Book Review
English Electric Lightning
English Electric Lightning
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


The English Electric Lightning cannot be said to be a beautiful aircraft, but its beer belly and swept back wings do make it look like it is ready for a fight. The English Electric Lightning did have a lot going for it due to its speed and ability to climb at a phenomenal rate that made this aircraft a great interceptor that served for many years in the RAF.

The following portion of this introduction is as supplied by Pen and Sword:
Developed to intercept increasingly capable Soviet bombers such as the Tupolev Tu-16, Tu-22 and Tu-95, the English Electric/BAC Lightning had a phenomenal rate of climb, a high ceiling, and a top speed of over 1,300mph at 36,000ft, and is a favourite of both aviation enthusiasts and aircraft modellers alike. This homage to the only all-British Mach 2 interceptor fighter, follows previous Flight Craft book formats, in that it is split in to three main sections.

The first section offers a concise design and development history covering the six main single-seat fighter and two twin-seat trainer Marks; from its first RAF operational squadron deployments in 1960 through to its frontline retirement in 1988, and coverage of the only other two air forces to operate the type, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This is followed by a 16-page full colour illustration section featuring detailed profiles and 2-views of the colour schemes and markings carried by the type in RAF, Royal Saudi and Kuwait Air Force service. The final section lists most of the plastic model kits, accessories and decal sheets produced of the EE/BAC Lightning in all the major scales, with photos of finished models made by some of the UK's best modellers.

As with all the other books in the Flight Craft series, whilst published primarily with the scale aircraft modeller in mind, it is hoped that those readers who might perhaps describe themselves as 'occasional' modellers, or even simply aviation enthusiasts, may also find that this colourful and informative work offers something to provoke their interests too.

This offering from Pen and Sword is part of a series titled Flight Craft. This offering is authored by Martin Derry and Neil Robinson and these two authors have worked together on a number of titles within this series. The book is a soft backed offering with a stiff card that offers a reasonable level of protection to the contents. The contents themselves consist of 96 pages of a semi gloss paper that present both text and photographs in a good way.

The contents of this offering breakdown as follows:
Early Development
Lightning F1 and F1A
Lightning F2 and F2A
Lightning F3
Lightning T4
Lightning T5
Lightning F6
Lightning Exports
Lightning Camouflage and Markings
Lightning in Colour
Modelling the Lightning
Apendix: Lightning Data Tables

Looking through this title from Pen and Sword I can see the goal of the series laid out in front of me, the goal in my opinion is to provide grounding in the aircraft from its origins through its service with the RAF and the export market. This title looking at the Lightning, an aircraft that in some ways was the pinnacle of British aircraft design with the exception of the TSR 2 which never made it into service covers the aircraft through its changes and identifying aspects that can be used to tell one variant from another and provides information on the squadrons the aircraft served with.

The book begins by laying out its aims to the reader due to feedback on other titles in the Flight Craft series and then goes onto covering the Lightning from inception; I have seen a couple of the early Lightning prototypes in RAF Cosford and would urge a visit if possible, especially those going to Telford for the IPMS Nationals in November as it is nearby. The text in this offering is said to have been reduced to allow more images to be included, I however did not notice an obvious reduction in what is good series I feel.

The various sections of the book begin with a nice introduction of varying length that explains the difference in the variant when it comes to spotting which aircraft type is which, and it then also covers squadrons that used the Lightning when in service with the RAF. The Lightning in export use is also covered and I feel this is a really nice inclusion as the users outside of the UK need to be covered. The camouflage and markings section leads on very well into the area of the title looking at the finishes of the Lightning from the sides, top and bottom of the aircraft and these may steer the modeller in a specific direction when it comes to finishes.

The aspect of this title that will draw the attention of the modeller the most are the glorious photographs in the title. These have been well chosen and show some very pleasing views of the lightning from prototype to end of life aircraft. The photographs are a mix colour and black & white with colour offerings being prevalent in the book. The captions provided with the images are of a very good quality being well written and providing the sorts of information I like to see.

Looking at the model section of the title and the reader is presented with a good selection of scales and manufacturers that provides you with a good level of information when it comes to chose. The Airfix offerings again rank highly here and were even used as the basis for the Eduard offering in 1/48th scale which I believe counts as high praise. As said the book offers a good insight into available models and provides some pertinent information on them, but again I would have liked to see some information on the after-market products and details on the finished models pictured could be better beyond what is represented. At the very back are some good images on the cockpit interior that will prove very useful.


As a book for the modeller on the Lightning it offers a pleasing introduction to the aircraft and its use in service, the detail provided for the modeller here will help them identify the specifics of the mark and offers some excellent weathering information. The colour charts will I feel prove popular as they give the modeller information on finishes that otherwise may not have been considered. On the modelling front I would have liked to see some more information on what is available and on the finished models, but base model options are well covered in the title.
Highs: The clear text guides you through a book with great photographic reference.
Lows: I would like more content in the modelling section.
Verdict: Bringing reference and modelling together is a good thing for the modeller on a budget.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781473890558
  Suggested Retail: £16.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 24, 2019

Our Thanks to Pen & Sword Books!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I found this book good in quality but very frustrating - lots of illustrations of lots of schemes (esp the late lo-viz schemes - I used to see these a lot when I went to visit my aunt during the summer holidays, since she lived in the Binbrook flight path) but a big hole in the aftermarket where stencils are concerned - I know Roy at Barracuda did black stenciling for natural metal and grey/green schemes, but those are OOP, and nobody has ever done nice white stenciling. Not really a flaw on the part of the book - just using the opportunity to vent about the aftermarket possibilities for the Lightning which nobody seems to want to fill. I've got three 1/48th kits in the stash, all on hold until somebody does a good quality stencil sheet. Al
OCT 24, 2019 - 05:04 AM

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