Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Interesting aircraft; English Electric Lightning
I don't remember when or where it was, but I once saw an EE Lightning do a fly by and I still remember catching my breath when I recognised it. When I was a young boy, and we lived in England, we lived just across the river from Wharton aerodrome in Preston where testing was done on the Torndao fighter bomber. Consequently, Hesketh Bank was subject to a lot of low flying Bitish aircraft, and I saw several planes then that I'd never seen before nor since, including I think the EE Lightning. Its not impossible that I saw the EE Lightning at an airshow, I just don't remember the event with any clarity. I just remember recognising the aircraft when it banked and I saw its distinctive notched delta wing configuration.
The Lightning is the only British built mach 2 fighter. It was born during the second world wars as a concept design which became a prototype in the late 1940's when Cold War doctrine dictated the need for fast, high flying interceptors. Unlike modern fighters, the Lightning has no on board computers what so ever and it has been described as the fastest 'pilots airplane' ever built. Personally I like it because it looks graceful, fat and menacing all at the same time. Due to its massive fuel consumption, and a lack of space inside the fusilage (the EE Lightning has two huge Rolls Royce Avon engines, one mounted above the other inside its hull) the designers had to get creative with fuel tanks, so they gave it the belly tank which makes the plane look pregnant and it wasn't uncommon to see Lightnings with additional fuel tanks atop its wings.