Duxford Hangar 1 - Airspace - Page 3

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The Westland Lysander was a British army co-operation and liaison aircraft produced by Westland Aircraft used immediately before and during the Second World War. The Westland design, locally designated P.8, was the work of Arthur Davenport under the direction of 'Teddy' Petter. It was Petter's second aircraft design and he spent considerable time interviewing Royal Air Force pilots to find out what they wanted from such an aircraft.

The result of Petter's pilot enquiries suggested that field of view, low-speed handling characteristics and STOL (short take-off and landing) performance were the most important requirements. Survival in hostile airspace, a key requirement, seems to have been forgotten!
Davenport's and Petter's design was unconventional and looked, by the time of its maiden fight on 15 June 1936, rather dated.
Despite its appearance, the Lysander was aerodynamically advanced; it was equipped with fully automatic wing slots and slotted flaps and a variable incidence tailplane. These refinements gave the Lysander a low stalling speed of only 65 mph.

The first Lysanders entered service in June 1938, equipping squadrons for army co-operation and were initially used for message-dropping and artillery spotting.
Four regular squadrons equipped with Lysanders accompanied the British Expeditionary Force to France in October 1939, and were joined by a further squadron early in 1940.

Following the German invasion of France and the low countries on 10 May 1940, the Lysanders were put into action as spotters and light bombers. In spite of occasional victories against German aircraft, they made very easy targets for the Luftwaffe.

In August 1941 a new squadron, No. 138 (Special Duties), was formed to undertake missions for the Special Operations Executive to maintain clandestine contact with the French Resistance.

Among its aircraft were Lysander Mk IIIs, which flew over and landed in occupied France.
The Lysander could insert and remove agents from the continent or retrieve Allied aircrew who had been shot down over occupied territory and had evaded capture.

For this role the Mk IIIs were fitted with a fixed ladder over the port side to hasten access to the rear cockpit and a large drop tank under the belly.

In order to slip in unobtrusively the Lysanders were painted matte black; operations almost always took place within a week of a full moon, as moonlight was essential for navigation. The aircraft undertook such duties until the liberation of France in 1944.

The Lysanders flew from secret airfields at Newmarket and, later, Tempsford, but used regular RAF stations to fuel-up for the actual crossing, particularly RAF Tangmere. Flying without any navigation equipment other than a map and compass, Lysanders would land on short strips of land, such as fields, marked out by four or five torches.

They were designed to carry one passenger in the rear cockpit, but in case of urgent necessity three could be carried in extreme discomfort. The pilots of No. 138 and, from early 1942, No. 161 Squadron transported 101 agents to and recovered 128 agents from Nazi-occupied Europe.

This Duxford Lysander III is marked as MA - J  V9673 and was attached to the No. 161 Squadron RAF mentioned above.


The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber biplane designed by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Originating in the 1930s, the Swordfish, nicknamed "Stringbag", was an outdated design by the start of the war in 1939, but remained in front-line service until VE Day, outliving several types intended to replace it. It was initially operated primarily as a fleet attack aircraft; during its later years it was used as an anti-submarine and training craft. The Swordfish achieved some spectacular successes, notably the sinking of one and damaging two battleships of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in the Battle of Taranto and the famous crippling of the Bismarck. Swordfish III Version with added large centrimetric radar unit, introduced in 1943.


The Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 and the AV-8A Harrier were the first generation of the Harrier series, the first operational close-support and reconnaissance attack aircraft with vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) capabilities. These were developed directly from the Hawker P.1127 prototype and the Kestrel evaluation aircraft.

(The Hawker Siddeley Harrier is the first generation-version and is also known as the AV-8A Harrier. The Sea Harrier is a naval strike/air defence fighter. The AV-8B and BAE Harrier II are the US and British variants respectively of the second generation Harrier aircraft.)

Historically the Harrier was developed in Britain to operate from ad-hoc facilities such as car parks or forest clearings, avoiding the need for large air bases vulnerable to tactical nuclear weapons. Later the design was adapted for use from aircraft carriers.

The Harrier is also distinct as being of modern era, yet subsonic, contrasting with most of the major Western post-World War II-era attack aircraft, which tend to be supersonic.In most cases the aircraft does a short take off where it gains forward speed and thus aerodynamic lift, saving fuel. On aircraft carriers a ramp is frequently employed at the end of the carrier which allows the aircraft to accelerate along the carrier using less fuel for takeoff.

Landings are also typically performed very differently. Although a conventional landing is possible, the range of speeds that this can be done over is narrow due to relatively vulnerable outrigger undercarriage. Operationally the aircraft therefore usually does a near vertical landing with some forward speed.

Between 1969 and 2003, 824 Harrier variants were delivered. While manufacture of new Harriers concluded in 1997, the last remanufactured aircraft (Harrier II Plus configuration) was delivered in December 2003 which ended the Harrier production line.


Acknowledgement to 'key.aero' for the following commentary on the Duxford aircraft :

"Thursday June 18 2009 saw the IWM unveil its latest exhibit, Eurofighter's Typhoon, at Duxford. The type has only been in service with the Royal Air Force for five years, although prototypes first took to the air some fifteen years ago. Duxford's example is one of those early aircraft, being Development Aircraft 4 (DA4) ZH590, a British-built two-seater used by BAE Systems at Warton in Lancashire.

"DA4's maiden flight was on March 14, 1997 with test pilot Derek Reeh at the controls. It was the first British two-seater and also the first British-built aircraft with the EJ200 powerplant. It was used for two-seat handling, radar development and integration trials until retirement in 2006. A Royal Air Force crew flew the aeroplane for the first time in April 1998, and that year it flew in formation with the Red Arrows at RAF Fairford's Royal International Air Tattoo.

"In June 2000 DA4 completed the first successful night flight by a two-seat Typhoon, pilot Keith Hartley flying the aircraft with Craig Penrice in the rear seat. A major refit in 2001 saw all the major systems of the aircraft upgraded, followed by Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) integration, Defensive Aids Sub-system (DASS) and Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) trials. In December 2001, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, the UK's former Chief of the Air Staff and now Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, became the first non-RAF test pilot to fly Typhoon when he took control of DA4 during a 60-minute flight from Warton.

"In December 2006 DA4 marked twelve years as a development aircraft (completing 650 flights) with a flypast at Warton. On December 13, 2006 after 650 flights, DA4 was transferred to RAF Coningsby for use as a ground instructional airframe. The aircraft was gifted to the IWM by the Ministry of Defence in 2008 and transported to Duxford in April 2009.

"  'This is quite a specific aircraft,†explained Sqn Ldr Akerman. “This was a development aircraft, a prototype, and almost all of the equipment on it is of no use on a front line aircraft. There's almost nothing left on this aircraft we can make any sensible use of, so the ideal place for it is in a museum where it can be looked at and inspire future generations.'  "

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter. Development of the aircraft effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaborative effort between Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain. A technology demonstration aircraft, the British Aerospace EAP, first took flight on 6 August 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on 27 March 1994. The name of the aircraft, Typhoon, was formally adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were signed that same year.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be an effective dogfighter when in combat with other aircraft; later production aircraft have been increasingly more well-equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with an increasing number of different armaments and equipment. The Typhoon saw its combat debut during the 2011 military intervention in Libya with the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force performing reconnaissance and ground strike missions.

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