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Streaked Lightning


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Duration 4min 57sec
Release Date 1962
Sponsor Central Office of Information for Ministry of Defence
Text version of this film





In the Royal Air Force (RAF) recruitment film ‘Streaked Lightning’, we see a Lightning jet demonstrating why it once held the world air-speed record.

As an all-weather interceptor, the Lightning was a supersonic aircraft that boasted a performance better than any other aircraft at that time. The twin-engine single-seat fighter was designed to engage with fast, high-altitude Russian bombers armed with nuclear weapons before they reached the British coast.

Built by English Electric, the Lightning survived the 1957 Defence White Paper (unlike numerous other British aircraft projects that were scrapped). Presented by Conservative Defence Minister Duncan Sandys, the infamous White Paper marked a significant change in British defence policy. As defence spending concentrated on nuclear weapons and developing new missile technology, the days of manned aircraft seemed numbered.

Entering service with the RAF in July 1960 as an ‘interim solution’, the aircraft was eventually retired in 1988 after 28 years. With the capability to achieve altitudes in excess of 85,000 feet and a top speed of Mach 2.2 (1500 mph) the Lightning was one of the fastest aircraft ever to be operated by the RAF.


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