A recent addition to the Heritage Centre, Amberley RAAF Base in Queensland is Avro Anson Mk 1, W2472 (RAF serials were carried through to RAAF use on most Ansons). In 2010 the aircraft was acquired by the ANZAC Day Commemorative Committee (QLD) and donated to the RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre.
The Avro Anson was the humble but effective backbone of the RAAF training and reconnaissance effort from just before WW11 until the late 1940s with in excess of one thousand aircraft in service. Most WW11 RAAF veterans have memories of flying in them, most good but some not so good especially winding up and down the undercarriage!! One Anson even managed to land on top of another one in one famous episode.
This particular Anson has a long and largely uneventful career in the RAAF and civil use. This aircraft was delivered to 2 AP 8.8.41 then to 6 SFTS as number “51” for training purposes 7.9.41. The Anson then had a turret fitted on 23.1.42. Then to Guinea Airways 17.1.44, 6 SFTS 27.12.44. CMU Mallala, CMU Benalla 7.3.47. CMU Tocumwal 17.11.48. The aircraft was sold on 24.4.54 to an unknown company.
From then on there was some confusion as to its fate and at one stage the aircraft was mistaken for AX305 / VH-BIF now with the Queensland Air Museum, who state “It should be noted that for many years there was some doubt as to the correct military identity of VH-BIF which was thought to be W2472, but it is now believed to be AX305. The real Anson W2472 has since emerged at Roma Queensland having previously being stored at Miles, Qld”
Positive identification of the Heritage Centers Avro Anson aircraft has been confirmed from serials located in several places on the airframe. W2472 is quite complete as an Anson exposed for many years in the Harsh Queensland weather. Most of the wooden structure has long since disintegrated but nearly all of the metal frame and structures are intact including the engines which is unusual as the Chaeta engines are much sought after by avid aviation “collectors” and seem to vanish accordingly. W2472 is thus one of the most complete Anson projects available and will make the basis of a very detailed restoration.
The fuselage of the Anson has now been put on display in the Heritage Centre museum buildings “as is” as part of the 23 Squadron 75th Anniversary Commemorative display and is a most impressive display in its own right. Work is also soon to commence on the wings of the Anson in the restoration workshops by the highly skilled volunteer workforce. This will be a long and arduous task but one well within the capabilities of team whose superb work has included the likes of several Douglas Bostons, a PBY Catalina, Mirage etc. The aircrafts engines are in particularly good condition as they still turn over and are complete with their props so will not require a huge amount of work. It is not inconceivable that they could be made to operate and possibly allow the aircraft to taxi although this is not a part of the restoration plan at present.
When located W2472 was wearing the RAAF training all yellow color scheme although no plans have yet been made to have it finished in a particular scheme. It is likely however that a 23 Squadron color scheme will be chosen given the history of that unit at Amberley and with the Anson as a type.
Considering that the Anson was once the most numerous type of any aircraft in the history of the RAAF there are very few survivors in Australia in restored condition. The nature of the partial cloth and wooden construction and the harsh Australian climate has sealed the fate of the vast majority of Ansons. Whilst a number of fuselage frames have survived, very few complete or restorable machines survive and given the magnitude of the task it is likely few will be restored in the future. Thus we will await with eager anticipation the completion of this iconic piece of RAAF heritage which will greatly enhance the already magnificent Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre collection, we will give regular updates on this Warbird Restoration project as it progresses.
© John Parker 2013