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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Avro 652 Anson

With over 11,000 built and a production run extending nearly 20 years, the Anson was one of the most successful aircraft ever designed in the United Kingdom. It started life as a short-range transport aircraft for Imperial Airways, but soon came to the attention of the Air Ministry which in May 1934 invited Avro to propose a twin-engine land-based patrol aircraft for use by Coastal Command. The prototype was ordered a few months later and an initial contract for 174 aircraft placed in July 1935. The Anson’s potential in other roles was identified early in its service career, and by the start of World War II, only 300 of the 760 Ansons delivered were serving with Coastal Command. A number were sold overseas, with early deliveries made to Australia, Estonia, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, South Africa and Turkey. Although popular with Coastal Command crews, the Anson was only lightly armed and could not be equipped as a torpedo bomber. Thus by 1942 it was withdrawn from the coastal patrol role in favour of the Lockheed Hudson. Despite this, production was ramped up with Avro’s Yeadon factory turning out 135 Ansons a month by late 1944. A significantly modernised version was put into production at the end of World War II, available in both military and civilian versions, the latter produced in response to a Brabazon Committee requirement. Although the last Ansons were not withdrawn from Royal Air Force service until 28 June 1968, large numbers were surplused after World War II, especially in Australia and Canada where many were sold to farmers desperate for metal to keep farm machinery working. Several Anson survivors have little in the way of a definitive provenance, having been built up from parts salvaged from farmyards and other locations. The list of survivors is incomplete as it does not include unidentified and unrestored frames held by various collections. As a result, the statistical analysis has been omitted.

First flight: 7 Jan 35 (c/n 698, G-ACRM)

Production: 11,024 (although some sources quote 10,996 and others 11,020), made up of 8,142 in the UK (3,770 at Newton Heath, 415 at Chadderton and 3,957 at Yeadon) and 2,882 in Canada (737 by National Steel Car Corporation/Victory Aircraft at Malton, ON, 375 by De Havilland of Canada at Downsview, ON, 1,047 by MacDonald Brothers Aircraft at Winnipeg, MB, 640 by Canadian Car & Foundry at Amherst, NS, 1 by Canadian Car & Foundry at Cartierville, QC, 1 by Federal Aircraft, Montréal, QC, and 80 by Ottawa Car & Aircraft, ON).

First delivery: 11 Mar 35, to Imperial Airways (c/n 698 and 699, G-ACRM and G-ACRN)

Last delivery: 27 May 52, to the Royal Air Force (WJ561)

Variants: Avro 652 - initial 6-seat commercial version for Imperial Airways powered by 2 Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah VI radials, featuring round cabin windows, port side entry door and hand-cranked retractable undercarriage (2 built at Newton Heath);

Avro 652 Mk.II - Anson I for the Egyptian Government, with port side entry door (1 built at Newton Heath);

Anson I - initial military utility version of Avro 652 powered by 2 Cheetah IXs, with extensive glazing on cabin and starboard side crew access (6,773 built, some with ventral gun turret, made up of 3,550 at Newton Heath and 3,223 at Yeadon; first flight 24 Mar 35);

Anson II - Canadian-built version with hydraulic landing gear, powered by Jacobs R914-L6MB radials (1,832 built: 736 at Malton; 375 at Downsview; 299 at Winnipeg; 1 at Montréal; and 1 at Ottawa; first flight 21 Aug 41);

Anson IV - Anson I powered by Wright R760-E1 Whirlwinds (217 built at Newton Heath for service in Canada);

Anson V - Canadian-built version optimised for navigation training, powered by Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Jr (1,049 built: 1 at Malton; 748 at Winnipeg; 299 at Amherst; and 1 at Cartierville; 50 were supplied to the US Army Air Corps under the designation AT-20);

Anson VI - Anson V optimised for bomber and gunnery training (1 built at Montréal);

Anson X - version of Anson I optimised for communications, general cargo and air ambulance roles with the Air Transport Auxiliary, featuring strengthened floor and with gun turret deleted (103 built at Yeadon in two versions: srs.1 with hand-cranked undercarriage and Cheetah IX engines; and srs.2 with hydraulic undercarriage and Cheetah XIXs);

Anson XI - revised version of Anson X srs.2 with raised cabin roof and airline-style cabin windows (90 built at Yeadon; first flight 30 Jul 44);

Anson XII - Anson XI with Cheetah XV radials and variable-pitch airscrews (271 built at Yeadon; first flight 27 Oct 44);

Avro XIX srs.1 - post-war commercial feederliner with redesigned interior and seating for 9 passengers, featuring wooden wings and tailplane from the Anson XII (12 built made up of 1 at Chadderton and 11 at Yeadon; an additional 110 were built at Yeadon for the RAF as Anson C.19 srs.1);

Avro XIX srs.2 - Avro XIX srs.1 with metal wings and tailplane (13 built: 12 at Chadderton; and 1 at Yeadon; plus 42 at Chadderton and 137 at Yeadon for the RAF as Avro C.19 srs.2);

Anson Mk.18 - utility version of the Avro XIX for the Royal Afghan Air Force (13 built at Chadderton);

Anson 18C - civil version of Anson Mk.18 for the Indian Government as crew trainers (12 built at Chadderton)

Anson T.20 - navigation training version of Anson C.19 for use by the Rhodesian Air Training Group (60 built, made up of 50 at Chadderton and 10 at Yeadon; first flight 5 Aug 47);

Anson T.21 - development of the Anson T.20 with glazed nose and bomb racks deleted for use in the UK (252 built at Chadderton);

Anson T.22 - radio training version of Anson C.19 (34 built, 33 at Chadderton and 1 at Yeadon; first flight 21 Jun 48)

Conversions included 57 British-built Anson Is rebuilt in Canada with Jacobs radials as Anson IIIs; 25 Anson XII to Anson C.19 by Avro at Bracebridge Heath; and an unknown number of early Ansons rebuilt as Avro XIX for the post-war civil market.

Avro Anson survivors
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