In 1939 RAF Coastal Command's standard reconnaissance aircraft was the Avro Anson. The Avro 652 monoplane airliner entered Imperial Airways service in 1934 and it was from this design that the long-serving Anson was derived. Originally intended to be a light transport, the Avro Anson was adapted to the coastal reconnaissance role to meet an Air Ministry requirement of May 1934. The prototype flew on 24th March 1935 and the aircraft entered service as the Anson I a year later. It was the RAF's first monoplane and its first aircraft with a retractable undercarriage. A trainer version had been developed in parallel and 1500 of these were ordered into production in 1939. The type was selected for production in Canada and to conserve vital materials, a Mk V version was built using a moulded plywood fuselage and 1051 of this type were produced in Canada.
Avro Anson I (N4877) [@ RAF Duxford]
Built by Avro at Newton Heath, Manchester, N4877 entered RAF
service on the 17th November 1938. N4877 was mainly used as a
crew ferry by the RAF during WW2 with 26 MU from December 1938, 2 Ferry Pilotsí
Pool (FPP) from February 1939, Filton, and 3 FPP (later renumbered 1 FPP ATA)
based at White Waltham from May 1940. The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA)
moved thousands of aircraft from airfield to airfield in all weathers and
conditions so allowing front≠line pilots to concentrate exclusively on
operations. White Waltham , the home of West London Aero Club, became the
HQ for the Air Transport Auxiliary. During the war years the ATA achieved
a remarkable 309,000 aircraft movement. After the war NA4877 was
transferred to Station Flight Watchfield, 48 MU at Hawarden, 23 MU at Aldergrove
and finally to 5 MU at Kemble on the 14th March 1950 for disposal. Sold to
the civilian market N4877 flew as G-AMDA, serving with the Air Navigation and
Trading Company, Derby Aviation and the London School of Flying. On the 31st
August 1963 N4877 flew to Staverton to become a part of the Skyfame collection
and flew for a number of years in 206 Squadron markings before a landing
accident at Staverton late in 1972. An aircraft from 206 (GR) Squadron of
Coastal Command while based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, attacked and destroyed a
pair of Heinkel 115s in the North Sea during 1940. With the closure of the
Skyfame Museum in 1978 N487 moved to RAF Duxford. In the photograph N4877
is painted to represent an Anson serving with 500 Squadron in 1940.
In the photograph N4877 is painted to represent an Anson serving with 500 Squadron in 1940.
Avro Anson C.19 (TX214) [@ RAF Cosford]
Built at Yeadon TX214 entered RAF service with 48 MU an Aircraft Storage Unit based at Hawarden (North East Wales) on the 16th March 1946 before being transferred to RAF St Mawgan on the 30th August 1946. TX214 went on to serve for a short while with the RAF Staff College Communications Flight and in May 1948 was transferred to the HQ Reserve Command Communications Squadron. During December 1951 TX214 arrived at RAF Hendon to serve with 31 Squadron. This Squadron was a transport unit which was later renamed the Metropolitan Communication Squadron on the 1st March 1955. With the closure of RAF Hendon to flying in early November 1957 TX214 moved with the Squadron to RAF Northolt. Placed into storage with 23 MU at RAF Aldergove on the 19th January 1960 TX214 was later transferred on the 14th December 1962 to the Maintenance Command Communications Squadron who was based at RAF Andover. Struck off Charge on the 29th August 1963 and transferred to Historical Aircraft Museum at RAF Henlow on the 5th September 1963. TX214 was moved to RAF Cosford Museum on the 7th December 1978.
On 5th September 1939 an Anson of 500 Squadron made the first RAF attack of the war on a German submarine. In June 1940, three Ansons attacked over the English Channel by nine Messerschmitt 109s succeeded in shooting down two and damaging another of the fighters.
Avro Anson C.19 (VL348) [@ Newark Air Museum]
VL348, after serving with the Communication Flights of a variety of Groups of RAF Home Command, was retired from RAF service in 1968. In the early 1970's, this aircraft was used to replace a previous Anson at Newark that had been destroyed by fire, with the wings of the previous Anson were used to replace the wings of VL348.
By the outbreak of war the RAF had 760 serviceable Anson Mk Is, equipping 10 squadrons of Coastal Command and 16 of Bomber Command (in which it served as an interim aircraft until types such as the Whitley became available). In Coastal Command the Lockheed Hudson soon replaced it, although some continued to serve in the air-sea rescue role until 1942. For most of its long service, however, the Anson was used in light transport and training roles and most RAF and Commonwealth navigators, wireless operators and air gunners trained on 'Annies'. They remained in service until 28th June 1968 when the six surviving RAF aircraft were withdrawn.
Avro Anson C.19 (VM360) [@ RAF East Fortune]
VM360 was delivered on the 16th May 1947 and remained in RAF service until Struck off Charge on the 18th November 1957. Sold on to the civilian market as G-APHV, VM360 was eventually sold to the Strathallan Collection on the 5th February 1973. Maintained in a flyable condition until 1977, VM360 was later in the year sold to the National Museum of Flight and is being slowly restored to a non-flying standard.
Development after the war culminated in the adaptation of the civilian Avro XIX for RAF use as the Anson C.19. With a completely re-designed fuselage, and metal wings and tail plane, this second generation Anson continued in RAF service until officially retired from RAF service in June 1968. By the time production ended in 1952 8138 Ansons (including 6704 Mk Is) had been built in Britain, with a further 2882 built in Canada.
Avro Anson XIX (G-AHKX) [@ Shuttleworth Collection]
British European Airways (BEA) inherited thirteen Avro XIXs during 1947 and used them on some of their Northern Ireland routes. It was not considered a good passenger aircraft due to its excessive noise and vibration and it was phased out the following year. Four were retained for training purposes at RAF Cranfield and eventually they were moved to Northolt where they were withdrawn in 1950.
Built in 1946, G-AHKX is airworthy and is owned by BAE Systems.