AVRO 652A "Anson" Mk I
Wartime Anson in RAF markings


The first 652A Anson I entered service with the RAF in 1935 but the Fleet Air Arm was not  equipped with the Anson until the middle of WWII. Originally developed for maritime reconnaissance patrols, the aircraft was soon obsolete for a front line role and so was used mainly as a light transport and as a trainer for bomber crews during the war, as well as for navigation and gunnery training. The Anson was built in Britain and Canada, a total of 11,022 aircraft, of which 2,882 were built in Canada. It underwent a variety of developments, both structural and mechanically. During the war it was utilised . The Anson saw service with the Fleet Air Arm only from 1943 when about 140 aircraft were transferred from the RAF being delivered to TOC RARIU Christchurch, New Zealand. Then introduced throughout the Royal Navy. The Anson was used for training purposes at Arbroath and under the BCATP in Canada where the Mk II Anson ex the RCAF was exclusively used by 745 squadron, part of the No 2 Telegraphist Air Gunners School (No 1 Naval Air Gunners School).
The Empire Air Training Scheme, EATS (also called the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, BCATP in Canada), was under the initial responsibility for establishing, administering and operating this complex plan of the RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF and SAAF from 1940. The Fleet Air Arm did not acquire its own squadron aircraft until 1943.

Anson MkI BCATP in Canada
Painting by C Driver

The BCATP evolved following a meeting of Government representatives from United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in Ottawa, and signed an agreement to set up the Plan in December 1939, converting Canada into what President Roosevelt later termed "the aerodrome of democracy." The first schools opened in Canada in April 1940, and by 24 November 1940 the first trainees from the Scheme arrived in the UK. In total 137,000 aircrew came to Canada from all corners of the globe to earn their wings in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

One of the main training schools was at the RCAF Station, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, where the Royal Navy had the eastern side of the airfield whilst the RCAF flew anti-submarine patrols in Cansos from the other side of the field.

Anson Mk Is were also delivered from the RCAF to 745 squadron at Yarmouth  from December 1943 (eg AX288), in May 1945 from the RAAF to TOC RN Bankstown,
Australia with 723 squadron at Nowra (eg AX238 and others), and in July 1945 from the   SAAF to 789 squadron at Wingfield, South Africa (eg N9561). One Anson was also     flown by the Fleet Air Arm at Port Reitz from October 1943 on loan from the East Africa   Communication Flight (eg DG976).

Photograph courtesy of the Swordfish HeritageTrust

Canadian built Anson IIs were supplied to the USAAF as AT-20s. Postwar, the Anson XII   (with metal wings and tailplane) became the Anson XIX in civil guise for use as a small airliner aimed at feeder work. Further military developments culminated in the T.22 radio trainer of 1948. The RAF retired its last Ansons in the 1950s.

Service: With air forces of Australia (1021), Canada, Egypt, Finland (3), Great Britain,       Greenland (12), Ireland, New Zealand (23), South Africa (c 750), Turkey, USA (50)

Anson coded "220*L" flying over HMS Furious

           Fleet Air Arm history

        Anson Mk I
        Total with FAA:               140
           First delivered to RN:       To TOC RARIU Christchurch (NZ) 11 July 1942 (eg N9608).
                                                Many delivered to TOC RARIU on 25 October 1943.
           Last delivered to RN         Used till after 1945
           First squadron:                 784 sqdn (BOAC) drem 9.42-45

         Anson Mk II

           Total with FAA:              c 60
           First delivered to RN:       25 January 1943 (No 11226) to 745 squadron at Yarmouth
                                                Nova Scotia (Canada). In total 60 former RCAF aircraft all
                                                delivered to 745 squadron at Yarmouth for TAG training.
           Last remaing with RN       Used till 9.44

Aircraft Type:
Avro Anson I 
Avro Anson Mk.I
Primary Role:
TAG Training, Communications
First Flight: 
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
September 1943-post 1945
Two 350 hp Amstrong Siddley Cheetah IX engines
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan: 17.22 m
Length: 12.88 m
Wing area: 38 m2
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
4286 kg



Max. speed: 303 km/h 
Ceiling: 5800 m
Range: 1250 km
Payload: 224kg bombs
Armament: Four 7.69mm guns
Battle honours:
Additional references and notes:
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 

Battle Honours and Operational History
None specified

Surviving aircraft and relics

There are still a number of Anson surviving around the world, including airworthy examples and preserved specimens in the RAF Museum (UK), Cosford RAF Museum (UK), National Aviation Museum (Canada) and the Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia, the Bull Creek Collection (Australia), MoTaT and the RNZAF Museum. None are believed to be former FAA aircraft. It is probable that a considerable number of Anson components remain on farms around New Zealand and these may include some of the former Fleet Air Arm aircraft.

Cosford Museum (UK) Avro Anson C.19 TX214 7817M

  Imperial War Museum, Duxford (UK) Avro Anson I N4877 / G-AMDA

Anson I NZ415 (ex LT376) is on display in the RNZAF museum. Completed as a composite restoration by the Museum Technical Section between 1985 and 1987, the aircraft incorporates the metal wings and tailplane from VL307 and elements from NZ410 (ex DG695) and NZ422 (ex LT447), along with D6695. The aircraft is presented as NZ406 as operated by the GR school at Bell Block (New Plymouth) in 1943.

Static Aircraft Display at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon (Canada)  Mk V Anson built in 1941

Associations and reunions
None known
Canadian Collections Selection of Profile photographs.
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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