Anson and Vincent

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In the latest Classic Wings magazine there are two great articles on exciting projects undergoing restoration here in NZ.

One is on Bill Reid's Avro Anson which he is restoring at Wakefield, north of Nelson, to flying condition. It is a Mk 1, and it looks absolutely lovely. He's combining two airframes he acquired in Aussie, and he says it should be flying by 2006. I can't wait to see that one - the world's only flying Anson Mk 1. He mentions that he likes the idea of the RAF Coastal Command Ansons that sank U-boats and shipping and even shot down aircraft, so I guess we may see it in a white scheme.

The other interesting article is on the Vickers Vincent that is being restored (sadly to static) at Dairy Flat by the Subritzky family. The airframe looks amazing, especially since they say they are using as much of the original material as possible. The Vincent and Vildebeest were massive beasts. I can't wait to see it complete, as well as the RNZAF Museum's Vildebeest.

The article mentions another airframe has recently surfaced in Blenheim (NZ) so there may possibly someday be one flying? I would LOVE to see one flying.

Odd to think but for the first half of the war the Vildebeest and Vincent was New Zealand's most important aircraft, not only providing our main defence in the General Reconnaisance squadrons, patrolling for German raiders and later Japanese shipping, etc. but also as a very important advanced trainer before the Harvards began to arrive. Several of New Zealand's aces and top pilots learned to fly on these aircraft, including Bill Wells and Johnnie Houlton. So seeing two examples being restored, a Vincent and a Vilde, is really great.

For those who don't know, the Subritzkys are a well known family of aircraft restorers who have several interesting projects. These include a Spitfire LF.XVIe TE330 which the article says will fly within the next year. They are restoring a P40M, an Oxford (to static), a Meteor, a Piston Provost, an early model Fletcher, and they have several Hinds, two of which are apparently very advanced. I hope we'll be seeing a few flyers out of that stable soon.

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Profile picture for user setter

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Hi Dave

I agree , I was very excited to see the progress happening on the Vincent/Vilderbeasts in NZ especially since the type/s saw operational service.

I have seen mention that RAFM Hendon was apparently in discussion about recovering /restoring one so perhaps this is one of the NZ aircraft ? or perhaps there is something remaining in Asia ?

On the subject of big ugly pommie biplanes perhaps you have access to images of the Fairey Gordon being started in NZ - another very big machine. I would love to hear more about this.

Also whilst on this bandwagon is there a Wallace in NZ - if so where and with whom.

Lastly does anybody have images of the other aircraft being restored along with the Vincent - particularly the Hinds.

Thanks for this
Kindest regards
john Parker

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Hi John,

I'd be keen to know more about the RAF Museum's attempts to get a Vincent/Vildebeest.

The article says "it has really only been in New Zealand that the any remnants of these burly biplanes have survived" (sic).

I doubt there is anything left of the unfortunate ones that went into combat in Singapore. They'd have had no chance against Zeros.

I have never heard anything about a Wallace in NZ. They certainly never served in the RNZAF. If there is oe here it has to have been imported in recent years.

I have heard nothing about the Fairey Gordon being rebuilt here either. I know there are a few remnants from crash sites - again I think the Subritzkys may have been involved there - but I haven't heard of any rebuilds. Can you fill me in please?

Regarding the Subritzky collection, I was talking with a chap today about their collection and he knows them. He says they have the remains of around 12 Hinds all together. But he said if combined they would still only make two complete airframes. But it is interesting to know how much they have collected - obviously a lot of aviation archeology involved there.

Thereis one photo here but it's five years ago
http://www.kiwiaircraftimages.com/pages/subhind6.html

There are some much better photos of one of the Hinds here
http://www.warbirdsovernewzealand.com/Subritzky/Subritzky.htm

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He mentions that he likes the idea of the RAF Coastal Command Ansons that sank U-boats and shipping and even shot down aircraft, so I guess we may see it in a white scheme.


Did any Ansons sink a submarine? In the Pacific, maybe?
I don't believe they wore a white colour scheme over here - maybe in New Zealand?

Flood.™

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There was an experimental scheme on an RAAF Anson - gloss white undersides, matt white sides...

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Flood,

You may well be right on both points there - I may have jumped to conclusions. The Anson apparently made the first attack of the war on a U-boat but i don't know if it sank. I had assumed it did, and I've always assumed they would have sunk a few at least as they are touted as rather successful in the Coastal Command role. But I may be wrong.

I am not sure of the colour scheme. I had thought the white sides and green/grey camouflaged upper was a standard scheme on Coastal Command aircraft from about mid-war. I think I have seen the scheme on Ansons but I can't be certain of that. It may have been on an innaccurate model.

I have read that Ansons served with Coastal Command up till sometime in 1942. Was the Anson fased out of service before that scheme came in perhaps? Or did it briefly wear the scheme?

In NZ there were two colour schemes. Early scheme was the stock standard RAF Green/Brown/Sky scheme as supplied. The later scheme was NZ Blue/Green/Sky, a scheme adopted by most RNZAF home aircraft (P40, Hudson, Hind, Vildebeeste, Vincent, Harvard....) which was rather unique as the paint was made here rather than imported.

I wonder, would the Ansons that came to New Zealand have been ex-Coastal Command ones which were released for EATS training? Or were they still building them in 1942? Ours were ordered in 1941 and arrived in 1942 and were used purely in an advanced training role for crews going into the GR squadrons (gunners, wireless ops, navs, pilots.

A friend of mine worked on the Anson squadron, which was known as the School of General Reconnaissance and Navigation, at RNZAF Station Bell Block. He was an aircraft fitter and would often fly in them because the wheels had to be cranked up by hand, so two 'erks' were always taken along on training flights so the crews didn't have the laborious task. He loved it, flying round Taranaki, the coast and Mt Egmont all day long.

I do not think the NZ Ansons ever saw a sniff of action, unless perhaps there may have been one or two false alarm scrambles. But sadly no record of service like the RAF ones.

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IIRC the RAF Costal Ansons were replaced ASAP by Hudsons (that was what the Hudson was bought for). The depth charges the RAF had at the beguinning of the war were appalling - wouldn't sing a U-Boat if you put one inside it, so I suspect that the Anson achieved no kills. But they did help keep the U-Boats down or away, which was also v. important.

They were silver (aluminium that is) pre-war

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I think it was in "The Right of the Line" that I read of an Anson accidentally attacking a British submarine - apparently they hit it accurately, and the sum total of the damage to the submarine was a broken lightbulb. I think that shows how suited the Anson was to the AS role ;)

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Eddie, that's both hilarious and shocking at the same time. At least the crew were very well trained in hitting the target I guess, even if it was a waste of time. :)

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To be a pedant, nothing wrong with the Anson (bit slow, light, late etc, but that went for the whole RAF then) but the depth charges were useless. I recall that story now too. Think it apears in a few of the basic RAF history books.

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Well, presumably it wasn't all that suited to lugging the size of depth charges required to do any serious damage, so in my books that makes it pretty useless in that role. Great training aeroplane though - the only complaint I've heard about it was that it was too draughty in a Canadian winter.

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No. The problem was the bombs were no good. Not to small (there wasn't anything bigger then) they were cr@p.
The issue was that ony (from memory, where Tony Williams when you need him? :D) 40% of the weight of the charge was explosive. By the war's end, the DCs were 80% bang stuff. If your DC is a thick steel casing and not enough bang stuff to blow the proverbial skin off a rice pudding, it don't matter how many you tote.

The point is that most of the RAF was woefully under supplied with proper warlike equipment. Our politicians were directly responsible for thousands of young men's lives due to parsimony in the 30s.

Cheers

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Also, our explosive was cr@p. It was known that it could be made substantially more powerful by the addition of aluminium (oxide, I think) but it wasn't done for quite a while. Not sure where to find a reference to it, I'll see if I can find it.

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Ansons and U-Boats

Flood,

You may well be right on both points there - I may have jumped to conclusions. The Anson apparently made the first attack of the war on a U-boat but i don't know if it sank. I had assumed it did, and I've always assumed they would have sunk a few at least as they are touted as rather successful in the Coastal Command role.


From Air Britains The Anson File.
On 6th September 1939 Anson K6187, VX-E, of 206Sqn, dropped 2 100lb bombs in the first attack on a U-Boat.
On 5th December 1939 Anson K6184, VX-P of 206Sqn, hit the conning tower of a surfaced submarine which promptly dived, leaving a large patch of oil in its wake.

Checking on uboat.net shows these attacks came to nothing.
I believe that the Anson was regarded as successfull in the maritime patrol role because it was better than whatever it replaced (Saro Clouds or Hawker Hinds, for example, with 48 and 500Sqns) and was also the most modern aircraft in service (first monoplane and first retractable undercarriage, for example) when introduced - and that kind of PR hangs around for a while!

Flood.™