Aeroplane (1 of 2), English Electric Lightning

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Postcard of Aeroplane (1 of 2), English Electric Lightning.
© National Museums Scotland

Aeroplane (1 of 2), English Electric Lightning

This aircraft, the English Electric Lightning, was first used by the RAF in 1962. It spent the latter years of its service career stationed in Germany with 92 Squadron, whose markings it wears. This variant, the F.2A was armed with four 20 mm cannon and two Firestreak air-to-air missiles. In 1982, the aircraft was presented to the Museum of Flight at East Fortune in East Lothian and had to be tipped onto its tail in order to fit through the hanger doors.

The single-seat all-weather interceptor fighter is powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon RA. 24R. Mk211 jet engines mounted in the fuselage one above the other. It has a maximum speed of 1,500 mph (mach 2.3), a cruising speed of 595 mph and a range of 800 miles.

The English Electric (later British Aerospace) Lightning established its place in British aviation history by being the first fighter designed for the Royal Air Force to exceed the speed of sound in level flight (Mach 1). The first operational version flew in October 1959 and the RAF received their first aircraft in the same year. Never before had Fighter Command achieved such a spectacular advance in performance. With a Mach 2 capability in level flight and a service ceiling of 60,000 ft, it far outclassed its predecessors. Of equal importance, it had been designed as an integrated weapons platform. Airframe, engines, armament, fire control radar and auto-controls were all co-ordinated. A measure of its success was that it was still operational as a front-line fighter thirty years on.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-104-280-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1982.115
Date: 1962
Dimensions: 10.61 m x 16.84 m x 5.97 m
What: Aircraft, fighter
Subject: 1. AERONAUTICS, Aeroplanes (Departmental Classification)
Who: English Electric (Maker)
Lightning (Personal name of the aircraft)
Rolls-Royce (Maker of the engines)
Royal Air Force (Owner)
Description: Single-seat, all-weather interceptor fighter, the English Electric Lightning, first used by the R.A.F. in 1962
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