The Westland P.12 Wendover was a prototype aircraft developed by
the British during World War II. The aircraft was a development of
the Westland Lysander, a workhorse aircraft used by the RAF for a
variety of roles.
The robust yet lightly armed Lysander was used for message delivery,
picking up agents from behind enemy lines, artillery spotting, light
bombing and supply dropping. However it was an outdated and slow aircraft
which proved easy picking for enemy fighters. The loss rate for the
aircraft was shocking, in just two months, May and June of 1940, 118
were lost over France or Belgium out of 175 deployed. After that summer
the aircraft was moved back from frontline duty and more capable aircraft
like the Curtiss Tomahawk and North American Mustang filled took its
It was during this time that Westland tried to come up with a version
of the aircraft which would be more capable in combat. The P.12 Wendover
was the result. The front half was more of less identical to the Lysander.
However the rear half was heavily modified. The rear portion of the
glazed cockpit was deleted, and the fuselage was modified to feature
a twin tail unit and with a tandem wing configuration. The conventional
tail was removed and in its place a power-operated 4-gun Nash &
Thompson gunners turret was added.
The Westland P.12 Wendover was also fitted with a pair of 20mm cannons
mounted above the wheel fairings for strafing runs.
The intended role of the aircraft was primarily as a ground-attack.
It was during the German buildup and planned invasion of Britain that
the aircraft was designed and tested. Its targets would have been
the troop-carrying invasion barges and later columns of invading German
The P.12 Wendover first flew on July 27, 1941. During test flights
the pilot, Harold Penrose, reported that the aircraft handled well,
with similar characteristics to the standard Lysander. The rudders
were less effective at low speed, however it was easy to fly, steady
and dives were described as remarkably smooth.
In the end the RAF decided not to order any production aircraft, and
the project was abandoned in 1944 as its intended role became increasingly
irrelevant, and the outdated design was surpassed by the far more
advanced aircraft being brought into play during the later stages
of the war.