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Was the Lightning really THAT good ?

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Was the Lightning really THAT good ?

Old 28th Oct 2015, 16:00
  #181 (permalink)  
 
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Lightning experience

As one whose direct involvement with the Lighting was on the technical side, two and a half years of fixing fuel leaks and carrying out the fire mod programme on 56 Sqdns F6 aircraft at Akrotiri, whatever its capabilities as a weapon of war, as an aircraft to display the power of two Avons in and out of reheat surrounded by the minimum amount of aluminium possible there was and still is nothing to beat it! The massive effect that the Vulcan has had over the past few years has as much to do with the absolutely mind blowing noise of four Olympus working hard for a living as for its place in history as the last of its breed.
I was at Biggin for the last RAF organised battle of Britain display back in about 1976 on detachment from Lyneham, and the display that had the most effect on the public was the Lightning display where its arrival was via the valley at the Saltbox café end of the airfield followed by a pullup in the centre of the display line to the vertical with the engagement of double reheat, you could actually see the crowd jump as the noise hit them followed by max rate turns yet again with reheat engaged, just a stunning noise and display, nobody would allow it today but by God it was good!
Having seen the amount of work that had to be put into the aircraft to keep it flying and the antiquity of the systems used in it, we had to get a pipe bender from BAC come out to Akrotiri to bend a main fuel pipe for us as all the aircraft and the pipes were individually matched as they were all different, it was never going to be a major success as to the numbers built, the technology moved on so quickly but it was a lovely plane to watch displaying with such an impressive presence.
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Old 28th Oct 2015, 18:49
  #182 (permalink)  
 
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Great comment from the pilot at Thunder City when interviewed by John Nicol some time ago:

"They only put wings on it to keep the nav lights separated" (or words to that effect).

love it.
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Old 29th Oct 2015, 00:52
  #183 (permalink)  
 
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It was an aircraft designed for a single purpose and later pressed into coping with something completely different. It was "that good" at what it was designed to do. It was always struggling against its heritage to do the job demanded of it as things changed.

BUT, the Lightning PILOTS were that good and they are why the aircraft continued to be respected. And the FC guys, AAR, engineers et al.
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Old 29th Oct 2015, 10:35
  #184 (permalink)  
 
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Mach Two,

The Lightning had two overwhelming attributes; it had no navigator and it was BRITISH!
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Old 29th Oct 2015, 10:45
  #185 (permalink)  
 
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...a bit like the Austin Allegro then?
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Old 29th Oct 2015, 10:47
  #186 (permalink)  
 
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Courtney, you is a very norty boy.

CG
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Old 29th Oct 2015, 10:52
  #187 (permalink)  
 
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.
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Old 29th Oct 2015, 12:26
  #188 (permalink)  
 
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Depends on your criteria

As an exuberant joy to its pilots - yes it was
For outright performance - yes it was
As a display crowd pleaser - yes it was
As a surprise to complacent U2 pilots - yes it was
As a weapons platform - probably not but it compared favourably with its pulse radar equipped contemporaries (F106/Mig21/MirageIII/Draken/F104) but, as we all know, its Achilles heel was fuel but this shortage did have the unintended benefit of providing an additional adrenalin charge for its pilots.
The fact that so many people are jealous of those that flew it speaks volumes and has to be a case for saying that it must have been 'that good'!
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 16:52
  #189 (permalink)  
 
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I went on cadet camp to Binbrook twice; '83 & '87, what a difference between the two years!
In '83 it was deafeningly busy with full flightlines for 5, 11 and LTF and constant activity. I spent a day with the firemen, who had to dash out for brake fires at least 3 times and then a day in 5 sqn maint where I got to help remove the top engine by sitting astride it as they lifted it winding the little wheel to move the CofG/pivot point for the crane attachment

On my second visit it was depressingly quiet, only 2 or 3 ships from each squadron were wheeled out each day and rarely anything from LTF. I spent the week as duty cadet strapping other cadets into the Chipmunks (and had my PPL by then so got some fun flying too) but at least I got to spend some quality time sat by the runway watching them.

Our camp was the week leading up to the last of the Lightning show, I remember standing near 11 sqn hangar watching the arrivals on the Friday afternoon and a Tornado F3 arrived just as one of the Lighnings was returning from a sortie....they did a slow pass side by side, then came back past a little faster....then it all went quiet....the Tonka appeared going quite quickly and pulled up hard...just as the Lighning came screaming past, stood on its tail and shot straight up, the whole station erupted into cheers!

My Swinderby passing out parade in May '88 was the last one to have a Lighning flypast, my Dad spent the whole thing with his back to the parade watching the Lighnings holding.

My last contact with Lightnings was whilst on Loadie ground school at Finningley, my Gatehouse housemate was a Binbrooke Brat and invited a couple of Binbrooke daughters over for the airshow weekend and asked me to help him 'take care of them'
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 18:58
  #190 (permalink)  
 
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Yes of course PN, I had forgotten there was an F2 at all!
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 19:14
  #191 (permalink)  
 
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PN,
Didn't 29 Sqn re-equip with the F3 in May 1987?
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 19:29
  #192 (permalink)  
 
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Wessex Boy, F2 in those days, hadn't got the F3 in 87
Oh yes we did...

I went from Binbrook to Coningsby in November that year - out of one cockpit into the other in just about a month. And, boy, what a disappointment that was!

I don't recall it being as quiet at BK in 1987 as Wessex Boy, other than we were ensuring that we had enough jets for Jon Spon's opposition Balbo before heading off on our last Firestreak MPC.

That last open-day 9-ship was quite something given the weather on the day - one of those better to remember in hindsight than to have been on at the time. A few of us returned to smoking for the day after that...
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 19:47
  #193 (permalink)  
 
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I watched most of the show on the CCTV screen on the VC10 whilst supping beers!
stayed mostly dry, it was a horrendous day!
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 20:55
  #194 (permalink)  
 
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I was there too, it was horridly wet - I think it was IB who did a flypast at about .98M, and I have a photo somewhere of the shock waves
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 21:23
  #195 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Wessex Boy
I went on cadet camp to Binbrook twice; '83 & '87,
I went there in Summer 1959, and had 2 trips in Anson T20 WJ514 of the Stn Flt, flown by the distinguished [to us] persona of Fg Off Jeremy Ffoliant-Foster and his enormous handlebar moustache.

What a marvellous recruitment image that was for an impressionable 14-yo.

Later experiences as a detached ATCO (late 60's, in GCA), and as a visiting 11 Gp Staff Officer, had other dimensions of course.
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 21:53
  #196 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by sarn1e
That last open-day 9-ship was quite something given the weather on the day - one of those better to remember in hindsight than to have been on at the time. A few of us returned to smoking for the day after that...
But that stream take-off, tight right hand turns and reheat pull ups back over the crowd in that monsoon and eerie lighting was a sight to behold and something I'll remember for ever
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Old 30th Oct 2015, 23:44
  #197 (permalink)  
 
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So, an amazing aeroplane, loads of thrust and no navigator, therefore a pilot's aircraft. Just what the tax payer wanted to pay for to defend the UK.

Again I say, a truly brilliant piece of design for its purpose. If you measure how "good" an aircraft is by how much its pilots enjoyed flying it, then yes, it was a great success. And at its specialised role it was supreme.

It continued to be a valuable asset to UKAD throughout its life. So, yes it was that great.

Cold War, night, IMC, long range (beyond the range of Soviet cruise missiles), sustained CAP, tanker support lost, comms jammed (no fighter control), base wx Red, nearest div 50+ miles away.
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Old 31st Oct 2015, 00:07
  #198 (permalink)  
 
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Mach Two, I like your UK summary below,

'Cold War, night, IMC, long range (beyond the range of Soviet cruise missiles), sustained CAP, tanker support lost, comms jammed (no fighter control), base wx Red, nearest div 50+ miles away'.

Yes, we did all that, but what about Germany? Low Caps, fighter sweeps over Wittmund/Jever, dial a Lightning etc etc.

Lightnings ruled for a brief, but very enjoyable time over Europe.
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Old 31st Oct 2015, 00:09
  #199 (permalink)  
 
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BFTS, Linton '83. As studes we had to spend an 'hour in the tower' each month to familiarise ourselves with ATC. I duly 'plugged in' to an attractive WRAF on radar to hear what was going on.
She was passed a departing Lightning from tower.
Attractive WRAF "Morning Punchy One (I made up the cs coz I can't remember the real one any more) call passing FL 70"
Lightning "Passing FL 220, do you want me to descend?"
"Negative, state direction of departure"
"Straight up."
"Request destination."
"Binbrook."
"Would you like clearance through Blue 4?" (old airways nomenclature for younger readers)
"Negative, going over the top."
"Roger, request ETA for Binbrook."
"5 minutes. QSY Binbrook Approach."

And that was that. I think we both learned quite a lot about the performance of the Lightning in that 15 seconds!
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Old 31st Oct 2015, 00:11
  #200 (permalink)  
 
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Someone on the Flypasts forums is posting some photos he discovered amongst the possessions of his late relative, and there are some rather nice ones of 29 Sqn frightnings with crew shots included, see

Old Photos - 2 - Page 2
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