Lightning T.5 XS451 - unusually, without the belly fuel tank - awaits clearance for takeoff from Binbrook on October 29, 1970. The aircraft made its first flight on June 3, 1965 at Samlesbury and joined No 5 Sqn that November. It was retired from RAF service in 1976 and later continued its flying career in South Africa as ZU-BEX. Sadly, it was lost in a fatal accident at an airshow at Overberg Air Force Base on November 14, 2009.
Production of a two-seat training version of the Lightning was put in hand in 1956, the T.4 prototype, XL628 (seen here up from the SBAC show at Farnborough in 1959) making its first flight on May 6, 1959. Based on the single-seat F.1A, the T.4 retained the “witch’s hat” fin; the later T.5 variant, as experienced by the author, was fitted with a cropped squared-off fin.
With the crew in full flying gear, space was at something of a premium in the two-seat Lightnings. The prototype T.5 made its maiden flight on March 29, 1962. Production of the T.5 commenced in 1964 and deliveries of the variant to No 226 Operational Conversion Unit at Coltishall began in April 1965.
The author (right) and Sqn Ldr St Aubyn at RAF Binbrook. St Aubyn ejected from Supermarine Swift FR.5 XD928 in April 1959 while serving with No 2 Sqn at Jever. “I was in the sea for about half an hour ”, he explained. “It was cold, wet and rather unpleasant”.
Учебно-боевой T.Mk 5 по планеру и оборудованию был максимально унифицирован с истребителем F.Mk 3
The T.5 prototype carrying a pair of Red Top missiles. The two-seat Lightnings were every bit as agile as their single-seat counterparts, the author describing a hard turn at supersonic speed, during which his body became four times its normal weight, thus: “Weighing 50-stone is like having an elephant sitting on your neck...
A line-up of No 5 Sqn Lightnings at a typically rainy Binbrook, with the author’s mount, T.5 XS451, nearest the camera. The unit received its first Lightnings in October 1965, having previously operated all-weather Gloster Javelins in West Germany from 1960.
In December 1967 journalist and keen aviation enthusiast JEFFREY WATSON (seen here on the left, seven miles above the North Sea at Mach 2) secured the ride of a lifetime when he persuaded the men from the Ministry that he needed a flight in a two-seat version of the brutishly beautiful English Electric Lightning. The training for the supersonic sortie - including a ride on the dreaded ejection trainer - was tough; then came the ballistic trajectory to 40,000ft in a double-barrelled shotgun...
“The waiting was the worst bit” - a trainee steels himself for a very brief but very fast ride on the ejection-seat trainer at West Mailing in the early 1960s. The Lightning T.5 was fitted with a pair of state-of-the-art Martin-Baker Mk 2 4BSB ejection-seats. To date, some 332 lives have been saved by the use of the company’s Mk 2 seat