View Full Version : Lightning (Yes another thread!)...Tim Mc

30th Aug 2009, 14:10
Can I through the services of this board say what a jolly good read Tim Mclland's book titled "Lightning" is:ok:.....& no I'm not on commission:}!
I too have wonderful memories of lying flat on the grass looking skyward, binoculars trained on this ever diminishing silver dart striking skywards..Oh happy days:)(most vivid being Yoevilton..and being silver no doubt an F3 as your book highlights)...
One question though Tim if I may, & the other Lightning "aficionado's" who frequent this board..Why did BAE spend money and time bringing the ex-Saudi Lightning’s back to the UK, only to dispose of them to Museums and alike:ugh: - apparently good airframes. Where they led to believe Austria was in the bag:hmm:...and which of those is the one at Norwich?
Anyway thanks again for such an enjoyable read:D

Lightning Mate
30th Aug 2009, 15:20

All Frightenings were in natural metal finish, not painted silver.

The shiny bit around the intake was polished titanium.

The one in the 'Narich museum is 53-686 (ZF592), although the wings are from 53-700 (ZF589)

This was "my" aeroplane - F3 29 Sqn 1969.


30th Aug 2009, 16:11
Thanks Lightning Mate - great snap:) Over Wattisham - you "driving":ok: Appreciate the "silver birds" were polished skins - what a look:D
My Yoevilton memory must be late 70's, maybe as early as 76:O - I'll try and dig out a date...would love to identify the a/c and pilot - such a vivid memory:)
and thanks for the "Narich" details - any reason why it's two "nailed" together..:hmm:

Agaricus bisporus
30th Aug 2009, 16:13
Real Lightnings, however, were most definitely painted...


30th Aug 2009, 16:35
Ah ha..:) Is that as was Bob Hoovers...

30th Aug 2009, 16:37

I understand that recovery back to the UK of the Saudi Air Force Lightnings, once their time was over, was an integral part of the 'contract' that placed them there in the first place.

Not sure why, possibly the Saudis did not want the hassle of a disposal programme.


Tim McLelland
30th Aug 2009, 17:15
Glad you liked the book. I was a tad disappointed by some aspects, not least the print quality which was rather poor in parts, and some of the choice/placement of photos which wasn't quite as planned. But as with most books, you have to compromise not least in terms of what to include, what to leave out, whether to go for technical details, history, pilot/ground crew stories and so on. But there we go - that's publishing for ya! Thanks to everyone who helped with advice and contributions - much appreciated of course.

As for the Saudi Lightnings, I talked to the guys at Warton about this and it seems that BAe were pretty confident that they would be re-sold and they had a number of clients who were very interested, but ultimately they all lost interest, even the RAF who (needless to say) hadn't got the finances to take them even though many of the folks at Binbrook would have been delighted to have them. Great shame but as we all know, the story of the Lightning is ultimately one of missed opportunities!

30th Aug 2009, 17:56
We trailed the Lightnings back from Tabuk on 22 Jan 1986 as 'OP. DHONANYI'. They were supported by VC10Ks as far as Sicily, where they were handed over to Victors for the rest of the trip. Saudi Arabia to Warton (I think?) was a long trip, but the Lightnings were in excellent condition.

I was on the last VC10K - the departures of the Lightnings on each wave were getting more and more impressive in terms of low, fast 'goodbyes'.... Our wave must have been almost supersonic, judging by the way the Air-to-Air TACAN range spun down...:E

The Victor did a very slick RV Bravo with our formation over Sicily - and we had a excellent night stop into the bargain. Allegedly in case we might be needed to sweep any stragglers home. But they all made it non-stop.

We heard later that a few 'max performance' profiles had been tried by the Lightning mates after they'd left the Victor....:ooh:

Agaricus bisporus
30th Aug 2009, 19:22
The proud owner standing on the wing is Lefty Gardner.

Flying Lawyer
30th Aug 2009, 23:23
The proud owner standing on the wing is Lefty Gardner.

A beautiful aeroplane. :ok:
I narrowly missed getting a ride in it some years ago at Lefty's strip deep in the South of Texas. The cockpit was big enough for two - I was a lot slimmer in those days!
Unfortunately, he was unexpectedly called away on business for a couple of days and I couldn't extend my stay until he got back so a wonderful opportunity was missed.

It was only a few days ago I heard that he died on Christmas Eve last year, aged 87.
One of the greats of aviation. A real character and very enjoyable company.

This is an old video so picture quality isn't great, but it's well worth watching: YouTube - P-38 White Lightning (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PQfAWFHHFA)

The text accompanying the video is also worth reading. He had a full and interesting life. (Click the 'more info' option.)


Tim McLelland
31st Aug 2009, 08:55
I think there should be some sort of official ruling that the P-38 should always be referred-to as the P-38 and the Lightning referred-to as the Lightning. Life would be so much easier! Not quite sure how you distinguish between a Typhoon and an er... Typhoon though!

Lightning Mate
31st Aug 2009, 09:32
Oh, hello lightningmate.

Not seen you around lately.


31st Aug 2009, 11:34
Back to "noisey" Lightnings....:ok:
Thanks for the reply Tim - no complaints from me on the content and layout and having collected many books on the subject it still had refreshing details. On the subject of Lightning books one elludes me "English Electric Lightning Vol 1. Birth of a Legend" By Stewart Scott, I have Vol 2 but finding a Vol 1 has proved ellusive...any ideas? Or any readers got one for sale?;)
Interested to read your feedback on the Saudi Lightnings, missed opportunties - story of the British aircraft industry I venture to suggest:ugh:....Any ideas who were the other interested clients - I note again from your book that Germany had interest in Lightning, but the Starfighter prevailed, was not the Buccanner also on their wish list at one time, but "bungling" politics ensured the "spook" prevailed:ugh: (awsome a/c as that maybe - not to offend F4 fans;))
One has to wonder if the cold war had continued whether the RAF might have been given funds to take the Lightnings...or is that just more wishful thinking:hmm:

Thanks Beags for your reply - great read, must have been quite a sight:D Does the sight of fast jets from your chair in the "Gunbus" (wonderful old lady as she is;)) ever get samey...however they were "century jets":ok: The length of the trip and the fact you had no stragglers to sweep up supports your observation on their condition. Did they get to Saudi with so little fuss I wonder.
Anyway thanks for the replies - even the P-38 ones..:)

Lightning Mate
31st Aug 2009, 12:05
PFR et al. - this might amuse you.

Mid-70s Gutersloh.
Lightning pilot bragging abou the Lightnings' climb rate to 20,000 ft. Harrier Mate says he can do it faster. Bet on.....

Both aircraft from start-up to 20,000 ft.

Pilots start. Lightning taxies 1.5 miles to the threshold - Harrier is already at 10,000 ft after vertical take-off. Harrier won!

The cartoon below was the result.....



31st Aug 2009, 12:38
Stewart Scott can / was on [email protected] My copy is not for sale!

Lightning Mate
31st Aug 2009, 12:39

"I think there should be some sort of official ruling that the P-38 should always be referred-to as the P-38 and the Lightning referred-to as the Lightning. Life would be so much easier! Not quite sure how you distinguish between a Typhoon and an er... Typhoon though!"



......only Lightning time, no P38.....

31st Aug 2009, 14:06
Thanks Lightning Mate:}Have seen it before, but that detracts nonetheless - great to see a first-hand explanation. How ever clever the Harrier maybe (and it's some clever beast)....it will never imho have that something that made little boys dream:)...I had 92 Sqn F2A's lowlevel in Germany wallsize in my bedroom (I'm sure a number of you will know the poster..:O)...and that was what I was going to "drive":ok:....It didn't happen:sad: but like many I'm sure I was inspired to persue a career in aviation...So thanks to all you guys who "blated" about in Germany and elsewhere & showed this "legend" to little boys at airshows, both on the ground and in the air:ok:....and being an engineer...not too small thanks to the hardworking lads who toiled to keep um airborne:D

...and Vampiredave thanks for the e-mail address, I have it already from Tim's book, so maybe that's the only way to source a copy - is it still current?
Thanks again PFR:)

31st Aug 2009, 14:47
The last time I spoke to Stewart he was planning a third (and last) volume to cover the trainer and export versions. I believe that he also handled the sales and distribution of his books. He has gone rather quiet as of late and it may be worth sending him a quick message to ascertain the progress of the third volume and check if he has any of the original editions left.

31st Aug 2009, 14:53
Wilko Vampiredave - many thanks PFR:)

Tim McLelland
31st Aug 2009, 14:57
PFR the poor ol' Lightning was (like many other aircraft) a victim of circumstance really. With the benefit of crystal clear hindsight it's clear to us now that the Lightning should have been developed to reach its full potential, but throughout its career the aircraft was always on the verge of withdrawal - it just had a great ability to persist and prevail as circumstances changed again and again. A great deal of blame is put upon Duncan Sandys but to be fair to him, he was merely acting upon the advice of his advisors, and at the time of the Lightning's arrival it seemed pretty certain that missile technology would quickly make manned interceptors redundant. Naturally, we now know that this was very foolish thinking but at the time it probably seemed entirely plausible. Likewise, the country was nearly bankrupt so it's hardly surprising that there was never any appetite to spend huge sums on developing an aircraft that was expected to be redundant before too long. It's just sad and unfortunate that governmental and Air Staff thinking at the time was slightly jumbled, confused and often contradictory - as was their foreign policy and their attitude to export sales.

But of course the same frustrations applied to other aircraft, not least the Buccaneer. If the RAF had known what an outstanding aircraft it was going to be, there may well have been less reluctance to pursue TSR2 for so long, even though that particular project was doomed from the start thanks to the way in which the design and production process was set-up (and largely dictated by a slightly confused government). As we all know, the history of the RAF's procurement during the Cold War years was a long story of expediency, short-sightedness, confusion and affordability which led to some truly bizarre twists and turns. The Lightning was probably one of the more fortunate projects in that it did at least reach operational service - an awful lot of aircraft didn't!

As for Stewart's books, I'm as confused as everyone else. I did buy a copy of the first volume when it first appeared but I foolishly gave it away! I purchased the second volume from the LPG guys at Bruntingthorpe. As for the third volume, I have no idea if it is going to appear or not. I was told a long time ago that it was due to appear but when I was working on my book, I asked both Stuart and the publisher by letter and email to let me know what the current situation was, but neither party bothered to reply to me. Another contact of mine said that he'd spoken to Stuart and that there was some difficulty with copyrights for some of the material in the third volume which was causing the hold-up, but personally I suspect it's merely a symptom of the current financial crisis, and the publisher is perhaps waiting until the climate improves before spending a lot of cash on the final volume. Most aviation publishers seems to be having a pretty difficult time at present so I wouldn't be surprised if this is the true reason for the delay.

31st Aug 2009, 15:15
Thanks again for the reply Tim:) Have you seen my thread on the loss of Vulcan VX770 yet - would be interested on your take.

31st Aug 2009, 15:21
Oops Tim...:Ojust seen you've replied on the VX770 thread...many thanks again PFR.

1st Sep 2009, 16:48
Re Lightnings Vol 1; I had the same problem and ebay is your best bet. They seem to come up about every 6-12 months but be prepared to get your wallet out. The last one went for £150.

Most sellers seem to realise the market value and set a high minimum. You are likley to have competition even if the bid starts low. I would leave it to the last minute to bid that way you avoid a bidding war which will only benefit the seller.

Best of Luck:ok:


Dr Jekyll
1st Sep 2009, 18:24
The ailerons on the Lightning are on the wingtips, which I suppose are also the trailing edge.

In other words, the wing is a delta with a bit missing.

What's the advantage over a delta?

Tim McLelland
1st Sep 2009, 20:40
Good question - we need an aerodynamicist for that one!

But you're quite right. The Lightning design started with the usual German material and the basic delta shape, but the inner section was effectively cut out in order to produce better performance and handling at supersonic speeds. I've no idea of the aerodynamics behind this but I'd be interested to know though!

El Bunto
2nd Sep 2009, 06:33
Hi Tim,

I was under the impression that the wing planform evolved from the opposite direction; starting from a conventional swept plan, though at 60 degrees, the trailing edges were revised so that the aileron hinge-line would be at 90 degrees to the airflow, maximising effectiveness and eliminating the risk of control surface flexing.

To have started with a delta and cut-out a notch would have required redesigning the spars, non? A delta has the spars perpendicular to the fuselage whereas the Lightning has them at ( no surprise ) 60 degrees.

Tim McLelland
2nd Sep 2009, 07:21
Well I guess it depends what you mean by "started" really. There's nothing to suggest that the design was ever anything other than a "conventional" swept wing but based on various accounts it seems that Petter (who quickly delegated the actual design to the EE team) established this layout by first starting with the concept of a delta and effectively cutting an increasingly larger notch out of it, as mentioned previously. The various initial concept drawings already show the aircraft as a swept wing so any notion of using a delta seems to have been merely an abstract theory, but in terms of describing the Lightning's wing as a delta with a notch cut-out, that does appear to be how it was created.