The Men Who Flew the English Electric Lightning written by Martin W. Bowman and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25 – Hardback – Pages 304
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. At English Electric, ‘Teddy’ Petter’s design team were keen to capitalize on the success of their Canberra jet bomber and rose to the challenge of providing a high speed interceptor for the RAF.
Martin W. Bowman describes the career of the Lightning in detail using first-hand accounts of what it was like to fly and service this thoroughbred. The Men Who Flew the English Electric Lightning is a fine record of the last truly great all-British fighter.
As a kid who grew up in the 80’s & 90’s as an RAF kid watching these up close or flying about, I also remember there being one you would drive past on the A1 in an old motor vehicle yard. As a kid, they looked awesome to me and as if they would fly really fast. This book was good because we learn a lot about the life and development of this jet, the book is also accompanied by a number of stories from pilots and crews some who were lucky to survive. What I found from reading this book and also the ‘Halifax’ version, was the difference between a crew of men in one plane and plane that only carried one or two men, the teamwork and stories were different or there was less camaraderie. But this shouldn’t deter from a good book, especially if you love aviation or the RAF.