World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

De Havilland Firestreak

Article Id: WHEBN0000972038
Reproduction Date:

Title: De Havilland Firestreak  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Gloster Javelin, List of Rainbow Codes, English Electric Lightning, Blue Envoy, Red Dean
Collection: Air-to-Air Missiles of the United Kingdom, Cold War Air-to-Air Missiles of the United Kingdom
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

De Havilland Firestreak

Type air-to-air missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1957–1988
Used by United Kingdom, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia.
Production history
Designed 1951
Manufacturer de Havilland Propellers
Weight 136 kg (300 lb)
Length 3.19 metres (10 ft 6 in)
Diameter 0.223 m (8.8 in)
Warhead 22.7 kg (50 lb) annular blast fragmentation
proximity infrared

Engine Magpie solid fuel motor
Wingspan 0.75 m (30 in)
4 miles (6.4 km)
Speed Mach 3
rear-aspect infrared
control surface
fixed-wing aircraft

The de Havilland Firestreak is a

  • The de Havilland Firestreak

External links

  • Gibson, Chris; Buttler, Tony (2007). British Secret Projects: Hypersonics, Ramjets and Missiles. Midland Publishing. pp. 33–35.  


  1. ^ a b Gibson 2007, p. 33
  2. ^ a b Gibson 2007, p. 34
  3. ^ a b c d e Air Warfare: an International Encyclopedia, Volume 1Boyne, Walter J, , pub ABC-CLIO Inc, 2002, ISBN 1-57607-345-9 p267.
  4. ^ a b Gibson 2007, p. 35
  5. ^ Black, Ian, The Last of the Lightnings, pub PSL, 1996, ISBN 1-85260-541-3, p141.



 United Kingdom
 Saudi Arabia

Past operators

A Firestreak on its trolley. The fuse windows are visible adjacent to the red rubber bands used to protect them.
Map with Firestreak operators in blue


Red Top was faster and had a longer range than Firestreak,[3] and "was capable of all aspect homing against super-sonic targets."[3] An important difference between Firestreak and Red Top was the electronics technology used. Firestreak electronics used thermionic valves, which were "wired in" to the control / guidance electronics and required a system of cooling pipes to remove the heat generated by the valve filaments. For this reason, the Firestreak missile on ground test was cooled by Arcton and in flight by ammonia pumped through the missile from the parent aircraft. The Red Top electronics were constructed using transistors which were heated instead and the IR sensor in its dome-shaped Homing Head was cooled by purified air at 3,000 psi (21 MPa) filtered to 3 µm.

Firestreak was developed into Blue Jay Mk.4 (later renamed Blue Vesta), again intended for use by rocket-powered interceptors against high-speed Soviet bombers. In the end, Specification F.124T was cancelled but Blue Jay Mk.4 development continued. Blue Jay Mk.4 ultimately entered service as the Red Top in 1964.[3] Despite Red Top being intended to replace Firestreak, Firestreak remained in limited service until the final retirement of the Lightning in 1988; the carriage of these missiles improved the aircraft's aerodynamics.

Two Firestreak variants were studied but not adopted: the Mk.2 with a new motor, and the Mk.3 with increased wingspan and reduced top speed, for use with rocket-powered interceptors such as the Saunders-Roe SR.177 and Avro 720, according to Specification F.124T.[4]


For launch, the missile seeker was slaved to the launch aircraft's radar (Ferranti AIRPASS in the Lightning and GEC AI.18 in the Sea Vixen) until lock was achieved and the weapons was launched, leaving the interceptor free to acquire another target.[4] A downside was that the missile was highly toxic (due to either the Magpie rocket motor or the ammonia coolant) and RAF armourers had to wear some form of CRBN protection to safely mount the missile onto an aircraft. "Unlike modern [1990s] missiles, ... Firestreak could only be fired outside cloud, and in winter, skies were rarely clear over the UK."[5]

The first airborne launch of Blue Jay took place in 1955 from a de Havilland Venom, the target drone - a Fairey Firefly - being destroyed.[2] Blue Jay Mk.1 entered service in 1957 with the RAF, where it was named Firestreak. Firestreak was deployed by the Royal Navy and the RAF in August 1958;[3] it was the first effective British air-to-air missile.[3]


Blue Jay developed as a fairly conventional-looking missile with cropped delta wings mounted just aft of the midpoint and small rectangular control surfaces in tandem towards the rear. Internally, things were considerably more complex. The rear-mounted controls were operated by nose-mounted actuators via long pushrods. The actuators were powered by compressed air from bottles at the rear. The lead telluride (PbTe) IR seeker was mounted under an eight-faceted conical arsenic trisulphide "pencil" nose and was cooled to −180 °C (−292.0 °F) by anhydrous ammonia to improve the signal to noise ratio. The unusual faceted nose was chosen when a more conventional hemispherical nose proved prone to ice accretion.[2] There were two rows of triangular windows in bands around the forward fuselage, behind which sat the optical proximity fuzes for the warhead. The warhead was at the rear of the missile, wrapped around the exhaust of the Magpie rocket.

Firestreak was the result of a series of projects begun with the OR.1056 Red Hawk missile. When this proved too ambitious for the then state of the art, a lower performance specification was released in 1951 as OR.1117, and given the Ministry of Supply rainbow codename Blue Jay.[1]

Lightning with Firestreak missiles (1964)



  • Development 1
  • Service 2
  • Improvements 3
  • Operators 4
    • Past operators 4.1
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • Bibliography 5.2
  • External links 6

. Hawker Siddeley Red Top and was partially replaced in service by a developed variant, the [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.