Thor: Anatomy of a Weapon System

Author(s): Geoff Goodchild 

ISBN: 9781781555682
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An insight into the technical aspects of the Western world’s first operational ballistic missile system.
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  • Thor uncovered: a comprehensive description of the RAF’s only strategic missile system

  • The mysteries of ballistic missile navigation gently unveiled

  • Supplemented by a wealth of diagrams and photographs, some believed to be previously unpublished

Thor: Anatomy of a Weapon System examines the technical aspects of the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile. The missile and its ground support equipment are covered in detail. The guidance system is conveniently spread across two chapters and includes a sub-section to help understanding of the gyroscopes.

The ground-based guidance components, including the mysterious theodolites, are described with accompanying drawings. Included are discussions on ballistics and how the properties of the Earth affect the missile’s flight. A chapter is dedicated to Thor’s raison d’etre: the 1.44 megaton warhead, its principles of operation and its terrifying effects.

The launch countdown process is comprehensively covered in a series of easy to follow flow diagrams, accompanied by detailed drawings and descriptions of the launch control consoles and equipment. The launch site is examined with details of surveys, locations and layout. Detailed drawings of site buildings complete the book, which contains photographs from the author’s collection, believed to be previously unseen.

BOOK ISBN 9781781555682
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 192 pages
PUBLICATION DATE 15 December 2016
ILLUSTRATIONS 43 black-and-white photographs



Geoff Goodchild was born in Lincolnshire in 1951. Qualifying as a pilot in 1969, he pursued a career in the airline industry, retiring in 2006 as a long-haul Airbus captain. He continues to work in flight simulators with trainee airline pilots. His first close encounter with Thor, aged nine, kindled a fascination with the missile of which this book is the result. Passionate about anything that can be made to fly, his hobbies include rocketry, aero modelling and light aviation. He lives with his partner Jan and their two sons in Northamptonshire.