1960 to 1976: The Lightning Era

56 Sqn Lightning

In 1960 both 56 and 111 Squadrons relinquished their Hunters and moved on to the English Electric Lightning F1A. In 1963 56 Squadron formed a display team, known as the “Firebirds”, and were led by Squadron Leader David Seward. In 1965 they were replaced by 111 Squadron led by Wing Commander George Black.

111 Sqn Lightning

This was the era when many Lightnings painted their tail fins in bold solid colours from their squadron colours, with a large squadron badge in the centre. At the beginning of 1965 both squadrons had replaced their F1As for the F3. In 1966 a Target Facilities Flight was formed using spare F1s and F1As.

29 Sqn Lightning

In 1967, 56 Squadron left for Cyprus and in the May, 29 Squadron arrived after swapping in their Javelin FAW9Rs for the Lightning F3. In 1973 the Target Facilities Flight was disbanded. In September 1974, 111 Squadron moved north to Leuchars to retrain and re-equip with the Phantom FG1. In December 1974, 29 Squadron departed for Coningsby to start training on the Phantom FGR2. In January 1975, 56 Squadron moved back to Wattisham from Cyprus re-equipped with the last Lightning version the F6.

111 Sqn Lightning

In May 1975 23 Squadron joined 56 Squadron at Wattisham, the last two front line Squadrons to fly Lightnings from Wattisham. The Lightning era came to an end in early 1976 when both 56 and 23 Squadrons converted to the Phantom FGR2.