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Avro Anson History.

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Sketch and Some Historical Facts .

The Avro Anson.

Sketch of an Avro Anson.

[Avro Anson: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]

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 led 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.

Named after Admiral, George Anson.

The 652 first flew on 7 July 1935. 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 No.500 Squadron was attacked by 3 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.

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 centred mainly in Canada. As British production 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. Avro Ansons Mk 19 and 21 - 2 had Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah XIX engines.
It was finally retired from the RAF on 28 June 1968,

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any stories about this aircraft; humorous, technical, or historical. Please use the Feedback Form to contact me briefly, in the first instance.

Joe Bosher (74th).


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