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English Electric Lightning T55 Aircraft Data

Photo ID 4364 by David Marshall. Saudi Arabia Air Force English Electric Lightning T55, 55 713
The Lightning T.55 was the dual-seat conversion and continuation training version for the Lightning F.53 pilots of the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). The country ordered a total of six aircraft of this type. The other Middle East Lightning operator, the Kuwait Air Force, ordered two examples. These two aircraft were designated T.55Ks. Unlike the T.5 from which it drew its roots, the T.55 not only had enlarged Cambered Leading Edge (CLE) wings, but in addition had the bigger 610 Imperial gallon (2,773 litres) ventral fuel tank, as on the F.6 and F.53. The RSAF Lightning Conversion Unit at Dhahran had initially made use of the T.55's predecessor the T.54 from July 1966, for conversion-to-type and continuation trainer. Later the operational units made use of the duals in a similar role.

Lightning T.55 production, serials and construction numbers
In total only eight examples of the T.55 were produced, excluding the 'prototype' T.55. This was former RAF T.5 XS460 (c/n B1/95020). The machine, serialled '55-710' was lost in a landing accident at Warton on 7 March 1967.

The Royal Saudi Air Force took delivery of six new T.55 aircraft:
55-711 (c/n B1/95024)
55-712 (c/n B1/95025)
55-713 (c/n B1/95026)
55-714 (c/n B1/95027)
55-715 (c/n B1/95028)
55-716 (c/n B1/95030)

The Kuwait Air Force received two new T.55s:
55-410 (c/n B1/95023)
55-411 (c/n B1/95029)


With the introduction of the F-15 Eagle in RSAF-service, the remaining Lighting F-53s en T.55s were withdrawn from use. British Aerospace purchased the aircraft back for refurbishment and re-sale. Prior the delivery flight all RSAF markings were removed and replaced by British markings and serials (ZF577 to ZF598). A total of 18 F.53s and four T.55 were flown back to the UK by RAF Lightning pilots from Binbrook in January 1986, with 13 aircraft returning at Warton on 14 January. The flight included two T.55s: 55-711 (ZF597) and 55-713 (ZF598). The last flight of nine Lightnings followed on 22 January with two more T.55s: 55-714 (ZF595) and 55-715 (ZF596).

A re-sale never materialised and the Lightnings eventually found their way to private collectors and museums in the British Isles and overseas, most as complete aircraft, of other Lightnings, only the forward fuselage/cockpit section was preserved.

55-713 (ZF598) is on display in her RSAF c/s at the Midland Air Museum at Coventry/Baginton Airport.
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • First Flight:
  • Initial Service Date:
  • No. Built: 9
  • No. In Service: 0
  • No. of Hardpoints: 2
  • Crew: 2

Power:

2 Rolls Royce RA.24R Avon Mk.302C at 12,690 lbf

Weapons:

Two Firestreak or Red Top infra-red homing air-to-air missiles.

Dimensions:

Length: 55 ft 3 in.
Wing Span: 34 ft 10 in.
Wing Area: 474,5 sq.ft
Height: 19 ft 7 in.
Empty Weight: 28,041 lbs
Max. Weight: 41,700 lbs

Performance:

Service Ceiling: 65,000+ ft.

Operators:

Kuwait
The two Kuwait Air Force T.55Ks were based at the Ali Al Salem Air Base/Kuwait City Airport.
The remains of 55-410 (c/n 95023) were dumped at Ali Al Salem Air Base, where the aircraft had been in use as a fire rescue instructional airframe.

55-411 (c/n 95029) is preserved at the Kuwait Air Force Museum at Al Mubarak/ Nawaf Ahmad air base, the military part of Kuwait International Airport.

Saudi Arabia
In the early days of the introduction of the Lightning into RSAF-service, new pilots were sent to RAF Coltishall in Norfolk, England to commence their conversion with the RSAF Lightning Conversion Unit (LCU). On 2 February 1968, the first T.55, 55-711 arrived at Coltishall and became aircraft 'A'. The LCU operated 4 T.55's from Colthishall until the summer of 1969. With a cadre of qualified instructors, the LCU transferred to home grounds and continued operations from King Abdulaziz Air Base near Dhahran. With the arrival of the four Coltishall T.55s at Dhahran in July and August 1969, the older T.54s were retired. The LCU also made use of F.53 single-seat aircraft. These were loaned from the operational units as required.

The RSAF had three operational units on Lightnings. All three made use of the Lightning T.55:
No.2 Squadron, King Abdulaziz Air Base, Dhahran.
No.13 Squadron, King Abdulaziz Air Base, Dhahran.
No.6 Squadron, King Khalid Air Base, Khamis Mushayt

Random great photos of the English Electric Lightning T55:

Photo ID 98825 by Chris Albutt. Saudi Arabia Air Force English Electric Lightning T55, 55 713
Photo ID 99376 by Chris Albutt. Saudi Arabia Air Force English Electric Lightning T55, 55 713
Photo ID 89758 by Paul Newbold. Saudi Arabia Air Force English Electric Lightning T55, 55 713
Photo ID 4364 by David Marshall. Saudi Arabia Air Force English Electric Lightning T55, 55 713
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