My thanks to Roger Dunn and the MOD for supplying these images.Wikipedia for text.
|The first Lysanders entered service in June 1938 and were initially
used for message-dropping and artillery spotting. When war broke out in
Europe, the type equipped four squadrons of the British Expeditionary
Force in France. When these were put into action as spotters and light
bombers, they made very easy pickings for the Luftwaffe and the type was
quickly withdrawn from its original role. It was not long, however, until
the Special Operations Executive adopted the aircraft to fly missions
in support of the French Resistance, smuggling agents on and off the continent,
dropping weapons, radios, and equipment, and rescuing downed aircrews.
In this role, the Lysander was outstanding, and it continued in this capacity
until the liberation of France.
In fact, the Lysander also joined the ranks of the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres (FAFL) - that is, the Free French air force - when Groupe Mixte de Combat (GMC) 1, originally formed at RAF Odiham on August 29, 1940, was sent to French North-West Africa in order both to persuade the authorities in countries like Gabon, Cameroon and Chad, which were still loyal to Vichy France at the time, to join the Gaullist cause against the Axis powers, and also to attack Italian ground forces in Libya. As with all FAFL aircraft, the Lysanders sported the Cross of Lorraine insignia on the fuselage and the wings (as opposed to the tricolor roundel first used in 1914) in order to distinguish their aircraft from those flying for the Vichy French air force. The Lysanders were mostly employed on reconnaissance missions but were also employed to carry out occasional attacks.
The type also filled other, less glamorous roles such as target-towing and communication aircraft. It was also licence-built in Canada to fill these roles. All British Lysanders were withdrawn from service in 1946.
Export customers of the type included Finland, Ireland, Turkey, Portugal, the United States, and Egypt. Egyptian Lysanders were the last to see active service, against Israel in the War of Independence in 1948.
A total of 1,786 were built, including 225 Canadian examples. A small number are preserved in museums in the UK and Canada.
Some aircraft may appear identical but there are differences which will not be discernible from the image.
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The Westland Lysander is an airplane used during World War II (Flying example in the Shuttleworth Collection, 2004.)
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