Avro Anson type 652a

Avro Airliner type 652

The Avro Anson was developed from the Avro Airliner type 652. It first flew in 1935 and went on to serve in a wide variety of roles during the Second World War. Over 11 000 were built and the Anson was still flying with the Royal Air Force in 1968. The Avro Anson served operationally in the early years of the war as a light bomber with Bomber command and as a coastal patrol aircraft. As technology progressed and more advanced aircraft were produced, the Anson, which was severely limited in range, fire-power, and bomb load was soon limited to training, transport, and other non-combat roles.

Avro Anson Mk1 at duxford air museum depicting Pilot Officer Peter’s Anson MK-V

Ansons vs. Messerschmitt 109s (The evacuation of Dunkirk June 1, 1940)

Although already considered to be obsolete Ansons were used aggressively to protect the beleaguered British troops during the evacuation of Dunkirk. During this operation a flight of three Ansons from Coastal Command 500 Squadron while on “operation Thistle” tangled with a flight of Messerschmitt 109 fighter aircraft. One Anson, piloted by Pilot Officer Peters, was attacked by nine Messerschmitt 109s.  Peters turned into the attack and with coordinated efforts between himself and his air gunner managed to shoot down two and damage a third, possibly a forth.  Once the engagement was over, Peters continued with the beach patrol. Pilot Officer Peters was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this action.

Avro Anson Mk II

The Canadian Ansons

 The Avro Anson MK I was to be the standard twin-engined trainer for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. By May, 1940 British production could not keep up with the demand for aircraft in Canada and Federal Aircraft Ltd. was established in Montreal to produce the Mk II version. In August, 1941 the first Canadian built Anson flew. It featured the considerable use of plywood to save stocks of steel and aluminum for other purposes. A total of 2,882 Mk II Ansons were built during the war by Canadian Federal Aircraft Ltd.
Anson II’s were used primarily to train pilots to fly multi-engined aircraft such as the Lancaster. However wireless operators, navigators, and bomb-aimers used the Anson as well. As a training aircraft the Anson was docile, forgiving, and easy to fly. As well, it developed such a reputation for reliability it was dubbed “Faithful Annie”, inspiring this poem which lauds the Anson’s superiority over the Cessna Crane:
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