Eduard 1/48 Westland Lysander (Special Duties In France): Part 1

Eduard 1/48 Lysander box art

This is Eduard’s reboxing of an old Gavia kit, which has gone through a number of iterations. This “Limited Edition” contains the original Gavia parts, along with additional parts to build a number of different aircraft, together with Eduard’s resin and photoetch detailing, and a welcome set of paint masks for the extensive canopy. (I’d just like to say, though, that whoever chose that typeface for the box lettering should be shot. Seriously. It’s not bloody Lord Of The Rings, guys.)

The kit contains few locating holes and pegs, and the instructions don’t offer many hints about correct positioning of parts—so it’s one to build with photographs of the real aircraft in front of you.

That’s slightly problematic for me, because I’m aiming to build an all-black Lysander III of the RAF’s 138 (Special Duties) Squadron. These specially modified aircraft made top-secret “pick-up” flights into Occupied France during the Second World War. (I wrote a lot more about those missions when I reviewed three memoirs dealing with the Special Duties flights to France.) The specific aircraft I want to depict is T1508, in which Squadron Leader John Nesbitt-Dufort made a forced landing in bad weather on 29 January 1942. The aircraft tipped on its nose in a ditch, and Nesbitt-Dufort was unable to set it on fire, as was the standing order. He and his two passengers, members of the French Resistance, then spent some time on the run in Occupied France.

What I have to work on are just two photographs, both of the crashed aircraft, which hardly provide extensive coverage. So I’m going to be (as seems to be almost routine for my model-building efforts) using a bit of inference to come up with a sort of “artist’s reconstruction” of the real aircraft.

John Nesbitt-Dufort's crashed Lysander, T1508
John Nesbitt-Dufort's crashed Lysander, T1508

I bought the Eduard kit because it provides some necessary Special Duties parts—the big long-range tank, and the ladder that provided rapid access to the rear compartment. Unfortunately, Eduard don’t provide any sort of depiction of the heavily modified (but poorly documented) rear compartment itself. In the real aircraft, this was effectively gutted to save weight, and passengers travelled in an out of France perched on a rear-facing plywood bench, which could fit two at a squeeze. If three or four passengers needed to be transported, someone had to sit on the floor.

The first task was assembling the various parts for the cockpit and rear compartment. The pilot’s seat had a basket base, to accommodate his parachute, and the flat photoetch part needed some careful bending:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, seat parts assembly
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The kit instructions call for the rudder pedals to be glued directly to a transverse bar in the open framework that passed for the cockpit “floor” in this aircraft. But I want to depict the aircraft with a slight rudder offset, so I built myself a little rudder bar out of brass and styrene rod. Also attached to the floor structure are the control column and the base of the seat, which has a height adjustment wheel on its right side. (Rather typically Eduard provide the wheel, but leave it to the modeller to provide the transverse rod on which the wheel is mounted.)

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, cockpit parts assembly 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, cockpit parts assembly 1
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I removed the original single seat from the rear compartment and replaced it with a sheet-styrene depiction of the notorious plywood bench. The floor of the rear compartment is also said to have been extended at the sides to meet the surrounding framework, so I added this detail with more sheet styrene.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, rear compartment floor and bench
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And finally I added a bit of wiring, using stretched sprue, to the rear of the instrument panel, which will be just about visible in the assembled model.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, instrument panel wiring
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The kit’s radio sits on a shelf in the rear compartment, but this was apparently replaced, in Special Duties aircraft, by a smaller model on a sliding shelf. This certainly makes sense, because there would otherwise be no room for anyone to sit on the floor. Since the radio itself would be out of sight in the completed kit, I contented myself with adding the rails on which the shelf slid. I also removed the gun-mount paraphernalia on the rear cover of the compartment. Some more photoetch parts needed to be added to the interior framework, and then it was ready for painting and assembly.

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, general interior parts assembly
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Here’s what it turned out like, with just a little simulated scuffing to the rear compartment’s paintwork, which in early 1942 hadn’t seen much traffic:

Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 1
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 2
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 3
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 4
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Eduard 1/48 Lysander, interior assembled 5
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The unsightly unpainted flanges will eventually support the wings.

There are some more modifications to be made to other kit parts before I can start gluing the big bits together. More on that next time.

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