Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning - Survivor WG763

P.1A WG763 - Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, Old Sarum Airfield, Wiltshire

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P.1A WG763 at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, 18th March 2023; Jake Wallace

WG763 was the second P.1 built and first flew on 18th July 1955. She bore the first indications of the type being destined to be a serious fighter - a pair of Aden cannons mounted in the nose, and fittings on the belly to allow the attachment of a bulbous fuel tank (though she no longer has the guns nor belly tank). She was fitted with Sapphire engines but no reheat, but despite this, she could use her entire fuel load in less than 55 minutes, hence the need for a belly tank! WG763 enjoyed a fairly short flying career, with highlights including supersonic cannon firing trials in 1957 and low-speed handling trials with the RAE.

By 1964 she had retired to ground instructional duties at RAF Henlow. Both WG763 and WG760 ended up on display on the parade ground at RAF Henlow, but as they gradually deteriorated, thankfully somebody realised their historical significance, and both were moved on to safer homes. WG763 was one of the first exhibits to be acquired in the early 1980s by the then-new Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. The airframe was well looked after and could be seen on display for many years undercover. Sadly, the museum closed its doors in 2021 with the collection soon needing a new home.

Happily, in January 2022, WG763 was put on loan to the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC) where it was reassembled and placed undercover next to their Avro 707A WZ736, which also came from Manchester. She makes an excellent addition to the experimental and flight testing collection there.

WG763 is seen above looking shiny in one of BDAC's hangars on a winter night.

Information on this page current as of 18/03/2023, last updated by Jake

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