Red Dean

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This article is about the air-to-air missile system. For the Anglican clergyman commonly referred to as the Red Dean, see Hewlett Johnson.
Red Dean
Red Dean on display at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford
Type Air-to-air missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Production history
Manufacturer Vickers
Weight 1,330 lb (603 kg)
Length 16 ft (4.9 m)
Warhead 100 lb (45 kg) high explosive

Engine Bristol Aerojet Buzzard
6,750 lb (30 kN)[1]
4 miles
Flight ceiling 50,000 ft
Speed Mach 2.2
control surface

The Red Dean was an air-to-air missile developed by the United Kingdom in the 1950s but cancelled before development was complete. It was originally a large radar-guided missile using pulse-Doppler radar to guide itself against enemy bombers. When this proved to be beyond the state of the art, further development as a semi-active radar homing followed, but this produced a very large missile with a range similar to the much smaller AIM-7 Sparrow. Development was cancelled along with the thin-wing Javelin in 1956.


The Red Dean project was split off from the Red Hawk missile project in 1951 as a 700 lb (320 kg) missile to be developed by Folland.[citation needed] Folland had been involved in the RTV.2 test vehicle, this and the recent appointment of Teddy Petter as chief engineer lead to them being awarded the contract in mid 1951.[2]

Following problems with increasing size and weight as the design progressed, not to mention cost overruns and problems with the seeking head (being developed by E.K. Coles), Folland felt unable to continue the work and the Ministry of Supply cancelled the contract in November and passed it to Vickers.[3]

Vickers started the design studies in July 1952 and the development contract was placed in March 1953. [4] However, the Vickers version of Red Dean, Vickers Type 888, was no more fortunate. It continued to suffer from numerous development problems, not the least of which was that ongoing issues with the active radar seeker (for which the designers GEC were pilloried on numerous grounds) caused a size and weight spiral. This in turn detracted grossly from the flight performance, which was dismal for such a large missile. Poor seeker performance in turn demanded a large warhead, which exacerbated the weight problems, while design limitations inherent in the light alloy structure made it unsuitable for use on highly supersonic interceptors.

Operational Requirement F.155 for a fighter to engage enemy bombers with radar and infra-red guided missiles (the missiles were specified under OR.1131) included a scaled down Red Dean under the codename Red Hebe.

Gloster offered a development of their Javelin with Red Dean. The "thin wing" Gloster Javelin development was cancelled in 1956 and Red Dean went with it, despite a major redesign and abandonment of the requirement for autonomous active homing. The limitations on supersonic carriage still remained, and the planned new generation of Mach 2.5 interceptors would need something better.

Examples of Red Dean are held at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster, and Brooklands Museum where Vickers had worked on the design[5]

See also[edit]


  • Forbat, John (2006). The Secret World of Vickers Guided Weapons. Tempus. ISBN 0-75243769-0. 
  • Gibson, Chris; Buttler, Tony (2007). British Secret Projects: Hypersonics, Ramjets and Missiles'. Midland Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85780-258-0. 

External links[edit]