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Westland Lysander IIIA

Vintage Wings of Canada

Westland Lysander IIIA
© Peter Handley

Designed as an army co-operation aircraft, the Lysander equipped six RAF squadrons in France for artillery spotting, reconnaissance and other communications tasks during the first year of the war. This role would largely disappear with the fall of France, but the Lysander would go on to become a remarkable multi-role aircraft.  Many Lysanders were converted to target tugs helping to train anti-aircraft gunners in Britain.  Others, fitted with air-droppable life rafts, formed the RAF’s first air/sea rescue squadrons.  Working with fast motor launches to within a mile of the enemy’s coastline, Lysanders helped rescue hundreds of downed airmen. Today, the Lysander is largely remembered for a dangerous clandestine role they filled.  Using their superb short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities, unarmed Lysanders were operated in and out of unprepared fields, pastures, and forest clearings in the dark of night to pick-up secret agents and saboteurs from occupied-Europe.

Selected to equip the RCAF’s army co-operation squadrons in 1938, 225 Lysanders were built under license by National Steel Car at Malton, just west of Toronto.  Like their British cousins, many of the RCAF’s Lysanders were later converted to target tugs.  Painted in distinctive yellow and black stripes for visibility, Lysanders were operated by all of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan’s (BCATP) Bombing and Gunnery Schools in Canada. Postwar, four Lysanders were used for crop spraying in Alberta.

Information

First Flight:  1936

Total Production (All Marks):  1,786

Wingspan:  50 feet

Engine:  870 hp Bristol Mercury Radial

Maximum Speed:  212 mph

Manufactured:  1942 – Under License at National Steel Car Corp., Malton, ON, Canada.

Serial Number:  1206 and RCAF s/n 2365

Current Registration:  C-FVZZ

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