Project Emily

The End of Emily

Following the announcement by Peter Thorneycroft that Project Emily was coming to an end, plans were drawn up for the dismantling of the Thor emplacements.

A test dismantling of LE40 (Launch Emplacement 40) at No:240(SM) RAF Breighton began on the 1st December 1962.
  • The Thor missile was made safe with the all the pyrotechnics removed and was returned to RAF Driffield.
  • The two fuels were decanted from the storage tanks and the emplacement was stripped of all its equipment.
  • The various trailers were prepared for shipment.
  • Any prefabricared structures were demolished.
The process was completed on the 20th December 1962......requiring thirteen work days.

A Thor missile is removed from its emplacement and returned to the Wing station before being airlifted back to the US
Image © IWM

Following the experience gained at LE40, this blueprint for dismantling was used at all subsequent locations.
The remaining RAF Breighton emplacements were cleared by the 8th January 1963.
The warheads were returned under great secrecy to RAF Lakenheath and the US Authorisation Officers left at the same time.
Dismantling of the entire RAF Driffield Wing was completed by the 27th April 1963 with the closure of RAF Full Sutton.

Dismantling the other three Wings was completed as follows:
  • Hemswell - 24th May 1963
  • Feltwell - 10th July 1963
  • North Luffenham - 23rd August 1963

After the closure of North Luffenham, the Thor era in the RAF officially ended.

The final Thor was airlifted back to the US on the 27th September 1963
Images courtesy of the PPRuNe website

The UK's now independent nuclear deterrent was once again the RAF's V-Bomber force but the Soviet Union's improved air-defence systems increased the need for an alternative delivery system.

From midnight on the 30th June 1969, the Royal Nay's Polaris missile system became the UK's independent nuclear deterrent