Bits and Pieces
By Jack Dueck, Editor
Many of us remember this venerable bird from the WWII and Post War days, and are familiar with commercial applications using reconfigured Ansons. Ansons were plentiful during the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). The one drawback in restoring an Anson is their one-piece wooden spar, and consequently many Ansons were sold as surplus aircraft and used for parts, but never returned to service.
I came across this scene of ten Anson carcasses placed in a circle in a farmer’s field near Cayley, Alberta, and it brought back memories.
Carcases of ten BCATP Ansons
The AVRO Anson was a British, twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with numerous air forces during WWII. Named after the British Admiral George Anson, it was designed for maritime reconnaissance, but was soon rendered obsolete, and then resurrected as a mutli-engine air crew trainer. In this role, it became the mainstay of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. By the end of its production, in 1952, 8,138 had been built in Britain by AVRO and a further 2,882 by Canadian Federal Aircraft Ltd. In all, nine variants were built.
Photo courtesy of The Swordfish heritage Trust
At the beginning of the Second World War, there were 26 RAF squadrons operating the Anson I; ten with Coastal Command and 16 with Bomber Command. By this time, however, the Anson was obsolete for its bombing role and being replaced with the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, and the Lockheed Hudson.
Limited numbers of Ansons continued to serve in operational roles such as coastal patrols and air/sea rescue. In June of 1940, a flight of three Ansons was attacked by nine Luftwaffe Messerschmitt BF 109s. Remarkably, the Ansons shot down two BF 109s and damaged a third before the imbalanced dogfight ended, without loss of their own!
The Ansons true role, was to train pilots to fly the multi-engine bombers such as the AVRO Lancaster. It was also used to train navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers, and air gunners.
Postwar service again included training roles and light air transport operations. The last Ansons were withdrawn from RAF service in June, of 1968. After the war, Ansons continued to be used in civilian roles as light transports for small charter companies, and for executive travel operations. Countries that saw this service included Great Britian, Canada, Australia, and Denmark.
Today, you will probably not see an Anson in flight although some museums have static displays. This aircraft is now a relic of the past, as seen in a farmer’s field.