Site Updated:

Reference Library


Many readers accessing this site will want to know more about the Lightning than we can include on the site, and the best source of information is a specialist book. Below is a list of books in which Lightnings are included, either as the only subject of the book or as a major part of it. Where Lightnings are only a small part of the book, this will be indicated. The books are in alphabetical order by name of the author. Unless indicated, prices and availability must be checked with your book supplier, although many of the books mentioned below are now out of print and only available from specialist second-hand dealers.

It should be remembered that some of the earlier books suffered from lack of access to information which later authors were able to examine, and therefore contain some inaccuracies. Additionally, some books have a large proportion of their content which is clearly a rehash of previous works, and where the previous works have been inaccurate, so have these. Most of these books contain something of the general history and development of the type, plus chapters on RAF squadron service and the export variants etc., and may make repetitive reading. They are really for the collector only.

The most original books are from pilots who were able to write from unique personal experience, such as Roland Beamont, and who took their own photographs or had access to official photographs, such as Ian Black. However, the best overall picture is presented by expert researchers and writers such as Stewart Scott, who has not only plundered every archive currently available but has painstakingly tracked down many former Lightning pilots to get their personal stories and has also the most comprehensive collection of Lightning photographs in existence. You pays your money and you takes your choice!

Author - Chris Allan
Publisher - Osprey First published - 1986
ISBN - 0 85045 661 4 (soft back)
High-quality colour photographs with captions from Lightning pilot Chris Allan. Content is fairly evenly divided between RAF types, mainly the Hawk, Jaguar, Harrier, Buccaneer, Tornado, Phantom and Lightning, as well as a few shots of American types from the A-7 Corsair to the SR-71 Blackbird.

Author - Chris Allan
Publisher - Osprey First published - 1987
ISBN - 0 85045 754 8 (soft back)
Book of colour photographs similar to the above, but with the emphasis on non-RAF types, mainly the Blackbird, A-10, F-16, Viggen, Mirage 5 and F.1, Draken, F-111 and German Marine Tornado. However, there is a 30-page section on the Lightning which is actually longer than any of the others, showing the Binbrook squadrons in the second half of the ‘80s.

Author - Chris Allan
Publisher - Osprey First published - 1989
ISBN - 0 85045 866 8
Subtitled ‘Jet Fighters in Combat’, this is another book of excellent colour photographs of various aircraft types in simulated combat. It includes about 8 pages of Lightnings firing Red Top missiles at flares towed behind a Jinivik drone. Don’t miss the last page, where Chris has somehow managed to persuade a blonde to take her top off and model a survival jacket!

Author - Roland Beamont
Publisher - Ian Allan First published - 1985
ISBN - 0 71101 471 X (hardback)
Written by a highly decorated WWII fighter pilot who became the Chief Test Pilot of English Electric, this book describes the development and testing of the Lightning from the point of view of the Company, so the chapter on squadron service is very short, although there are short but interesting chapters on the export drive and ‘what might have been’. Very much a technical book and based on the author’s notes from his test flying of the prototypes and development aircraft, it is a fascinating account of a test pilot’s work in the early days of supersonic flight.

Author - Anthony ‘Bugs’ Bendell
Publisher - Orion First published - 1998
ISBN - 0 75281 796 5 (hardback)
The fascinating story of a regular squadron pilot spanning a 34-year career which began as the RAF was converting to jets in the early fifties. Although only a small part of the book, there is an excellent chapter on his time trials flying Lightnings with the Air Fighting Development Squadron and as a Flight Commander on 111 Squadron, including one of the best Lightning stories ever about the devastation he caused when he went past a visiting group of officers from the RAF College of Air Warfare at very low level and, unfortunately, in excess of M.1.

Author - Ian Black
Publisher - Airlife First published - 1988
ISBN - 1 85310 045 5 (case bound), 1 85310 044 7 (paperback)
‘Blackie’ was a Lightning pilot who always carried his camera in the cockpit. As a result, he had access to Lightnings and many other aircraft which other photographers, unless they too were RAF pilots, could only dream about. ‘Lightning’ is a basically a book of superb, full-colour captioned photographs of Lightnings in every possible situation from take-off to the scrap yard.

Author - Ian Black
Publisher - Osprey First published - 1988
ISBN - 0 85045 839 0 (paperback)
More of Blackie’s legendary photographs of the Phantom, Hawk, Tornado, Harrier and Lightning, with a few F-16s, A-10s and F-111s to name but a few thrown in. As you’d expect from one of the best in the business.

Author - Ian Black
Publisher - Patrick Stephens First published - 1996
ISBN - 1 85260 541 3 (hardback)
An excellent and well-written account of the day to day life of a squadron pilot at RAF Binbrook during the final years of the Lightning in front-line service, accompanied by a large number of Blackie’s superb, full-colour photographs. If you want to know what it was like to fly and fight the Lightning from the pilot’s seat, this is the book for you. Now updated (2003) with a later version of the book with some new material and photographs.

Author - Martin Bowman
Publisher - Airlife First published - 2001
ISBN - 1 84037 236 2
High quality colour photographs, many from ex-Lightning pilots and including some excellent air-to-air shots, assembled and put into book form with captions.

Author - Tony Buttler
Publisher - Midland First published - 2000
ISBN - 1 85780 095 8
Massively researched and beautifully produced technical work on the jet and rocket ‘might-have-beens’ from the drawing boards of British aircraft manufacturing companies, much of the material having only recently been declassified. Some of the designs shown are so extreme that they are practically surreal. Although describing many other fighter projects, the Lightning and projected Lightning variants are well covered and there are an enormous number of photographs, plans and drawings, including a nice colour section.

Author - Bob Cossey
Publisher - Arms & Armour Press First published - 1992
ISBN - 1 85409 143 3 (hardback)
The story of No. 74 Squadron. As with most accounts of units with a long combat history, ‘Tigers’ concentrates heavily on the two World Wars and the inter-War years. However, it does include some 60 very interesting pages on the Lightning out of over 300, along with some excellent photographs covering the eleven years during which 74 Squadron flew the type. From Leuchars to Akrotiri to Tengah, and even including visits to Australia, this is a very readable, highly anecdotal account of the Lightning ‘Tigers’.

Author - Kev Darling
Publisher - Airlife First published - 1995
ISBN - 1 85310 521 X
The content is obvious from the title, with the already well-known material from earlier works being updated following the final flights of the Lightning in UK airspace in the hands of BAe. The author is a former RAF engineer, and the most interesting and original chapter is ‘Inside the Lightning’, which gives a great deal of technical detail about the structure and systems of the aircraft. With some good photographs and a small colour section, the book ends with a number of appendices on such things as production details, crashes and their causes and colour schemes.

Author - Bruce Barrymore Halpenny
Publisher - Osprey First published - 1984
ISBN - 0 85045 562 6 (hardback)
One of the earlier Lightning books and a solid, workmanlike report of the evolution, development and squadron histories of the Lightning, although giving more space to the Binbrook squadrons than the others, with some interesting short sections on comparison with the F-106, maintenance and tanking. However, this is more a book of captioned photographs than a text, and there are many excellent black and white photographs with a few in colour.

Author - Derek Palmer
Publisher - The Self-Publishing Association First published - 1990
ISBN - 1 85421 075 0 (hardback)
The definitive history of No. 19 Fighter Squadron. Excellent and comprehensive history of the squadron in chronological diary form, although concentrating heavily on the two World Wars and the inter-War years. Unfortunately, the chapter ‘The Lightning Years’ only occupies 15 pages out of 384, almost exactly only one page per year that 19 Squadron flew the Lightning. However, if you’re a Lightning collector, you have to have it.

Author - Bryan Philpott
Publisher - Patrick Stephens First published - 1984
ISBN - 0 85059 687 4
Not to be confused with Halpenny’s book of the same name, this book is nevertheless from exactly the same period and covers almost exactly the same material. Although there are many interesting photographs and diagrams, there is no colour section, but it is certainly very well written.

ENGLISH ELECTRIC AIRCRAFT and their predecessors
Author - Stephen Ransom & Robert Fairclough
Publisher - Putnam First published - 1987
ISBN - 0 85177 806 2 (hardback)
The design, development and histories of all EE designs are here, written by authors who had a long association with the Company and had full access to the Company records. Written very much from an engineering and records viewpoint, it is a rather dry read but very accurate and with some nice photographs. Over 50 pages on the Lightning out of 370, with some further interesting information on projected variants of the Lightning.

Author - Stewart Scott
Publisher - GMS Enterprises First published - 2000
ISBN - 1 870384 78 4 (hardback)
The Lightning Bible - the first of three volumes of what will be the reference history of the Lightning. Volume 2 is currently being written and should be out in early 2004, then Volume 3 will follow. Expensive, but worth every penny. These books go into a degree of detail about Lightning construction, development and service which is never likely to be surpassed. Many high-quality diagrams and photographs, mainly black and white, but some in colour.

Volume One is a 365-page hardback (roughly A4 size) containing over 400 photographs and drawings, many never seen before. Contents include design and development (up to the F.3), test flying with Rolls-Royce and Boscombe Down, armament, experimental projects and individual aircraft histories for prototypes, DB a/c, F.1, F.1A, F.2 and T.4. The work of the various squadrons and units is covered in some detail, closing at the end of 1965.

Nnow available only from the author.

Stewart Scott,
48 Ryland Road,


Tel: 01673 862457

English Electric Lightning, Volume Two: (The Lightning Force)
Expected to be published circa May 2004, Volume Two carries forward the story of the Lightning to the mid-1970s. Content will include design and development (F.6, F.2A and T.5), radar tactics and training, individual a/c histories for F.3, F.6 and T.5 and a major section covering the work of the various units and squadrons. Expected to be in the order of 700 pages, with perhaps a similar number of photographs.
Price likely to be in the region of £80. Will be available from the author post free.

Author - Hugh Trevor
Publisher - Lightning Preservation Group First published - 1996
ISBN - 0 95288 290 6 (paperback)
Absolutely excellent A4 size soft back book full of anecdotal stories by air and ground crew who flew and worked on Lightnings, with short sections on the various Lightning preservation groups and some Lightning histories. Lots of photographs, some in colour, cartoons and a comprehensive list of Lightning survivors. The Limited Edition version signed by all the contributors and by ‘Bee’ Beamont must be one of the collectors items of all time. Essential reading.

From Lightnings to Migs
Author- Russell Peart
Publisher - Pen and Sword Books
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399007474
Published: 31st August 2021,, can be pre-ordered here

RUSSELL PEART was born and grew up in the small village of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire. He joined the local Air Training Corps before applying for entry to the RAF. After pilot training he flew Lightnings in the Far East, Strikemasters with the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force and Jaguars back with the RAF before attending the Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Following a tour as a test pilot, flying mainly the Tornado, and a short period with the Bangladesh Air Force, he returned to Oman for two years flying Jaguars again. He then flew with Royal Brunei Airlines before finally joining Cathay Pacific Airways for the remainder of his flying career.

Return to Top 



Copyright © 2010 The Lightning Association.  Designed by David Evans