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Great Britain's Westland Lysander observation, Nickname: "Lizzie"

Photos

  • Westland Lysander Prototype
  • Westland Lysander Mk I
  • Westland Lysander Mk II
  • Westland Lysander Mk I
  • Westland Lysander Mk II Observation
  • Westland Lysander Mk II Observation
  • Westland Lysander Mk II
  • Westland Lysander Mk IIIA
  • Westland Lysander Mk IIIA target tug
  • Westland Lysander Mk IIIA

Design

The design of the Westland Lysander first started in 1935 and it was to be an army support plane. It was to replace the Hawker Hector biplane. W. E. W. Petter was the designer of the Lysander.

The Lysander was one of the few planes that was used throughout World War II in its original role as liaison and observation.

Cockpit

The cockpit had transparent sides that provided the pilot with excellent views.

Engine

The engine drove a pitch controllable de Havilland propeller that had a medium sized spinner. The engine was started by a Rotax electric engine.

Fuselage

The Lysanders fuselage was made out of allow tubing in the front and welded steel tubing in the rear. There was fabric over wooden stringers.

Undercarriage

The landing gear was fixed and made from machined aluminum alloy that was bent into shape.

The tail wheel was fixed but could rotate completely.

Wing

The wing was set high, with leading edge slats. There were Handley-Page flaps between the fuselage and elevators. The high wing allowed for a short takeoff and landing (STOL).

Tail

The tail was all metal framing with a fabric cover.

Armament

The armament was mounted on the wheel spats to be outside the arc of the propeller. The spats also could have stub wings that bombs could be attached to.

Prototype

The Lysander prototype first flew on June 15, 1936. The second prototype of the Lysander flew in December 1936.

Production

  • Prototypes: 2
  • Lysander: 225
    • Manufacturer: National Steel Car Corporation in Canada
  • Lysander Mk I: 169
  • Lysander Mk II: 517
    • Manufacturer: Westland in the United Kingdom and National Steel Corporation (75) in Canada.
  • Lysander Mk III: 517
    • Manufacturer: Canada (150)
  • Lysander Mk IIIA: 347
  • Lysander TT.IIIA: 100
  • Total: 1,368, 1,652
    • Manufacturer: Westland Aircraft Ltd.
    • Production: late 1936 - January 1942, May 1938 - late 1938

Variants

  • Prototype: Had a two blade wooden propeller.
  • Lysander Mk I: Had Bristol Mercury XII radial engine (890 HP).
  • Lysander Mk II: Had Bristol Perseus XII radial engine (950 HP).
  • Lysander Mk III: Had the Mercury XX or Mercury XXX radial engine (870 HP). Its primary purpose was to transport agents.
  • Lysander Mk IIIA: Air sea rescue. Could drop dinghies to men in the water.
  • Lysander Mk III (SCW) / Lysander Mk III (SD): Had a large fuel tank added under the fuselage.
  • Lysander TT.IIIA: Target tug.

Usage

Westland Lysanders were used by Britain, Canada, Egypt, Eire, Finland, France, Portugal, and Turkey.

Lysanders were used in Burma, Egypt, Europe, Greece, India, and Palestine.

Enters Service

The Lysander entered RAF service in May 1938, with No 16 Squadron based at Old Sarum.

Eventually there would be 30 squadrons equipped with the Lysander.

September 1939

At the start of World War II there were seven squadrons in Britain and one in Egypt. In September 1939 four units were sent to France.

A Lysander shot down a Heinkel He 111 in November 1939.

Battle of France

Of the 174 Lysanders that were sent to France only 44 returned to Britain.

Spy Plane

Lysanders are probably most well known for their clandestine operations in Europe. They could land in fields as short as 650' / 200m to deliver (or retrieve) supplies or people. Over 400 missions, carrying around 800 passengers, were flown behind enemy lines.

Versatile

At times the Lysander was used for ground attack and even as a day and night fighter.

Specifications

  Westland Lysander
Type Army cooperation
Crew 2
Dimensions  
Span 50'
15.24 m
Length 30' 6"
9.3 m
Height 14' 6"
4.42 m
Armament  
Wheel spat 2: 0.303" MG
Rear cockpit 1 or 2: 0.303" MG
Flares, rockets, bombs 500 lb
227 kg
  Westland Lysander Mk I
Type Liaison, Reconnaissance
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury XII piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 890
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 50'
15.24 m
Length 30' 6"
9.3 m
Height 11' 6"
3.51 m
Wing area 260 sq ft
24.15 sq m
Weight  
Empty 4,065 lb
1,844 kg
Loaded 5,920 lb
2,685 kg
Performance  
Speed at 10,000' / 3,050 m 229 mph
369 kph
Climb to 10,000' / 3,050 m 5.5 minutes
Service ceiling 26,000'
7,925 m
Range 600 miles
966 km
Armament  
Wheel spat 2: Browning MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
Rear cockpit 1: Lewis MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
Flares, rockets, bombs 8: 20 lb
8: 907 kg
  Westland Lysander Mk II
Type Liaison
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Bristol Perseus XII
Cylinders Radial 9
HP 905, 950
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 50'
Length 30'
Height 14' 6"
Weight  
Loaded 5,900 lb
Performance  
Speed 230 mph
Range 600 mph
  Westland Lysander Mk III
Type Liaison, Observation, Air sea rescue
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury XX piston
OR Bristol Mercury XXX
Cylinders Radial
HP 870
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 50'
15.24 m
Length 30' 6"
9.3 m
Height 14' 6"
4.42 m
Wing area 260 sq ft
24.15 sq m
Weight  
Empty 4,356 lb, 4,365 lb
1,980 kg
Loaded 6,305 lb, 6,318 lb
2,866 kg
Performance  
Speed at 5,000' / 1,525 m 211 mph, 212 mph
341 kph
Climb to 5,000' / 1,525 m 4.1 minutes
Service ceiling 21,500', 21,800'
6,553 m, 6,655 m
Range 600 miles
965 km, 966 km
Armament  
Wheel spat 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG
Rear cockpit 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG
Flares, rockets, bombs 500 lb
227 kg
  Westland Lysander Mk III(SD)
Weight  
Loaded 10,000 lb
4,536 kg
Performance  
Range 1,400 miles
2,253 km

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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