The Lysander had excellen…

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The Lysander had excellent short take-off and landing (STOL) characteristics. For a brief period in 1940, every available Hawker Hurricane fighter in Canada had been sent overseas to fight in the Battle of Britain. This situation left the RCAF without a modern fighter aircraft at home in Canada. Two RCAF Lysander-equipped squadrons which were supposed to convert to fighter aircraft but had none to convert to, were re-designated as operational fighter squadrons. No. 111 Squadron, a Coastal Artillery Squadron which earlier had replaced its Avro trainers with Lysanders and been reclassified as an Army Co-operation Unit, was again reclassified as a fighter squadron – the only one on the Canadian west coast – in June 1940. Lysander-equipped No. 118 Squadron was also re-designated as a fighter squadron. The Lysander completely lacked the capability to operate in a fighter role, and neither squadron saw action as a fighter unit while equipped with Lysanders, but their designation as fighter squadrons did allow RCAF fighter pilots to work up at a critical time without having to wait for the arrival of true fighter aircraft. No. 118 Squadron was disbanded in September 1940, and when it reformed in December 1940, still as a fighter squadron, it was equipped with 15 obsolete Grumman Goblin fighters produced by Canadian Car and Foundry. Both No. 111 and No. 118 Squadrons soon re-equipped with the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk, bringing the brief service of Lysanders in fighter squadrons to an end. The aircraft was invaluable at landing behind enemy lines and rescuing downed pilots, POW or the resistance. (David Lynn Courtney)


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