AUSTRALIAN AVRO ANSONS

The RAAF operated a total of 1,017 Avro 652A Ansons from 1936 until the early 1950s.  DCA approved the type for civil conversion, and large numbers of military disposals Ansons were purchased by civil operators, over 140 being assigned civil registrations.

DCA concerns over poor single-engined performance and deterioration of the glued joints in the wooden wing resulted in a grounding order for all Australian civil registered Anson 1s, effective midnight 30 June 1962.


In May 1962, on my first visit to Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne I was fortunate to see Avro Ansons still in service, just a month
before they were grounded. Here's Flinders Island Airlines' VH-FIA about to taxy, loaded with piles of the Melbourne afternoon
newspaper The Herald which were air delivered each afternoon to Victorian country centres.



Brain & Brown Airfreighters' Anson VH-BSF was also used on the afternoon newspaper deliveries that day in May 1962.



VH-BSF parked next to the FIA Ansons, waiting for the newspaper trucks to arrive with freshly printed Heralds.



VH-FIC was owned by Flinders Island Airlines associate company Air Surveys Australia, but flew FIA freight charters when
not engaged on survey work.



The next day at Essendon Airport I found Adastra Aerial Surveys' VH-AGA, resting between photographic survey missions.



The navigator's nose position retained the former military perpex panels, with an additional side window.



Here's VH-AGA at Adastra's hangar at Sydney Airport in January 1964. showing the effects of 18 months retired in the weather.

 

VH-AGA was one of few Ansons saved, being moved by road in 1964 from Sydney Airport to Camden Airport NSW by the
Camden Museum of Aviation.  It was restored in military camouflage with a bogus serial number. VH-AGA had actually been
R9883 with RAF and RAAF.  This photo was taken in 1967 at Camden by Neville Parnell.



Adastra Aerial Surveys flew a total of nine Ansons, alongside their Lockheed Hudsons. Two Ansons were left at the time of the
'DCA grounding, VH-AGA and VH-BLF. The latter was forlornly parked outside the Adastra hangar at Sydney Airport in
January 1964.



DCA's five Ansons had been replaced by Aero Commanders by the time of the Anson grounding. VH-CAD had been moved
to the airport fire service practice ground at Parafield SA in May 1962. Silver with blue and white trim.



VH-CAD was burnt for fire pratice at Parafield in August 1962. The DCA insignia was still on the nose.



Marshall Airways Anson VH-AZX ended up at a car wreckers yard in the Sydney suburb of Fairfield by July 1967.



Sid Marshall of Marshall Airways rolled his last three Ansons VH-ASM, VH-AZX & W2599 on to the grass at Bankstown after
the DCA grounding. W2599 had not been given a civil conversion and was still in wartime trainer yellow after years stored in a
hangar.  Seen at Bankstown in January 1964, in remarkably good condition. It was scrapped soon after.



At Kalgoorlie WA, pioneer aviator George Lewis established Goldfields Airways in 1934. After WWII he used two Ansons for
charter and on the Kalgoorlie Royal Flying Doctor Service contract until 1957.  At the time of the Anson grounding, DCA
granted his remaining Anson VH-BEL a 3 month extension to allow a photographic survey to be completed. Its final flight was
9 September 1962, then retired in the hangar, where it is seen in 1970 with flat tyres and fabric splitting from the dry heat.



George Lewis had flown SE-5As with the Australian Flying Corps over the trenches in France in WWI.  His life-saving mercy
flights from Kalgoorlie since 1934 were legendary.   George's well-known intolerance of officialdom can be seen in his own
writing on the nose of his Anson VH-BEL.



Thanks to the good work of the Air Force Association at Perth, VH-BEL was saved, to be displayed in their Aviation Heritage
Museum at Bull Creek. This 1976 picture shows how badly it had suffered in storage, before the major restoration commenced.



Anson VH-DOB had previously been VH-RAS with Robbys Aircraft Co at Parafield, until sold to Mr. Bill Dobson in Melbourne.
Before he collected his aircraft, DCA announced the planned June 1962 grounding order, and his plans were dashed. He left it at
Parafield parked in a Robbys hangar. Scaling the hangar wall gained this shot in March 1962. Silver with red trim.



In January 1963 VH-DOB was rolled outside and left in the weather at Parafield.  Mr. Dobson offered the aircraft complete for
25 when I wrote to him asking about about his intentions. After a year it was towed to the airport fire drill gound, and later
broken-up: the fuselage was taken to a hillside at Skye in the Adelaide Hills and used in a crash exercise in September 1964.



Woods Airways, Perth was operated by Captain Jimmy Woods, former chief pilot of West Australian Airways and MMA. The
airline flew a single 18 mile route Perth Airport-Rottnest Island, with two Ansons VH-WAB & VH-WAC, and was much loved
by Perth holidaymakers. This rare colour picture picture, source not known, shows VH-WAB Willem De Vlamingh on the white
sand of Rottnest Island airfield in December 1958.  It was named after the Dutch sailor who landed on the island in 1696.



After Jimmy Woods retired his two Ansons, he flew them to friends' farms south of Perth for their children to play in.  Here's
VH-WAB near Borden WA in 1970, badly affected by weather and children, but still standing on its undercarriage.




And here's Woods Airways' other Anson VH-WAC The Inlander, on a farm at Gwambagine WA in 1970. The undercarriage
has been retracted for the childrens' safety.  The mortal remains were collected some years later by the Air Force Association
museum group in Perth, to display the forward fuselage.



Terry Brain, co-founder of Brain & Brown Air Freighters Pty Ltd in at Moorabbin was a devoted Anson man. He commissioned
the rebuilding of one of their damaged Ansons VH-BAF with an Avro XIX metal wing and more powerful Cheetah XV engines,
which was completed in May 1963 as the one-and-only Avro 652AM (for Modified).  It was outside their Moorabbin hangar
having an engine run that month, painted green and white with black trim. Today it is flying in NZ in camouflage as ZK-RRR.

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