Undoubtedly one of the best point interceptors of its time, and a wonderful example of British aircraft design and innovation.
Designed to meet Air Ministry specification F23/49 for a single seat fighter capable of intercepting high speed and high altitude bombers. Also seen as a "stop gap" until it could be replaced by the much vaunted missle defence that was deemed to be the future. 28 years seems like quite a long time for a "stop gap" service.
The Lightning had a unique design of placing one engine above the other, which went against the practice of placing engines side by side. This kept the profile smaller in aide of areodynamics, but was a complication for the RAF ground crews.
Only ever used by 3 airforces, RAF, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The lightining only ever used in anger by Saudi Arabia, during the border dispute of 1969.
A total of 277 single seat versions and 52 two seat trainers built.