English Electric / BAC Lightning Single-Seat Jet-Powered Interceptor Aircraft
The English Electric Lightning remains the only Mach 2-capable jet-powered fighter to emerge solely from Britain.
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The English Electric Lightning was an impressive engineering feat for the British people. She was the first (and only) Mach 2-capable platform ever developed for the island nation and itself the fastest British fighter of all time, the last aircraft to be designed solely by a British aviation firm, the first aircraft to be designed with direct pilot input, the first aircraft to utilize "supercruise" (reaching supersonic flight without the use of afterburner) and the first Royal Air Force platform to feature an integrated weapons system for automated missile delivery. At the time of her inception, the Lightning formed a potent deterrent to Soviet bomber incursions in the region and gave the RAF a potent intercepting arm. One of the most high-performance fighters of the Cold War, the English Electric Lightning went on to find a special place in the hearts of those who flew her and in the admirers of the type all over the world.
In post-war Europe, the victors were quite surprised to find the advanced levels of German turbojet and wind tunnel technology and were quick to recover such data whenever possible. The British were already on the cutting edge of jet technology and began fielding the Gloster Meteor by war's end. This straight-winged, twin-engine platform undoubtedly would have faced off against the German Messerschmitt swept-wing, twin-engine system should the war had progressed beyond 1945. As it was, the air-to-air match would never occur but forays into jet development would continue nonetheless. The Americans and the Soviets each took to evaluating, re-engineering and attempting similar designs following the German research trail. The British, on the other hand, already held sound concepts into high-speed flight but only had one successful design to show for their efforts. German research was advanced enough to be looking into more powerful engines mated to swept-wing designs.