The other Lightning

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
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.
 

Hobbes

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
636
Reaction score
4
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.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
1,250
Reaction score
1
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.
 

overscan

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
11,110
Reaction score
64
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.
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,107
Reaction score
2
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.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
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.
 

pathology_doc

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2008
Messages
789
Reaction score
0
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.
 

royabulgaf

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Dec 29, 2008
Messages
394
Reaction score
0
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.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
pathology_doc said:
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.
 

pathology_doc

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2008
Messages
789
Reaction score
0
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.


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".
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
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.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
532
Reaction score
1
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.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
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.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
532
Reaction score
1
zen said:
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.....
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
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.
 

Hood

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
1,157
Reaction score
15
The hindsight factor is strong with this one.

This basically forgets that the P.1 has origins going back to 1948. At that time this was a supersonic research aircraft, Petter was trying to find the best solution he could with the knowledge of the time. To him stacked engines were logical to reduce the frontal area and supersonic drag and the nose intake was believed to be the best low-risk solution to getting enough air into the engines and avoiding shockwave problems. The engines he was planning for was a variant of the RA.4 (the first Tyne).
The P.3 with side intakes was never chosen and was studied during most of 1951. We can surmise whatever the results of tunnel tests were, the nose intake must still have seemed the most optimal solution, perhaps the battles with the MoS over the tail layout took priority of effort and EE wanted to avoid another clash over intakes? Its noteworthy that side intakes were discussed again in 1954, but by then the P.1s were under construction.

The conical nose intake on the P.1B was the company's idea from 1951 to enable performance to reach Mach 2. So whatever side-intake P.1s were studied were probably limited to the Mach 1.5 of the P.1 nose intake version we know today. Petter certainly didn't feel confident enough about side intakes to suggest them for a Mach 2 development.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
(sigh)
So lets reiterate.....

By the mid-50s or so, EE was pushing a developed Lightning with a ventral pack 'system', and by the late 50's this was certainly around in mockup form if not actually flown. It had certainly been tunnel tested, and I think the results fed back into what became the design of the larger ventral pack.

Not quite the same as the later curvy ventral tank and ADEN pack, but what is notable about this and that AND the early 60's Spey VG option is that all these packs certainly drive up the cross sectional area at precisely the locations that are most vital to keep as narrow as possible to conform to the 'area rule'.

Hence why I question why the side-by-side option was never explored.

Perhaps there was a institutional stubbornness and there certainly was a financial one to not change things too much from the funded research machine.
Which would have been fine had this stayed on the drawing board and say Fairey received orders for a Fighter Delta II instead.

It's a case of spoiling the ship for ha'penthworth of tar.
 

CJGibson

I didn't get where I am today by not using SPF.
Senior Member
Joined
May 26, 2011
Messages
1,156
Reaction score
4
Side-by-side was explored - in the multi-role PL.1.

Chris
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
CJGibson said:
Side-by-side was explored - in the multi-role PL.1.

Chris
Ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that is intriguing.
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
682
Reaction score
0
Not heard of that one, anything you can repeat?
 

Arjen

It's turtles all the way down
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2010
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
8
English Electric PL.1 is described in Chris Gibson's 'Battle Flight' pages 161-162. Based on the Lightning T.5, with a substantially lengthened ventral fairing and twin-wheel undercarriage that needed underwing fairings to accommodate the gear.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
Arjen said:
English Electric PL.1 is described in Chris Gibson's 'Battle Flight' pages 161-162. Based on the Lightning T.5, with a substantially lengthened ventral fairing and twin-wheel undercarriage that needed underwing fairings to acommodate the gear.
But looking at the book (great work there Chris) I don't see any reference to a side by side engine arrangement. ......
 

Arjen

It's turtles all the way down
Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2010
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
8
True.
1) Here's what happened in my head: I saw PL.1 mentioned a few days ago, knew I had seen it in Chris' book. Side by side rung a bell, left it to simmer for a few days - found PL.1 yesterday with side by side crew - thought I had a match. Reread this thread, saw it was about side by side engines - sorry!
2) EECo did do side by side engines in the TSR.2 saga, its P.17 entry eventually leading to a P.22 interceptor derivative (see Battle Flight)
 

kitnut617

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Dec 15, 2006
Messages
221
Reaction score
1
zen said:
Arjen said:
English Electric PL.1 is described in Chris Gibson's 'Battle Flight' pages 161-162. Based on the Lightning T.5, with a substantially lengthened ventral fairing and twin-wheel undercarriage that needed underwing fairings to acommodate the gear.
But looking at the book (great work there Chris) I don't see any reference to a side by side engine arrangement. ......
Well what you need then is a CAC CA-23

(look in CAC Post War Projects thread)
 
  • Like
Reactions: zen

CJGibson

I didn't get where I am today by not using SPF.
Senior Member
Joined
May 26, 2011
Messages
1,156
Reaction score
4
Ah, I thought you were on about cockpits and intakes.

Chris
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
CJGibson said:
Ah, I thought you were on about cockpits and intakes.

Chris
In a way yes. Because it's a lot easier to develop side intakes if the engines are side by side. Making room for a solid nose.
Your pictures of the PL1 clearly show the amount of increase in cross sectional area over the original P1B.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
532
Reaction score
1
zen said:
CJGibson said:
Ah, I thought you were on about cockpits and intakes.

Chris
In a way yes. Because it's a lot easier to develop side intakes if the engines are side by side. Making room for a solid nose.
Your pictures of the PL1 clearly show the amount of increase in cross sectional area over the original P1B.
That doesn't necessarily follow.
From Chris's excellent book I can confirm that the PL1 was a (probably too-) late development of the Lightening and didn't feature side by side engines (and the non-swing-wing proposals all seem to not have solid noises).
As such it certainly doesn't represent an alternative path-not-taken substitute for the Lightenings that actually served with the RAF (which is what you appear to be seeking).
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
It definitely follows that the stacked engines would make life far harder and risky to develop side intakes. The matter of intakes and their trunking is no trivial matter.

Wracking my memory I dimly reccal reading the list of EE project numbers ( EE aircraft from....I forget when to I forget) and no such side-by-side engine arrangement was explored.

This is the Alternative History and Future Speculation section.
It is entirely appropriate to set this thread here.
IF you want only history, you are in the wrong section and posting on the wrong thread.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
899
Reaction score
4
Further musings....

EE needs to come up with this alternative fairly early, ideally funding it instead of the P.1B or concurrent with it, lets call that the P.1C.
So ideally this is part of discussions on 11 July 1951 and ordered in 9 June 1952.
Why? Because by this time a belly pack for more fuel was already being mooted, raising cross sectional area. Arguably this is the moment when the question ought to have been asked.

It's this 'side-by-side' engine version that ought then to be ordered as 20 preproduction Fmk1 in Feb '54.

So right from the get go, the Other Lightning is THE Lightning.

In 15 Jan '55, we have F155T, and ideally EE would then propose the solid nose version rather than the conic centerbody circular inlet version for the P.8.
This would permit the accommodation of a 30" dish, possibly AI.23 again, though the Ministry might worry that at the time integration of an illuminator function was not proving easy on any radar and prefer AI.18.
However with such and the RB..126 engine, Area Ruling, and a second seat, this could meet the requirement.
With a interim, being the then, RB.133 Blue Vesta and AI.23 sans illuminator (arguing it could be retrofitted at a later date).

Even with the Sandy's paper in '57 this then moves forward as the primary defence interceptor. But it's a strong possibility that even after this event, work of the Solid Nose Lightning (SoNoLi) could continue, such is the benefit it would confer.

Type 588 studies would obviously include the use of VG on both nose inlet and SoNoLi designs.
Later in the middle of '63 this would become the basis of their tender to AW.406.
What is possible is it might have been proposed earlier in SoNoLi form to OR.346
Origins of this could be the effort to increase reheat chamber size for the projected RB.106 Thames and Bristol Zeus, which would be as applicable to the RB.162 Spey (which formed the powerplant for DH.127 and B.123).

Logically a variant with the RB.153 and some lift jets might make a brief tender to NMBR.3, obviously failing against the P1154.

Concurrently the PL.1 series study is more convincing with the 'side-by-side' engine layout, and a much simpler path forward for MRI than the convolutions that saw the Supersonic Trainer become the Jaguar GR.1
Arguably the RB.172 would be put forward against the use of Avon or the RR-MTU RB.153 engine.


If the engines can be removed vertically down out via hatches, maintenance gets a lot easier.
There's even a better argument for keeping the wing located undercarriage main gear to facilitate this ease of extraction.
Wing box being over the engines makes for quite an efficient structure.
But ideally a hard point along the centreline would permit a drop tank there or nuclear weapon.
 
Top