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Cold War fighter remains found in Norfolk farmyard

One of the Lightning cockpits found on a Norfolk farm  Picture: Carl Lamb

One of the Lightning cockpits found on a Norfolk farm Picture: Carl Lamb

Archant

Hidden in a corner of a farmyard, they were once in the vanguard of our nation's defence.

Lightnings line up at Coltishall  Picture: ArchantLightnings line up at Coltishall Picture: Archant

The remains of two Cold War Lightning fighter aircraft have been discovered in Norfolk.

The jets, namesakes of the RAF's current F-35 stealth bomber, defended our air space through the Cold War from the 1960s until, they were scrapped in late 1980s.

Now company director Carl Lamb has tracked down a pair of cockpits at Brisley, near Fakenham - a few miles from the warplanes' former base at RAF Coltishall.

Mr Lamb, formerly a fighter controller based at RAF Neatishead and now a director of Norwich-based financial advisors Smith and Pinching, said: "It's a long story, it was a bit of detective work that tracked them down.

One of the 1,500mph jets takes to the sky  Picture: ArchantOne of the 1,500mph jets takes to the sky Picture: Archant

"Twenty years ago, when the RAF scrapped the Lightning and was cutting them up, he had the foresight to buy the two cockpits."
While the Lightning was a single-seater fighter, Mr Lamb said one of the cockpits was a rare two-seater version from an aircraft used for training pilots, of which just 22 were built.

He said he planned to take them to what is now an air defence museum at Neatishead, near Wroxham, where they will be restored with the help of volunteers.

"We're putting out a call to arms for volunteers who worked on the Lightning fleet to come forward and help us restore them," said Mr Lamb.

One of the cockpits has been left open to the elements, while the other is covered by a tarpaulin.

A trio of planes take off  Picture: ArchantA trio of planes take off Picture: Archant

The English Electric Lightning, which came into service in the 1960s, was the first British fighter which could fly at Mach 2 - twice the speed of sound, or just over 1,500mph.

It was conceived as an interceptor which would defend UK airfields from supersonic Soviet bombers.

"It was world-beating when it came into service," said Mr Lamb. "There was nothing to beat it."

A Lightning could take off from Coltishall and climb to 35,000ft in less than three minutes. Pilots described flying it as being strapped to a rocket.

Lightning crews return from a sortie at Coltishall  Picture: ArchantLightning crews return from a sortie at Coltishall Picture: Archant

The first aircraft arrived at the Norfolk base in December 1959. The last Lightnings left in 1974, when they were replaced by the Jaguar.

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