The first P1B Lightning flew on 4 April 1957, the day the Government published a White Paper forecasting the end of manned aircraft and their replacement with missiles. As a result, several British military aircraft projects were cancelled, but the Lightning survived.
It was designed so that its armaments, radar and radio aids were integrated into the aircraft's flight and engine systems. The equipment; long range radar to find enemy aircraft by day and night and in all weathers, radio and navigational aids for operations under the worst conditions, and a dual armament of guided missiles and 30mm Aden cannon, were all as important as the aircraft's manoeuvrability and supersonic speed
Engines: Two 13,200-pound thrust Rolls-Royce RA34R afterburning Avon 310 turbojets
Weight: Empty 28,000 lbs., Max Takeoff 50,000 lbs.
Wing Span: 34ft. 10in.
Length: 55ft. 3in.
Height: 19ft. 7in.
Maximum Speed at 40,000 ft: 1,500 mph (Mach 2.3)
Ceiling: 60,000 ft.
Range: 800 miles
* Two 30-mm Aden guns in ventral pack
* Two Firestreak or Red Top air-to-air missiles, or
44 50.4-mm (2-inch) rockets, or
Five Vinteen 360 70-mm cameras and linescan equipment and underwing flares
* Up to 144 rockets or six 1,000-pound bombs on underwing/overwing hardpoints