The finest description of the Lightning I ever saw was on an old, old Usenet thread. Perhaps this will help share some of the excitement I feel. There used to be a Lightning on the way in to the Gyle when I worked out there, and that was guaranteed to perk me up in a morning.
Anyway. Over to Chris Suslowicz, in the Monastery, with the aircraft:
It's basically a twin engined missile, and the pilot is a sort-of afterthought. Take two Rolls-Royce Avon engines, mount 1 above the other and roll up in stainless steel, add fins^Wwings, convert every available void to a fuel tank, discover there's no room for a cockpit unless the pilot is sitting in the air intake for the top engine. Fit cockpit there.
You end up with a power to mass ratio of around 3:2, a ceiling limited by the oxygen supply to the engines, and a top speed of "Mach 2+" (the '+' was around .3)
Fuel consumption against tankage
Maintenance was a problem: any engine work meant dismantling the aircraft.
Enough talk. Plane-porn below the cut!