Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning - Survivor 'XP748' (really ZF583, ex 53-681)

F.53 XP748 - Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle Airport, Cumbria

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Lightning F.53 XP748 at Solway Aviation Museum, 19th August 2023; Damien Burke

ZF583 was first flown in March of 1968 as G-27-51 and delivered in July of that year to the Royal Saudi Air Force at RSAF Jeddah. She served as 53-681 with 6 Squadron and 2 Squadron and with the type's withdrawal from Saudi service, BAe bought her back off the Saudis as part of the deal to sell Tornados to the Saudis and she was flown back to the UK serialled ZF583, arriving on 14th January 1986.

After unsuccessful attempts to sell the ex-Saudi airframes, BAe eventually sold them to museums and other interested parties. ZF583 was acquired by the Solway Aviation Museum and after several years out in the weather her natural metal finish was looking very shabby, so she was painted in a dark grey scheme similar to that worn by some later RAF Lightnings. Beginning in 2007 she was repainted in a lighter grey scheme with a black tail and red radome - which wouldn't be very authentic even if she were an ex-RAF bird and not a Saudi one. However, it did at least protect the metal!

During 2021 and 2022, she underwent a repaint into 56 Sqn colours, representing Lightning XP748, and looks great as a result!

Information on this page current as of 20/08/2023, last updated by Damien

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