With an unmistakable design and classic natural metal finish, the English Electric Lightning is a powerful example of the enormous capabilities of post-war British aeronautical design. First developed in response to a requirement in 1947, English Electric's design was so radical that it was initially opposed by the RAE at Farnborough. Despite this, it was later to become the only all-British supersonic aircraft to enter production and the last all-British single-seat fighter. Although the type suffered from chronic underdevelopment throughout much of its career, which adversely affected its export potential, it remained a success at home and skilfully defended UK air space for more than 25 years. The first prototype took to the air on 4 August 1954, and on its third flight it became the first British aircraft to exceed Mach 1 in level flight. In late 1956 an order for 20 aircraft was placed so that testing of every aspect of the new fighter could be accelerated. In October 1958 the RAF officially named its new aircraft as the 'Lightning' and the first production Lightings were delivered to Number 74 Squadron at Coltishall on 29 June 1960. Capable of a performance to match even today's fighters with speeds of Mach 2 and an unsurpassed rate of climb and ceiling, the Lightning served in the front line of the RAF through many of the hottest years of the Cold War until the late 1980s. However, it was eventually hampered by its short range, increasingly outmoded avionics and modern-day weapons-load capability. Today, the last examples can be seen flying in South Africa. This well researched book is the very first detailed history of the Lightning type for many years. With an exciting range of new material from EE company photographic archives, the author delves into the history of the Lightning, including details about its design and development, operational history, his own flying experiences in the Lightning, export and overseas operators, and personal accounts.
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