I tend to agree although I've never seen one in person.
Funny thing about some airshows that I have been to - the Sabres and
Panthers have been more interesting to watch and feel than the latest
I imagine a Lightning in the air overhead would be quite an experience!
I can't see it as an aerobatic performer but I think in straightline
runs it'd be stunning.
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
In the last decade or so of their service life, the RAF carefully conserved
the fatique life of the Lightning. The supposed replacement - Tornado ADV -
was continually slipping away into the future and the RAF was worried that
the Lightning fleet would become time-expired before Tornado was available
with anything other than Blue Circle radar.
Therefore during the final two years of their service, the RAF had a number
of Lightnings with (relatively) low airframe hours. For some odd reason
these were all Mk3s. They were all put on the airshow circuit and their
pilots were given carte blanche with their displays. Suspecting that never
again would the RAF have such a thoroughbred in its service and so this
opportunity would never come again, consequently the pilots all went utterly
harpic! Take-offs were invariably those square turn thingies, with the jet
leaping off the deck in a few times its own length and disappearring
vertically into a clear blue sky. Since then I have *never* seen air
displays providing anything like as much excitement.
Although outclassed by more modern fighters in terms of range, avionics and
weapons capabilities, even in its very last years, the Lightning was never
outclassed in terms of performance. In 1985, a Concorde was used as a
supersonic target in NATO trials. The only aircraft that could make an
intercept on the Concorde was the Lightning.
Only just picked up on this thread.
Re Jags -
Blast tubes and vents ( Maseratti tubes ) were bead blasted clean then
had a protective DK Red sunkerite coating applied. Yes, this did wear
to a metal/redish hue.
Re the overwings/AIM-9. RAF Jags were wired for AIM-9 on the outboard
pylons. This was, I believe, removed from the GR's when the overwing
option became availble. T-Birds were still wired for them O/B to the
Not sure about the T-Birds with GR wings fitted ................
Overwing pylons were 'dry' and only configured to take the rail for a
One odd fit I did see one day, and never again, was 3 tanks - CL and
Suncorite! I *knew* it had a name, but despite tacking my brains I just
couldn't remember it. Thanks Ian.
I kept coming up with Flexane and Belzona, which were two other types of
protective coating in use at the time.
Certainly we never issued any Sidewinders suitable for underwing carriage to
Jaguar units. The ones we did issue were specifically banned from underwing
carriage, but that was purely for logistical reasons.
The Sidewinder is a very cheap missile to manufacture, partially because
there is no electronic stabilisation system. All the electronics deal with
guidance. Stabilisation is purely mechanical. Have a look at the outer
trailing edge of a Sidewinder wing (the wings are at the back, fins are at
the front). You will see that it has a rectangular hinged natural metal
section with an odd bump on top. These are called "rollerons" and they
affect the flight of the missile in a similar manner to ailerons. Each
rolleron has a metal wheel partially buried inside it, with one part of the
wheel exposed to the airstream. As the edge of the wheel is serrated, the
wheel spins and acts like a gyroscope. Like all gyroscopes it attempts to
resist sideways movement, so forcing the rolleron in the opposite direction.
The rollerons therefore tend to damp any spinning motion of the missile.
A problem occurs when the missile is in captive flight (ie mounted on an
aircraft's missile rail). If the rollerons are allowed to act naturally,
they will even attempt to control the flight of the parent aircraft! Their
effect is so great that the pilot can receive warnings from his
flight-control systems. To prevent this from happening, the rollerons have a
seismic lock. The rolleron wheel still spins in captive flight, but the
rolleron itself is not free to move on its hinge. When the missile is
launched, the extreme acceleration overcomes the seismic lock allowing the
rollerons to fulfil their purpose.
The original seismic lock was shaped like a triangle. It fitted into a tube
in the wing, underneath the rolleron cutout and projected upwards, locking
into a slot on the rolleron. When the lock was released, it slid clear of
the rolleron in the manner of a radio aerial being deployed. Wings fitted
with this type of lock were known as Mod1. The problem with the Mod1 wings
was that the rolleron wasn't held completely rigid and there was a certain
amount of chatter in captive flight. This caused the trailing edge of the
rolleron and the seismic lock to wear at an unacceptable rate. It should be
noted that the original design requirement of Sidewinder wings and fins was
that they be used once and then scrapped. The RAF could not afford this
policy (it caused all sorts of other problems related to the ablative
coating of the wings).
Therefore, an improved seismic lock was fitted. This still used the
triangular locking plate, but it was combined with a longitudinal plate that
held the rolleron firmly in position. Instead of sliding out on an
extendable rod, it pivoted backwards and downwards. Wings fitted with this
type of lock are referred to as Mod2. There were a number of minor
refinements (Mod2A, Mod2B etc). A Mod1 Wing could be converted to a Mod2
wing, although the process was quite labour intensive.
The Mod2 wing solved the wear problems until the introduction of the Jaguar
overwing pylons. When missiles are carried underwing they are held in a
relatively benign environment. On the other hand those on overwing pylons
are in a much more boisterous airstream. It was found that the airstream
would tear the Mod2 locks out of the wings during captive flight, so
releasing the rollerons and giving the pilot a bit of a shock when his
aircraft refused to respond in the manner that he expected! Trials showed
that the Mod1 locks were much more robust than the Mod2 locks. Rather than
introducing a Mod3 lock to solve the problem, the RAF settled for de-modding
a number of wings back to Mod1 standard.
These wings were only ever issued to Jaguar units. They were specifically
banned from underwing fitment, but there was no physical reason for that. We
only had a very small revenant stock of Mod1 wings, which were subject to
the original chatter problem and so wore out quicker that the main stock of
Mod2 wings. We had to carefully husband these wings as under no
circumstances were we allowed to de-mod any more Mod2s. It was a complete
pain in the arse dealing with them. I bet the missile boys finally breathed
a sigh of relief with the Jaguar was withdrawn.
Mind you, having said that, I have no doubt that something else will arise
that requires a non-standard fit. The RAF is very good at that sort of
thing. Twenty years ago they introduced an electronic bomb fuze that was
supposed to reduce the number of different bomb/fuze build standards to from
three to one - known as an All Up Round. Sadly, there was never an armament
steering committee available to disseminate information about AURs and so by
the time I left the RAF, there are now a dozen different build standards! No
doubt with the introduction of Typhoon, and yet another hardpoint locking
mechanism, that has risen to eighteen It's a long, sad story.
Commentary on tannoys at RAF Battle of Britain Open Day, RAF Leuchars,
many years ago...
"That was a fast flypast by the Lightning F Mk.3, at Mach 0.97. I know
it was Mach 0.97, because he's not allowed to fly any faster"
Ranks alongside the more minimalist
"And now, from the right, the Mighty Vulcan!"
which actually sounded like
"And now, from the right, the Mighty Vu**CCCCCHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOO"
Sounds familiar. I think I heard the same thing at Harrisburg when the
Tornado F.3 put on a display. All I know was he was really moving and
we got a bit of a 'wumpf' when he passed. Glad it wasn't any harder as
the hangars up there all have thousands of panes of glass windows in the
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
I've seen MiG-29s at a airshow; and they can do some pretty wild
The winner in this regard is supposed to be the Flanker in it's later
variants with thrust vectoring, which can rotate itself 360 degrees in
around two fuselage lengths by rearing straight up and falling over
backwards to end up in level forward flight again.
One of the articles about the TSR.2 mentions a test flight where it went
into afterburner on one engine, and pulled away from its Lightning
escort, despite the Lightning revving up both afterburners in a attempt
to keep up:
I imagine this was due to the TSR.2's extremely low-drag
aerodynamics...especially compared to the Lightning.
At the time, the TSR.2 was probably the most aerodynamically clean
aircraft in the world, other that possibly the Lockheed "Blackbirds".
I'd bet the sound would be fairly impressive also.
If you want to see films of some in flight, watch the movie "Those
Magnificent Men And Their Flying Machines"
Some Lightnings fly overhead at the end.
Hmm, didn't remember showing them to anyone but J. Radke and Anthony H.
Recently added a '37 Chevy convert to the pile. I was trying to E-bay
it for a friend and got no bites. I looked at it too much and ended up
parting with $10 for it. Isn't too much in the antique line that isn't
a Ford. I think a 'chocolate and cream' colour scheme would look well
Just in car models I have far beyond the stock of the local (almost a)
hobby shop. Heck, Michael's has far more than they do. :(
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
Bill - concur with the old jet thing. RIAT had a Sabre flying around this
year, very nice indeed.
As for EEL aerobatics - I'm fairly certain that I've read somewhere that
during the last days of the Lightning's service, it was keeping up fairly
well with F-15s et al. Its biggest letdowns were the serious lack of fuel
and the somewhat primitive (!) radar/avionics fit. Pilot skill and airframe
ability are what kept it in the race. Having been fortunate enough to sit
in the cockpit of one, as much as I'd love to fly the thing, I'd hate to
have to fight in it - no room, no visibility, and steam-powered everything!
(That's a joke)
And then there's the U-2 driver who 'had a moment' when a pair of
Lightnings formated on him while he was at Angels Way Up There - apparently
that caused quite a stir in the appropriate circles...
(The Aussie one)
It helps if they clean it first. At RAF Gaydon in 1968 there was a Super
Sabre of the Belgian air force on ground display in natural metal finish
which was by far the filthiest a/c I've ever seen. An RAF Lightning was also
giving an air display in quite the worst weather conditions you could
Hey Enzo - try these regarding O/B AIM-9
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0952981/M/ ( OK - so it's an aqui -
but the wiring must be there )
When were you on Jags / in the dump BTW? ( me 85 to 06 ! )
Interesting. Thanks Ian. Take a look at the dates of those photos, 1988
and 1988. One jet is a GR1, the other a GR1A. At the time Jaguars were not
cleared for flight with overwing pylons. As you are no doubt aware, that
only occured during Op GRANBY (aka Desert Storm). The 54 Sqn jet admirably
demonstrates the reasons. Inboard tanks and ordnance on the centreline.
Sidewinders on outboard pylons... er... where do we fit the EW suite? There
is no room for ECM and chaff pods. (There are ALE-40 flare pods fitted on
the engine doors). The jet also demonstrates why the RAF moved over to
precision guided munitions very quickly at that time. The bombs are 1000lb
ballistic ones - probably the least accurate choice or those available. A
Jaguar carrying a single Paveway would have a much greater striking power
than the load shown.
Also, bear in mind that both those jets are seen at air shows. They may not
necessarily carry representative weapons loads. During the 1970s, I used to
regularly see Harrier GR3s at airshows which were carrying Sidewinders. It
was only later that I found that they couldn't possibly have used them. The
first ground attack Harriers only gained Sidewinder capability as a bodge
job in 1982 while on the way down to the Falklands. The missile wiring was
actually speedtaped to the outside of the outboard fairings!
The 54 Sqn Jaguar also demonstrates perfectly the use of Suncorite on the
gun blast tubes.
I wasn't. I was never posted to Colt. Around 1995 the RAF amalgamated all
Sidewinder missile servicing into two Regional Missile Maintainance
Sections. The term "regional" was a misnomer as one dealt with the ground
attack fleet and the other with the air defence fleet. I was in the ground
attack RMMS from its formation until I left the RAF.
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