The Avro 652 was a commercial aircraft designed and built for an Imperial airways requirement in 1933. Ordered the following year, the prototype flew in January 1935. Adapted for military use, the 652A Anson I entered service with the RAF in 1936. Originally intended for reconnaissance work, it was soon obsolete for front line work. It soon found a new role as a training aircraft. The aircraft was built in Britain and Canada, and underwent a variety of developments, both structural and mechanically. During the war it was utilised for navigation, bombing and gunnery training, as well as light freight work. 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 ten years later.
The RNZAF utilised 23 Anson I aircraft (NZ401-NZ423) between 1942 and 1952. The first fourteen were ordered in 1941 as replacements for the 2 GR Squadron Vickers Vincents. Ten arrived in July 1942, with the remainder on strength by September, based at Omaka. In October 1942 the aircraft were sent to New Plymouth with the GR school. Nine more were ordered for communications duties, but after there arrival in three batches between July and September 1943, these were also sent to New Plymouth to act as navigation and reconnaisance trainers. Five were written off for various reasons during the war period
Post war the Ansons were moved to Wigram where they continued as navigation trainers until 1952. Some were tempoarily assigned elsewhere, including four used for meteorological research by the DSIR. The Anson was replaced in 1952 by the DH Devon. Some aircraft were disposed of in 1948, with the rest in 1952. Broken up or sold for scrap, many were sold to farmers for mechanical and hydraulic parts.
In addition two further Anson XII aircraft were operated by the RNZAF on behalf of the RAF. These were VIP aircraft for the British High Commission. PH600 arrived in June 1945, but was written off following an accident at Paraparaumu in August 1947. The replacement aircraft, PH599 arrived from Australia (where it had been used by the Governor General) in May 1948. Put up for disposal in 1951, the aircraft was sold in 1952 to Southern Scenic Air Services who used it for passenger services until 1955 when it was replaced by a DH Dominie. The aircraft operated on the civil register as ZK-AXY, and the registration was cancelled in 1961.
Southern Scenic Air Services purchased another ex-RNZAF Anson, NZ410 (ex DG695) in 1952. This aircraft was intended for freight work and registered as ZK-BCL, but civil aviation requirements meant it was un-economic to convert. It was parked at the Frankton airfield (near Queenstown) until 1960 when it was destroyed by fire.
Two former RNZAF Anson I aircraft survive:
It is probable that a considerable number of components remain on farms around New Zealand. I would appreciate any information regarding their location.
Last Update:- 16 March, 1999
Data is for Anson I
© 1999 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved