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Revell 1/32 Westland Lysander Mk.I/III Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2009 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Westland Lysander Mk.I/III Scale 1/32
Kit Number 4710 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great to see this kit on the market again Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (Yen) 1,650 (About $17.80 USD)

First Look


In the mid-1930s, the British Army was looking for a liaison aircraft to replace the Hawker Hector. The Air Ministry released the requirement to selected companies and Westland was not on the initial list of invitees. When they did receive their opportunity, Westland's designers went beyond the specification and interviewed the pilots to see what capabilities were the most important. The key features they wanted were visibility, low-speed handling, and short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities.

The resulting design, internally designated as P.8, featured a high wing, an advanced aerodynamic wing with leading edge slats, slotted flaps, and an adjustable tailplane for low-speed pitch trim authority. Powered by an air-cooled Bristol Mercury engine rated at over 800 horsepower, the aircraft could take-off and land in very small fields, climb at over 1400 feet-per-minute, had a useful load of nearly 1800 pounds, and a range of 600 miles.

Compared to the German equivalent - the Fieseler Storch, the Lysander was twice as fast, could climb about 50% more per minute, and had more than double the range. While the empty weight of the Lysander was also twice that of the Storch, that also made the aircraft more tolerant of less-than-ideal field conditions where a stray gust of wind could flip a lighter aircraft on the ground.

For those of us old enough to remember Matchbox kits, here is one of their better classics, the 1/32 Westland Lysander. This kit was one of the most detailed of their offerings, providing parts for three different configurations. At that time, one of Matchbox's claims to fame was the multicolored styrene sprues that comprised their kits, and this tended to distract many modelers from the merits of these kits.

After Matchbox went out of business, Revell/Germany acquired the molds and started re-releasing many of the smaller scale Matchbox kits under their Revell logo. Now they've re-released the Lysander and thank you Revell!

This kit is (now) molded in light gray styrene and still presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The molds are in great shape and there is no visible sign of flash problems. While the tooling is older, this kit has scribed surface details though you might opt to fill in many of these scribed lines and rescribe them with less width and depth.

The cockpit of this kit is rather simplistic, though the thinking was that you wouldn't notice any issues if you planted both pilots into the two cockpits. If you want to leave the cockpits unoccupied, there are sufficient details between the separately molded steel frame and the various control panels to get a good start. The AMS modeler can supplement the stock details with some scratchbuilding to busy up the cockpit. If you can find the Mushroom Publications or 4+ Publications monographs on the Lysander, you'll have plenty to work from in your build.

The kit's Bristol Mercury engine isn't bad out of the box, but again, the AMS modeler may want to do a little detail work on the stock parts.

The flight control surfaces are separately molded and postionable. The leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps are molded up and locked. The leading edge slats were automatically extended at low speed, so you might want to do some mods to the leading edges to deploy the slats.

The clear parts are one area for some tweaking. While the windows are molded in separate sections to provide so options, the frames are rather overemphasized. While this will make for easy painting, you might want to mask off the clear panes and sand down the frames, or better yet, mask off the clear panes, sand down the frames, then vacuform replacement windows. If you do an AMS detail job to the front and rear cockpits, you'll definitely want to consider replacing the clear parts.

Among the features and options in the kit:

  • Detailed cockpit interior framework
  • Positionable flight control surfaces
  • Distinctive interior and exterior parts for the Mk.I and Mk.III Lysander
  • Optional boarding ladder for the special duty Mk.III
  • Optional external fuel tank for the SD Mk.III
  • Optional rear gun mount for the Mk.I/Mk.III
  • Optional wheel spat winglets with bomb racks and bombs

Markings are provided for three aircraft:

  • Lysander Mk.I, P1684, 16 Sqn, UG-A, RAF Cambridge, 1940
  • Lysander Mk.III, T1631, 2 Sqn, XV-H, RAF Sawbridgeworth, 1941
  • Lysander Mk.III, R1925, 161 Sqn, JR-M, RAF Tempsford, 1944

I had forgotten how much of a gem in the rough this kit was when produced by Matchbox as I was one who couldn't see past the ghastly multicolored styrene parts. While this kit is by no means up to contemporary detail standards, it also isn't very expensive either and provides a nice starting point for either a relaxing out-of-the box build or an AMS modeler's dream. Either way, the kit is a very nice starting point for this distinctive STOL aircraft that operated quite frequently behind enemy lines.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!