Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning - Links, References & Credits


References - Books

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Lightning - The Manual by Ian Black

Published by Firestreak Books

Buy from Firestreak Books

This is a lovely, lavishly illustrated book, loosely in the style of the popular and much-missed Haynes Manuals of recent years. Basically self-published by one of the last frontline Lightning pilots, Ian Black, after his intended project for Haynes was left in limbo by their decision to cease publishing manuals, there have been clear pros and cons associated with this ‘go it alone’ project. On the plus side, it’s a larger format with rather nicer quality paper than Haynes ever sprung for, and the retro style cover with a dramatic silver silhouette of a Lightning is gorgeous. On the negative side, it won’t fit on the shelf nicely with your other Manuals!

It kicks off with a potted history of Lightning development and its introduction into service, and sadly it soon becomes clear that another thing missing in the go it alone decision was the attention of a sub editor. Irritating typos rear their head quite often, there is some repetition, and the dreaded errant apostrophes pop up a lot. It doesn’t particularly detract from the actual content, but it’s such a shame that such an otherwise lovely volume has these little flaws. More important is the occasionally swapped caption, and in the last few pages of the book, captioning seems to have been almost entirely given up on.

Anyway, flaws aside, the photographic and diagram reproduction is top notch and many of the photos are given loads of space instead of being shoehorned in, which help with the coffee table vibe! Many of them are also Ian’s own work - he’s a fine photographer. There’s a great mix of diagrams from manuals, marketing brochure illustrations and in-service photos, which really help to give a feel for the aircraft and the time it came from. Descriptions of servicing and operation of the aircraft are vivid, but strangely, there’s not much given over to what it was actually like to fly and fight the aircraft. Are the intercept tactics of the 1980s still a secret? It feels like the book is missing a final chapter, because we get brief rundowns on in-flight refuelling and gunnery and missile practice, but no real details on what was really involved in a live intercept.

In summary - beautiful, reassuringly expensive, but a little flawed… just like the real thing! No self-respecting fan of the type will pass this one up, but here’s hoping for a 2nd edition with that extra chapter and some tidying up.

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Lightning Strikes by Martin W. Bowman

Published by Airlife

Buy from Amazon UK

Packed with full page colour photographs, most of them in flight with some others no less interesting (ever seen a Lightning pilot pretending to be a Firestreak?). While this is mostly a photo album there are some highly interesting narratives by Lighting pilots of some of their memorable occasions in their service. But the very best thing about this book is that it completely covers the Lighting in service with the RAF from the Tiger Squadron F.1s to farewell pictures of F.6s in formation with the Tornado. Foreign deployments from Gutersloh to Tengah are also extensively covered. Haven't seen it myself but I'm told it's a must-have!

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Warpaint no. 14 - Lightning by Alan Hall

ISSN 1363-0369

Published by Hall Park Books Ltd.

A profile publication with excellent development and service history, lots of colour profiles (but watch out for the one on page 20 showing the overwing tanks - they're far too small and too far forward), pictures, scale plans (though they need to be unstapled from the book) and a small selection of detail pictures. A few niggling errors such as the profile drawing mentioned previously and XA847 being described as being at the RAF Museum (it had moved on far before this volume was published) mar this one, but it's still recommended, especially for modellers.

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Lightning - The Operational History by Kev Darling

ISBN 1 85310 521 X

Published by Airlife

Despite the title, this book covers the development history too, but it does concentrate on the operational use by the RAF, RSAF and RKAF. Well researched information, and plenty of it, make this a must-buy title. Includes plenty of pictures, including a selection of very good quality colour ones in the middle, production breakdown, losses, squadron use, etc. etc. Highly recommended.

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Wings of Fame volume 7

ISBN 1-874023-97-2

Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd.

Buy from Amazon UK

The ever-excellent series of volumes includes this one which is worth buying for the Lightning article alone, never mind all the other excellent articles (did you know Russia had a Valkyrie bomber equivalent?!). Lavishly illustrated with photos, a colour gate-fold, 3-views, 3D cutaway, detail pictures, has an excellent development and service history plus individual aircraft histories and details of Lightning users. Highly recommended!

Thunder And Lightnings by Jan Mark

ISBN 0140366172

Published by Penguin Books

Buy from Amazon UK

A novel for teenagers, but well worth the read, and number one step in brainwashing your kids into liking Lightnings :-)

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The Last of The Lightnings by Ian Black


Published by PSL

Buy from Amazon UK

A marvellous pictorial record of the last few years of Lightnings in service by the last pilot to qualify on Lightnings. Not just pictures; a good bit of text too. Highly recommended.

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Lightning by Ian Black

ISBN 1-85310-044-7

Published by Airlife

Similar in concept to the above book, but smaller and less lavish. Still worth getting hold of though.

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Lightnings Live On! by Hugh Trevor

Published by pub

Buy from Amazon UK

Excellent and well worth 17 quid, this book is largely a collection of stories from ex-Lightning personnel. It's a thumping good read and also includes lots of stuff on Lightning development and preservation. A must-buy, and it helps fund the Lightning Preservation Group so they can look after their two Lightnings.

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English Electric P1 Lightning by Roland Beamont

ISBN 0-7110-1471-X

Published by Ian Allan

An authoritative account of Lightning development by the chief test pilot of the P1 programme. Lots of rare pictures, 3-views, etc. and thoroughly recommended.

English Electric Lightning by Martin W. Bowman

Buy from Amazon UK

I had a look through this one at a bookshop and felt that £30 was a bit steep for this - it's quite similar to many previous Lightning books (in particular some similar material to that in Lightnings Live On!), and hasn't got much in the way of colour pictures - at that price that's being a bit cheeky I think.

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English Electric Aircraft and Their Predecessors by Stephen Ransom and Robert Fairclough

ISBN 0-85177-806-2

Published by Putnam

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Design, development and histories of every English Electric aircraft, including a very good section on the Lightning. Recommended.

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Phoenix Into Ashes by Roland Beamont

ISBN 7183 0121 8

Published by William Kimber, 1968

Buy from Amazon UK

Long out of print, this is the Lightning chief test pilot's account of his flying career, with a section on the Lightning. If you can find a copy, worth a read.

Aeroguide 8 - BAC Lightning F Mk 3/Mk 6

ISBN 0-946958-07-6

Published by Linewrights

Short history, lots of detail pictures (all black and white), colour plans and some colour profiles. Recommended for modellers but watch out for the plans, they're not accurate.

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Modern Combat Aircraft 5 - Lightning by Arthur Reed

ISBN 0 7110 0988 0

Published by Ian Allan, 1980

A good book with development and service history, plenty of anecdotes, pictures (mostly monochrome but some gorgeous full-page colour ones too) and so on.

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RAF Aircraft Today 2 - Lightning by Arthur Reed

ISBN 0 7110 1407 8

Published by Ian Allan, 1984

Very similar to the above title, with much repetition of pictures. However this book has more pictures and less text - in fact probably only a few pages of text in all; this is very much a pictorial look at the Lightning.

References - Magazines


This section would have been greatly the poorer without contributions from the following - so many thanks to (in alphabetical order):

Allan Barley, Hugh Burt, Les Bywaters, Howard Cargill, Brian Carroll (RIP), Nick Challoner, Dick Clements (RIP), Tony Collins, Kev Darling, Burkhard Domke, Bob Dunn, John Burtenshaw, Matt Durrant, Nicolas Godfurnon, Michael Hall, Paul Hartley, Roy Hauer, Tony Hulls, Tony Inkster, Mick Jennings, Rick Kent, Kevin Kenz, Saso Knez, Garry Lakin, Bob Lawson, Tom Leonard, Dave Littlefield LRPS, Kieran Maher, Trevor Matthews, Sandy Mullen, Paul Nann, Gary Parsons, Neil Pearson, Barry Pover, Mark Ray, Mick Reeves, Charles Ross, Keith Smith, Hugh Trevor, Graham Tiller, Ian Turner, Les Turner, Louis Vosloo, Shaun Waite, Alex Walton, Christoph Westhaus and Euan Withersby.

Thanks also to the following organisations:

Anglo-American Lightning Association, BAE Systems North West Heritage Group, Big Bird Aviation, East Midlands Aero Park, Lashenden Air Warfare Museum, Lightning Preservation Group, Marine Salvage, MoD Boscombe Down, Phoenix Aviation, RAF Coltishall, RAF Museum Cosford and Wonderland Pleasure Park.