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Author Topic: The other Lightning  (Read 5339 times)

Offline zen

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The other Lightning
« on: October 04, 2012, 09:27:11 am »
It's struck me over the course of debates over the RAF and RN that there is one glaring omission.
That had EE produced a Lightning with side by side engines, trading the extra fuel bulge's increase in cross sectional area for achieving this. That the resultant Lightning is a more practical design, potentially much easier to maintain, and more amenable to further development (such as a solid nose, VG wings etc...). Also easier to move the undercarridge into the fusilage and expand the stores capacity of the wing with more pylons.


As I pondered this I was also struck by how much cheaper the Lightning was, compared to the alternatives once it was in production and service.


Why bother with the F4 for the RAF if this 'other Lightning' could tote the WE.177?
The only answer seems to be radar missile combination.

Offline Hobbes

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 10:15:25 am »
With side-by-side engines, there would have been no need for the nose intake, so you'd get a solid nose and room for a larger radar dish from the start, this would make it easier to get the range required for medium-range radar-guided AAMs.

Offline uk 75

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2012, 02:58:39 am »
Not being an engineer I am not sure how easy a side by side layout would have been for Lightning.
 
The developed Lightning offered for the 1950s advanced fighter competition also has the vertical engine configuration.  TSR 2 had problems with the side by side config and the engines were too tightly packed.
 
Modest additions to the Lightning F6 seem to me a better bet.

Offline PaulMM (Overscan)

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2012, 03:47:46 am »
The Lightning's layout stems from its genesis as a high speed research aircraft. The vertically stacked, horizontally staggered layout gave very low frontal area, reducing drag and allowing the P1 to reach supersonic speed without afterburners. A clever idea for a one-off research aircraft but fraught with complications for an operational fighter.


If the P1 had used a side-by-side engine layout, it might well have struggled to go supersonic without afterburners and probably never ended up being developed into an operational fighter. Something like the P.1121 might have taken its place in this scenario.




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Offline JFC Fuller

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2012, 05:09:40 am »
Just to add to what PaulMM said, as a fighter Lightning was schemed as the ultimate manifestation of the manned missile. The combination of the automatic climb to 60,000 ft feature along with the semi-automatic attack capability (with the aircraft as part of a GCI network) was meant to remove the need for its own large radar, AI.23 primarily being for the final stages of the intercept. The fully auto-attack system that was tested but cancelled would have reduced the pilots workload even further by feeding GCI data directly into the autopilot.

The EE P.8 is really what the Lightning should have been, but never mind.

Offline zen

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2012, 02:24:28 pm »
What's missed by some here is that from quite early EE trialled the bulged 'conformal' fuel tank and that this, as with the later such tank increased the cross sectional area by quite a bit. In theory more than enough to cope with fitting the engines side by side.


Its also missed by some here how low the thrust was of the P1's engines, both in dry and reheat. The later increases were not trivial.


So its arguable for a service machine, any then loss in speed is counterable by the addition of rockets, just as they actually investigated for the Lightning.


In essence the side by side layout greatly enhances the concepts flexibility and ease of support.

Offline pathology_doc

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 09:17:35 am »
Yes, but you have to increase it in just the right fashion at the right parts of the airframe (remember the area rule) or you suffer horribly.

If anything, the Lightning makes a good case for a properly-developed and integrated, well-packaged weapon system (including huge bucketloads of fuel volume from the start and an internal bay for missiles if that's how you want to roll), but rejigging something as major as the engine arrangement will give you something so close to a different aircraft that you might as well begin the design work afresh.

Offline royabulgaf

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2012, 12:13:34 pm »
I forget the name of the project, but IIRC that CAC had a project resembling the Lightning with side by side engines for the RAAF.  Clearly, it did not get far.

Offline zen

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2012, 07:15:56 am »
Yes, but you have to increase it in just the right fashion at the right parts of the airframe (remember the area rule) or you suffer horribly.

If anything, the Lightning makes a good case for a properly-developed and integrated, well-packaged weapon system (including huge bucketloads of fuel volume from the start and an internal bay for missiles if that's how you want to roll), but rejigging something as major as the engine arrangement will give you something so close to a different aircraft that you might as well begin the design work afresh.


Do consider the size of the belly tank and the propsed VG variants. the increase in cross sectional area is quite notable and in approximately in the area where the center of gravity between the two engines is located.
Besides which there is ample scope to ensure conformation to area rule in producing a side-by-side engine layout.


No its not a good case, its too tightly packed and shows lots of signs of its direct development from the P1.


Offline pathology_doc

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 08:36:54 am »
That's exactly what I was trying to say - it's a good case for WHY you should integrate your missile/radar systems from the start and what happens if you don't! Part of the problem may be that such systems were but a twinkle in the designer's eye when the P1.B's lines were laid out, which is why IMO the British suffered so grievously from the cancellation of every one of their follow-on interceptor programmes. Sure, they were all designed to fire ARH Red Dean and IR Bluejay, but there should have been time (in the development programmes) and space (in many of the fighters) to do an about-turn on SARH (once they realised that Red Dean was too much of an ask in 1957) and integrate an illuminator into later marks of fighter and radar.


It's interesting to note that not one completely British combat aircraft that made it into service ever fielded a SARH missile. Ever. Which is odd when you consider that some marks of Javelin had American AI radar, and could have received one that enabled them to fire (SARH variants of) AIM-4, or AIM-7, or even, as a mark of desperation, AIM-9C[size=78%].[/size]


I suppose it's ultimately like the oft-debated question of when you stop calling the progressive developments of R.J. Mitchell's masterpiece by the name "Spitfire".

Offline zen

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2018, 09:17:13 am »
I'll go further with this one.

Had this 'Other Lightning' gone forward it completely cuts the ground away from the likes of the Thin Win Javelin in it's initial progress, offers a cheaper way forward than importing Avro Canada's Arrow, and obviates the need to fund the Crescent Winged Swift, or the efforts of Saro and Avro on mixed powerplant fighters.
In essence focusing limited funds on a single machine.

In it's later progress it obviates the need for a separate MRI platform save for the need for VTOL.

Offline kaiserd

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2018, 02:45:45 pm »
So if the Lightning was a completely different aircraft than it actually was then it could be the all-singing all-dancing replacement for everything else, combing diverse roles as tactical nuclear strike to high altitude high speed all-weather intercept, with the fuel load to do the former with the thrust to weight ratio to do the latter, the avionics to do both, in an airframe that fundamentally represents late 40’s/ early 50’s technology and design.
Pie in the sky fantasy stuff.

The Lightening was never going to be the basis for a truly versatile tactical fighter to compare with the F-4 or the Mirage III.
It was a charismatic idiosyncratic specialist machine built for one specific role and hence was never likely to be much good at anything else.
Any attempts at solid noise Lightenings, swing wing Lightenings etc came later in the 60’s when it was already overtaken by later designs and the impact of the 1957 paper had eaten into the UK’s ability to produce anything better themselves  in anything other than a long time scale.
My understanding is the alternative Lightening design you describe, in the time period described, did not exist.

In retrospect if the RAF has known the Lightening was going to be their last/ only fighter (as per the 1957 white paper) maybe they would have picked another (more rounded and flexible) design from another manufacturer. But they didn’t so they didn’t.
And in fairness any designs considered at the time as rivals/ alternatives to the Lightening were also dedicated short range interceptors which would not have been well suited to other roles.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 02:48:30 pm by kaiserd »

Offline zen

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2018, 03:21:18 pm »
Actually the first solid nose studies seem to be before the P1 flew. Tunnel models were run around the mid 50's, though my information is vague on the precise layout and the results.

As for the rest I'll have to get back to you as typing on this phone is no fun.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:24:14 pm by zen »

Offline kaiserd

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2018, 12:00:40 am »
Actually the first solid nose studies seem to be before the P1 flew. Tunnel models were run around the mid 50's, though my information is vague on the precise layout and the results.

As for the rest I'll have to get back to you as typing on this phone is no fun.

I’d refer you to Tony Butler’s and Chris Gibson’s excellent books in this area for the actual chain of designs and events.

And I’d point out the rather basic point that suddenly having a solid noise wouldn’t magically  turn the Lightening into what you appear to want it to be, a flexible tactical fighter.
It would remain a dedicated short range rapid climbing fast interceptor.
It wouldn’t have the avionics to do anything else and would likely be chronically short ranged if it ever tried to. And that’s before we get into its limited weapon load, and payload-to-range characteristics etc. Or the UK’s lack of better fighter radars than that already in the Lightenings of this period. Or the frankly pathetic state of the UK’s efforts to build effective radar guided air to air missiles during this time period.

And I write this as a fan of the Lightening.....
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 12:20:03 am by kaiserd »

Offline zen

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Re: The other Lightning
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2018, 08:08:30 am »
So lets get the nub here.
Lightning is not ideal.
But no UK design is.

In this light the question is what gets us most of the way and in that this concept goes a lot further than just about any other twin engined solution.

The basic concept is that there ought to have been a 'side-by-side' alternative to the P1 and that this ought to have been funded.
Yes this increases cross sectional area, for the engines and potentially extra spaces for fuel or the myriad plumbing and cables that connect everything together and which was a absolute nightmare in the stacked engine configuration of the P1.
Does that increase drag....yes
Does it matter when your engines virtually double in power....no

Can this be further developed? Yes, just like the Lightning was and variants offered just like EE did for light Attack, Recce, etc....

But what do we get?
Easier to move to a solid nose, housing a 30" dish AI.23 and increased avionics space, which in turn makes this easier to go further. Whether that is to F.155 or F.177 with the actually developed Scorpion rocket motor

Because inlets are not a trivial side of aircraft design, and trying to do it to the stacked arrangement was fraught with risks. Too many risks.

Easier to add in a VG wing

Easier to move to say RB.153 or the early RB.172 (not the scaled down Adour)

Easier to add a ventral station, maybe for just a 300gal tank, maybe for WE.177 and thus gaining MRI much earlier at a much more affordable development cost.

Can they fit the avionics in for these options....they thought they could for stacked design, so why they would not for this is more a negativity in perception issue.

In short.
Side-by-side.
Delivers just as well to the fighter element
Delivers a short cheaper path with a solid nose to F.155, potentially to F.153
Delivers with a rocket to F.177
Delivers with Attack and Recce stories to MRI-Jaguar but earlier.
With VG and a solid nose (previously funded for F.155) delivers a potential FGR

Is it a bit Soviet......yes in way, they took what worked and developed it.
We tried jumping generations and most of the time fell at the hurdles.