Sword 1/48 Lightning T.4

KIT #: SW 48008
PRICE: $87.99 SRP (got on sale for $25.00)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with resin parts.


The English Electric Lighting was Great Britain's last dedicated interceptor. As an interceptor, it was blindingly fast, but suffered from short range. Various methods were used to extend  the range including a larger ventral fuel tank and over-wing 'drop' tanks. However, the most widely used method was air to air refueling.

Always a rather low production aircraft, 337 were built in six major variants, none in great numbers. A few were exported to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Many earlier planes were converted into later variants. Though retired in 1988/89, some were kept flying in South Africa until 2010 and several are kept for 'high speed taxi' demonstrations in the UK.

There were two trainer versions. The T.4 was based on the F.1A while the T.5, another two-seat side-by-side training version, was based on F.3. Two prototype T.4s and 20 production aircraft built, two aircraft later converted to T.5 prototypes, two aircraft later converted to T.54. These trainers were combat capable, armed with Firestreak missiles, though rarely carried them or even the training rounds.


Apparently Sword has seen the attraction of this aircraft and decided to expend the effort to produce it. The first T.4/T.5 kits were released in 1/72 and later in 1/48 scale. This is a large kit as the Lightning was not a small aircraft. Unlike its smaller cousin, this one does not include the color photo etch, that being dealt with in plastic and paint. It does have a resin suite which consists of a resin exhaust section and two nicely molded bang seats, a good choice.

THe kit instructions make it look deceptively easy to build. I say deceptively as my experience has usually been that these kit are not as 'shake and bake' as you might wish. However, it does provide a very nice cockpit with the usual amenities save that the rudder pedals are molded to the floor piece. There is sidewall detail and some pieces to attach thereon. When doing the cockpit, one also usually builds the intake on Lightning kits. There is room in the nose for weight which one needs but which the instructions fail to mention how much. One then traps these between fuselage halves. Unlike the Airfix Lightning, Sword has molded the speed brakes closed.

Wings are split into upper and lower halves, each side having reasonably deep main gear wells with decent detail. The Lightning has very skinny high pressure tires. Flaps are separate, but not usually seen deployed on the ground. Landing gear are all nicely done and in the case of the main gear, properly complex. Nose gear has a two piece wheel fork. One attaches the flying surfaces along with the usual ensemble of scoops, antennas and vents along with the refueling probe. Both Red Top and Firestreak missiles are provided, though only the Firestreaks are shown as being used.  

Markings are for two planes, both identical to the 1/72 offering. One is the box art plane from 56 Squadron in unpainted aluminum with a red fine, spine and wing leading edges. The other is with 92 Squadron with a dark green upper surface. Note that the engine inlet ring was generally polished, often to a very bright shine. The decals are very nicely done and provide a full stencil suite. This includes the very prominent wing walk stripes in both black and white. Missile markings are also given.  


Quite a few years back, I built one of the Airfix 1/48 Lightnings. It was quite an experience and that is why I only built one. I expect this one to be about the same, though it may well be easier. I should note that the kit also comes with the T.5 fin so if you wanted to use aftermarket decals, that would be an option. Every squadron seemed to have at least one of these and the OCU was full of them. I'll leave it up to the boffins to determine in the fuselage ducts are the right length!



July 2017

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