Rocket Propulsion Establishment
The Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott, Buckinghamshire
Westcott, Buckinghamshire
Westcott is a village and also a civil parish within Aylesbury Vale district in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located about a mile west of Waddesdon.The village name is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'west cottage'....

 on the site of the former RAF Westcott
RAF Westcott
RAF Westcott was a World War II Royal Air Force station in Buckinghamshire. It was used by 11 OTU during the war, along with its satellite station RAF Oakley...

 has made a number of notable contributions in the field of rocket propulsion, including input on the rocket design for the Blue Streak missile
Blue Streak missile
The Blue Streak missile was a British medium range ballistic missile . The Operational Requirement for the missile was issued in 1955 and the design was complete by 1957...

 and the propulsion systems on Chevaline
Chevaline was a system to improve the penetrability of the British Polaris missile warheads. Devised as an answer to the improved Soviet defences around Moscow, the system was intended to increase the probability that at least one warhead would penetrate the city's anti-ballistic missile defences,...

. It was also known as the Guided Projectiles Establishment and PERME Westcott (Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment, Westcott).

For many years this establishment was regarded as so secret it was not marked on Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey , an executive agency and non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom, is the national mapping agency for Great Britain, producing maps of Great Britain , and one of the world's largest producers of maps.The name reflects its creation together with...

 maps, although it was marked, from necessity, on maps for the use of pilots.


The establishment was set up in April 1946 under the Ministry of Supply
Ministry of Supply
The Ministry of Supply was a department of the UK Government formed in 1939 to co-ordinate the supply of equipment to all three British armed forces, headed by the Minister of Supply. There was, however, a separate ministry responsible for aircraft production and the Admiralty retained...

. In the initial years a team of German scientists worked at the site, and examples of German weapons were onsite for study. These included the V-1 flying bomb
V-1 flying bomb
The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

; V-2; Feuerlilie
Feuerlilie was the code name of a German anti-aircraft missile, which was developed in 1940 and was shelved because of problems with the controller and the drive section at the end of January 1945 in favour of other projects. The Feuerlilie was built and tested at Rheinmetall-Borsig in two...

 F-55 subsonic missile; Messerschmitt Me-163B rocket-propelled intercepter; Rheintochter
Rheintochter was a German surface-to-air missile developed during World War II. Its name comes from the mythical Rheintöchter of Richard Wagner's opera series Der Ring des Nibelungen.- History :...

-1 anti-aircraft missile; Ruhrstahl X-4
Ruhrstahl X-4
The Ruhrstahl X-4 was a wire guided air-to-air missile designed by Germany during World War II. The X-4 did not see operational service and thus was not proven in combat...

 air-to-air wire-controlled
missile; Enzian
The Enzian was a German WWII surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile that was the first to use an infrared guidance system...

 E-1 3,150-lb missile; Henschel Hs 298 anti-aircraft missile;
Hs 293 anti-shipping weapon; and Schmetterling and Wasserfall
The Wasserfall Ferngelenkte Flakrakete , was a World War II guided surface-to-air missile developed at Peenemünde, Germany.-Technical characteristics:...

 anti-aircraft missiles.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s Westcott undertook the design and development of rocket motors, and was responsible for most of the rocket motors used in British guided missiles and research vehicles. The design of these whole missile systems was undertaken by the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 at its facilities in Farnborough and Bedford. In 1984 the Rocket Propulsion Establishment came under the control of the Royal Ordnance Factories, and in 1987 control passed to the private sector when British Aerospace
British Aerospace
British Aerospace plc was a UK aircraft, munitions and defence-systems manufacturer. Its head office was in the Warwick House in the Farnborough Aerospace Centre in Farnborough, Hampshire...

 took over Royal Ordnance
Royal Ordnance
Royal Ordnance plc was formed on 2 January 1985 as a public corporation, owning the majority of what until then were the remaining United Kingdom government-owned Royal Ordnance Factories which manufactured explosives, ammunition, small arms including the Lee-Enfield rifle, guns and military...



Example British rocket and missile programmes with RPE involvement follow, many of which were eventually abandoned:
  • Black Arrow
    Black Arrow
    Black Arrow, officially capitalised BLACK ARROW, was a British satellite carrier rocket. Developed during the 1960s, it was used for four launches between 1969 and 1971...

     - Waxwing
    Waxwing (Rocket motor)
    Waxwing was a British solid rocket motor used for apogee kick as the 3rd stage of the Black Arrow satellite launch vehicles.Waxwing was used to successfully place the Prospero X-3 satellite into low Earth orbit on 28 October 1971, Britain's only satellite launch on an indigenously-developed launch...

     third stage motor
  • Black Knight
    Black Knight (rocket)
    Black Knight was a British launch vehicle to test and verify the design of a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.The United Kingdom's first indigenous rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was...

  • Jaguar
    Jaguar (rocket)
    The Jaguar was a three-stage British elevator research rocket built in several versions.The first stage of the Jabiru Mk.1 was 5.6 m long and had a takeoff weight of 1,170 kilograms, of which about 866 kilograms were fuel. The second stage of the Jabiru Mk.1 weighed 292 kilograms, of which 184...

     - first, second and third stage motors
  • Skylark
    Skylark (rocket)
    Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005...

  • Sea Slug missile
    Sea Slug missile
    Sea Slug was a first generation surface-to-air missile designed by Armstrong Whitworth for use by the Royal Navy...

    - for naval use
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