KIT: Airfix 1/72 Avro Anson I
KIT #: 02009
PRICE: 9 Loonies (CDN$ 9.00)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Alex Murray
NOTES: As Borat would say "Is nice".

HISTORY

 For a comprehensive history of the Anson, please see Mr. Van Akenís preview of the Classic Airframes 1/48 Avro Anson I. The Canadian history of the Anson is below:

 Named after a British Admiral of the 18th Century, the Avro "Anson", nicknamed 'Faithful Annie' or 'The Flying Greenhouse' by those who flew it, entered RCAF service in 1940 after serving in the RAF Coastal Command at the outbreak of World War II. It was the first aircraft to be flown by the RAF to have a retractable undercarriage which was a comparative novelty in 1936.

 The Ansons were steadily replaced by later types such as the Hudson and Whitley throughout 1940, but few remained with Coastal Command until 1942. In the early days of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the Anson was selected as the standard twin-engine aircraft for the training of pilots, observers, wireless-operators, and bomb aimers. Over 20,000 aircrew received their training on it. At first the aircraft was supplied by the United Kingdom, but as the war situation worsened, production was started in Canada.

 Federal Aircraft Limited, a Canadian government owned company in Montreal was set-up in 1940 to supervise construction of the Anson Trainer in Canada. North American engines were substituted, and later the airframe was substantially redesigned. Nearly 3,000 Canadian Ansons were made and fifty were obtained by the USAAF under the AT-20 designation.

 Although used primarily as a trainer when first delivered to the RAF, it served operationally in the early years of the war as a light bomber and coastal patrol aircraft. During the evacuation of Dunkirk, Ansons were used aggressively to protect the beleaguered British troops. During this operation one Anson was attacked by ten Messerschmitts but managed to shoot down two and damage a third before the action was broken off. However, the Anson was severely limited in range, fire-power, and bomb load and was soon limited to training, transport, and other non-combat roles.

 The Avro Anson MK I was to be the standard twin-engine trainer for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. By May, 1940 British production could not keep up with the demand for aircraft in Canada and Federal Aircraft Ltd. was established in Montreal to produce the Mk II version. In August, 1941 the first Canadian built Anson flew. It featured the considerable use of plywood to save stocks of steel for other purposes.

 Anson II's were used primarily to train pilots to fly multi-engine aircraft such as the Lancaster. However wireless operators, navigators, and bomb-aimers used the Anson as well. As a training aircraft the Anson was docile, forgiving, and easy to fly. As will, it developed such a reputation for reliability it was dubbed "Faithful Annie", inspiring this poem which lauds the Anson's superiority over the Cessna Crane:

 Oh, the Crane may fly much faster

Inside she may be neat,

But to me the draughty Anson

Is very hard to beat.

Her plywood may be warping,

Her window glass may crack,

But when you start out in an Anson.

You know that you'll come back.

 -Andy, No. 7 SFTS (Fort Macleod) 1943

 Anson II's were a familiar sight in the skies of southern Alberta during the war. All were declared surplus at war's end and many were immediately destroyed. Some were sold to farmers who used their electrical, mechanical, and other parts for various purposes on the farm. They became fantastic play areas for children and occasionally were kept as cherished relics.

 Manufacturer: Avro, Avro Canada, Federal Aircraft (Canada)

Crew/Passengers: General reconnaissance aircraft with a crew of three; or, a navigational trainer carrying a pilot, two student navigators and a wireless operator; or, an advanced pilot trainer.

Power Plant: (Mk.I): Two 350-h.p. Armstrong Siddeley "Cheetah LX" engines.

(Mk II): Two 330-h.p Jacobs L-6MB engines.

(Mk.lll): Two 330-h.p. Jacobs L-6MB engines.

(Mk.IV): Two 300-h.p. Wright Whirlwind R-760-1 engines.

(Mk.V): 450-h.p. Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines. 

Performance: (Mk.I): Max. speed, 188 mph at 7,000 Cruise, 158 mph Range, 790 miles, Service ceiling, 19,000 ft.

Weights: (Mk.I) Empty, 5,375 lbs. Gross, 8,000 lbs. 

Dimensions: (Mk.l): Wingspan, 56 ft. 6 in. Length, 42 ft. 3 in. Height, 13 ft. 1 in.

Armament: None but provisions for bomb & gunnery training in turret equipped with machine gun and using  practice bombs in underwing bomb bays

Marks: Mk I,II,III,IV,V,VA,VP,VT,VI

THE KIT

This is another one of Airfixís older kits as the inside of the wing states 1962. There are no options to speak of as this kit represents primarily a common wealth trainer. Endemic of Airfix, the kit is fairly well done, especially for a model from the 60ís. The Anson is molded in grey plastic that is the typically stiff styrene provided by Airfix. Detailing is your standard array of rivets and raised surface detail. The interior detail consists of rudimentary seats for the three standard WWII pilots that seem to come with all of Airfix kits as well as a decal for the instrument panel. I personally appreciate Airfix providing pilots and wish other kit manufacturers would offer them as well.

 The kit was mostly accurate and error free with the exception of the fuselage halves. The top portion of the fuselage halves where the windows meet are somewhat warped. Iím hoping that the warm water treatment will alleviate the warping of the fuselage. The parts seem well molded with very little flash for this particular kit.  

The instructions are very easy to follow and I think it would be very hard to go wrong with a kit of this type. Two instruction sheets are provided and one is able to do three versions of the Anson. The three versions are as follows:

 An Anson from No. 71 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force from Lowood, Queensland from late 1943.

An Anson from No. 321 Squadron of the Royal Air Force from St. Eval apparently flown by the free Dutch in 1940.

 The Anson I will be doing is from No. 31 Air Navigation School of the Royal Canadian Air Force based out of Port Albert, Ontario from 1941.

 The kit appears to be straight forward so one should not expect any complications other then the standard puttying and sanding. However, I should point out that the turret that comes with the Anson does not have detail for frames to be painted on and would be somewhat difficult to paint accurately. The decals appear to be acceptable and clear and are definitely usable.  

CONCLUSIONS

There is not much to say here. The Airfix box art is still evocative as always and makes one wish they were flying the aircraft itself. For the money, you really canít beat Airfix. If you want a very accurate model sans rivets and raised details then this is probably not a kit for you. However, if you want a fun and inexpensive kit that takes you back to the times one sat down with their dad to build models, then this kit is definitely for you. I have to commend Airfix for providing so many different countries to model the Anson in. I hope to have this one done very soon.

REFERENCES

 http://www.rcaf.com

 http://www.rcaf.com/aircraft/trainers/anson/index.php

June 2007

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