War Machine, Volume 6

Weights: empty about 12701 kg (28000 lb) normal loaded 19047 kg (42000 lb) maximum take-off about 22680 kg (50000 lb) Dimensions: span 10.62 m (34 ft 10 in) length 16.84 m (55 ft 3 in) including probe height 5.97 m (19 ft 7 in) wing area 35.31 m2 (3801 sq ft) Armament: two 30-mm Aden cannon, plus two Firestreak or Red Top infra­red homing air-to-air missiles The export derivative of the Lightning F.M k 6 was theF.M k53, supplied to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia one of lathe tters aircraft is seen here. Two-seat trainers were also supplied with the designation T.Mk55. A Lightning F.M k 3 o f No. 74Sqn displays the carriage o f the Firestreak missiles and the original straight wing. SIS BAC Lightning Attaining operational service during the course of 1960 the BAC Lightning holds the distinction of being the first British aircraft to exceed Mach 2 in level flight and has been an integral part of the UK's aerial defences for the past 24 years. Development of what eventually be­came the Lightning can be traced back to 1947 when the English Electric Company was awarded a study con­tract for a supersonic research aircraft. Known as the P.l this made its maiden inflight early August 1954 and subse­quently demonstrated Mach 1+ per­formance serving as a starting point for the P. IB which far more closely approached the requirements needed by an operational aircraft. Flight trials with the P. IB began in April 1957 and showed sufficient promise to warrant a contract for 20 pre-production test specimens of the Lightning as the type had by then been named. The first squadron to equip was No. 74 at Coltishall this receiving the Lightning F.Mk 1 variant which also served with Nos 56 and 111 Squadrons. Production then switched to the Light­ning F.Mk 2 which offered better per­formance and was armed with Red Top missiles in place of the Lightning F.Mk l's Firestreaks. Two squadrons received this model both being quick­ly moved to West Germany whilst the much improved Lightning F.M k 3 eventually equipped five home-based squadrons from mid-1964 onwards. The final single-seat Lightning to see service with the RAF was the Lightning F.Mk 6 with a greatly modified wing and much improved fuel capacity and this model remains active today with two squadrons at RAF Bmbrook. In addition to single-seaters two two-seat variants were also built for training duty these being the Light­ning T.Mk 4 and Lightning T.Mk 5 and Above: Lightnings flew for many years with the RAF in natural metal finish and vivid paint schemes. This F.M k3 served withNo. 56Sqn at W attisham in 1965 when the type ivas the UKs main air defence fighter. a few of the latter mark are also still airworthy. Modest success was also achieved on the export front Saudi Arabia and Kuwait purchasing close to 50 aircraft between them These are now be­lieved to have been retired being re­placed by the McDonnell Douglas F-15 and Dassault-Breguet Mirage F. 1 respectively. Specification BAC Lightning F.Mk 6 Type: single-seat all-weather interceptor Powerplant: two Rolls-Royce Avon Mk 302 turbojets each rated at 7112-kg 680-lb) (15 afterburning thrust Performance: maximum speed 2414 km/h(l 500 mph)at 12190 m (40000 ft) initial climb rate 15240 m (50000 ft)per minute service ceiling 16765 m (55000 ft) range 1287 km (800 miles) on internal ftiel 1202
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