Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning

Survivor XS458

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T.5 XS458 - Russell Carpenter, Cranfield, Bedfordshire

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Lightning T.5 XS458 at Cranfield, 3rd October 2019; Damien Burke

Now a rather special bird. The only T.5 in the UK in running order, this is XS458. First flown on 3rd December 1966, she was delivered to the RAF in February 1966. She served at RAF Coltishall with 145 Squadron/226 OCU to start with, moving to RAF Binbrook in 1974 and joining 11 Squadron. She went on to spend some time with 5 Squadron before returning to 11 and ending her active flying career with them when the type was withdrawn from use in 1987.

She was struck off charge in June 1988 and then sold to Arnold Glass, being flown into Cranfield on the 29th. Rescued by Tony Hulls from scrapping when Arnold's plans to get his Lightnings flying came to nothing, she was restored from poor condition into an excellent example of the breed.

For some years XS458 was regularly taxiied amidst the Cessnas at Cranfield and the airfield supports the presence of this bit of aviation history. With the College of Aeronautics a longtime resident here too, it's only right some of Britain's aeronautical heritage is preserved in active condition here.

She was sold a in 2001 to another big Lightning fan - Russell Carpenter. She's worn several paint schemes, as Russell likes to keep her looking fresh - the current one is a mix, with a 111 Squadron scheme on the starboard side and a 92 Squadron scheme on the port side, decorated with the squadron flashes of each unit that operated the Lightning. Russell has also had her converted to electical starting rather than the expensive and difficult to get hold of Avpin.

Currently engine issues have kept her from running for a while, fingers crossed the team get her blasting down the runway in 2021. Updates are occasionally posted in the Lightning T5 Facebook Group.

Information on this page current as of 05/07/2021, last updated by Damien

Find other photos of XS458 on the following sites:

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