A new Haynes Manual, the Westland Lysander Manual, has been released for the Westland Lysander in time for next year’s celebration by the company of 100 years of aircraft design and construction, including the iconic Lysander, first built in 1936.
The Lysander won lasting fame during the Second World War as the rugged little aircraft that flew British secret agents and French Resistance workers into and out of occupied France by night, right under the noses of the Germans. The exploits of its RAF crews and the agents they carried have become the stuff of legend. Yet, it is ironic to consider that the reason the Lysander is best remembered today is for a role that was witnessed by virtually no one at the time.
The centrepiece of the Westland Lysander Manual is the Shuttleworth Collection’s airworthy Westland Lysander (V9367), restored to represent a Special Duties aircraft of the RAF’s No 161 Squadron. The author, Edward Wake-Walker, has been afforded official access to V9367 by the Shuttleworth Collection, enabling him to give unprecedented insights into the design, construction and operation of this historic aircraft. The manual also includes several first-hand accounts of operations which offer unique insight into the human side of the story.
Edward Wake-Walker says:
“The Westland Lysander is celebrated by aircraft enthusiasts as the little plane that made a big difference. It may not have the iconic status of the Spitfire, the Hurricane, the Mosquito and the Lancaster bomber but there is still a deep residual affection for this stubby veteran of the Second World War.
“It is perhaps best remembered for the special duties role of No 161 Squadron, which provided a moonlit top-secret taxi service in and out of occupied France and Belgium for agents of the SOE and MI6. The Lysanders and their pilots represented a lifeline that could deliver agents from the threat of torture and death at the hands of Nazi interrogators.”
Entering RAF service in 1938, the single-engine Lysander suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of France in 1940 and was declared obsolete in the Army cooperation role. However, the aircraft’s exceptional roughfield performance, with its extremely short take-off and landing capability, suited it admirably to clandestine missions (popularly known as ‘cloak and dagger’). The Lysander enjoyed much success in this role and continued to undertake such duties until the liberation of France in 1944. During the Second World War the ‘Lizzie’ (as it was affectionately known) also served in the Middle East, Burma, as an air-sea rescue aircraft operating from England, and in Canada as a crew trainer.
About the author
Edward Wake-Walker worked for 28 years with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, latterly as its Director of Public Relations. He is the author of a number of sea rescue related books and also A House for Spies: SIS Operations into Occupied France from a Sussex Farmhouse (Robert Hale, 2011). He lives in Dorset.
The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR
Haynes Manuals is the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car and motorcycle manuals, as well as producing manuals on a wide range of DIY, leisure and lifestyle subjects. These will continue to include motoring and motorsport related subjects.