Limited numbers of Ansons continued to serve in operational roles such as coastal patrols and air/sea rescue. Early in the war, an Anson scored a probable hit on a German U-boat. In June 1940, a flight of three Ansons was attacked by nine Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109s. Remarkably, before the dogfight ended, without losing any of their own, one of the Ansons destroyed two German aircraft and damaged a third.
The aircraft's true role, however, was to train pilots for flying multi-engined bombers such as the Avro Lancaster. The Anson was also used to train the other members of a bomber's aircrew, such as navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners. Postwar, the Anson continued in the training 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 The last Ansons were withdrawn from RAF service with communications units on 28 June 1968.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 the aircraft until 1952. The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), employed 50 Canadian-built Ansons, designated 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 given 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 until 1972.
Postwar civil useAfter the war, Ansons continued in production with Avro at Woodford for civilian use as light transports with small charter airlines and as executive aircraft for industrial companies. Countries which saw civilian operations with Ansons included Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Denmark.
Railway Air Services operated Ansons on scheduled services from London's Croydon Airport via Manchester to Belfast (Nutts Corner) in 1946 and 1947. Sivewright Airways operated three Mk XIX aircraft from their Manchester Airport base on charter flights as far as Johannesburg and on scheduled flights to Ronaldsway Airport in the Isle of Man until 1951. Finglands Airways operated an ex-RAF Anson I on inclusive tour flights and on scheduled flights from Manchester Airport to Newquay Airport between 1949 and 1952. Kemps Aerial Surveys operated several Anson XIXs on survey work within the UK until their retirement in 1973.
India ordered 12 new Anson 18Cs in 1948 for use by the Directorate of Civil Aviation as trainers and communications aircraft, these were delivered from Woodford in the spring of 1949.
Ansons continued to be built by Avro at Woodford for the RAF until March 1952 and were used as trainers and served in the role of Station communications aircraft until 1968.
The wooden wings of Ansons flying in Australia were found to fail at a high rate. The phenolic glue bonds parted, and it was speculated that the problem was due to the high humidity. The Commonwealth Government grounded most wooden-winged aircraft types in 1962, in particular, Ansons and Mosquitos. No aircraft were re-registered as the government mandated a test that essentially destroyed the wings, requiring new wings to be fitted. Most owners had voluntarily scrapped their aircraft well before this time.
Although Ansons have mainly been retired from flying, a 1936 Avro Anson Mk.I was recently made airworthy, fitted with later metal wings and returned to the air on 18 July 2012 in Nelson, New Zealand.
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