Only 400 Squadron flew the Lysander II from 1939-1941

Flying dice image was characteristic on 110/400 Squadron Lysanders

LYSANDER From the book ‘LYSANDER SPECIAL’ by Bruce Robertson (1977)

As an army coop aircraft the Lysander had a brief operational career in France, the Western Desert, Greece, and Burma. It was really not that operational in Army Command but was used extensively in both Bomber and Fighter Commands for special missions and rescues. The aircraft was valuable in search and rescue and air-sea operations. The Lysanders were used mostly on training and communications duties. It was another of the Second World War aircraft where losses were greater from accidents than from operations.

The aircraft first flew in October 1937 and had a speed range between 60 and 225 knots. The high-wing gave good visibility to the aircrews and reduced the risk of wing damage when flying from rough and unprepared fields. The Lysander was one of several British designs that was selected for production in Canada. A contract was signed in April 1938 with the National Steel Car Corp. of Hamilton, ON. and they were also built by Victory Aircraft in Malton, ON. The first machine was delivered to the RCAF in September 1939. Only a few Canadian-built machines were sent to England and, as the war progressed, many Lysanders were shipped to Canada for training purposes.

Canadian-built Lysanders with 110 Squadron at RCAF Stn. Rockcliffe, ON - January 1940

110 Squadron was the first RCAF squadron to deploy to war and, after leaving the Trethewey Farm airfield (aka De Lesseps field) in Toronto in late 1939, was stationed in Rockcliffe (Ottawa), ON, for a short period to convert to the Lysander. The Squadron departed Ottawa by train and sailed from Halifax on 14 February 1940. They arrived in Liverpool on 26 February and went by train to the Old Sarum airfield. Here they were issued with the Lysander II from the RAF.

During thier training at Old Sarum, a number of airmen, dressed in coveralls and goggles, took to the air by standing on the stub wing at the wheel hub and then lashing themselves to the wing strut. From their lofty perch, they could shout down at the civilians who were more than willing to shout back. The CO soon put an end to this enthusiasm.

The squadron moved to Odiham in June 1940 and they were so well trained that they were used as a test unit by the RAF. One Lysander was fitted with 20mm cannons for trials by the Squadron. In August, the squadron was the first to receive the Lysander III. In March 1941, the squadron was renumbered 400 Squadron. In April 1941, the squadron was equipped with the Tomahawk but also flew the Lysander at the same time. Before the end of the year, the Mustangs were arriving to replace both types.

The Lysander was capable of carrying a rear-firing machine gun. Here, Canadians of 110 Squadron are getting some gun training at the butts.

Views from the cockpit - during training exercises, Lysanders were used to take photos to show the effectiveness of camouflage and field concealment - photos were taken by the backseat crewman.

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