Westland Lysander


The British Westland Lysander was a slow-flying high-wing two-seat monoplane, lightly armed, and designed pre-war to cooperate with the ground forces. Armament consisted of one 0.303 in Browning machine gun operated by the pilot, in each wheel spat, firing outside the propeller disc, and a free Browning in the rear cockpit. Twelve small antipersonnel bombs could be carried under small stub-wings fitted to the spats. One of the original STOL or Short Take Off and Landing designs, the Lysander could land and take off in the length of a football field. It was regarded as a good liaison aircraft, and became famous as the aircraft that was used to secretly fly people to and from occupied Europe.

The Lysander MkI is powered by an 890 hp Bristol Mercury XII nine-cylinder radial engine and, first went into service in 1938. In WWII they were affectionately know as "Lizzies". During the war they were used for night fighting, ground attack, target towing, glider towing and air-sea rescue, the latter duty, which involved dropping rubber rafts and survival packs.

MkII Lysanders had a 905 hp Bristol Perseus XII engine and the MkIII and 870 hp Mercury XX or XXX. Some MkII's were fitted with twin machine guns in the rear cockpit, thesebeing designated MkIIA. MkIISAS's fitted with long range fuel tank and a side ladder, were used to transport Allied agents into enemy occupied territory and to pick up "evacuees".

The British Lysanders were built on a cottage industry basis.Parts were built by small firms and individuals, trucked toother locations where they were assembled into components, taken to yet another location, where they were assembled into an airplane.

In total 1652 Lysanders were built, including 225 built in Canada by National Steel Car in Toronto. The Fleet Air Arm received a total of 67 Westland Lysander MkIII and III TT transfers from RAF between 1940-1943.

The first Fleet Air Arm Lysander V9304, was a MkIIIa to RNDA 33 MU on 26 December 1940, thence this machine was transferred to 757 squadron at Worthy Down in November 1941. Subsuqeuently the majority of Lysanders were delivered to RNDA 33 MU in June 1941 and to RNDA 15 MU February till June 1941

The first RN squadron to receive the Lysander was 754 squadron at Arbroath in mid 1941, receiving the majority of its aircraft between September and November 1941 at Worthy Down. Thence also deliveries were made to 757 squadron later in November 1941 at Worthy Down and further deliveries to 757 in April 1942. The third main unit to be equipped with the Lysander was 755 squadron which received its aircraft at Worthy down between February and June 1943.

Only one wartime front-line squadron received Lysanders, Lysander T1677 was used by 804 squadron at their bases in Belfast and Yeovilton between July 1941 and February 1942. The majority of the Fleet Air Arm Lysander were returned to the RAF by mid 1944.

Fleet Air Arm history
    Total FAA 1939-1945:        67
    First delivered to RN:          RNDA 33 MU 12.1940
    First squadron 1939-1945:   757 sqdn 1941
    Operational squadron:          804 sqdn 1941
    Last served with RN           1944
Aircraft Type:
Westland Lysander
Primary Role:
First Flight: 
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Westalnd (UK)
Canada by National Steel Car in Toronto (Canada) 
One 650kW Bristol Mercury XX Engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wing Span: 15.24m Length: 9.30m Height: 4.42m Wing Area: 14.15m2
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight: 1980kg Max.Weight: 2866kg



Speed: 341km/h at 1525m Ceiling: 6555m Range: 966km
Armament: Four machine guns 7.7mm 227kg
754,755, 757
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History
None with Fleet Air Arm

Surviving aircraft and relics
Most of the world's few surviving Lysanders are ex-RCAF. Examplaes are at the RAF Museum (UK), Woodford collection (UK), Imperial War Museum - Duxford (UK) and the National Aviation Museum (Canada).
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Imperial War Museum Duxford (UK) Lysander IIIA V9673

Lysander Mk IIIA V9281 of the Woodford Collection (UK).

Lysander Mk IIIA V9281 of the Woodford Collection (UK). The Lysander was restored to flying condition by the Aircraft Restoration Company ARC Duxford, UK. This is accurately finished as V9300 of 161 special duties Squadron at Tempsford when it was used for delivering and collecting agents from the French Resistance movement. Amongst those at the 'Roll Out' in October 1993 was Group Captain Hugh Verity DSO DFC, who flew the original V9300 on those secret operations.
Lysander MkIII 1194 RCAF 2349 Preserved at the Canadian Museum of Flight

The Canadian Museum of Flight Lysander was a composite aircraft. The Museum gathered parts to assemble one of these very rare airplanes from 7 different locations, ranging from Texas to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Vancouver Island. Eventually the job of restoring the airplane began in late December, 1985. This impressive restoration was accomplished in less than 4 months almost entirely by volunteers, for display at Expo 86 (as shown in the above photo). Covered in clear plastic sheeting to create the "Gossamer Lysander" at Expo's request, it was featured in the Aviation Plaza. It is currently on display in the museum hangar at Langley Airport.

Associations and reunions
No information
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
Warbird Alley Warbird Alley, an online reference source for information about privately-owned, ex-military aircraft. Includes details and specs and a summary total of airworthy aircraft including the Lysander
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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