Bombs away! Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum is now the home of Thor missile
- Credit: Ian Burt
It was the ultimate Cold War weapon, capable of unleashing immense destruction on targets hundreds of miles away, at the touch of a button.
But this Thor missile is now a museum piece.
The device – which is actually a 3/4 replica of the original US weapon – has just gone on display at the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum, after being brought there by Bill Welbourne, who runs the site.
He said: “I’m hoping it will be an attraction for visitors, starting at Easter. It was given to me by the museum at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln. They didn’t want it any more.”
Thor missiles were deployed to bases in the UK – including a number in East Anglia – from the 1950s onwards. In the event of a nuclear war, they would have been directed at Soviet targets. Each missile could carry a warhead containing the equivalent of about half the explosives used in the Second World War.
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Aviation historian Chris Cope, from King’s Lynn, said: “From about 1958 to 1963, there were three of them at North Pickenham and three at Feltwell. Each base had three launch platforms.
“They were only in this country because of what is called a “bomber gap”. The US had bombers to fly nuclear weapons, but none that could reach the then USSR/Soviet Union.
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“People knew about the missiles being in the country and North Pickenham was quite famous for having a ‘ban the bomb’ march. People met up in Swaffham to go there.”
The museum in Old Lynn Road, West Walton, near Wisbech, boasts a wide-ranging display of aircraft, aviation archaeology and more from the First World War to the Falklands and Iraq wars.