Progress in restoring the RAF Museum’s Westland Lysander III (SD), the only surviving special duties variant of its type, will be on show during the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre open week at Cosford from 12-18 November.
Upon arrival at the museum some 22 months ago, the Lysander underwent an in-depth inspection and condition assessment and work was carried out on a few minor repairs. The damaged fabric outer skin was removed, attention paid to the aircraft’s engine, preservative treatments removed, and mechanical systems cleaned and lubricated and made functional again.
Since it was last viewed in June at the RAF Cosford Air Show the aircraft has undergone a major transformation, mainly involving the re-covering of the fuselage in traditional Irish linen using original doping techniques. The new outer skin has already received its UV microwave protection layer and is currently being primed ready for its No 161 Squadron special ops colour scheme to be applied within the next few weeks.
The Lysander has been a largely volunteer-led project with a team of four to six volunteers working two days a week on the cleaning and mechanical elements, while the new outer skin and paintwork have been applied by the museum’s surface finish technician.
RAF Museum conservation centre manager Darren Priday said, “During the inspection phase, we discovered some original fabric and we’ve taken the decision to conserve this item and keep the original paintwork. Once the fuselage section is complete, work will begin on attaching the ailerons and other flying controls which have already been covered in Irish linen; these will go through the same doping and paint process as the fuselage. The metal cowlings will be resprayed before being refitted. Over the next few months our team of volunteers will be focusing their efforts on the wings. This work will all be on display to the public in November and in the New Year the undercarriage will be refitted as part of the rebuild phase, which is expected to take upwards of 12 months.”
This Lysander, serial R9125, first became operational with No 225 Squadron in 1940 as a coastal patrol and photo-reconnaissance aircraft, based along the south coast of England. It took on the special duties role with No 161 Squadron in 1944 and was operational for a further two years until the type was declared obsolete by the RAF in 1946. For a brief period in 1961 the aircraft was placed into storage at RAF Cosford. Ten years later it was acquired by the museum and placed on display at its London site, where it remained on display until the recent move back to Cosford.
Visitors to the open week will also be able to view the continuing progress on such aircraft as the Vickers Wellington and LVG C.VI. Museum technicians, apprentices and volunteers will be available throughout the week to speak with visitors about their work and answer any questions they may have.
The conservation centre will open from 12-18 November between 10.15 and 13.00hrs each day. Admission is £5.00 per person (children under 16 are free and must be accompanied by an adult). The museum’s other hangars will be open from 10.00-17.00hrs and entry to the museum is free of charge. For further information, please visit the museum’s website, www.rafmuseum.org/cosford, or call 01902 376200.