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The English Electric Lightning (ePub)

Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives

Aviation Colour eBooks P&S History > British History Photographic eBooks

By Martin W Bowman
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Series: Images of War
File Size: 16.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 144
Illustrations: 120
ISBN: 9781526705587
Published: 25th February 2019


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The early 1950s were a boom time for British aviation. The lessons of six years of war had been learned and much of the research into jet engines, radar and aerodynamics had begun to reach fruition. In Britain, jet engine technology led the world, while wartime developments into swept wing design in Germany and their transonic research programme were used to give western design teams a quantum leap in aircraft technology.

The English Electric Lightning emerged at this time. This supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era is perhaps best remembered for its amazing take-off performance, its exceptional rate of climb and its immense speed. Here, Martin Bowman takes us on a photographic journey, illustrating the various landmarks of the Lightning's impressive operational history.

... a worthwhile addition to the library of a reader interested in post-World War II British aviation or early Cold War jet fighters.

Air Power History, Winter 2020

This offering from Pen and Sword is one of the books that make me so appreciative of the Images of War titles. The book is covers the subject I expected it to cover and does it well. The dedicated text may be limited but it provides a good grounding in the aircrafts history... If the images are the stars of the title then it is the captions that are a very close second and increase the value of the images considerably as it provides information the image cannot.

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This wonderful book is typical of Mr Bowman’s prodigious output. He knows all the detail and I would suggest he has an affection for the Lightning, an aircraft that was basically a winged rocket armed with Firestreak missiles. We see the development and service history of this remarkable aeroplane and learn something of the men who flew them. The photographs are fantastic.

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War History Online, Mark Barnes

As featured by

Fliegerblätter 3 and 4/2019

Review available from

Cocardes May-June 2019

Featured by

Neil Robinson, IPMS, 2019

Featured in

Vulcan Restoration Trust, Spring 2019

When I first saw this book, it sparked a memory of the first time I heard the sound of the Lightning and, it would appear, it isn’t just me. In the first few pages, the unique sound of the Lightning is mentioned.

This book, from the Images of War series, has all that you would expect. Great images and details of variants and missions.

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Vintage Airfix

An interesting work within the section of the defense of the British Isles.

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Miniaturas JM

As featured on FineScale Modeler

FineScale Modeler

This book is a high quality photobook with an attractive softcover and 114 pages with rare black and white photos made during its operational service period and a couple of pages with specifications of the different types and a time line of its existence.

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Aviation Book Reviews

The Lightning was the first RAF aircraft capable of achieving supersonic speeds in level flight, and was designed at a time when Britain was approaching its peak in jet technology and routinely produced aircraft which were the envy of every air force. Famed for its extremely fast, vertical climb after take-off, it served as the RAF's primary interceptor for over 20 years, and though never called upon to engage a target for real, it regularly shadowed Russian bombers at the height of the Cold War. The appendix lists the specifications of each of its 13 variants, and large photographs of these are to be found throughout the book, with detailed captions explaining the scenes. Naturally these show the Lightning during flight, take-off, air-refuelling, and maintenance, but also include examples of its service with the Royal Saudi Air Force, and the aftermath of its not uncommon crashes. The book concludes with some sad photographs of Lightnings awaiting the scrap yard, but also of some which are still flying in private hands.

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Pegasus Archive

Click here to watch Martin Bowman interview

That's TV Norfolk

The photos are all well captioned, some with extensive notes telling the associated stories that they illustrate. A couple of the accidents recorded make for some sad reading while images of Lightnings intercepting Soviet long-range Tu-95 Bears are so iconic of the Cold War era. A number of the pictures show extensive line-ups of Lightnings at various RAF stations over the years and a mix of colour schemes worn by the type over its' long service career.

An excellent addition to the Images of War series and sure to be popular with the many Lightning fans out there.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

Features rare photographs from wartime archives and leading aviation author Bowman takes the reader on a photographic journey, illustrating the landmarks of the Lightning's impressive operational history.

RAF News

The author is a leading aviation historian, living close to the site of one of the two main Lightning bases in the UK. He presents an excellent selection of photographs in support of clear and carefully researched text, the photographic illustration being extensive as is to be expected of books in this very successful series.

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About Martin W Bowman

With well over 100 published books, MARTIN W. BOWMAN is one of Britain’s best-known aviation historians and authors. Specialising in Second World War history and post-war aviation, Martin’s interest in these subjects was driven by the prolific number of RAF and USAAF air bases that were established in his native East Anglia. His previous books have included works such as Legend of the LancasterConfounding the ReichDuxford and the Big Wings, as well as numerous titles in the exhaustive Air War series, which, between them, provide extensive coverage of operations carried out on D-Day and during the Market Garden offensive at Arnhem.

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