pilot and observer
Bristol Mercury radial
4 x 7.7 mm
30 ft. 6 in.
50 ft. 0 in.
The Westland Lysander became famous during World War II by penetrating enemy lines and recover British agents due to its short take off and landing abilities. The versatile utility aircraft was also used in search and rescue operations, reconnaissance, as an observer, a light attack aircraft, for training and the towing of targets.
The aircraft took less than a year to go from drawing board to the air. Its designers took the experience of pilots into account with regard to performance, handlingcharacteristics, and features of the aircraft.
The wing of the Westland Lysander is designed so that the camber can be changed by not only altering the trailing edge, but also the leading edge. This enables a relatively large speed range for an aircraft of its type, with short take off and landing abilities.
The fuel tank of the Lysander is positioned on its center of gravity. This eliminates the need for trim adjustments as fuel is consumed during flight.
In addition to serving for England during the war, Lysanders were also deployed to the Free French Air Force where they operated in North Africa, and the Indian Air Force.
After World War II, some Lysander aircraft were used for Canadian agriculture as crop dusters.
Flying the Westland Lysander
Pilots tell us that vision from the cockpit of the Westland Lysander is excellent due to their high position, well over the engine cowl and ahead of the leading edge of the wing. All functional levers are easy to find and operate. Instruments are well laid out and easy to see. However, the gauge for the fuel is located on the front of its tank, in the rear of the cockpit.
The aircraft is robustly built with a great deal of interior room. Its landing gear is built to withstand hard landings on unpaved runways.
The wing trailing and leading edges function automatically. They lower to increase lift during turning, take off and landing, and retract for high speed operations. A Lysander pilot does not have to think about lowering flaps during landings or picking them up after a take off.
Flying the Westland Lysander is not without its challenges. Although rudder control is light, ailerons and elevator take a heavy hand. The elevator is minimally effective, especially during landing.
When aircraft speed increases, the Westland Lysander tends to balloon upward. To compensate, the pilot must push forward on the elevators. The elevators soon use up all of the forward stick available. A large wheel on the left of the pilot controls horizontal stabilizer trim. It takes about 20 turns to go from full up to full down. The wheel must be used in coordination with the elevator controls during take off and other maneuvers.
Elevator trim is at its upmost during landings when the engine is turning slowly and prop wash is minimal. During take off, when the engine is producing large amounts of prop wash, the elevator starts out by being trimmed in the full downward position. This takes a bit of getting used to.
Because the Westland Lysander is balanced at the center of gravity when a pilot is in the font seat, it becomes tail heavy when the rear seat is occupied. A pilot must remember to trim the elevator downward about three turns to compensate for an average size observer or passenger.
Although stalls only occurred at very slow speeds and at high angles of attack, they are rough. A wing will suddenly drop and it takes about 1,000 feet to regain control of the aircraft.
Care must be taken considering the Westland Lysander has a carbureted, not fuel injected engine. The throttle must not be advanced too quickly, or a backfire will occur. Carburetor heat must be applied judiciously to prevent icing. Too much or too little could result in backfiring, loss of smooth running, and power loss.
During take off the tail of the Lysander must be kept down by pulling back on the controls, to prevent the automatic over deployment of wing slats and flaps. Engine torque during take off is easily controlled with a light amount of rudder. When the aircraft leaves the ground, there is a quick pitch up. The elevators must quickly be pushed forward to achieve the proper take off angle.
Even with its shortcomings, once cruising in the air, the Westland Lysander can be fun to fly. Acceleration with the powerful engine is surprisingly fast, despite the bulky air frame. In fact, engine rpm must be monitored while accelerating to avoid over speed.
When landing the aircraft, the automatic slat and flap controls come strongly into play. When these are automatically lowered, the aircraft will slow remarkably. However, it must be remembered that speeding up to compensate for slat and flap deployment while on final may cause their retraction. Power settings must be closely monitored. Landings can be greatly complicated with addition and reduction of power, followed by automatic retraction and dropping of slats and flaps.
Aircraft pitch up or pitch down attitude during landings can also affect the automatic flap and slat deployment. Contrary to normal instincts, raising the nose of the aircraft can end up increasing speed, and lowering it can result in losing speed, should the slats and flaps come into operation.
On final approach the horizontal stabilizer must be trimmed fully up. To initially compensate for the up trim, the pilot must hold the elevator controls forward. As the engine is slowed, prop wash is reduced, and the elevators will stop being effective. At that time the pilot must be ready to pull the control column into his lap to keep a proper final landing approach attitude.
Considering the mass of the aircraft, and the power of its engine, the overall operation of the Westland Lysander is relatively economical. Endurance at cruise speed can be as much as eight hours, and range around 600 miles on 127 gallons of internal fuel.
Westland Lysander production totaled 1,786 aircraft of all types.
The Westland Lysander from an Easy Build Models rubber power kit built by Kam Ann is 1/12 scale with a wingspan of 48 in., made mostly from balsa, with a covering of tissue.
The Westland Lysander from Frank Baker Plans has a wingspan of 56 in. and can be powered with a .25 two cycle engine.
AeroFred has the Nexus Plans Westland Lysander with wingspans from 50 to 63 inches..
Cleveland Plans has the Westland Lysander with wingspans of 51, 76, 101 and 152 inches.