|Avro Anson Mk. I|
Britain's Eye in the Sky
The Avro Anson Mk. 1 (in-game: Anson) is a heavy Recon plane employed by the United Kingdom. Though as fragile as other Recon aircraft from other factions, the Anson had a rather nasty surprise fitted, at great expense: a set of 7.7mm anti-aircraft machine guns in the tail-section of the plane. Though not enough firepower to go toe-to-toe with enemy air forces, it has a habit of leaving a bad taste in the occasional fighter pilot's mouth. This plane can be very useful at identifying enemy units at any ambush positions.
The Anson was derived from the commercial six-seat 652 and the militarised version, which first flew on 24 March 1935, was built to Air Ministry Specification 18/35. It was the first RAF monoplane with a retractable undercarriage. Avro allotted the type number 652A to the Anson. The first production run resulted in 174 Anson Mk I aircraft for service with Coastal Command. No. 48 Squadron RAF was the first to be equipped in March 1936.
A distinctive feature of the Anson I was its landing gear retraction mechanism which required no less than 140 turns of the hand crank by the pilot. To forgo this laborious process, early model Ansons often made short flights with the landing gear extended at the expense of 50 km/h of cruise speed.
At the start of the Second World War, there were 26 RAF squadrons operating the Anson I: 10 with Coastal Command and 16 with Bomber Command. However, by this time, the Anson was obsolete in the roles of bombing and coastal patrol and was being superseded by the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and Lockheed Hudson.
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, the Ansons downed two German aircraft "and damaging a third before the 'dogfight' ended", without losing any of their own. The aircraft's true role, however, was to train pilots for flying multi-engine bombers such as the Avro Lancaster. The Anson was also used to train the other members of a bomber's air crew, such as navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners. Postwar, the Anson continued in the training role and light transport roles. The last Ansons were withdrawn from RAF service with communications units on 28 June 1968.