Secret Military Bases

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  • 1935
    Orford Ness: Radar research team arrives
    Experiments into the burgeoning new radar technology are carried out at Orford Ness which help to prove the technology's worth.
  • 1955
    Orford Ness: Atomic Weapons Research Establishment
    The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment moves to Orford Ness to produce an operational nuclear weapons system required a warhead, bomb casing and a suitable aircraft. Basing their design on the 'Fat Man' bomb used to destroy Nagasaki, they soon create their first usable bomb design - known as 'Blue Danube.' The primary problems tackled at Orford Ness are the design and aerodynamics of the projectile itself rather than the explosive research. Between June and November 1955 a total of 14 trial casings are tested on the site, being dropped from aircraft and self-detonating before hitting the sea to preserve the secrets of their construction.
  • 1956
    Orford Ness: Test runs for Britain's first nuclear test
    Ahead of Britain's first full test of a functional atomic bomb on Christmas Island in 1957, Orford Ness is used as the training base for the pilots to become familiar with the operating procedure for carrying and deploying nuclear armaments.
  • 1962
    RAF Fylingdales: Construction of the golf balls starts
    The three 140ft tall radomes, with their distinctive 'golf ball' shape become a familiar Yorkshire landmark for the decades to follow
  • September 1963
    RAF Fylingdales: Formally opens
  • 24th February 1972
    RAF Fylingdales: 4 minutes warning confirmed
    In written answers, Lord Lambton confirms that the warning time of Soviet nuclear attack offered by Fylingdales remains just 4 minutes.
  • 1973
    RAF Fylingdales: Russian spy ship 'bugging' claims made
    Conservative MP Geoffrey Stewart-Smith claims that the Russians are using spy-ships disguised as trawlers to ‘bug’ the station and the Soviets have already cracked the West's so-called nuclear attack shield. Fylingdales is the most Southerly point of the shield.
  • September 1992
    RAF Fylingdales: The Pyramid replaces the golf balls
    The new 170ft high pyramid - costing over £160,000,000 attracts immediate suspicion over accusations that it can be used as part of the USA's vaunted "Star Wars" defense system.
  • April 1993
    Orford Ness: Sale
    The site is purchased by English Heritage.

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