English Electric Lightning F.6 XS927/N, RAF No.74 Squadron ‘The Tigers’, RAF Tengah, Singapore, 1969.
When the English Electric Lightning entered RAF service with No.74 Squadron at Coltishall in June 1960, Britain had its first true supersonic interceptor and one of the most potent fighting aeroplanes the world had ever seen. Charged with protecting Britain from aerial attack, everything about a Lightning mission involved speed, with pilots using the blistering climb performance of the aircraft to mount a ‘Supersonic dash’ to the target, returning to base, refuelling and rearming before repeating the process if the situation dictated. The ultimate incarnation of the country’s first and only all British supersonic fighter aircraft was the F.6 variant, which addressed many of the issues associated with earlier Lightnings, whilst retaining the stellar performance of this magnificent aircraft. Lightning F.6 XS927 made its maiden flight from the English Electric factory on 15th February 1967, in the hands of celebrated test pilot Roland Beamont, before joining No.74 Squadron at Coltishall in early April the same year – this was the last F.6 to join the Squadron before they moved to RAF Tengah in Singapore. Wearing the iconic colours of this famous squadron, it is no wonder the Lightning served to inspire a great many people to join the Royal Air Force and for many, is still an enduring symbol of when the British aviation industry was at the peak of its manufacturing prowess.