The trainers didn't, having an ammo tank, from which it's possible that someone with experience of Hunters might refer to an ammunition tank; I think , on reflection, that the term ammunition tank may have been in use on other RAF types of the same era (I have a vague recollection of seeing the term used in relation to early Lightnings)
Read this tonight, from the so-far excellent Lightning Boys...
Suddenly the operations phone rang. It was the duty controller. “Don’t ask any questions,” he said darkly. “Just do as you’re told.”
“Okay,” I said. “Right-oh.”
There was a pause. “An American exchange officer is about to visit you.” Another pause.
“Okay,” I said.
“You are to handover your duties to him then stand down to the officers’ mess.”
“Okay,” I said. “Is that it?”
“That’s it.” No reason, no explanation, no nothing apart from a click as he put down the phone.
An American exchange officer duly turned up, I handed over to him as briefed. He was just as tight-lipped as the controller so without further ado I retired to the officers’ mess to await developments. Soon, I heard a Lightning take off. It was a Saturday, there was no routine flying, so it must have been a QRA aircraft.
After less than an hour or so I heard the aircraft return and not too long after that the controller rang me in the mess. “You can resume your QRA duties now,” he said.
“Okay,” I said.
It was some time later when I heard on the BBC news a story about a USAF top-sergeant from the airbase at Mildenhall. This man’s Christmas leave had been cancelled. On the pretext of a taxi test on a C130 Hercules troop-carrier aircraft, which he was qualified to do, he had got airborne and headed for the States, which he was not qualified to do. The Hercules had crashed into the sea off the UK.
Everyone was totally zip-lipped, nonetheless rumours abounded. Word leaked out that the Lightning that had taken off shortly after I handed over QRA duty eventually returned to Wattisham with only one missile. After landing, the Lightning had taxied to the airfield missile site before returning to the QRA hangar with the normal two missiles. I wondered about this. I have wondered ever since. If the speculation was true, and if for no other good reason, at least it would have shown that, for once, one of the bloody missiles had actually worked.
'Nearly 50 years later, it remains unclear if he lost control of the plane due to poor weather and his lack of experience as a pilot, or if it was shot down to avert the risk of it crashing into a populated area.'
I didn't think there were many 'populated areas' in the Channel, and if the 'pilot' was good enough to get the aircraft airborne while inebriated, safely ditching or potentially landing once he'd crossed the Atlantic and sobered up doesn't seem too much of a stretch in ability.
I don't know, Coke.
All I did was post a quote from the book.
The fact the RAF lad was prepared to put the dit into print does tell us something, doesn't it?
Also, the only time Lightning officially shot down another aircraft was when a harrier pilot ejected, yet the plane didn't fall out of the sky, and had to be shot down.