Looking like the bastard love child of a Lysander and a Lancaster bomber, the Westland Wendover is one of the stranger designs to be dreamed up by British aero engineers during World War Two. Only built as a prototype, the Wendover was a development of the Westland Lysander.
This aircraft would perform excellent work for covert operations, flying agents into occupied France during World War Two, but truth be told it was not very successful in it’s designed role as the Royal Air Force’s primary army cooperation aircraft. Intended to be used for artillery spotting and for dropping supplies and messages to ground units, the Lysander suffered heavily during the Battle of France in the face of Luftwaffe fighters.
Slow and steady, it was pretty much a sitting duck. In the two months of May and June of 1940, 118 were lost over France or Belgium out of the 175 deployed.
Obviously something needed to be done and Westland figured that the solution might be…
So they merged the front half of a Lysander with a broad-beamed twin tail that mounted a power-operated Nash & Thompson turret armed with four .303 browning machine guns. Certainly enough to give any German attacker a nasty surprise.
First flying in July 1941, the aircraft was reported to handle well and was comparable to the standard Lysander.
However with bigger priorities for aircraft production no orders were placed. The RAF recognised that achieving air superiority was a better use of scant resources than investing in aircraft that would still be pretty vulnerable. Plus the Brits had soured a bit to the turret fighter concept, leaving the Wendover as just an odd side note in the history of aircraft.