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History: The Lysander was the
first British airplane stationed in France during World War Two but was soon found to be
vulnerable because of its relatively slow speed. Withdrawn from frontline service, this
two-seat, high-winged monoplane would soon become famous for its nocturnal flights into
occupied Europe, dropping supplies and agents behind enemy lines.
The Lysander was built by Westland as an army co-operation aircraft at the request of the
RAF. The first prototype was flown on June 15, 1936, and a contract for 144 more was
signed. The Lysander began its service with No. 16 squadron of the RAF in June of 1938.
The Lysander also saw service with France, Turkey and Ireland. Apart from dropping spies
and equipment into occupied France, the Lysander also served as a target tug, and
performed invaluable service during air-sea rescue operations over the English Channel.
The Lysander was also built under license in Canada, where 225 were constructed by the end
of the war. There are approximately 20 surviving Lysanders today, all but one having
served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). [History by David MacGillivray]
Specifications (Lysander III):
Engine: One 870-hp Bristol Mercury XX nine-cylinder radial engine
Weight: Empty 4,365 lbs., Max
Takeoff 6,318 lbs.
Wing Span: 50ft. 0in.
Length: 30ft. 6in.
Height: 14ft. 6in.
Range: 600 miles