Avro Anson

The Avro Anson was a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force (RAF), Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces during the Second World War 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. 

Avro Anson
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Avro
Production Period 1936 - 1968
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1935
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Avro 1936 1968 11020 View

At the start of the Second World War, there were 26 RAF squadrons operating the Anson I; ten with Coastal Command and 16 with Bomber Command. However, by this time, the Anson was obsolete in the roles of bombing and coastal patrol. 

Limited numbers of Ansons continued to serve in operational roles such as coastal patrols and air/sea rescue after the outbreak of World War II. However, the aircraft were used primarily to train pilots for flying multi-engine bombers such as the Avro Lancaster. The Anson was also used to train the other members of a bomber air crew, such as navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners. Postwar, the Anson continued in the training role and light transport roles. The last Ansons were withdrawn from RAF service with communications units on 28 June 1968. 

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 50 Canadian-built Ansons, designated as the AT-20. 

The Royal New Zealand Air Force operated 23 Ansons as navigation trainers in the Second World War, (alongside the more numerous Airspeed Oxford), and acquired more Ansons as communication aircraft immediately after the war. A preserved navigation trainer is in the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum at Wigram. 

The Egyptian Air Force operated Ansons in communications and VIP duties. A specially outfitted Anson was gifted to the then King by the Royal Air Force. The Royal Afghan Air Force obtained 13 Anson 18 aircraft for various duties from 1948. These aircraft survived through 1972.

Role Multirole aircraft, primarily a trainer
Manufacturer Avro
First flight 24 March 1935
Introduction 1936
Retired 28 June 1968 (RAF)
Primary users Royal Air Force
Fleet Air Arm
Produced 1930s–1952
Number built 11020

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3-4
  • 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: 463 ft (43.1 m)
  • Empty weight: 5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 7,955 lb (3,608 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 8,500 lb (3,900 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial engines, 350 hp (260 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 188 mph (163 knots, 303 km/h) at 7,000 ft (2,100 m)
  • Range: 790 mi (690 nm, 1,300 km)
  • Service ceiling 19,000 ft (5,791 m)
  • Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 17.2 lb/ft (83.9 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.088 hp/lb (140 W/kg)


  • Guns:
    • 1 x .303 in (7.70 mm) machine gun in front fuselage
    • 1 x .303 in Vickers K machine gun in dorsal turret
  • Bombs: 360 lb (160 kg)

End notes