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The Westland Lysander – Airframe Detail #9


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The Westland Lysander – Airframe Detail #9

ISBN: 9781912932030

Valiant Wings Publishing

 

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Westland’s Lysander is a well-known and well-loved aircraft, having played an important part in the war, delivering and collecting British and foreign spies into occupied territory throughout WWII, usually at night and without escort.  often the missions were successful, but they ran the risk of being intercepted by Night Fighters or landing in a compromised field that could result in death or capture for the crew as well as their passengers.  Its design arose from a requirement for a cooperation and reconnaissance/spotter aircraft to replace an old biplane design by the name of Hector, and after a short competition the Westland design was chosen due to some happy coincidences and advanced features that were engineered into the airframe but might not have been well used in the other roles that the Lysander was originally required to carry out. 

 

Fortunately, the capabilities of the Westland design that gave it a 65mph stall-speed and a very short take-off and landing run won through and it entered service in 1938 just in time for war.  Due to its low speed it was easy meat during daylight hours, and was quickly withdrawn from spotting duties after Dunkirk, but found other uses with the Special Operations "spooks".  For self-defence the aircraft carried a machine gun (sometimes twin) in the rear position, and had the ability to carry two more in the roomy aerodynamic spats that covered much of the landing gear.  It could also be fitted with a pair of winglets for small bombs or message dropping work, but the Mercury engine could only just manage a little over 200mph at height, so stealth was important over enemy lines, which necessitated night operations.  It remained in service with the British until after WWII, and some were converted to Target Tugs, while others were used to assist in air sea rescue duties.  The Mk.III was the last major variant from which additional sub-variants were created, including the twin rear guns, or an additional fuel tank between the landing gear for long-range operations.  We'll ignore the Wendover beach-straffer experiment here, and if you haven't yet seen it, prepare yourself for a feast for the eyes.

 

The Book

This book, by prolific author Richard A Franks, with profiles and plans by Richard J Caruana and example model made by Libor Jekl is perfect-bound as usual and consists of 114 pages within a card jacket, printed on glossy paper stock throughout.  It is number 9 in the Airframe Detail series that concentrates more on the aircraft in question, with just a short section to the rear with an example build of the very recent kit in 1:72 from Dora Wings models, which we reviewed recently here

 

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The book is broken down into sections as follows:

 

Introduction

1 Technical Description

Detailed coverage of construction and equipment

2 Camouflage & Markings

Colour side profiles, notes and photographs

3 Little Lizzie

A build of the 1:72 scale Mk.III(SD) from Dora Wings by Libor Jekl

Appendices

i Lysander kits

ii Lysander accessory & mask list

iii Bibilography

iv Lysander Squadrons

 

Despite the Lizzie appearing to be somewhat outdated for the time with fixed gear and a greenhouse canopy, she was technically impressive with automated slats, slotted flaps, adjustable incidence elevators and some high-strength alloys used to reinforce the join between the landing gear, fuselage and wings.  There are a number of extant airframes still, some of which are in flyable condition at home and abroad, so there are tons of photographs, diagrams and profiles, many contemporary in black and white, but many more in colour from preserved examples.   The profiles are found in the 2nd section of the book, and show a number of profiles of various airframes along with photographic evidence and finished with a page of diagrams displaying the stencils and markings locations for the type.  The sheer level of detail giving within the pages is perfect for the modeller, and will be of use to anyone from novice to super-detailer, with some of the photos and drawings showing the interior, subassembly layout, the instrument panel and other fine details that could improve your build, many of which I haven’t seen before, especially the repair and maintenance photos of the preserved airframes that should give anyone wishing to show off the interior excellent references.

 

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Libor Jekl's build of the new Dora Wings kit shows what can be done with the 1:72 model, and results in a lovely example that anyone would be pleased to have in their collection.  From a modelling standpoint there is a little scope for building and painting one in 1:144 with the Fox One Design Studio kit in resin, and in plastic 1:72 from Dora, Airfix and Frog (there have been many reboxing of the Frog styrene), or in 1:48 from Gavia (Eduard reboxings are available) and in 1:32 we have the aging Matchbox/Revell kit.

 

Conclusion

Another Excellent volume from Valiant, and an interesting one as usual, showcasing this well-loved and under-appreciated aircraft that did much for the success of the Allies that is sadly difficult to quantify accurately, and some of its exploits remained unsung long after the war.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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On page 19, third photo down, they call the Canadian Prime Minister the Canadian president. I have already contacted Valiant about this, but they won't correct it until a second edition is/may be printed.

 

 

 

Chris

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My copy of this one arrived during the week and overall it is a good resource and reference on the Westland Lysander.  However, the key area I have noted errors occuring is with the photo captioning, with a number of photos having captions that are incorrect.  Along with something as basic as calling the wartime Canadian Prime Minister a 'President' as pointed out by Chris, top of page 11, a Lysander over the Western Desert is listed as being with No.28 Squadron where it should be No.208 Squadron. 

 

As another example of an error made in the main text, bottom of page 11 the OC of No.1 Squadron Indian Air Force given as S/L 'Majumber', when it is in fact S/L K.K. MAJUMDAR (maybe that got confused because his nickname was 'Jumbo').

 

Then in terms of omissions, in the details contained in Section 2 - Camouflage & Markings, in terms of the sub-section on Foreign Service, and in Appendix iv - Lysander Squadrons Foreign Service, where are the details of the Lysanders provided to the Indian Air Force and the Indian Air Force Squadrons and other units that used the Lysander in WW2? 

 

It's these repeated little mis-steps that I've noted in a number of the releases from this publisher for some time, that indicate a lack of attention to detail. 

 

As another aspect, looking at the potted histories of the RAF Squadrons that operated the Lysander, I have noted quite a few errors and omissions.  As an example,  I'll quote from something I know inside and out, their details for No.268 Squadron RAF.  They say reformed at Bury St. Edmunds, where in fact the Squadron reformed at Westley, NEAR Bury St. Edmunds.  Also the long list of supposed Squadron relocations or movements quoted for 1941 and into 1942, are actually details of detachments of a couple of aircraft or a flight to take part in exercises, the Squadron remained based in initially Westley and then when they started to received the Tomahawks they moved to Snailwell because Westley was too small a field for the Tomahawks, so then they were based at Snailwell. 

 

So as I say, a good reference on the Westland Lysander, but not great.

 

 

Edited by ColFord
Typo
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12 hours ago, dogsbody said:

On page 19, third photo down, they call the Canadian Prime Minister the Canadian president. I have already contacted Valiant about this, but they won't correct it until a second edition is/may be printed.

 

 

 

Chris

As wrong as it might be its not a case of they wont correct it. its a case of they cant correct it until its reprinted?

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10 hours ago, Julien said:

As wrong as it might be its not a case of they wont correct it. its a case of they cant correct it until its reprinted?

 

Well, of course. I didn't think they would turf all that's left unsold and do a reprint. I just wanted them to know they messed up.

 

 

 

Chris

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