Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Avro Anson

 The Avro Anson is an aeroplane with an interesting history.  It was first flown in 1935 and was the first multi-engined aeroplane with the RAF to have retractable wheels.  The Mk1 had a crew of 3 with a pilot, navigator and radio operator.  With a .303 calibre nose mounted gun and a .303 calibre turret mounted gun, this aircraft was primarily used as a land based observation aircraft.  As a combat aircraft, it was obsolete by the start of the second world war, but it was retaind as a multi-engined trainer and light transport behind the lines.
My father was an engine fitter with the RAF, specialising in Merlin engines.  He worked on the Anson XIX Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radials as well and was quite fond of the "Faithful Annie".  It was a reliable and easy aircraft to use and maintain.
11,020 Ansons were manufactured between 1935 and 1952 in various marks,  They were also used very widely across the world by many air forces and civil operators.
With a top speed of 188 mph and a very good cabin visibility the aircraft made up in may ways for its overall poor manoeuvrability and temperamental ground handling.
The main issue for most crews was the primitive undercarriage, which required 140 turns of the crank to retract the gear.  This took a couple of minutes to do and it was better done by the navigator or signaller than the pilot.  Also, landing required 140 turns of the crank to get the wheels down and locked. Raising the gear was often not done on short journeys.  Of course, when the Anson first came into service, the ability to retract the undercarriage was revolutionary cutting edge stuff.
For a multi-engined machine, the view from the cabin was exceptionally good.  This is why the Anson was ideal as a trainer and a transport.  In flight it was also a very stable aircraft, making flights comfortable and allowing easy access for crew to move along the cabin space.
The main concern about landing was getting the wheels down and locked before touchdown.  The drag of the gear reduced the airspeed by 30 mph and the flaps would slow the aircraft further.  Light on the brakes when the wheels are down as the tail is liable to flip up on heavy braking and Ansons have been known to flip in high winds as a result of excessive application of brakes on landing.

Sim model by 'The Aircraft Factory'

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