Post by Keith Willshaw Post by Daryl
What killed the Electric Lightning? The F-104 and the over
estimation of a Lightnings performance. Even the F-104 couldn't
reach 50k a minute climb. The best a production model 104 could do
was 48K while the Lightning barely broke 20K.
You have misunderstood a few things here.
1) The lightning was never expected to achieve 50 thousand feet per
minute. The spec (ER 103) called for a max combat altitude of 35
thousand feet and a mach number of 1.5. The Lightning handily
exceeded that with a ceiling of 50,000 ft and Mach 2.0
2) It was designed specifically as a high altitude missile armed
interceptor that in wartime could reach soviet nuclear bombers
before they got within weapons range of V Bomber bases. It stayed in
service until the late 1980's and the F-104 never entered service
with the RAF. The aircraft that replaced it in the intercept role
were the Phantom FGR.2 and Tornado F3.
In service it was intended to be complemented by the Gloster Javelin
in the medium to long distance all weather intercept role, the
nearest US aircraft would be the F-102. In retrospect the RN Sea
Vixen would have been a better choice being faster and more stable.
In the event the improvement in performance of later marks of
Lightning saw the Javelin withdrawn from service in 1965.
Note that in 1962 a Lightning successfully intercepted a U-2 at
65,000 ft and in 1984 a Lightning managed to reach 88,000 ft in a
Exercises in Germany showed the he F-104 and Lightning to have
broadly comparable climb rates of 20k per minute. Neither could
achieve anything like 40 k per minute. Optimum time for an
operational Lightning to reach 36,000 ft was 3 minutes. It could get
there quicker but only under full afterburner which basically meant
declaring a fuel emergency.
YF-104 time to climb records set in 1958 are as follows, these
aircraft were specially prepared an not service aircraft
3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in 41.85 seconds
6,000 metres (19,700 ft) in 58.41 seconds
9,000 metres (29,500 ft) in 81.14 seconds
12,000 metres (39,400 ft) in 99.90 seconds
15,000 metres (49,200 ft) in 131.1 seconds
20,000 metres (65,600 ft) in 222.99 seconds
25,000 metres (82,000 ft) in 266.03 seconds
The F-104 did have rather better range than the Lightning and the
F-15 was of course superior to both.
The F15 Streak Eagle set the following records
3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in 27.57 seconds
6,000 metres (19,700 ft) in 39.33 seconds
9,000 metres (29,500 ft) in 48.86 seconds
12,000 metres (39,400 ft) in 59.38 seconds
15,000 metres (49,200 ft) in 77.02 seconds
20,000 metres (65,600 ft) in 122.94 seconds
25,000 metres (82,000 ft) in 161.02 seconds
Warning. Was Britain able to arrange anything comparable?