The English Electric Lightning

The English Electric Lightning: Cufflink Edition

Introducing “The English Electric Lightning”, which carries the distinction of being the only all British supersonic fighter to have served with the Royal Air Force. Primarily designed as a rapid interceptor against the threat of enemy bombers during the Cold War, powered by twin Rolls Royce Avon turbojet engines, this aircraft still holds one of the fastest climb to altitude rates of any military aircraft – with an initial climb rate of 50,000 ft per minute. This type first flew on 4th August 1954 and went into service with the RAF in 1959.

While it may no longer be an object of the skies, at Icarus Originals, we pride ourselves on blending the very latest technical innovations with the highest quality British craftsmanship in order to create a superb selection of unique, bespoke, premium products. Hence our need to recreate this magnificent aircraft into a beautifully and carefully designed pair of cufflinks! The sheer time and integrity it takes to produce these items is a drawn out process, but we believe it is worth every second, as the final product holds extreme sentimental and historic value. Not only do you get to own a piece of aviation history, but you also get to honour the engineering prowess that revolutionised the British aviation world as we know it – setting a precedent for new models in production to this day!

How do we make the English Electric Lightning into a sentimental piece of Jewellery?

We wanted to highlight just how challenging the design and manufacturing process can be for something seemingly so small and simple. Take 1 project we have in the pipeline – the English Electric Lightning XR740. This is a famous aircraft of its type as it intercepted an American U2 spy plane.
First we need to find the material and ensure authenticity. In this case we work with our friends at Jet Art Aviation, based in Selby, who own the original tail fin
This material needs to be cut, stripped and processed into small chunks of aluminium that can be melted in a crucible to form ingots of XR749 aluminium – our “raw material”.
 
Concurrently, we need to do a huge amount of design work which entails a combination of high resolution 3D scanning of models, and countless iterations of adapting the scan to a viable CAD design.
This design then needs to be printed in resin, before an initial casting is taken. Usually this is cast in silver and then manually worked on by a jeweller to achieve a precision finish.
 
We can then move to a test production run in normal aluminium. Once cast, and then hand finished/polished we can test the item.
With the lightning, the thin wings and narrow fuselage made it incredibly difficult to gauge the correct wing thickness. Too thin, the wings break, too thick it just looks wrong and too chunky. However, once finalised, we can go into production and cast cufflinks in genuine aluminium from this iconic aircraft.
 
This process can literally take months as we need to fit into the schedule of the craftsmen we work with. But the end result should be something very special!