Camouflage & Markings – English Electric Lightning
The English Electric Lightning is one of those iconic aircraft of the Cold War era. It was designed, developed, and manufactured by English Electric, a company that subsequently came to be absorbed by the newly formed British Aircraft Corporation.
The Lightning was developed to intercept increasingly capable Soviet bomber aircraft (Tupolev Tu-16, Tupolev Tu-22, Tupolev Tu-95), and thus had an exceptional rate of climb, ceiling, and speed; pilots have described flying it as “being saddled to a skyrocket”. To achieve this performance, the aircraft was powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets in a unique stacked configuration in the fuselage.
The Lightning became the RAF’s primary interceptor for more than two decades and was also the only all-British Mach 2 fighter aircraft.
In aircraft design, favorable characteristics often come at a cost. The formidable interceptor performance made the Lightning a ‘fuel critical’ aircraft which translated into a limited operational radius. Later developments provided greater range and speed along with aerial reconnaissance and ground-attack capability.
Development batch aircraft, single-seat fighters delivered from 1959, a total of 19 built (and one static test airframe). Nose-mounted twin 30 mm ADEN cannon, two Firestreak missiles, VHF Radio and Ferranti AI-23 “AIRPASS” radar.
Single-seat fighter, delivered in 1961. Featured Avon 210R engines, an inflight refuelling probe and UHF Radio; a total of 28 built.
An improved variant of the F.1, delivered in 1962. A total of 44 built with 31 later modified to F.2A standard, five later modified to F.52 for export to Saudi Arabia.
A batch of F.2s upgraded to near-F.6 standard; featuring Avon 211R engines, retained ADEN cannon and Firestreak (replaceable Firestreak pack swappable with ADEN Cannon Pack for a total of four ADEN Cannon), arrestor hook and enlarged Ventral Tank for two hours flight endurance. A total of 31 converted.
Single-seat fighter with upgraded AI-23B radar, Avon 301R engines, new Red Top missiles, enlarged and clipped tailfin due to aerodynamics of carriage of Red Top, and deletion of ADEN cannon. A total of 70 built, of which at least nine were later converted to F.6 standard.
Single-seat fighter with extended range of 800 miles due to large ventral tank and new cambered wings. A total of 16 built, known also as an F.3 Interim version or F.6 Interim Version, 15 later modified to F.6 standard.
Two-seat side-by-side training version, based on the F.1A; two prototypes and 20 production built, two aircraft later converted to T.5 prototypes, two aircraft later converted to T.54.
Two-seat side-by-side training version, based on the F.3; 22 production aircraft built. One former RAF aircraft later converted to T.55 for Saudi Arabia.
An improved longer-range variant of the F.3. It featured new wings with better efficiency and subsonic performance, overwing fuel tanks and a larger ventral fuel tank, reintroduction of 30 mm cannon (initially no cannon but later in the forward part of the ventral pack rather than in the nose), use of Red Top missiles. A total of 39 built (also nine converted from F.3 and 15 from F.3A).
The Lightning was also exported to Saudi Arabia as F.52, F.53, T.54 and T.55 versions.
Profiles included in this article have been kindly contributed by Mr Rick Kent. Used by permission. Version information quoted after Wikipedia
5 additional images. Click to enlarge.