Oral history of British science
Dommett, Roy (Part 10 of 19). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee’s home, Fleet
Dommett, Roy, 1933- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 10: Discussion of SDI work: workshop on UK contribution to SDI with Michael Heseltine, Collin Allingham and other colleague having technical briefing on SDI [mic crackle]. Remarks on driving a minibus of colleagues round 13 American establishments and companies, [mic crackle] including Lockheed and Martin Marietta. [04:00] Remarks on UK contribution to SDI: Culham power sources for energy weapons; penaids; Malvern dual frequency radar; AI work from Admiralty research at Bath, based on work done with HMS Marlborough; British work done under US contract; purpose of SDI. Story about British concerns over Brilliant Pebbles' effectiveness against Trident driving RAE to find a way of defeating it, presenting solution in USA, subsequent cancellation of programme. [09:00] Comments on later career: not being as excited by work after Chevaline; SDI work; consulted as a sounding board for projects but not always able to push forward his own projects [Closed between 10:51-13:34] , penaids [16:30] Comments on solving problems of Patriot missiles in incepting Scud missiles in Gulf War and the importance of having a solution to appease politicians when things go wrong. Remarks on degree to which politics affected his later career [cough]. Comments on career progression, never being posted to London despite originally expecting it, being given interesting jobs throughout his career. [21:15] Remarks on career post Chevaline: replacement by BL as division head, becoming effectively the technical director of division, trying every pub between Aldermaston and Farnborough when travelling to meetings. [23:20] Remarks on SDI work involving half of his 134 trips to the USA: comparison with ELDO work, visits to Pave Paws radar at Georgia, not visiting radar on the Aleutian Islands. [short pause] Comments on intense work in late 1980s on Anglicising Trident; Aldermaston's warhead design [Closed between 25:36-25:37] [Closed between 26:14 - 26:21] [Closed between 26:50-27:04] [coughing]; Tony Walsthorn and RD's opinion on suitability of warhead and re-entry vehicle [coughing]. [29:25] [Closed between 29:20 - 31:21] Further remarks on later career: AGARD, penaids, ABM; writing up reports on earlier work, moving to new office when RAE moved to Cody Field; Boss Chris Morton allowing him to go through old documents to reclassify them, including TD127 a replacement for WE177 and 1244 stand-off nuclear weapon [mic crackle][Closed between 35:43 – 36:42] [36:42] Comments on enjoying disposal of Chevaline: burning decoy launchers at Plymouth; disposal of vehicles by Airlog's car crusher, via RAF Wittering; [loud laughing] feeling that they had done a good job; Chevaline remaining with him throughout his service until its crushing; Chevaline in museums. [41:20] Remarks on disposing of documents from Farnborough [mic crackle]: transfer of documents to War Office store, difficulties of working with Qinetiq, Aldermaston's archive.
Interview with rocket scientist and aeronautical engineer Roy Dommett