1941 Avro 652A Anson Mk I / III

1941 Avro 652A Anson Mk I / III (RCAF 6081 / RAF R9882)

This Avro 652A Anson Mk. I (Serial # R3/LW/9680, C-GTCU) in its present skeleton state, waits its turn for restoration. Once restored, will be one of a few Mk.  Is in the world still in existence.

The Avro Anson, named for British admiral George Anson, was a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the RAF and RCAF during the Second World War and afterwards. Manufactured by AV Roe & Company (Avro), the Anson was designed in 1935 and originated from the Avro 652 commercial aircraft.

The Anson had a low-mounted one-piece plywood and spruce wooden wing. The fuselage had a welded steel tubing airframe streamlined with wooden formers and stringers covered in fabric, except for the nose which was clad in aluminum alloy. The Mk. I version of the Anson had manually-operated landing-gear and flaps – 145 turns of a crank to raise or lower the landing gear and a hand operated hydraulic pump to raise or lower the flaps.

Originally built as a General Reconnaissance aircraft the Mk. I was armed with:

  • Two 350 HP Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX Radial Engines.
  • One fixed forward-firing Vickers .303 in machine-gun in port side of the nose,
  • One Lewis or Vickers K .303 in gun in an Armstrong Whitworth manually-operated turret.
  • Two 100lb bombs and eight 20lb bombs, flares or smoke-floats in internal racks.

When war broke out in 1939, it quickly became apparent that the Anson was obsolescent for front line combat roles (although an Anson is credited with shooting down two Me109s and damaging another during the evacuation at Dunkirk).  With its combat life drawing to a close, it took on a new purpose. The RAF desperately needed to rapidly expand its aircrew training program and the Anson’s ruggedness; reliability and benign flight characteristics made it the ideal candidate. Schools were established in the United Kingdom and, under the British Common Wealth Air Training Plan, in Canada, Australia and South Africa to train pilots, observers, wireless-operators, navigators and bomb aimers.

It was slow, cold and noisy but rugged and very reliable and is possibly the most famous British aircrew trainer of all time. Used in huge numbers and nicknamed ‘Faithful Annie’, it is fondly remembered by the many thousands of aircrew who trained in it.

By the end of production 1952, 11,020 Ansons had been built in nine variants; 8,138 Britain by Avro and 2,882 in Canada.

The museum’s Anson is a British built Mk. I that served as RAF R9882. It was first assigned to the RCAF (6081) BCATP No.3 Service Flying Training School (Calgary AB). A winter conversion kit was installed by Prairie Airways Ltd at Moose Jaw, SK in early 1941. In December 1941-Jan 1942 it went to MacDonald Brothers Aircraft in Winnipeg for conversion (modification) to Mk. III specifications, receiving Jacobs L-6MB engines and hydraulically powered landing gear and flaps. After conversion it was transferred to No.4 Training Command (Regina SK). Retired for disposal June 1944, it was transferred to No.2 Command Dec 1944, and stored by No.10 Repair Depot (Calgary AB).