Avro Anson

From Academic Kids

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Avro Anson

The Avro Anson was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces during World War II and afterwards. Named for British admiral George Anson, it was originally designed for maritime reconnaissance but was soon rendered obsolete. 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 its production life in 1952, the Anson spanned nine variants and a total of 8,138 had been built in Britain by Avro and, from 1941, a further 2,882 by the Canadian Federal Aircraft Ltd. Ansons served with most air forces of the British Commonwealth as well as Egypt, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Israel and the United States.

The Anson was derived from the commercial 6-seat Avro 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. The first production run resulted in 174 Anson Mk.I aircraft for service with Coastal Command. No. 48 Squadron was the first to be equipped in March 1936. At the start of World War II, 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 However by this time the Anson was obsolete and in the process of being superseded by the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and Lockheed Hudson.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, for much of the war but it was mainly used in a training role. In addition to training pilots for flying multi-engine bombers such as the Avro Lancaster, the Anson was used to train the other members of a bomber's air crew, such as navigator, wireless operator, bombardier and air-gunners.

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.

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Avro Anson WD413 of the Air Atlantique Historic Flight takes off
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Avro Anson WD413 of the Air Atlantique Historic Flight
  • Mk.I Armstrong Whitworth Cheetah IX (350 hp) or XIX (395 hp)
  • Mk.II 330 hp Jacobs L-6BM, Canadian-built
  • Mk.III 330 hp Jacobs L-6BM, British-built
  • Mk.IV Wright Whirlwind, British-built
  • Mk.V 450 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior, Canadian-built
  • Mk.VI 450 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior, Canadian-built
  • Mk.X 104 converted Mk.Is
  • Mk.XI 90 converted Mk.Is
  • Mk.XII 20 converted Mk.Is, 221 new

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 fifty Canadian-built Ansons, designated as the AT-20. The last Ansons were withdrawn from RAF service on June 28, 1968.


Specifications (Mk I)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3 or 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: 630 ft² (58.5 m²)
  • Empty: 5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
  • Loaded: 7,955 lb (3,608 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 8,500 lb (3,856 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial engines, 2 x 350 hp (2 x 260 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 188 mph at 7,000 ft (303 km/h at 2,100 m)
  • Range: 790 miles (1,271 km)
  • Service ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,791 m)
  • Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (228 m/min)
  • Wing loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)


  • 1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in front fuselage
  • 1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in dorsal turret
  • 360 lb (163 kg) bomb load

Related content

Related development: Avro 652

Comparable aircraft: Airspeed Oxford

Designation sequence: 652 - 652A - 679 - 683 - 685 - 688 -

See also

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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