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The Westland Lysander in 3 Sqn RAAF Service

by Steve Mackenzie

A group of 3 Sqn personnel in front of Lysander P9192.  Note how light the under-surface colours look (see colour discussion later). 
Photo J. Hamilton



3 Sqn RAAF was a 'Army Co-Operation' Sqn when it went overseas in 1940, thus there were three flights of six aircraft (two flights of Lysanders and a single Gauntlet flight initially).  Gladiators gradually replaced the other types (first the Gauntlets then the Lysanders) although from memory 'C' flight at Gerawla (home base) still had Lysanders when the Hurricanes came along in Feb 1941.  Also at least two airframes, P9185 & P9190, were kept as unit hacks after the Hurricanes were received.

Lysander (serial probably L4684) at Helwan in 1940. Photo J.Kerr

Although there should be 12 aircraft (2 flights) plus possible replacements, not all of the serials are known because the ORB does not list them, as the Lysanders never flew operational missions in the front line (training and exercises only). Known serials are - L4684, L4713, L4727, P3844, P9185, P9190, P9192, P9195, P9197 & R2612. These are mainly from the log books of Blake Pelly and Alan Rawlinson who flew this type.

Lysander (unk. serial) receiving attention from the fuel truck. Has bomb racks under rear fuselage. Photo J. Kerr

The aircraft used by the unit were invariably fitted with the stub wings which are such a familiar part of the Lysander design. These were used to carry small bomb loads (seen in a couple of the photos here) and also stores containers. Message pick up hooks could also be carried under the fuselage (however most of the photos here don't show these in use). A couple of the photos also show small bomb racks under the rear fuselage.

And an example (unk. serial) out in the desert wastes - probably on exercise.  Photo 3 Sqn Archives

The aircraft were a mixture of Mk.I and Mk.II airframes (thus some have the bulges on the cowl over the cylinder heads and some not). All machines were fitted with locally manufactured sand filters on the air intakes under the nose.



The upper surface colours on all known examples was the standard Dark Green / Dark Earth used by this type at the time.  However, Middle East command for some reason considered that Sky was not suitable as an under-surface colour for M.E. service and many aircraft were locally repainted with Sky Blue lower surfaces.  This very light blue colour had been in RAF use pre-war (and was brought into Australian use as RAAF Sky Blue) and faded to a colour that was more an off white under harsh tropical conditions.  All known 3 Sqn Lysanders used this colour.

Serials were in Black on the rear fuselage (per standard practice).  No code letters are known to have been carried during the period that 3 Sqn was mainly equipped with Lysanders, however see the hack/communications machine that was retained during the Hurricane period (next page).  The main difference between individual airframes is the style, size and position of the fin flashes and roundels.

At least one aircraft, L4684, had very small wing roundels at the extremities of the wing tips, plus a small fuselage roundel below the cockpit and had the entire fin, apart from the rudder painted Red/ White/ Blue (see photos and drawings next page).  All the other examples have larger wing-roundels (positioned further in) and fuselage roundels, plus fin stripes running diagonally up the forward fin (see photos).  Although note the photo (right) of the machine in 'the blue' where I cannot see any under wing roundels at all.

All of these machines show a lot of weathering, fading and staining of the paintwork due to the conditions that they operated under.  I have applied some generic fading and staining to the profiles on the next page.  It should be noted however that it is not possible to re-create the condition of the paintwork EXACTLY without spending an exorbitant amount of time.  That is what the photos are there for, study the subject carefully before making a model of any of these machines.


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