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

Photos

Westland Lysander Mk II observation:
Great Britain's Westland Lysander Mk II observation
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Westland Lysander Mk II observation:
Great Britain's Westland Lysander Mk II observation
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Westland Lysander observation:
Great Britain's Westland Lysander observation
Westland Lysander observation:
Great Britain's Westland Lysander observation

Design

The design of the Westland Lysander first started in 1935 and it was to be an army support plane.1,4 It was to replace the Hawker Hector biplane.3 W. E. W. Petter was the designer of the Lysander.4

The Lysander was one of the few planes that was used throughout World War II in its original role as liaison and observation.4

Cockpit

The cockpit had transparent sides that provided the pilot with excellent views.1

Engine

The engine drove a pitch controllable de Havilland propeller that had a medium sized spinner.1 The engine was started by a Rotax electric engine.1

Fuselage

The Lysanders fuselage was made out of allow tubing in the front and welded steel tubing in the rear.1,4 There was fabric over wooden stringers.1,4

Undercarriage

The landing gear was fixed and made from machined aluminum alloy that was bent into shape.1,4

The tail wheel was fixed but could rotate completely.1

Wing

The wing was set high, with leading edge slats.1,4 There were Handley-Page flaps between the fuselage and elevators.1 The high wing allowed for a short takeoff and landing (STOL).3

Tail

The tail was all metal framing with a fabric cover.1

Armament

The armament was mounted on the wheel spats to be outside the arc of the propellar.3 The spats also could have stub wings that bombs could be attached to.3,4

Prototype

The Lysander prototype first flew on June 15, 1936.1,2,3,4 The second prototype of the Lysander flew in December 1936.4

Production

  • Prototypes: 23
  • Lysander: 2251
    • Manufacturer: National Steel Car Corporation in Canada1
  • Lysander Mk I: 1693
  • Lysander Mk II: 5173
    • Manufacturer: Westland in the United Kingdom and National Steel Corporation (753) in Canada.2
  • Lysander Mk III: 5173
    • Manufacturer: Canada (150)3
  • Lysander Mk IIIA: 3473
  • Lysander TT.IIIA: 1003
  • Total: 1,3682,4, 1,6521,3
    • Manufacturer: Westland Aircraft Ltd.4
    • Production: late 1936 - January 19424, May 1938 - late 19383

Variants

  • Prototype: Had a two blade wooden propellar.4
  • Lysander Mk I: Had Bristol Mercury XII radial engine (890 HP).2,3
  • Lysander Mk II: Had Bristol Perseus XII radial engine (950 HP).2,3
  • Lysander Mk III: Had the Mercury XX or Mercury XXX radial engine (870 HP).2,3 Its primary purpose was to transport agents.4
  • Lysander Mk IIIA: Air sea rescue.1 Could drop dinghies to men in the water.1
  • Lysander Mk III (SCW) / Lysander Mk III (SD): Had a large fuel tank added under the fuselage.3
  • Lysander TT.IIIA: Target tug.3

Usage

Westland Lysanders were used by Britain, Canada, Egypt, Eire, Finland, France, Portugal, and Turkey.3

Lysanders were used in Burma, Egypt, Europe, Greece, India, and Palestine.1,3

Enters Service

The Lysander entered RAF service in May 1938.1,2,4 The first was No 16 Squadron based at Old Sarum.2

Eventually there would be 30 squadrons equipped with the Lysander.1,2,3

September 1939

At the start of World War II there were seven squadrons in Britain and one in Egypt.4 In September 1939 four units were sent to France.4

A Lysander shot down a Heinkel He 111 in November 1939.3,4

Battle of France

Of the 174 Lysanders that were sent to France only 44 returned to Britain.4

Spy Plane

Lysanders are probably most well known for their clandestine operations in Europe.1,3,4 They could land in fields as short as 650' / 200m to deliver (or retrieve) supplies or people.1 Over 400 missions, carrying around 800 passengers, were flown behind enemy lines.4

Versatile

At times the Lysander was used for ground attack and even as a day and night fighter.3

Specifications

  Westland Lysander
Type Army cooperation3
Crew 23
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 50'3
15.24 m3
Length 30' 6"3
9.3 m3
Height 14' 6"3
4.42 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Wheel spat 2: 0.303" MG3
Rear cockpit 1 or 2: 0.303" MG3
Flares, rockets, bombs 500 lb3
227 kg3
  Westland Lysander Mk I
Type Liason2,4, Reconnaissance2
Crew 22,4
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury XII piston2,3,4
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 93,4
Cooling Air4
HP 8902,3,4
Propeller blades 33,4
Dimensions  
Span 50'2,4
15.24 m2
Length 30' 6"2,4
9.3 m2
Height 11' 6"2,4
3.51 m2
Wing area 260 ft2 2
24.15 m2 2
Weight  
Empty 4,065 lb2
1,844 kg2
Loaded 5,920 lb2,4
2,685 kg2
Performance  
Speed @ 10,000' /
3,050 m
229 mph2,4
369 kph2
Climb to 10,000' /
3,050 m
5.5 minutes2
Service ceiling 26,000'2,4
7,925 m2
Range 600 miles2,4
966 km2
Armament  
Wheel spat 2: Browning MG4
2: 7.7 mm MG2
Rear cockpit 1: Lewis MG4
2: 7.7 mm MG2
Flares, rockets, bombs 8: 20 lb2
8: 907 kg2
  Westland Lysander Mk II
Type  
Crew 25
Engine (Type) Perseus XII3
1: Bristol Perseus XII5
Cylinders Radial 93
Cooling  
HP 9053,5
Propeller blades 33,4
Dimensions  
Span 50'5
Length 30'5
Height 14' 6"5
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 5,900 lb5
Performance  
Speed 230 mph5
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 600 mph5
Armament  
  Westland Lysander Mk III
Type Liason1, Observation1, Air sea rescue1
Crew  
Engine (Type) Bristol Mercury XX piston1,2,3
OR Bristol Mercury XXX2,3
Cylinders Radial1,2
Cooling  
HP 8701,2,3
Propeller blades 31,3,4
Dimensions  
Span 50'1
15.24 m1
Length 30' 6"1
9.3 m1
Height 14' 6"1
4.42 m1
Wing area 260 ft2 1
24.15 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 4,356 lb1, 4,365 lb3
1,980 kg1,3
Loaded 6,305 lb1, 6,318 lb3
2,866 kg1,3
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,525 m
211 mph1, 212 mph3
341 kph1,3
Climb to 5,000' /
1,525 m3
4.1 minutes3
Service ceiling 21,500'3, 21,800'1
6,553 m3, 6,655 m1
Range 600 miles1,3
965 km3, 966 km1
Armament  
Wheel spat 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
Rear cockpit 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
Flares, rockets, bombs 500 lb1
227 kg1
  Westland Lysander Mk III(SD)
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 10,000 lb3
4,536 kg3
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 1,400 miles3
2,253 km3
Armament  

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site