Project Emily

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Thor

The story of the 'Cuban Missile Crisis' (16th - 28th October 1962) is well documented and it is not my intention to describe the events in great detail.

If the reader remembers the earlier raison d'etre for Thor (IRBM + NATO = ICBM) then the Soviet action in the Caribbean could be described as........
IRBM+ Cuba = ICBM.

A map showing the areas of the USA that could be reached by MRBM & IRBM missiles based in Cuba

The NATO situation was that by November 1961 there were over a 100 US built missiles within range of Moscow

In the US there appeared to be a 'disturbing' lack of understanding between the Government and the military as is detailed in this conversation between President Kennedy and his advisors.

John Kennedy:  It’s a goddam mystery to me, it's just as if we suddenly began to put missiles in Turkey. Now that’d be goddam dangerous, I would think.
McGeorge Bundy: Well we did, sir.
Alexis Johnson: We did it in England too.

President John Kennedy, McGeorge Bundy (National Security Advisor) and Alexis Johnson (Deputy Under-Secretary of State)

During the Cuban crisis, the UK Thors remained at Readiness State ‘One-Five’…….as they always were.
There are no reports of Thor missiles having to be returned to the US for cleaning (the RP-1 fuel was never loaded).
No:102(SM) Squadron (RAF Full Sutton) had an open-day with a fuelling demonstration with afternoon tea!
It is generally accepted that closest the missiles came to launch was 'T-8'…….the point before any fuel would be loaded.
The covers would have been retracted and the missiles raised to the vertical position.

August 1st 1962, even before the October crisis, the UK Secretary of State for Defence (Peter Thorneycroft ) made an announcement in parliament.

Following this announcement there was a programme to return Thors from RAF stocks to the US for use in space research……the first missile was returned on 9th October 1962 and the process continued even during the crisis.

The secret deal between Kennedy and Khrushchev only involved removing the Jupiter missiles from Turkey.........Thor was not part of any deal to defuse the crisis.