Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning

Survivor ZF593 (ex 53-692)

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F.53 ZF593 - Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

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Lightning F.53 ZF593 at Pima Air & Space Museum, 19th March 2018; Terry Fox

The only Lightning preserved in a museum in the USA is this ex-Saudi example, which retains her British military serial from the delivery back to BAe. Delivered to the Saudis in 1969, she served with 6 Squadron at Khamis Mushayt, was damaged in a landing accident in 1974, repaired and contined to serve with 6 and then 13 and 2 Squadrons until January 1986 when she was bought back by BAe as part of the Tornado F.3 purchase deal. She was stored at Warton for several years and then presented to the Museum of Aviation by BAe in 1990. She's had a rather mixed life at the museum, initially proudly displayed in front of the museum in a 29 Squadron bare metal scheme, then the museum gained a new director (one Elizabeth F. Garcia), and her attitude to the Lightning was rather different. She ordered 'that thing' removed from display and she was dumped in the museum's back lot without so much as a sign to tell visitors what she was, should they make the effort to trek back to her. From the looks of things the aircraft had been well and truly abandoned to her fate; the tires were flat, the nosewheel leg badly corroded and the oleo had collapsed, the canopy had clouded over, the paint was fading and corrosion was evident around the jetpipes and main wheel hubs too. Pretty shabby treatment for an aircraft that was gifted to the museum by British Aerospace. Thankfully during 2006 attitudes changed once more and she was restored and moved to the adjacent USAF base for a repaint (this time into 5 Squadron camouflage colours), then back to the museum and back on display! However, in August 2012 the Museum disposed of the aircraft to 'reduce workload' and she moved to Pima. Thankfully she was correctly dismantled, which is a pretty rare occurrence when it comes to moving a Lightning.

Today, ZF593 is still wearing the same colours it was painted in at its last home which seem to be in good condition although it has faded completely on the top of the wings.

Information on this page current as of 15/06/2021, last updated by Jake

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