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FF-78 Westland Lysander
Wingspan: 36"
Class: Scale flyer
Building Skill / Flying Skill: Experienced / Easy

Kit FF-78 is a 1/16 scale, flying model that uses the Box and Former method of construction.

The Lysander was a British army cooperation & liaison aircraft of WWII. It achieved fame through its ability to operate from short stretches of unprepared airstrip and its clandestine missions to plant or retrieve agents behind enemy lines.

This free flight rubber powered kit contains a full-size rolled plan, building and flying instructions, hand-picked competition weight printed balsa and balsa strip wood, rubber motor, Peck propeller, Peck nose package, clear plastic for the windshield, wheels, wire, Easy Built Lite tissue in brown, desert tan and evergreen, and TissueCal™ markings - markings printed directly on the tissue. You will need a building board, pins, hobby knife, fine sandpaper, and glue.

[IMAGE The Westland Lysander was a British army co-operation and liaison aircraft produced by Westland Aircraft. It was used during the Second World War. The aircraft's exceptional short-field performance made possible clandestine missions using small, unprepared airstrips behind enemy lines that placed or recovered agents, particularly in occupied France. Like other British army air co-operation aircraft it was given the name of a mythical or legendary leader, in this case Spartan general Lysander.

In 1934 the Air Ministry issued Specification A.39/34 for an army co-operation aircraft to replace the Hawker Hector. Initially Hawker Aircraft, Avro and Bristol were invited to submit designs, but after some debate within the Ministry, a submission from Westland was invited as well. The Westland design, internally designated P.8, was the work of Arthur Davenport under the direction of W.E.W. (Teddy) Petter. It was Petter's second aircraft design and he spent considerable time interviewing Royal Air Force pilots to find out what they wanted from such an aircraft. The result of Petter's enquiries suggested that field of view, low-speed handling characteristics and STOL performance were the most important requirements.

[IMAGE Davenport and Petter worked to design an aircraft around these features: the result was unconventional and looked, by its 15 June 1936 maiden flight, rather antiquated. The Lysander was powered by a Bristol Mercury air-cooled radial engine and had high wings and a fixed conventional landing gear faired inside large, streamlined spats. The spats had mountings for small, removable stub wings that could be used to carry light bombs or supply canisters. The wings had an unusual reverse taper towards the root, which gave the impression of a bent gull wing, although in fact the spars were perfectly straight. It had a girder type construction with a light wood frame around that to give the aerodynamic shape. The forward part was duralumin tube joined with brackets and plates,and the after part welded stainless steel tubes. Plates and brackets were cut from channel extrusions rather than forming from sheet steel. The front spar and lift struts were extrusions. The wing itself was fabric covered. A somewhat similar wing layout was also successfully used in a later Polish LWS-3 Mewa army co-operation aircraft and much earlier RWD-6 sports plane.

Despite its appearance, the Lysander was aerodynamically advanced; it was equipped with fully automatic wing slots and slotted flaps[1] and a variable incidence tailplane. These refinements gave the Lysander a stalling speed of only 65 mph (104 km/h, 56.5 knots).[2] It also featured the largest Elektron alloy extrusion made at the time: a single piece inside the spats supporting the wheels. The Air Ministry requested two prototypes of the P.8 and the competing Bristol Type 148, quickly selecting the Westland aircraft for production and issuing a contract in September 1936.

The first Lysanders entered service in June 1938, equipping squadrons for army co-operation and were initially used for message-dropping and artillery spotting. When war broke out in Europe, the earlier Mk Is had been largely replaced by Mk IIs, the older machines heading for the Middle East. Some of these aircraft, now designated type L.1, operated with the Chindits of the British Indian Army in the Burma Campaign of the Second World War.

[IMAGE Four regular squadrons equipped with Lysanders accompanied the British Expeditionary Force to France in October 1939, and were joined by a further squadron early in 1940. Following the German invasion of France and the low countries on 10 May 1940, the Lysanders were put into action as spotters and light bombers. In spite of occasional victories against German aircraft, they made very easy targets for the Luftwaffe even when escorted by Hurricanes.[4][5] Withdrawn from France during the Dunkirk evacuation, they continued to fly supply-dropping missions to Allied forces from bases in England; on one mission to drop supplies to troops trapped at Calais, 14 of 16 Lysanders and Hawker Hectors that set out were lost. A total of 118 Lysanders were lost in or over France and Belgium in May and June 1940, of a total of 175 deployed.[5][6] With the fall of France, it was clear that the type was unsuitable for the army co-operation role, being described by Air Marshall Arthur Barratt, commander-in-chief of the British Air Forces in France as "quite unsuited to the task; a faster, less vulnerable aircraft was required."[7] It was replaced in the home-based army co-operation role from 1941 by camera-equipped fighters such as the Curtiss Tomahawk and North American Mustang carrying out reconnaissance operations, while light planes such as the Taylorcraft Auster were used to direct artillery.[8] Some UK-based Lysanders went to work operating air-sea rescue, dropping dinghies to downed RAF aircrew in the English Channel.[9] Fourteen squadrons and flights were formed for this role in 1940 and 1941.

In August 1941 a new squadron, No. 138 (Special Duties), was formed to undertake missions for the Special Operations Executive to maintain clandestine contact with the French Resistance. Among its aircraft were Lysander Mk IIIs, which flew over and landed in occupied France. While general supply drops could be left to the rest of No. 138's aircraft, the Lysander could insert and remove agents from the continent or retrieve Allied aircrew who had been shot down over occupied territory and had evaded capture. For this role the Mk IIIs were fitted with a fixed ladder over the port side to hasten access to the rear cockpit and a large drop tank under the belly. In order to slip in unobtrusively the Lysanders were painted matt black; operations almost always took place within a week of a full moon, as moonlight was essential for navigation.

The Lysanders flew from secret airfields at Newmarket and later Tempsford, but used regular RAF stations to fuel-up for the actual crossing, particularly RAF Tangmere. Flying without any navigation equipment other than a map and compass, Lysanders would land on short strips of land, such as fields, marked out by four or five torches. They were designed to carry one passenger in the rear cockpit, but in case of urgent necessity three could be carried in extreme discomfort. The pilots of No. 138 and, from early 1942, No. 161 Squadron transported 101 agents to, and recovered 128 agents from Nazi-occupied Europe.[10] The Lysander was successful in this role, and continued to undertake such duties until the liberation of France in 1944.

[IMAGE The Lysander also joined the ranks of the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres (Free French Air Force, FAFL) when Groupe Mixte de Combat (GMC) 1, formed at RAF Odiham on 29 August 1940, was sent to French North-West Africa in order to persuade the authorities in countries such as Gabon, Cameroon and Chad, which were still loyal to Vichy France, to join the Gaullist cause against the Axis powers, and 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 instead of the French tricolor roundel first used in 1914, to distinguish their aircraft from those flying for the Vichy French Air Force. The Lysanders were mostly employed on reconnaissance missions, but were also used to carry out occasional attacks. In all, 24 Lysanders were used by the FAFL.

104 British-built Lysanders were delivered to Canada supplementing 225 that were built under license at Malton, Ontario (near Toronto) with production starting in October 1938 and the first aircraft flying in August 1939.

Initial training was conducted at Rockcliffe, Ontario (now a part of Ottawa, Ontario) with 123 Squadron running an Army Cooperation school there. Units that operated the Lysander for training in this role in Canada include 2 Squadron, 110 Squadron (which became 400 Squadron overseas) and 112 Squadron.

414 Squadron RCAF was formed overseas with Lysanders, joining 2 Squadron RCAF, 110 squadron RCAF and 112 Squadron RCAF and all four were ready to begin operations when the high losses suffered by RAF Lysanders put plans on hold but they continued training with the Lysanders until replacements were available.

[IMAGE 118 Squadron and 122 Squadron would be the only units to use their Lysanders for active duty operations - 118 in Saint John, New Brunswick, and 122 at various locations on Vancouver Island where they performed anti-submarine patrols and conducted search and rescue operations. During the same period, 121 Squadron used the Lysander for Target Towing duties, with a high visibility yellow and black striped paint job but by late 1944 all Lysanders had been withdrawn from flying duties.

The type also filled other, less glamorous roles such as target-towing and communication aircraft. Two aircraft (T1443 and T1739) were transferred to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) for training and 18 were used by the Fleet Air Arm. All British Lysanders were withdrawn from service in 1946.

Export customers of the type included Finland (Mk I: 4, Mk III: 9), Ireland (Mk II: 6), Turkey (Mk II: 36), Portugal (Mk IIIA: 8), the United States (25), India (22) and Egypt (20). 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 that were built under licence by National Steel Car in Toronto, Ontario, Canada during the late 1930s.

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