Entering service in 1936, the Avro Anson served for a remarkably long time, not retiring from Royal Air Force use until 1968. The Mk.1 was the first aircraft with a retractable undercarriage to enter service with the RAF, despite this requiring a hand crank to be turned up to 160 times to raise it! Carrying a crew of four; pilot, bomb aimer, gunner and wireless operator, the Mk.1 was powered by twin cheetah IX radials and was woefully under gunned, having only a single .303 machine gun in a manually operated gun turret and a single fixed weapon in the nose. Offensively two 100lb (45kg) bombs could be stowed internally, and external racks could carry eight 20lb (9kg) bombs, flares, or smoke generators.
The Anson saw some action in the early years of the war with Coastal Command, however rapid advances in aircraft technology in the late 1930s meant the type quickly became obsolete and was largely replaced by the Lockheed Hudson. However, the rugged and very forgiving Anson would come into its own as an advanced trainer. Thousands of aircrew were trained as radio operators, navigators, and bombardiers on ‘Faithful Annie’ and this continued post war.
Image: Avro Anson - Photo by Gavin Conroy
A total of 11,020 Ansons were produced from 1935, right through WWII. Today, just a single example of the war era Ansons remains in flying condition and this is based right here at Omaka. Originally operated by the RAAF it was acquired by Bill Reid who with a small but dedicated team, spent the next ten years returning it from its heavily modified post war fit out as a passenger transport aircraft, complete with nine seats, plywood walls and portholes back to the original ‘green house’ of its glory days. On 18th July 2012, the aircraft took off from Nelson Airport for its first post-restoration flight.
For more information on booking Avro Anson joyflights please see the Omaka AHC website HERE
About Yealands Classic Fighters Omaka: The airshow is the main fundraising event for the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum, located in Blenheim, Marlborough NZ. 2021 will be Classic Fighters Omaka’s 20th anniversary.
The show is has been postponed until September 03-05 2021 and tickets are available at www.classicfighters.co.nz or at the gate.