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Could this be the end for the last Vulcan?

mdpontin 14 6.0k Scotland
4 Nov 2012 1:51PM

Quote:Now what we need is a dedicated few to bring the English Electric Lightning back to the air. That would seriously blow peoples minds to see that sucker go Smile

Now that, I would love to see! I first saw the Lightning when I was a young lad. For some reason, we were near Boscombe Down one day, and one of these beauties took off right over my head - an amazing sight. Many years later, I saw one at an air display. The climb-rate from take-off would challenge a few current fighter aircraft, I think! I know that range was always its Achilles heel, but it was an incredible machine.

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thewilliam 9 6.1k
4 Nov 2012 2:07PM
The Lightning and Vulcan were both able to look down on a U2 that was at its maximum height. Not many aircraft could do that.
Carabosse 15 41.1k 270 England
4 Nov 2012 2:45PM

Quote:The climb-rate from take-off would challenge a few current fighter aircraft

You're spot on there, Doug. The EE Lightning's climb rate is 50,000 ft/min which matches the modern day F/A-18. And its top speed of Mach 2.2 exceeds that of the F/A-18 (1.8). Incredible for an aircraft introduced in 1959. Smile

Quote:The Lightning and Vulcan were both able to look down on a U2 that was at its maximum height

Given the U2's ceiling is around 70k feet........... are you sure?
mdpontin 14 6.0k Scotland
4 Nov 2012 2:52PM
According to wonkypedia , the official ceiling of the Lightning was kept secret, though usually quoted as 60,000+. Also from the same article:

Quote:RAF Lightning pilot and Chief Examiner Brian Carroll reported taking a Lightning F.53 up to 87,300 feet (26 600 m) over Saudi Arabia at which level "Earth curvature was visible and the sky was quite dark", noting that control-wise "[it was] on a knife edge".

All this and excellent flight characteristics too (except, perhaps, at 87,300ft Wink)! A stunning bit of British engineering. Smile
chris.maddock 16 3.7k United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 2:54PM

Quote:The Lightning and Vulcan were both able to look down on a U2 that was at its maximum height

Given the U2's ceiling is around 70k feet........... are you sure?

In 1984, during a major NATO exercise, Flt Lt Hale intercepted an American U-2 at a height which they had previously considered safe from interception. Records show that Hale climbed to 88,000 ft (26,800 m) in his F3 Lightning.
brian1208 Plus
14 11.4k 12 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 3:02PM
My best memories of these planes was in my teens seeing the prototypes flying, then going to Farnborough in my paint company's tent to see them fly in the displays.

My worst, being up at BAE Samlesbury to oversee the trial of a new paint system applied to a Canberra Bomber (in Black and Yellow target towing colours - magic! Smile ) "Slightly" hung over from the night before I was doing fine until they starting engine testing a Lightning in the "Tie Down" rig right next door to our hanger - God what a dreadful noise! Tongue

I don't think there is anyway back into the air for the Vulcan once its current cerification runs out Sad
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 3:48PM
I imagine the lightning's height was attained in a zoom climb, but it could never maintain that altitude. As far as an intercept, it would be enough to get "close enough" for a radar lock. Primitive radars are better looking up, as targets lower down can get lost in the ground clutter.

Intake design in one of the limiting factors for altitude, as the air is so thin the engines don't work properly. Getting as much air in as possible is a trade off against the drag caused by a large intake.

I would seriously doubt it's ability to maintain height much above 50 000 feet in operation. I expect the Vulcan had a similar ceiling, but without the ability to zoom climb. As for looking down on a U2 at its ceiling, no chance!

The main problem with all the older aircraft is fatigue life. Due to age and fatigue, the metals get brittle and cracks appear. When they begin to appear in structure-critical areas such as the main spar, the entire structure becomes unsafe and a renovation involves replacing the whole part. Assuming there were any main spars left anywhere, the whe aircraft is stripped down to get to it, as its the primary structure. This is prohibitive in time and resources.

It's sad, but ambitious to keep a leviathan like that flying, maybe something less ambitious might have had more long term success.

Btw, nice as it might be to attack the Taliban with one, the primitive ECM suite would leave it vulnerable : we have more comprehensive systems in our vehicles these days!

KevSB 14 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 8:21PM
Not exactly on subject but close, Today I Saw a stripped down Spitfire MK5 in the first stage of its total rebuild. 17000 rivets alone have been replaced in the wing, eveything on it was down to metal, was absolutly amazing to see the work involved in this, they told me apart from 1 crack which the part had been replaced was all that had been wrong, and this was a first Total rebuild for this aircraft sinse it was built , alongside it was a huricane in for repair with part of its fusalage removed and the internal working parts and electronics was much more complex than I ever imagined.
Ive spent the day looking round some of the most rare aircraft in the world today nearly all flyable. Dident manage to get airborne as we had planed in one of them , the weather was very poor and photography was also poor due to the rain but great adventure
chris.maddock 16 3.7k United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 8:36PM
Electronics? In a Hurricane?

Oh, I suppose the radio could be called electronics - did any of them get fitted with radar?
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 8:50PM
Not that I'm aware of. And the Hurricane was older technology than the spitfire, in that it wasn't a monocoque construction, but fabric over a frame. Easier to repair and tougher, the metal clad wings that were introduced in 1940 were a big step as far as the Hurricane was concerned.

You think that's complex, you want to see inside a Typhoon! The new one, not the Hawker one!
oldblokeh 7 1.2k United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 8:55PM
A few Hurricanes were fitted with radar. See here .
KevSB 14 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 9:01PM
The pilot said it was a very over deisigned aircraft, Not good to fly. great day out anyway and saw some great planes very close up
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 10:30PM
That's odd, because most people I know that have flown them say they are pretty good, until, that is, you fly a Spitfire!
Solid, airworthy, forgiving and very flyable, with a wide stable undercarriage, the main problem was not being able to see ahead when taxying, due to the long nose and tail wheel configuration. And not good at night, due to the exhaust stubs being a couple of feet in front of you and glowing brightly with the heat.
It was built using technology familiar to first war ground crews, and was able to be fixed in the field, without extensive facilities, unlike the Spitfire.

The overwhelming impression I got was that the Hurricane was a riders horse, whereas the Spitfire was a thoroughbred racer.
digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
5 Nov 2012 8:36AM
If you are at all interested in the Vulcan you should read Vulcan 607 , which is the story of how it got to the Falklands.

If it was fiction critics would say it was too far fetched!

mdpontin 14 6.0k Scotland
5 Nov 2012 9:17AM
I just bought it yesterday, Ian. Smile

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