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English Electric Lightning F.53 ZF582

Our Lightning F.53 was built by English Electric Aviation Ltd at Samlesbury with construction number 95281C.

The aircraft was first flown as G27-46 by Chief Test Pilot Roland 'Bee’ Beamont on 15th January 1968. It was delivered via Jeddah on 20th September 1968 by Dick Ingram to the Lightning Storage Unit (LSU) of the Royal Saudi Air Force at Riyadh painted as 53-676.

G27-46/53-676 not long after delivery (credit Falcon Aviation)

It was kept in storage until delivered 13th January 1971 by Hedley Molland to Number 6 Sqn at Prince Khalid Airbase at Khamis Mushayt.

By May 1975 it was with the Lightning Conversion Unit (LCU) at King Abdulazziz Air Base, Dhahran wearing the code 'G’.

53-676/G at Dhahran during 1975 (credit Hedley Molland)

It was still wearing 'G’ when the LCU became 13 Sqn in March 1977. During the summer of 1978 it moved to Number 2 Sqn at King Faisal Air Base, Tabuk. In March 1980 the aircraft was given a new serial '207'.

207 (credit Falcon Aviation)

Lightning  Lightning  Lightning
207 and 211 in flight 25th May 1981 (credit Hedley Molland)

ritish Aerospace (BAe) at Warton bought back 22 Saudi Lightnings with the intention of re-selling them, so on 22nd January 1986 the airplane was flown by Flt Lt Rands from Tabuk to Warton wearing the serial ZF582. The airplane had flown 1,881 hours and 24 minutes.

ZF582 (nearest the camera) on her way back to the UK 22nd Jan 86 (credit Hedley Molland)

ZF582 remained in storage at Warton for a number of years. When it became clear there were no real buyers on the horizon, BAe sold the stored Lightnings off for nominal fees and our Lightning, along with several others, was purchased by Mr. Wensley Haydon-Baillie. The airplane was cut up and the cockpit and wings went to Marine Salvage Ltd near Portsmouth. The wings were acquired by the Gatwick Aviation Society at Charlwood near Gatwick Airport.

The cockpit was owned by Paul Smith at Desborough, Philip Leaver near Luton, Dave Thomas at Welshpool and Kelvin Petty at Reading before moving to our museum on 21st September 2004.

ZF582 at the Museum today (credit Paul Rushton)