Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette – 54 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Aircraft of the the Plan - the Avro Anson 
 
By far the aircraft adopted in greatest numbers by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was the Avro Anson. 8,138 were produced by Avro in Great Britain and another 2,882 were produced under license by the Federal Aircraft Ltd in Canada. As for total numbers built, it was second only to the Vickers Wellington in the Royal Air Force.

The Avro Anson’s namesake was Admiral George Anson who had a distinguished naval career with the Royal Navy in the first half of the 18th century. He was a wartime commander in the numerous conflicts of that time and as a captain who lead his crew on a voyage to circumnavigate the world.

The first Anson of the initial order of 174 flew in 1935. The last Anson in service to the Royal Air Force was a trainer and communications aircraft which was retired in 1968.  In Britain, this aircraft was produced for the RAF, Fleet Air Arm and RCAF until 1952. The Avro Anson, was a marvelous warplane in the 1930s but was deemed obsolete in this role by the time World War II started in 1939, however it assumed a useful role as a training aircraft and on coastal patrol during the war.


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 British Commonwealth Air Training Plan schools using the A.V. Roe Anson aircraft.

Service Flying Training Schools
No. 3 SFTS Calgary Alberta
No. 4 SFTS Saskatoon Saskatchewan
No. 5 SFTS Brantford Ontario
No. 7 SFTS Fort MacLeod Alberta
No. 8 SFTS Moncton New Brunswick
No. 9 SFTS Summerside PEI/Centralia Ontario
No. 11 SFTS Yorkton Saskatchewan
No. 12 SFTS Brandon Manitoba
No. 13 SFTS St. Hubert Quebec/North Battleford Saskatchewan
No. 14 SFTS Aylmer Ontario
No. 15 SFTS Claresholm Alberta
No. 16 SFTS Hagersville Ontario
No. 17 SFTS Souris Manitoba
No. 18 SFTS Gimli Manitoba
No. 19 SFTS Vulcan Alberta
No. 33 SFTS (RAF) Carberry Manitoba
No. 37 SFTS (RAF) Calgary Alberta
No. 38 SFTS (RAF) Estevan Saskatchewan
No. 41 SFTS Weyburn Saskatchewan

Air Observer Schools
No. 1 AOS Malton Ontario
No. 2 AOS Edmonton Alberta
No. 3 AOS Regina Saskatchewan
No. 4 AOS London Ontario
No. 5 AOS Winnipeg Manitoba
No. 6 AOS Prince Albert Saskatchewan
No. 7 AOS Portage la Prairie Manitoba
No. 8 AOS Ancienne-Lorette Quebec
No. 9 AOA Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Quebec
No. 10 AOS Chatham New Brunswick

Bombing & Gunnery Schools
No. 1 BGS Jarvis Ontario
No. 2 BGS Mossbank Saskatchewan
No. 3 BGS Macdonald Manitoba
No. 4 BGS Fingal Ontario
No. 5 BGS Dafoe Saskatchewan
No. 6 BGS Mountain View Ontario
No. 7 BGS Paulson Manitoba
No. 8 BGS Lethbridge Alberta
No. 9 BGS Mont-Joli Quebec
No. 10 BGS Mount Pleasant PEI
No. 31 BGS (RAF) Picton Ontario

Air (Central) Navigation Schools
No. 1 ANS Trenton Ontario/No. 1 CNS Rivers Manitoba
No. 2 ANS Pennfield Ridge New
Brunswick/Charlottetown PEI
No. 31 ANS (RAF) Port Albert Ontario
No. 32 ANS (RAF) Charlottetown PEI
No. 33 ANS (RAF) Hamilton Ontario

General Reconnaissance Schools
No. 1 GRS Summerside PEI
No. 31 GRS (RAF) Charlottetown PEI 

The Avro Anson is a twin engine single wing aircraft noted for its working versatility. Production of the Anson was based on the Avro 652 airliner. The Anson’s initial purpose was as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft in support to Fleet Air Arm’s larger and most costly flying boats. The Anson was capable of carrying heavy loads for a long range.  Early models had wooden wings made of spruce and plywood, a welded steel tube fuselage frame and were mostly clad in fabric. Its nose was moulded magnesium kept to a minimum size so as to not impede forward visibility.

In a first for the RAF, the Anson had a retractable undercarriage which was initially mechanical and hand operated requiring 144 turns of a crank to raise or lower the landing gear. With the gear tucked into the fuselage, the 

​The Avro Anson 
Anson was capable of an extra 30 miles per hour. The first Ansons were powered by two Armstrong-Siddley Cheetah IX radial engines.

These Ansons were crewed by a pilot, navigator/bomb-aimer and wireless air gunner. In 1940, requirements increased the crew to four members. The bomb-aimer was located laying on his stomach in the forward section of the nose with access to a bombsight, driftsight, other instruments and a landing light. The pilot sat behind the bomb-aimer with modern instruments and controls making the aircraft instrument flight rules (IFR) capable. Behind and to the right (starboard) was room for an additional passenger. The navigator was located behind this jump seat with a chair and table complete with instruments including a compass, Bigsworth chart boards, and wind and speed calculators. The wireless operator sat behind the wings with a table and radio. This crew member had access to a winch witch could be used to extend and retract an aerial behind the aircraft.


The pilot had control of a single .303 calibre Vickers machine gun pointed ahead of the aircraft. The WAG had access to an Armstrong –Whitworth manual gun turret with a single Lewis machine gun. The Anson could carry 300 pounds of bombs on its wings.
Anson trainers included dual controls allowing for a pilot trainee and no gun turret with the exception of those used for gunnery training. They were equipped with a Bristol hydraulic gun turret similar to that in the Bristol Blenheim


Ansons with maritime responsibilities were equipped with an internal inflatable dinghy and automatic distress signals.

At the beginning of World War II, the RAF had 824 Ansons in active service with 10 Coastal Command Squadrons and as trainers with 16 Bomber Command Squadrons in No. 6 Operational Training Group.  Lockheed Hudsons eventually replaced the coastal patrol Ansons. Ansons provided training for pilots, navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners.

The Royal Australian Air Force flew 1028 Ansons, mostly Mark 1s. The Royal New Zealand Air Force flew 23 Anson navigation trainers.

The Anson flew in the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1952 as a trainer and for the RCAF Eastern Air Command in maritime patrol with two 250 pound bombs. The RCAF utilized Mark II Ansons with Jacobs engines and hydraulic landing gear and the Mark V for navigator training equipped with Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior engines and wooden fuselages. One Mark V! was built in Canada for gunnery training with two Wasp Junior engines. A total of 23 variants of the Avro Anson were produced in Great Britain and Canada.​


Avro Anson 6955 In Flight
Avro Ansons parked at No. 5 Air Observer School in Winnipeg Manitoba.