Avro Anson MkI RAF 4ADU at Capodichino near Naples IWM CNA4668

An Avro Anson Mark I, probably of No. 4 Aircraft Delivery Unit (Middle East), used to transport ferry pilots back to their base after delivering aircraft to front line units, parked at Capodichino near Naples.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA4668 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209621

Avro Anson RAF 48Sqn patrols of St Malo during Operation AERIAL 1940 IWM C1802

An Avro Anson of No. 48 Squadron RAF patrols off the French coast as smoke and flame billow from oil tanks in the harbour of St Malo, set ablaze by demolition parties prior to the evacuation of Allied troops during Operation AERIAL.

Imperial War Museum IWM C 1802 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205023013

Avro Anson I RAF 217Sqn K8785 in flight 1937 IWM HU64551

Avro Anson Mark 1 K8785 of No.217 Squadron, in flight with other aircraft, 1937.

Imperial War Museum IWM HU 64551 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205069434

Avro Anson

The Avro Anson is a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces prior to, during, and after the Second World War. Named after British Admiral George Anson, it was originally designed for maritime reconnaissance, but was soon rendered obsolete in that role. However, it was rescued from obscurity by its suitability as a multi-engine air crew trainer, becoming the mainstay of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. By the end of production in 1952, the Anson spanned nine variants and a total of 8,138 were built in Britain by Avro. From 1941, a further 2,882 were built by Canadian Federal Aircraft Ltd.

Design and development

The Anson was derived from the commercial six-seat 652 and the militarised version, which first flew on 24 March 1935, was built to Air Ministry Specification 18/35. It was the first RAF monoplane with a retractable undercarriage. Avro allotted the type number 652A to the Anson. The first production run resulted in 174 Anson Mk I aircraft for service with Coastal Command. No. 48 Squadron RAF was the first to be equipped in March 1936.

A distinctive feature of the Anson I was its landing gear retraction mechanism which required no less than 140 turns of the hand crank by the pilot. To forgo this laborious process, early model Ansons often made short flights with the landing gear extended at the expense of 30 mph (50 km/h) of cruise speed.[1]

A total of 11,020 Ansons were built by the end of production in 1952, making it the second-most-numerous (after the Vickers Wellington) British multi-engine aircraft of the war.[1]

Operational history

At the start of the Second World War, there were 26 RAF squadrons operating the Anson I: 10 with Coastal Command and 16 with Bomber Command. However, by this time, the Anson was obsolete in the roles of bombing and coastal patrol and was being superseded by the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and Lockheed Hudson.

Limited numbers of Ansons continued to serve in operational roles such as coastal patrols and air/sea rescue. Early in the war, an Anson scored a probable hit on a German U-boat. In June 1940, a flight of three Ansons was attacked by nine Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109s. Remarkably, the Ansons downed two German aircraft 'and damaging a third before the 'dogfight' ended',[2] without losing any of their own.[1] The aircraft's true role, however, was to train pilots for flying multi-engine bombers such as the Avro Lancaster. The Anson was also used to train the other members of a bomber's air crew, such as navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners. Postwar, the Anson continued in the training role and light transport roles. The last Ansons were withdrawn from RAF service with communications units on 28 June 1968.

The Royal Australian Air Force operated 1,028 Ansons, mainly Mk Is, until 1955. The Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy operated Ansons until 1952. The USAAF employed 50 Canadian-built Ansons, designated as the AT-20. The Royal New Zealand Air Force operated 23 Ansons as navigation trainers in the Second World War, (alongside the more numerous Airspeed Oxford), and acquired more Ansons as communication aircraft immediately after the war. A preserved navigation trainer is in the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum at Wigram.

Avro Anson 11 G-ALIH of Ekco Electronics at Blackbushe, Hants, in September 1955.

The Egyptian Air Force operated Ansons in communications and VIP duties. A specially outfitted Anson was gifted to the then King by the Royal Air Force. The Royal Afghan Air Force obtained 13 Anson 18 aircraft for various duties from 1948. These aircraft survived through 1972.

Postwar civil use

After the war, Ansons continued in production by Avro at Woodford for civilian use as light transports by small charter airlines and as executive aircraft for industrial and other companies. Countries which saw civilian operations with Ansons included Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Denmark.

Railway Air Services operated Ansons on scheduled services from London's Croydon Airport via Manchester to Belfast (Nutts Corner) during 1946-1947. Sivewright Airways operated three Avro XIX aircraft from their Manchester Airport base on charter flights as far as Johannesburg and on scheduled flights to Ronaldsway Airport in the Isle of Man until 1951. Finglands Airways operated an ex-RAF Anson I on inclusive tour flights and on scheduled flights from Manchester Airport to Newquay Airport between 1949 and 1952.

India ordered twelve new Anson 18Cs in 1948 for use by the Directorate of Civil Aviation as trainers and communications aircraft, and these were delivered from Woodford in spring 1949.

Ansons continued to be built by Avro at Woodford for the RAF until March 1952 and were used as trainers and served in the role of Station communications aircraft until 1968.

Accidents and incidents

On 29 September 1940, Avro Ansons L9162 and N4876 of No. 2 Service Flying Training School RAAF collided in mid-air and became locked together in flight. A successful emergency landing was made at Brocklesby, New South Wales. L9162 became a ground instructional airframe, whilst N4876 was repaired and returned to service.

On 19 December 1945, a Companhia Meridional de Transportes Avro Anson Mk. II registration PP-MTA crashed in the neighborhood of Itaipu, Niterói, Brazil killing all passengers and crew, including the pilot and owner of the airline, Álvaro Araújo.[3]

On 11 June 1948, Avro XIX G-AGNI of Lancashire Aircraft Corporation ditched off Bradda Head, Isle of Man due to fuel exhaustion. The aircraft was operating a scheduled passenger flight from Squires Gate Airport, Blackpool to Ronaldsway Airport, Isle of Man via RAF Walney Island, Lancashire. All nine people on board were rescued by a trawler from Port Erin and the MV Silkthorn.[4]

A memorial at the church in Windrush village, Gloucestershire, describes Sgt Pilot Bruce Hancock RAFVR who died on 18 August 1940 when downing a German Heinkel bomber by ramming it with his unarmed training Avro Anson aircraft flying from RAF Windrush.


The main Anson variant was the Mk I, of which 6,704 were built in Britain. The other variants were mainly distinguished by their powerplant with Canadian-built Ansons using local engines. To overcome steel shortages, the 1,051 Canadian-built Mk V Ansons featured a plywood fuselage.

Mk I: 6,688 Mk Is were built. Powered by two 350 hp (261 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX or 395 hp (295 kW) XIX engines.

Mk II: 1,822 Mk IIs were built in Canada; powered by two 330 hp (246 kW) Jacobs L-6MB R-915 engines and fitted with hydraulic landing gear retraction rather than the manual system used on the Anson I.

Mk III: Powered by two 330 hp (250 kW) L-6MB R-915 engines; British-built.

Mk IV: Powered by two Wright Whirlwind engines; British-built.

Mk V: 1,069 Mk Vs were built in Canada for navigator training; powered by two 450 hp (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior R-985 engines.

Mk VI: One aircraft was built in Canada for bombing and gunnery training; powered by two 450 hp (340 kW) Wasp Junior engines.

Mk X: 104 Anson Mk Is were converted into Mk Xs

Mk 11: 90 Anson Mk Is were converted into Mk 11s

Mk 12: 20 Anson Mk Is were converted into Mk 12s, plus 221 new Mk 12 aircraft were built.

Mk XIII: Gunnery trainer powered by two Cheetah XI or XIX engines; never built.

Mk XIV: Gunnery trainer powered by two Cheetah XV engines; never built.

Mk XVI: Navigation trainer; never built.

Mk XV: Bombing trainer; never built.

C 19: 264 were built for the RAF; used as communications and transport aircraft.

T 20: Navigation trainer for the RAF a variant of the Mk XIX to meet Air Ministry Specification T.24/46 for an overseas navigation trainer, one pilot two wireless operators (one trainee and one instructor) and five navigator positions (three trainees and two instructors). Used for bombing and navigation training in Southern Rhodesia, 60 built.

T 21: Navigation trainers for the RAF a variant of the Mk XIX to meet Air Ministry Specification T.25/46 for a home navigation trainer, one pilot two wireless operators (one trainee and one instructor) and five navigator positions (three trainees and two instructors). A prototype was flown in May 1948, 252 built.

C.21: Modification of T.21s for communications and transport duties.

T 22: Radio trainers for the RAF a variant of the Mk XIX to meet Air Ministry Specification T.26/46, one pilot and four wireless operator stations (three for trainees and one for an instructor), a prototype was flown in June 1948, 54 built.

Anson 18: Developed from the Avro Nineteen; 12 aircraft were sold to the Royal Afghan Air Force for use as communications, police patrol and aerial survey aircraft.

Anson 18C: 13 aircraft were built for the Indian government; used for training civil aircrews.

Avro 19: (Also known as the Anson XIX): Civil transport version; 56 aircraft were built in two series.

AT-20: United States military designation for Canadian-built Anson IIs used by the United States Army Air Force, 50 built.


Military Anson operators

AfghanistanRoyal Afghan Air Force - 13 Anson 18 aircraft were delivered to the Afghan Air Force from 1948 and retired by 1972
ArgentinaAt least one, LV-FBR, in use in 1960.
AustraliaRoyal Australian Air Force - 1,028 Ansons were operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, retired in 1955
BahrainGulf Aviation
BelgiumBelgian Air Force (15 x Anson I, 2 x Anson 12 operated 1946 to 1954)
BrazilCompanhia Meridional de Transportes (3 Avro Anson Mk. II operated between 1945 and 1946)
CanadaRoyal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy Ansons were retired in 1952
Cubathree Canadian-built Ansons were transported to Cuba, operated by ANSA-Aerolíneas del Norte S.A., a regional airline from 1947 through the mid-1950s.
CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakian Air Force 3 aircraft, in service from 1945 to 1948.
EgyptEgyptian Air Force
EstoniaEstonian Air Force
EthiopiaEthiopian Air Force
FinlandFinnish Air Force
FranceFrench Air Force and Aeronavale
GreeceHellenic Royal Air Force
IndiaRoyal Indian Air Force
IranImperial Iranian Air Force
IraqRoyal Iraqi Air Force
IrelandIrish Air Corps
IsraelIsraeli Air Force
NetherlandsRoyal Netherlands Air Force and Dutch Naval Aviation Service
New ZealandRoyal New Zealand Air Force
NorwayRoyal Norwegian Air Force
ParaguayParaguayan Air Arm 1 Mk.V bought in Argentina in 1947.
PortugalPortuguese Air Force
RhodesiaRoyal Rhodesian Air Force
Saudi ArabiaRoyal Saudi Air Force
South AfricaSouth African Air Force
Southern RhodesiaSouthern Rhodesian Air Force
SyriaSyrian Air Force
TurkeyTurkish Air Force
United KingdomRoyal Air Force and Royal Navy, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Railway Air Services
United States50 Canadian built Ansons were delivered to the United States Air Force as the AT-20.
YugoslaviaSFR Yugoslav Air Force

Specifications (Mk I) - Avro Anson T20

Data from , David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II [5]

General characteristics

Crew: 3-4
Length: 42 ft 3 in (12.88 m)
Wingspan: 56 ft 6 in (17.22 m)
Height: 13 ft 1 in (3.99 m)
Wing area: 463 ft² (43.1 m²)
Empty weight: 5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
Loaded weight: 7,955 lb (3,608 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 8,500 lb (3,900 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial engines, 355 hp (260 kW) each


Maximum speed: 188 mph (163 kn, 303 km/h) at 7,000 ft (2,100 m)
Range: 790 mi (690 nmi, 1,300 km)
Service ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,791 m)
Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)
Wing loading: 17.2 lb/ft² (83.9 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.088 hp/lb (140 W/kg)


Guns: 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in front fuselage 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in dorsal turret
Bombs: 360 lb (163 kg)


Guns: 4 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns in hydraulically-powered dorsal turret (600 rpg)


  1. Gunston, Bill. Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways. London: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-526-8.
  2. Murphy, Kevin. Avro 652 Anson. Retrieved: 13 February 2007.
  3. Pereira, Aldo. Breve História da Aviação Comercial Brasileira (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Europa, 1987, p. 290.
  4. Poole 1999, pp. 123-24.
  5. Mondey 1994, p. 26.


  • Donald, David and Jon Lake, eds. Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. London: AIRtime Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-880588-24-2.
  • Gunston, Bill. Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways. London: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-526-8.
  • Jackson, A.J. Avro Aircraft since 1908, 2nd edition. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-834-8.
  • Hall, Alan W. Avro Anson Mks. 1-22 (Warpaint Series No. 53). Blechley, Buckinghamshire, UK: Warpaint Books Ltd., 2006. ISBN 0-05-309999-X.
  • Hall, Alan W. and Eric Taylor. Avro Anson Marks I, III, IV & X. London: Almark Publishing Co. Ltd., 1972. ISBN 0-85524-064-4.
  • Holmes, Harry. Avro Anson (Images of Aviation). London: Tempus Publishing Ltd., 2000. ISBN 0-7524-1738-X.
  • Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press. 1994. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.
  • Poole, Stephen. Rough Landing or Fatal Flight. Douglas, Isle of Mann, UK: Amulree Publications, 1999. ISBN 1-901508-03-X.

    Magazine References: +

  • Airfix Magazines (English) - http://www.airfix.com/
  • Avions (French) - http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/rubrique10.html
  • FlyPast (English) - http://www.flypast.com/
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) - http://vdmedien.com/flugzeug-publikations-gmbh-hersteller_verlag-vdm-heinz-nickel-33.html
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) - http://www.flugzeugclassic.de/
  • Klassiker (German) - http://shop.flugrevue.de/abo/klassiker-der-luftfahrt
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://boutique.editions-lariviere.fr/site/abonnement-le-fana-de-l-aviation-626-4-6.html
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://www.pdfmagazines.org/tags/Le+Fana+De+L+Aviation/
  • Osprey (English) - http://www.ospreypublishing.com/
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) - http://www.revi.cz/

    Web References: +

  • History of RAF Organisation: http://www.rafweb.org
  • History of RAAF: http://www.airpages.ru/eng/ot/raaf_01.shtml
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/


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