The BAC Lightning: The Early Years

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Ahhh, Lightnings. This plane the most beautiful ugly plane out there. The BAC Lightning went through quite a few marking and camouflage periods, with the first being left in their shiny metal and the last done up in low viz grays. This selection is an example of some of the early ones, resplendent in their natural metal.

Lightning F.2, XN780 'H'
No. 19 Squadron

Starting off the Lighting set is this F.2 from No. 19 Squadron. The markings are quite subdued compared to some of the other Lightning squadrons. No. 19 Squadron featured blue and white checks on either side of the roundel, and the squadron 'squid' on the tail.

Lightning F.1A, XM177
Wattisham Test Flight

Another plain bird, this one an F.1A of the Wattisham Test Flight. The fin flash is of a different style, not standard, but found on many Lightnings in many squadrons. The bars are yellow and black, and the squadron emblem is red, white, and blue.

Lightning F.1, XM139 'C'
No.74 Squadron "Tiger"

This clean example of an F.1 is from No. 74 Squadron. With a big tiger's head on the tail and tiger stripes on the nose, this one is almost attractive.

Lightning F.1, XM135 'B'
No.74 Squadron "Tiger"

Much better! Starting off the 'colored tail' batch, we take another look at No. 74 Squadron a bit later in life. The black spine and tail really helps set off the unit emblem while making the Lightning as a plane look more attractive.

Lightning F.1A, XM160 'K'
No. 56 Squadron "Firebirds"

An aerobatic team flying Lightnings? Why not? No. 56 Squadron flew a set of planes as the 'Firebirds', finished out in this beautiful scheme. With a red spine, tail, and wing leading edge, these were very colorful F.1As. The red and white checks on the nose were outlined in blue, and the badge of No. 56 Squadron was very large on the tail.

Lightning F.2, XN728 'B'
No. 92 Squadron

This last F.2 is from No. 92 Squadron. The blue tail helps offset the red and yellow chevrons on the nose giving a very well balanced colorful Lightning.

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