The Lysander was built to a specification calling for a rugged, short-take-off-and-landing (STOL) aircraft for low-level reconnaissance and observation issued in 1934. Westland designed and built a rugged high wing monoplane with fixed spatted undercarriage. It had an exceptional field of view for both pilot and observer, and was armed with two forward firing machine guns and a machine gun fired from the rear cockpit. The first prototype flew in 1936 and production aircraft entered service in 1938.
The Lysander entered service with the RAF as an army co-operation aircraft, replacing Hawker Audaxes and Hectors during 1939. However during the Battle of France in 1940, the Lysander proved too vulnerable to survive modern warfare and suffered some terrible losses. After 1940 Lysanders were used by Coastal Command on search-and-rescue missions. Lysanders were also built under licence in Canada and these aircraft were often used as targets tugs at the overseas training bases. The role that the Lysander is best remembered for is as a 'spy taxi', picking up and dropping secret agents behind enemy lines. For these operations, the aircraft were painted black and fitted with a long-range fuel tank beneath the fuselage and a ladder fixed to the side of the aircraft to allow the agents to enter and exit quickly.
The Collection's Lysander was built in Canada and was used by the RCAF as a target tug serialled 2355. It was bought after the war by Wes Agnew a farmer, former RCAF instructor and collector of aircraft. In 1971 it was purchased by Sir William Roberts for the Strathallan Collection in Scotland. It arrived in the UK in October 1971 and was registered G-AZWT, and work commenced on restoring it. However, it was not until December 1979 that G-AZWT flew again, painted as V9441 a Lysander operated by No.309 (Polish) Squadron.
It was grounded in 1986 and was purchased in 1998 by the Shuttleworth Collection. It has been fully restored, repainted and fitted with dummy long range fuel tank and ladder to represent V9367 / MA-B an aircraft of 161 Squadron, flown by Pilot Officer Peter Vaughan-Fowler on operation Apollo during the winter of 1942. In it's all-black colours, it makes an unusual sight in the skies over Old Warden and is the last airworthy example of this historic type.
Height: 14ft 6in
Length: 30ft 6in
Engine: one 870hp Bristol Mercury XX 9 cylinder radial
Max. Speed 230mph
Armament: two machine guns mounted in undercarriage fairings