What is it about?

This article examines the politics of US Thor missile deployment in the UK, with revelations from the archives about 'missile politics' and how much was unknown to the receiving country, and also on how this issue loomed large in alliance politics during the \1950s.

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Why is it important?

Critics of British subservience to the US during the Cold War have used the metaphor of the "unsinkable aircraft carrier". This article shows that successive British governments were indeed obsessed with getting the American missiles, regardless their highly questionable performance. This was a time when British governments were coming to terms with their role of junior ally, albeit a special one.


This article in The Journal of Strategic Studies was a chapter in my doctoral dissertation, "The Struggle for Nuclear Partnership: Britain, the United States and the Making of an Ambiguous Alliance, 1952-1959".

Jan Melissen
Leiden University and University of Antwerp

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This page is a summary of: The Thor saga: Anglo‐American nuclear relations, US IRBM development and deployment in Britain, 1955–1959, Journal of Strategic Studies, June 1992, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/01402399208437480.
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