Anglo American Lightning Organisation
Returning to Flight English Electric Lightning XS422
For a number of years the Anglo American Lightning Organisation (AALO) have been working towards returning to flight English Electric Lightning T.5, XS422. The operation has been taking place jointly at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire, where the huge number of spare parts were originally delivered, and at Stennis International Airport in Mississippi, USA, where XS422 lives and is being rebuilt. The project is entirely voluntary and so it is a great acheivement that to date, both mechanically and electrically, we are approx 80% complete. The goal for 2011 is engines in and working towards ground runs as the year progresses.
2009 saw the 10th Anniversay of the creation of the Anglo American Lightning Organisation, quite a milestone. It is in the very least commendable that our engineers, volunteers, and supporters have stuck with us for so long through thick and thin. This is also a very clear indication of the huge affection that the Lightning is viewed with. A peice of British aviation heritage that must be preserved.
Despite being a voluntary project, financial support is essential to keep the teams of engineers on site, give XS422 a home, and transport the engineers to America, as well as cover the consumables required. The restoration has progressed first and foremost due to the financial generosity of project Champion, Andrew Brodie and hangar sponsor Jon Roth. Alongside and of equal importance has been the generosity in time of the restoration team, from Phil Wallis and Max Waldron, down through the team of engineers and countless volunteers who have worked on XS422. Further support has come through a great number of individuals and organisations who have made donations in goods and services. Finally and by no means least, the Supporters Group has raised almost £6000 for the project to date, both from memberships, members donations, and through the show attendances of the stearing committee.
It is currently estimated that the project needs $600,000 to get XS422 to flight status. As you navigate the website you'll learn more about the project, as well as ways you can help the project achieve our $600,00 goal.
How ever you choose to help us out I would like to thank you in advance. Take a look around the site and thanks for visiting us.
A good start point on the history of the project is the document that Max Waldron wrote a couple of years ago. Following that, take a look at the archived news letters here on the site to bring you up to date. Article "Mississippi Thunder the Story so Far"
Conceived and designed by W.E.W Petter in the late 40’s and early 50’s to fill a gap in the RAF’s inventory for a supersonic interceptor, the English Electric Lightning was always going to be a bit special. With a goal of mach 2, Petter’s designs incorporated radical departures from the tried and tested aircraft design types of the time.
With it’s severe wing sweep, two avon engines mounted one on top of the other, it’s low-set all moving tailplane, and the ailerons on the squared off wing tips, a classic aircraft was being born. After a number of years in the test programme and after a couple of prototype versions, including the Shorts sponsored SB.5 and the English Electric P.1s, one of which Roly Beamont took through mach 2 in November 1958, July 1959 saw the delivery of the first F.1 to AFDS at RAF Coltishall.
To give some indication of the outstanding service that the only truly British built, supersonic fighter, gave to the RAF and the country you only have to look at another date, and for many the saddest, in the Lightning’s history, that of 30th April 1988. It was on this date that 11 sqdn, RAF Binbrook, took its final curtain call, and with it went the last operational Lightning aircraft in RAF service. The Lightning was in RAF service for over 28 years, a remarkable achievement and testament.
Outside of the Royal Air Force, the aircraft generated a great deal of affection and respect from enthusiasts and members of the general public alike. As a reflection of this, on explaining a little of what the Anglo American Lightning Organisation is all about, I am often regaled with stories of “seeing the Lightning at airshows” or “hearing them going out in the morning”. All the accounts have a common thread, that the aircraft was awesome.
With so many Lightning airframes now consigned to the scrapyard it becomes a bigger battle to keep the memory of the Lightning alive. Organisations like ours, the LPG, The Lightning Association, Thunder City in South Africa, and the other restorers or maintainers of live airframes should be supported if the Lightning is to live on as more than just memories and pictures on a page.
This can only be a potted history of this classic aircraft in the space we have here, however if you’d like to delve a little deeper, there are a number of fantastic books, both on the history and development of the Lightning, as well as some of the people who are intrinsically linked with this piece of English Aviation heritage.
Firstflown on March 24th, 1965, at Salmesbury Lancs, XS422 was the 7th of the first T.5 production batch of 20 units
June 1st 1965 Issued to 226 OCU at Coltishall in Norfolk
After conducting the first air-air refuelling trials for the T5 in early 1969 went to 29 Sqdn Wattisham, Suffolk in June of '69
Early 1970, 60 MU at Leaconfield
August 1970 issued to 111 Sqdn, Wattisham (code "T")
Mid 1971 returned to 60 MU Leaconfield
March 1972 issued again to 29 Sqdn at Wattisham (code "Z")
December 1972 issued to 56 Sqdn, Akrotiri.
January 1976, issued to A & AEE Boscombe Down
Having been transfered to the Empire Test Pilot's School, XS422 made her last flight in August 1987
The aircraft was finally struck off charge in 1988 after a total flying time of 2,210 hours
Mid 1989 Aquired by Wensley Haydon-Baillie and placed into storage at Southampton.
Mid 1997 Aquired by Marine Salvage Limited, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
1997 to present. Purchased by Andrew Brodie and what was to become the Anglo American Lightning Organisation. Crated and shipped to Stennis, MS, USA.
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