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Westland Lysander Military Aircraft

The Westland Lysander was designed by Arthur Davenport, under the supervision of William E W Petter, as a air co-operation aircraft for the British Army under air Ministry Specification A.39/34, it was needed to replace the aging Hawker Hector biplanes. The Lysander was aerodynamically an advanced VSTOL design possessing automatic wing slats, slotted flaps and a variable incidence tail-plane. The Lysander first flew in June 1938 and entered operational service with the RAF two years later.

Westland Lysander Military Aircraft


When WWII started most Westland Lysanders were sent to France with the BEF, unfortunately they proved to be easy prey for the Luftwaffe fighters and half the Lysanders were quickly lost before being withdrawn. Once France was lost the Westland Lysander was re-tasked with "Special Duties", and was used with great success making clandestine flights into occupied France for Colonel Buckmasters SOE, flying at night and painted black the Lysander made full use of it's VSTOL performance delivering spies and supplies and often removing agents under the noses of the German Army.


A total of 1,786 Westland Lysanders were produced, the aircraft pictured above is a Westland Lysander Mk III SCW, this was a modified Westland Lysander Mk IIIa for "Special Duties" (Spy insertion) and had it's rear cockpit armament removed to create more space for passengers and supplies, a 150 gallon drop tank was fitted between the wheel spats and a ladder fixed on the port site of the fuselage to allow a spy quick entry and exit from the aircraft thus reducing time on the ground when the Lysander was at most risk.

Lysander Mk III Armament:

  • Guns: Twin wheel spat mounted .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns
  • Twin .303 Lewis guns in rear cockpit for the observer
  • Bombs: Four fuselage mounted 20 lb (9 kg) bombs and 500 lb (227 kg) of bombs on stub wings if fitted
RAF Westland Lysander

Lysander Mk III Specifications:

  • Crew: pilot and observer (for "Special Duties" the observer was replaced by an agent)
  • Length: 30 ft 6 in (9.29 m)
  • Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.50 m)
  • Wing area: 260 ft (24.2 m)
  • Empty weight: 4,044 lb (1,834 kg) 
  • Loaded weight: 5,833 lb (2,645 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,305 lb (2,866 kg)
  • Engine: Single 870 hp (649 kW) Bristol Mercury XX radial engine
  • Maximum speed: 212 mph (341 km/h)             Stall speed: 65 mph (104 km/h, 56.5 knots)
  • Range: 600 miles (966 km) without 150 gallon drop tank
  • Service ceiling: 21,500 ft (6,550 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,410 ft/min (7.2 m/s)
Who was Lysander?

It is of note that the name given this aircraft, "Lysander", was named after the Spartan General "Lysander" of 400 BC, this was a result of the British Army's policy of naming all of it's AOP aircraft after a famous General from history.

Westland Lysander Special Duties

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