The Anson was the RAAF's first retractable undercarriage, low wing monoplane, and served in great numbers (1,028 aircraft) following 1935 orders, when the RAAF set out to modernise its equipment. It stayed in service until 1955, when the few remaining examples of this faithful machine were terribly outmoded.
It was initially intended for general reconnaissance, and particularly maritime patrol. The majority were GR.1 versions, delivered between 1936 and 1938. It began to be replaced in the maritime role by the Lockheed Hudson from 1940.
Already dated, the Anson moved to its well-remembered role as a multi-engine, observers, gunners and navigators training aircraft within the Empire Air Training Scheme. 66, 67, 71 and 73 Sqns. continued anti-submarine patrols off eastern Australia from 1942.
Most RAAF Ansons ended their operational careers soon after World War 2, the last to retire being Mk. X VM375 (many Ansons retaining RAF serials), which served at Woomera Rocket Range, South Australia, as one of two communications Ansons between November 1947 and October 1955.
A number of Ansons continued to fly in civil roles with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, various regional operators, police, scientific research bodies, and private owners, including former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who used one for agricultural work. In the 1960s a series of accidents involving aircraft of similar construction to the Anson led to restrictions, and ultimately to withdrawal of Certificates of Airworthiness. The last pure-bred Anson to fly, VH-BEL / W2121, had its certification extended until September 1962 to complete a survey contract in Western Australia.
An Anson Mk.I continued to fly in private ownership. It was a hybrid Mk.I with a metal Mk. XIX wing fitted to circumvent the certification restrictions, and made various air show appearances.
In the 1990s several Ansons were under restoration. One appeared on the Australian civil register in June 2001.
Information courtesy of the Digger History web site.