Cold War Kit. Part 4. British Tracked Rapier, Surface to Air Missile.

Cold War Kit. Part 4. British Tracked Rapier, Surface to Air Missile.


The first novel in my ‘Cold War’ trilogy, The Red Effect, published by SilverWood Books, is now available. Thoroughly enjoyed writing it, as i do with all my novels. There will be three books in total, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Warsaw Pact in the mid 1980’s. Book 1, ‘The Red Effect’, encompasses part of the intelligence build up leading to the initial Warsaw Pact strike against the NATO forces lined up against them. The purpose of the next few posts is to cover some of the Iconic pieces of equipment that would have played a part, should the Cold War have turned Hot.

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‘The Red Effect’ by Harvey Black – Available now. The Cold War that became a Hot War.

The Cold War era started very soon after the end of the second world war, when the communist east, led by the Soviet Union, and the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, faced each across what became known as the ‘Iron Curtain’.

The perception of a potential Third World War, was generally one of a nuclear war. It may have come to that. In reality we will never know. But, one scenario is that of a conventional war. The massed forces of the Warsaw Pact against the supposedly technically superior, but weaker, NATO armies, that may well have escalated into a nuclear exchange. But a pure conventional war was just as likely.


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Tracked Rapier, a British Cold War surface-to-air missile launcher.  It is still in service today.


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The Rapier SAM entered service in 1971 and eventually replaced most of the British Army and Royal Air Force SAM systems. The original systems came on wheeled launchers, towed by Land Rovers. There would be two vehicles, the Fire Unit Truck and the Detachment Support Vehicle.


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Development started on the Tracked version of the Rapier in 1978, deployed in 1983.


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Capable of carrying four surface-to-air missiles on each launcher.


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Parabolic antenna for sending guidance commands to the missiles.


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The missile has a fragmentation explosive close proximity warhead.


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The large cylindrical unit, containing the surveillance radar and Identification friend or foe (IFF) at the top.


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Mounted on an M548 chassis.


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The chassis is the cargo version of the well known M113 armoured personnel carrier.


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The lower part of the cylinder contains the guidance computer and radar transmitter and receiver electronics at bottom.


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The solid fuel rocket could power the missile to a speed of Mach 2.5.


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The Optical-Tracker would be operated from the left side of the crew cabin.


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On the right of the crew cabin you would find the driver and tactical controller.


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There were smoke-dischargers on each corner of the vehicle.


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The missile had a height ceiling of 3,000m.


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In the early 80s, 1 British Corps had 24 x Tracked Rapier and 24 x towed missile systems.


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During the Cold War, 1 British Corps and its respective divisions were very weak in respect to air defence.


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From movement to firing took only 30 seconds with the tracked Rapier, as opposed to the towed versions firing time of 15 minutes.



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Rory, who had just purchased my Novel, The Red Effect, posing in front of my stand at the War & Peace show. He is wearing his Second World War Soviet uniform, carrying the iconic PPS machine gun.

i hope this has given you a further insight into what kit was around during the Cold War in the 80s.

The equipment Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black.

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‘The Red Effect’ by Harvey Black – Kindle and Paperback version out now! The Cold War that became a Hot War. The Black Effect due out Mid September.


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