The Avro Anson was developed from the company’s Avro 652 airliner in 1935 to fulfill the Royal Air Force requirement for a maritime patrol bomber. It was used briefly in that role at the beginning of the Second World War but its most important use was as a trainer for multi-engine pilots and aircrew.
The RCAF purchased about 1500 British-built Anson Mk. Is for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan but the huge expansion of the plan meant that more were needed. Two Canadian versions were developed and built at Victory Aircraft in Toronto. The Mk. II Anson had American manufactured Jacobs engines instead of the Armstrong Siddeley Cheetahs of the Mk. I, and hydraulically retractable landing gear. Victory Aircraft built 1822 of the Mk. II. Steel shortages led to the development of the Mk. V which had a molded plywood fuselage and Pratt and Whitney engines. 1069 of this version were built. The sturdiness and reliability of the Anson led to extensive civilian use after the war. A number of Ansons are still flying.
The Ansons were a constant site at Blatchford Field used by # 2 Air Observers School, located in the same hangar now occupied by the Alberta Aviation Museum. Thousands of navigators and bomb aimers learned their war-time craft at #2 AOS in these rugged and easily repairable aircraft.
Ansons were also a mainstay of other BCTAP flight programs across the Prairies.