The Anson at the
North East Aircraft Museum is
ex Strathallan, Kemps, Junex, Hewitts, WCS, 22 GCF, OCTU, 18 GCF, 2nd. TAF CS,
527 Sqn., CSE, Reserve Command Communication Flight, White Waltham
The Avro Anson, was originally designed as a coastal reconnaissance aircraft, and was derived from a 6-seat passenger airliner, the Anson 652. The design team was lead by Roy Chadwick, the designer of the Lancaster. The Anson was the first monoplane to enter RAF service, and actually served the RAF for over 30 years.
The 652 first flew on 7 July 1935, the early versions going to Imperial Airways (from 11 March) , who had originally commissioned it. Their original specification was for a four-seat passenger aircraft capable of cruising at 210 km/hr, and with a range of 670 km - a specification which the 652 comfortably exceeded. The 652 proved popular with Imperial Airways, with its cruising speed of 265 km/hr.
Orders for the military version (designated the 652M originally) were placed before the civil 652 had even flown. The military version first flew on 24. March 1935, the first production version flying on 31. December of the same year, and it entered Coastal Command of the RAF in March 1936. It was 80 km/hr faster than the aircraft previously used by Coastal Command (and faster than some of the standard types used by Bomber Command), and it was the first RAF aircraft with a retractable landing gear, although it had to be manually retracted. In practise, it proved to notoriously awkward to retract the landing gear - it required 140 turns. It appears that often the gear was just left down, although this reduced the cruising speed to 200 km/hr.
At this early period, the wings and tailplanes were made of spruce. The fuselage and fin were steel tube covered by plywood. The perspex cabin gave a good all round view.
In its original coastal reconnaissance role, it was designed to disable submarines. It was not expected to fight it out with enemy aircraft, but to run for home with a top speed of 300 km/hr. Nevertheless there were occasions when it had a more attacking role. It was used during the Dunkirk evacuation, on 1 June 1940 an Anson of 500 squadron was attacked by 3 Messerschmitt 109s and managed to shoot down two of them, and in the same mode there is an apparently reliable report of three Ansons being attacked by 10 Messerschmitt 109s with the Ansons managing to shoot down three of them.
Ansons (equipping 21 squadrons) and Sunderlands were the mainstay of Coastal Command at the start of the war. The Command always thought its role was neglected in comparison with other Commands, and that consequently its aircraft were not updated as regularly. Later on the Command began to receive aircraft that could really halt the U-Boat menace (especially to convoys) but for the time being the Ansons were required to do their best. Already on the third day of war, an Anson had scored a probable hit on a U-Boat
However, it was soon replaced gradually in its role by the Lockheed Hudson, being fully replaced by 1942.
It then entered a new role as a trainer for navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners. Early on, it became the standard twin-engine trainer in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which was centered mainly in Canada. As British producation could not keep up with demand, production was started in Canada itself - at the Federal Aircraft Factory in Montreal.
8,138 were built in Britain and a further 2,882 in Canada. Production ceased in 1952, after a production run of 18 years, one of the longest production runs of any British aircraft.
It was finally retired from the RAF on 28 June 1968, when the RAF decommissioned six aircraft of the Southern Communications Squadron, at Bovington, Hampshire.
It was exported to Eygpt, Ireland, Estonia, Finland and Greece.
Mk 2 produced in Canada, primarily used to train pilots for aircraft like the Lancaster.
Mk 3 to Canada to equip flying schools
Mk 4 as above, Wright Cyclone engines.
Mk 5 produced in Canada. Wooden fuselage.
Mk 6 produced in Canada
Mk 10 light transport, sometimes used as air ambulances. Derived from the Mk 1.
Mk 11 as above
Mk 12 as above
Mk 18 Afghanistan, India, derived from Mk 19
Mk 19 Flew early in 1945 as a civil aircraft, the Avro 19 (built for the civil transport specfication 19). It became the C.19 in RAF service. The Series 2 aircraft were built with metal wings and tailplane.
Mks 20, 21, 22
48 were delivered to the Australian Air Force in 1936/37. More were delivered in 1938 and 39. During the war itself over 900 were supplied to training establishments.