View Full Version : O.Tish Supercruise Schmuprcruise

04-19-2005, 03:24 PM
A lot of hoo ha is made currently about the "supercruise" ability of the latest fighters such as the "Raptor" and "Typhoon", but way back in the fifties the English Electric Lightning came with supercruise as standard.

The English Electric Lightning was a supersonic British fighter aircraft of the Cold War era, particularly remembered for its natural metal exterior that was used throughout much of its service life with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The aircraft was a stunning performer at airshows, former holder of the world air-speed record, the first aircraft capable of supercruise and one of the most powerful aircraft ever used in formation aerobatics.

The Lightning’s performance is excellent not just by 1950's or 1960's standards but compared with modern operational fighters. Its initial rate of climb is 50,000 ft per minute. The Mirage IIIE climbed initially at 30,000 ft per minute; the F-4 Phantom managed 32,000 ft per minute; the MiG-21 could only manage 36,090 ft per minute; the initial rate of the F-16A is 40,000 ft per minute, and the Tornado F-3 43,000 ft per minute.

The official ceiling was a secret amongst the general public and low security R.A.F documents simply stated 60,000+ referring to the altitude although it was well known withint the R.A.F it was capable of much greater heights. Recently the actual operating ceiling has been made public with Brian Carroll, a former RAF Lightning pilot and ex-Lightning Chief Examiner reports taking an F-53 Lightning up to 87,300 feet at which level "Earth curvature was visible and the sky was quite dark". In 1984, during a major NATO exercise, Flt Lt Mike Hale, intercepted an American U-2 at a height which they had previously considered safe from interception. Records show that Hale climbed to 88,000 ft in his F3 Lightning. Hale also participated in time-to-height and acceleration trials against F-104 Starfighters from Aalborg. He reports that the Lightnings won all races easily, with the exception of the low level supersonic acceleration, which was a dead-heat.

Carroll reports in a side-by-side comparison that the F-15C Eagle is "almost as good, and climb speed was rapidly achieved. Take-off roll is between 2,000 & 3,000 feet, depending upon military or maximum afterburner-powered take-off. The Lightning was quicker off the ground, reaching 50 feet height in a horizontal distance of 1,630 feet".

In British Airways trials, Concorde was offered as a target to NATO fighters including F-15s, F-16s, F-14s, Mirages, F-104s - but only the Lightning managed to overhaul Concorde on a stern intercept. During these trials Concorde was at 57,000 ft and travelling at Mach 2.2

Heres a link for more info

04-19-2005, 05:59 PM
One of the few Jets i like


And the Vulcan


04-19-2005, 11:58 PM
I knew it was a mean jet, I didn't know it was that mean though http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif 88,000ft jeez http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/784.gif The climbing ability I did know about!! I reckon the aircraft didn't recieve the acknowledgment it deserves for the same reasons this thread wont get many posts http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

04-20-2005, 06:04 AM
Really a good looking plane. I like those stacked engines.

04-20-2005, 06:52 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TheVoodooPriest:
Really a good looking plane.... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
IMHO ugly as sin, but with performance figures like those it's worth another look. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif

TgD Thunderbolt56
04-20-2005, 08:00 AM
That's cool...and I don't like jets much. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

04-20-2005, 08:42 AM
One of my favourite airshow memories from when I was a lad. That and the Vulcan. And the Buccaneer. When we used to build real aircraft. Loud? Wha? I can't hear you!

Like many a British wondermachine, huge performance but short on range. Unrivaled as a point interceptor though!

04-20-2005, 10:58 AM
I've seen film footage of them taking off and just shooting nearly straight up almost like rockets. They looked like something out of The Thunderbirds. Just amazing to watch.

I'd reciently seen a program where an ex-RAF pilot who'd flown Tornados or Jags went up in a B.E. Lightning and expected it to be an old beast. But he said it was incredibly smooth, fast and responsive. And pretty quiet on the inside. He said it compared very favorably with modern jet fighters.

04-20-2005, 12:03 PM
It was retired, not because it was deficient in performance but because it was not 'stealthy' and was expensive to maintain (components had to be accessed through tiny, hinged panels). Way ahead of its time- rather like the SAAB Viggen and Draken.
Perfect for the defence of Britain though- long range isn't an issue there.

04-21-2005, 07:19 AM
the Lightning was probably the best dogfighter of its era with exceptional performance that only the Eurofighter ( at least in Britishe service ) will be able to match. I read a great pilots acc of them dogfighting all the US types in Germany over the years and how they made mince meat of the F4 phantom , they could defeat the F16 if they stuck to vertical manuvers and they could just about hold their own against the Eagle.

Now we are talking about some top pilots here but it was a brilliant fighter. The main reason it was discontinued appart from appalling range is that it wasnt a weapons 'system'. You couldnt hang 10 AAMs offf of it and patrol for a couple of hours.

Shame really

04-21-2005, 07:37 AM
You know, if you're rich enough you can go to South Africa and fly in a Lightning. There's a couple at Thunder City in SA along with Hunters and Buccaneers.

Awesome photo of a Lightning going through the sound barrier on their home page.

Thunder City (http://www.thundercity.com/welcome.htm)

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
Not since the Spitfire has one aircraft captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation of fighter pilots in the way that the Lightning has. Unequivocally Britain's most loved jet fighter, the Lightning earned itself legitimately a place among the greats of celebrated aviation legends. In continuous front line service for almost thirty years with the Royal Air Force the passing of the Lightning represented the end of a unique era.

It was the last of a rare breed: Single seat, entirely British, magnificently over powered and possessing delightful handling qualities. It was radically different in design with its vertical twin engine design, slab sided fuselage and highly swept wings making it stand apart from others. Built by craftsmen, it was a privilege to fly.

04-21-2005, 07:40 AM
Ah, the Lightning! One of my favorite jet fighters. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

04-21-2005, 07:44 AM
After following up on my post above here are the prices. Better start saving my pennies http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
Flight Profiles and Rates:

Rates for a flight in the Hawker Hunter
US$ 3500.00
Rates for a flight in the Buccaneer
US$ 6500.00
Rates for a flight in the Lightning
US$ 9000.00

7 day tour, 3 flights, (1 Hunter, 1 Buccaneer, 1 Lightning) accommodation and hotel meals included. US$ 22950


5 day tour, aerial combat sortie, 2 flights Hunter T8 against Hunter F6 in one versus one combat. (This is for second time customers only) US$ 11500

Wow. Aerial combat sortie in Hunters.

04-21-2005, 11:17 AM
An absolute beast. Saw them many times at airshows at Lakenheath, Ben****ers, and Mildenhall in the early sixties. At the time, USAF was mainly operating F-100s in Britain, and the Hun drivers were nakedly envious...