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This Week


This Week: Westland Lysander

The Westland Lysander is a British army co-operation and liaison aircraft produced by Westland Aircraft that was used immediately before and during the Second World War.

After becoming obsolete in the army co-operation role, the aircraft's short-field performance enabled clandestine missions using small, improvised airstrips behind enemy lines to place or recover agents, particularly in occupied France with the help of the French Resistance. Royal Air Force army co-operation aircraft were named after mythical or historical military leaders; in this case the Spartan admiral Lysander was chosen.

Almost 1800 examples of the Lysander were built, of which just over a dozen still exist worldwide. Of these it's thought that at least four remain airworthy, including the example seen here which is operated by the Shuttleworth Collection in the UK.

Photograph Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit

Portions of this caption are courtesy of Wikipedia and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0 :


Last Week


Last Week: Avro Lancaster

The "Lanc", as it was colloquially known, became one of the most heavily used bomber aircraft of the Second World War, delivering 608,612 long tons (618,378,000 kg) of bombs over the course of 156,000 missions.The long, unobstructed bomb bay meant the Lancaster could carry the largest bombs used by the Royal Air Force, including the 4,000lb, 8,000lb and 12,000lb "blockbusters".

The standard crew for a Lancaster consisted of seven men, stationed in various positions in the fuselage. From the front of the aircraft these included the bomb aimer/front gunner, pilot, flight engineer, navigator, wireless operator, mid-upper gunner and rear gunner.

The Lancaster was used extensively by the RAF following the war both for photo reconnaissance roles, and for research purposes. The final RAF Lancaster was retired from operational service in 1954.

Photograph Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit

Portions of this caption are courtesy of Wikipedia and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0 :



Previous: Bristol Fighter F.2b

One of the most successful two-seaters of the First World War was the Bristol Fighter, believed by many to have set the standard for what would subsequently be referred to as fighter-bombers.

The 'Brisfit' excelled during the Great War with its high speed, its ability to carry a worthwhile bomb load, and at the same time boasting the agility of a fighter aircraft. Such was the success of the type that a number of RAF squadrons continued to use the type ten years after the end of the conflict when most other WW-I aircraft had been considered obsolete at the end of the conflict.

A number of F.2bs were gifted to New Zealand post-war and it's believed that the first aircraft to touch down on the historic Omaka Aerodrome were two New Zealand Permanent Air Force Bristol Fighters.

Photograph Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit

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Previous: Polikarpov I-153 Chaika

The Chaika ("Seagull" in Russian) was a late 1930s Soviet sesquiplane fighter. Developed from the I-15 with a retractable undercarriage, the I-153 fought in the Soviet-Japanese conflict in Mongolia and was one of the Soviets' major fighter types in the early years of the Second World War.

Over 3400 I-153's were built between 1939 and 1941, but only one complete original example remains and for many years has been on display at the Musée de l'Air in Paris.

In the early 1990s, New Zealand entrepreneur Tim Wallis' Alpine Fighter Collection organised the restoration of three I-153s and six Polikarpov I-16s to an airworthy condition. The aircraft seen here is one of those restored I-153's.

Photograph Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit

Portions of this caption are courtesy of Wikipedia and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0 :



Previous: Fokker D.VIII

Entering service as the Fokker E.V (for Eindecker i.e. monoplane) in August 1918, the type only saw brief service before being withdrawn due to several structural failures. Remedial work was carried out, and by the time it was reintroduced in October the type had been renamed as the D.VIII as the ‘E’ designations were no longer being used.

The colours of this aircraft are reminiscent of that used by Johann Janzen on his earlier Fokker Dr.I and D.VII. However by the time Jasta 6 was issued with their new E.V’s Janzen had already been shot down and was a POW so it’s unlikely that he ever flew this machine.

This accurate replica aircraft was completed, and is operated by, The Vintage Aviator Collection in Masterton, New Zealand. Photograph Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit



Previous: North American P-51D (ZK-TAF)

During the 1950's, New Zealand had two air forces -- the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the New Zealand Territorial Air Force. Fortunately for the pilots of the TAF, they had the awesome privilege of flying the 'old' RNZAF P-51s that arrived too late for the Second World War (and which had actually never been operated by the RNZAF).

This aircraft, which has been owned and operated for many years by ex-RNZAF strike pilot Graeme Bethell, is in the red and white colours of NZ2415, an aircraft of No 3 (Canterbury) Squadron, TAF.

This aircraft was originally built in 1944, and it served with both the United States Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1959 when it was retired from military service. It was originally imported into New Zealand by Sir Tim Wallis in 1984, and as such is one of the longest serving 'warbirds' in the country.

Photograph Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit