets on there to get more lift.”


The UK invented the missile silo for the Blue Streak. The plan was to sink Blue Streaks into silos all over the East of England.

Like everything else, after the missile was cancelled, we shared the silo with the Americans.

As you say, the Blue Streak did fly as a space rocket - it was the first stage of the ELDO Europa launcher and worked perfectly. Unfortunately, the French and German upper stages failed. The project was cancelled, ELDO fell apart and France went off to build Ariane.


Black Arrow is a neat little rocket which got around a lot of the difficulties of rocketry. It used hydrogen peroxide and kerosene which meant the UK never needed to struggle with handling cryogenic liquids and the rocket could be stored.

It used silver catalysts to decompose the peroxide into superheated steam and oxygen which drove the turbopumps (so the British built an at least partially steam-powered rocket). No complex preburners or issues of coming found in kerolox rockets.

The hot exhaust from the turbines went into the combustion chamber and burned with kerosene to produce thrust.

And then they cancelled it.

There’s one in the Science Museum which was to have flown the second mission, and another flown (slightly-dented) one at Woomera.


Looked for but didn’t find the scariest missile system of all: the Davy Crockett, a “tactical nuclear recoilless smoothbore gun for firing the M388 nuclear projectile armed with the W54 nuclear warhead.”

An actual steam punk rocket?!


Blimey, that’s a blast from the forgotten UK sitcom past. The criticisms that it was trying to be Red Dwarf are probably fair and it never even reached the foothills of those lofty peaks.

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Only the R1 and R2 designs could really be called V2 derivatives.

The R1 was a near perfect copy reverse engineered from what the US left at Peenemunde and Mittelverk) whilst the R2 was a natural evolution whose biggest development was a separable warhead.

The German engineers ‘invited’ back to the USSR continued working on a series of rockets for the USSR, but almost nothing of their work was developed.

By the time the R7 came along, Korolev and Glushko had far exceeded the knowledge of the Germans and their designs for kerolox rockets owe next to nothing to the V2. And what an amazing rocket they built.

Anyone who wants to know more about this era will enjoy the doorstep sized ‘Challenge to Apollo’ by Asaf Siddiqi.


And it looked like a lipstick:

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Oh, but I loved it so! I enjoyed red dwarf a lot but it was very different and far more uneven than Hyperdrive. Some episodes of Hyperdrive had me absolutely in tears from laughter. All these years later my wife and I still sometimes say “attention all crew…”


I fail to see the problem.

Glasses Seinfeld GIF

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“Listen everybody: when I pull the lanyard, cover your ears and close your eyes real tight.

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Camouflage by Claes Oldenburg

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You wrote exactly what I was going to, right down to recommending “The Challenge to Apollo”, which is the best work on the Soviet space program (it’s pretty in depth though, not exactly a comfort read).
Because it was commissioned by NASA, they have a copy available as a pdf on their website here.


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