No Blank Cheque: Anglo-American (Mis)understandings and the Use of the English Airbases

Following the Berlin crisis of 1948, U.S. strategic bombers—supposed "atomic capable"—were based in Britain, but with no agreement on the terms of their operation. Using British and U.S. archival sources, this article examines the discussions about the conditions under which U.S. bombers would have operated from British soil in a nuclear strike upon the Soviet Union, a key issue in the emergence of Britain's postwar "special relationship" with the United States. It focuses on the political and military concerns on both sides of the Atlantic about agreements limiting the use of the airbases during the crucial period 1948–58.