Is English Electric Lightning the best fighter of the 50-60s

Cold war, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm - up to and including for example the A-10, F-15, Mirage 200, MiG-29, and F-18.
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garrya

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Unread post07 Jul 2018, 05:09

Apparently, experiences from War world II and Viet Nam air combat taught us that combat between an "angle" fighter and "energy" fighter will often result in the "energy" fighter winning. Hence, the phrase "speed is life". AFAIK, English Electric lightning is the one with the fastest acceleration and climb rate in the 50-60s, so does that mean if properly flown, it can beat anything in dogfight from F-5, F-104, Mirage III ,Mig-21 ..etc.
I can't find EM chart for Electric lightning but may be these can be helpful
Lightning flight envelope 1.PNG

Lightning Mark 4.PNG

Lightning maneuver envelope 2.PNG

Lightning maneuver envelope.PNG

Turning monogram.PNG
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basher54321

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Unread post07 Jul 2018, 12:49

You can go back to WW1 to find examples of energy tactics so the concept was there almost from the beginning.

Those charts are for the Lightning Fmk1/1A/2 and Tmk4 which was the twin seat Fmk1A basically and the big part missing is the flight handling vices and restrictions placed on something that was designed as a research aircraft in the late 1940s and came into service in 1960 as an interceptor.


When you say fighter I assume you mean in close DACT because it was only really comparable to the Mirage III / MiG-21 / F-104 with very limited radar and A-A weapons carriage but did have data link for GCI ground control.

Tmk4 Hello Baby LOL

Tmk4.jpg





The later Fmk3 was the hotrod of the series (alas no guns) and the Fmk2A / 6 / 53 and Tmk5 / 55 were improved.

There is this from an ex pilot but only taking about Fmk3/6.

How good was the radar?
In 1960 it was probably state of the art, but by 1988 it was positively prehistoric ! It was hopeless at low level overland, difficult at low level over the sea. At height the targets would often be doing in excess of .9 Mach so the combined speed of fighter and target would be around 20 miles a minute – with a maximum pick-up range on an average target of 18-20 miles this gave you less than a minute from initial contact to engagement. It also had very limited electronic counter measures capability.

How good were the weapon systems?
Again the weapons system was state of the art in the 1960s, by 1988 it was prehistoric. The system had potential: a data-link where the ground controllers would perform the intercept with pilot flying to target hands-off. The weapons were fine against lumbering Soviet Bombers up at altitude, but not great in a high G combat scenario.

How did Lightnings do against teen series fighters in BFM/DACT (dogfight training) exercises? What tips would you offer in these situations?
Lightnings fought F-14, F-15, F-16 and F-18s. At long ranges Lightnings would have been shot down with radar-guided missiles - with no RWR (radar warning receivers) the Lightning would not have stood a chance. Against the teen series the Lightning did OK in close-in combat, but the best version for air combat was the F.Mk 3 and that had so little fuel you could really only one last for one engagement .

If you’re fighting a Phantom in a Lightning what is the best approach?
Use the vertical – keep the F-4 close and keep it high where it doesn’t perform as well – around 5000 feet a clean wing F-4 ( UK ) was a close match for a Lightning. If you were fighting an F-4 with AIM-9L it was a hard match, so keeping it tight and trying to be inside his minimum range was good… and use guns.

How would the Lightning have done against a MiG-23?
Easy. The MiG-23 was pretty awful at a turning fight, but would probably have out-run a Lightning at high-speed at low level.

How did the Lightning do against the Tornado F.Mk 3?
The ‘F2’ really only entered service in 1986 and the F3 in 1987 (a year before the Lightning was retired). We did do some work against the Tornado, but mainly radar intercepts – we knew that although it had track while scan, it was easily confused so we would start at 40,000 feet then descend to 10,000 quickly whilst changing formation and then climb back up again Normally, the early F3 Foxhunter radar was totally confused by this stage.



http://hushkit.net/2015/11/18/flying-an ... lightning/
Last edited by basher54321 on 08 Jul 2018, 00:55, edited 1 time in total.
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garrya

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Unread post07 Jul 2018, 18:27

basher54321 wrote:When you say fighter I assume you mean in close DACT because it was only really comparable to the Mirage III / MiG-21 / F-104 with very limited radar and A-A weapons carriage but did have data link for GCI ground control.

Yes that what I meant, I wondered if its climb rate, acceleration could help it beat anything else in that period despite inferior agility. In others words, should we actually care about STR and ITR if acceleration seem to be the most important factor for WVR combat?
basher54321 wrote: Tmk4 Hello Baby LOL

Image

I can't see the photos :(
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madrat

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Unread post07 Jul 2018, 22:01

I always think of the F-8's Y-racks whenever people start bringing up Lightning. I bet four AIM-9L were a better punch than two Red Top. The Typhoon was a worthy high performance replacement of Lightning about twenty years late.
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basher54321

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Unread post08 Jul 2018, 01:31

garrya wrote:Yes that what I meant, I wondered if its climb rate, acceleration could help it beat anything else in that period despite inferior agility. In others words, should we actually care about STR and ITR if acceleration seem to be the most important factor for WVR combat?


Most important factor is probably the results of how all those variables combine when it is being flown. The Fmk3 had the best accel but not much fuel and no guns.


I like the way even the draggier T.mk4 has a supersonic cruise chart in the manual for without Reheat (with Ventral tank and 2 x missiles.)
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garrya

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Unread post08 Jul 2018, 05:01

basher54321 wrote:
Most important factor is probably the results of how all those variables combine when it is being flown. The Fmk3 had the best accel but not much fuel and no guns.

I guess that make sense, though, it would be useful to know how much faster can Electric lightning can accelerate compared to F-5E, F-104, Mirage iii etc
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basher54321

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Unread post08 Jul 2018, 21:23

About the closest match I can find for Level acceleration

Lightning F.mk1
35,000ft (-56.5c)
61% int Fuel
Full AB, 2 x Firestreak Missiles & Ventral Tank
M0.9 to M1.6 in ~2.4 min

F-5E
36,000 ft (Std Day)
61% int Fuel
Full AB, 2 x AIM-9
M0.9 to M1.6 in ~5.1 min

F-104C (GE-7)
35,000 ft (Std Day)
61% int Fuel
Full AB, 2 x AIM-9
M0.9 to M1.6 in ~2.6 min

Although early 1970s didn't think the F-5E was much of a hotrod with those little engines. The manual also has an estimation for 0 to 5000ft:

F-5E Clean, 61% fuel, M0.5 to M0.88 = 1.1min (68 secs)

F-4E B50, 2 x AIM-7E, 50% fuel, M0.5 to M0.9 @ 4000ft = 21 secs


The F-104 GE-19 chart suggests that was a lot quicker than those times posted above, and suspect the Lightning F.mk6 with 4000 lbs more thrust over the F.mk1 would be quicker as well.


Have a SAAB Draken manual somehow in English but appears the Draken F-35 (35XD) couldnt go past M1.1 clean at max AB, 35,000ft std day (at least not under 9 mins) - I realise it was a strike version but weird.


Only have a Mirage IIIEO accel chart but with 2 x 110 drop tanks (DI-75) - only DI-5 off 2 x Matra R550s. Quicker than the F-5E at 35Kft at ~3.5min. (no weight)
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garrya

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 02:56

basher54321 wrote:About the closest match I can find for Level acceleration

Lightning F.mk1
35,000ft (-56.5c)
61% int Fuel
Full AB, 2 x Firestreak Missiles & Ventral Tank
M0.9 to M1.6 in ~2.4 min

F-5E
36,000 ft (Std Day)
61% int Fuel
Full AB, 2 x AIM-9
M0.9 to M1.6 in ~5.1 min

F-104C (GE-7)
35,000 ft (Std Day)
61% int Fuel
Full AB, 2 x AIM-9
M0.9 to M1.6 in ~2.6 min

Although early 1970s didn't think the F-5E was much of a hotrod with those little engines. The manual also has an estimation for 0 to 5000ft:

F-5E Clean, 61% fuel, M0.5 to M0.88 = 1.1min (68 secs)

F-4E B50, 2 x AIM-7E, 50% fuel, M0.5 to M0.9 @ 4000ft = 21 secs


The F-104 GE-19 chart suggests that was a lot quicker than those times posted above, and suspect the Lightning F.mk6 with 4000 lbs more thrust over the F.mk1 would be quicker as well.


Have a SAAB Draken manual somehow in English but appears the Draken F-35 (35XD) couldnt go past M1.1 clean at max AB, 35,000ft std day (at least not under 9 mins) - I realise it was a strike version but weird.


Only have a Mirage IIIEO accel chart but with 2 x 110 drop tanks (DI-75) - only DI-5 off 2 x Matra R550s. Quicker than the F-5E at 35Kft at ~3.5min. (no weight)

wow :o Can you post these charts ?
:shock: Electric Lightning indeed very fast it can accelerate from M0.9 to M1.6 even faster than F-35C accelerate from M0.8 to M1.2
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mixelflick

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 14:56

Seems to me the lightning would be at a disadvantage vs. the Mig-21/Mirage, except for slashing attacks and perhaps in the vertical. I don't put much stock in her air to air missiles, and with some versions not carrying guns...

It did excel at her mission though, and should be remembered for her strong points. Fast acceleration, quick time to altitude and presumably all weather, high and fast intercept of heavy bombers. I have no doubt she would have eaten many Bears alive..
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f-16adf

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 16:37

Best fighter of the 50-60's? The EEL is cool to look at but kinda reminds me of a 1964 model Mig-29 Fulcrum. AKA... NO FUEL, TERRIBLE MISSILES, TERRIBLE RADAR.


There was a reason why the UK chose the Phantom as a fighter in the mid to late 1960's: Easily the best radar in the world at that time (AWG-... series, first PD with LD/SD), reasonable missiles (Aim-9/7/later SkyFlash), good range, and "if" flown properly a good ACM machine (J79)-


The F-5, 102, 104, and rest of the Century Series (sans F-105/100 "to a point") couldn't get the job done in Vietnam. That's why they were all replaced with Phantoms :D
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basher54321

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 18:57

LightningF1-2.JPG
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basher54321

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 19:06

mixelflick wrote:Seems to me the lightning would be at a disadvantage vs. the Mig-21/Mirage, except for slashing attacks and perhaps in the vertical. I don't put much stock in her air to air missiles, and with some versions not carrying guns...




In the 1960s the radar and missiles were probably no worse than any other IR missiles in a single seat and were likely better in some respects compared to some of them. The MiG-21 / Mirage 3 both had a weak missile loadout initially and the MiG-21 was just as short legged.

Majority of the MiG-21s in combat had no gun either (FL / PFV / PFM ) and didnt have the option of the GP-9 gun pod at the time.

Should make it clear that only the F.3 was never seen with guns - the other 6 single seat marks had a gun option.

In the late 60s the fat belly F.2A (1968), F.6 (1965) and F.53 did improve the range/endurance somewhat and the fat belly tank was a bit less draggy apparently but couldnt be jettisoned like the smaller tanks. The F.6 and F.53/T.55 could also carry Ferry only drop tanks above the wings and yes you could jettison them in level flight at the right parameters.


Some of the design decisions like stacking the engines didn't go so well for it later in life so compromises had to be made. That descision was made in the 1940s when they thought they would have to build a supersonic jet without an engine with afterburner - one reason why it could cruise supersonic without AB.

When the F-4M/K came along in the late 1960s it was as good as replaced and although it hung around till 1988 there were only 2 squadrons left by 1977 - both in the UK.
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f-16adf

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 20:25

I always thought the F3 with the small tank, in the silver chrome finish, was the coolest looking. I wish the RAF would have adopted (if possible) the Aim-9G Sidewinder (also armed RAF Phantoms I believe) as an option.
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basher54321

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 22:25

Apparently they had to shell out on fixing a wing root problem about year before they retired in 1987 due to a delay with the Tornado ADV but not much else seems to have been done in the 1980s.


The token ground attack capability tacked onto the F.53 for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was a good one - wonder if that fuel rocket pod could be used :D . You can see here the internal 48 rocket pack door open that most marks could carry.

EE_Lightning_F.53_418__KuwaitAF_07.06.69_at Paris-WIKI-5.jpg
Kuwait Lightning F53
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basher54321

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Unread post09 Jul 2018, 23:13

Had to check the F-5E time again for low alt - correction to above which uses the Mil chart (doh!)

F-5E, Clean, Full AB, < 5000ft std Day, 13440 lbs, M0.6 to M0.9 = ~30 secs


Lightning F.1 not using Reheat: (no chart for AB)

Lighting F.1, 2 x missiles and VT, Mil Power, 5000ft std Day, 33,000 lbs. M0.6 to M0.9 = ~26.7 secs
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