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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Calendar Plane of the Month, March: English Electric Lightning

This picture is from the box of the 1/48 Airfix kit from which you can build the F.2A/F6 versions


The English Electric (later BAC) Lightning is still the only all British-built fighter capable of exceeding Mach 2.  In service with the RAF from 1959 until 1988 its striking natural metal finish was unusual for the British forces. Towards the end of its service life it was rumoured that RAF pilots were allowed to practice intercepting Concorde flights as training for taking on supersonic Russian bombers.  In a NATO exercise in 1988 RAF Flt Lt Mike Hale intercepted a US U2 spy plane at 88,000 feet; far above the altitude at which they Americans thought they could be intercepted by a conventional aircraft.  




The Airfix kit of the Lighning was the very first model kit that Agent Triple P built; some time in the late sixties.  The original kit itself was first introduced to the range in 1963. Oddly, we didn't buy it with our pocket money but was given it to build at weekly sessions with the local child psychiatrist.  We never did discover why we had to go to a psychiatrist at the age of nine (we think it was suggested by the school) but if we were allowed to miss some school and get given a series of free Airfix kits to build then we weren't going to complain.  We do remember, in the waiting room of the old Victorian former school that the psychiatrist's office was in, some posters of teddy bears in a park which we found very sinister.  These gave us a life-long hatred of hydrangeas, as these strange paintings were full of them.


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