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Classic Airframes 1/48 Avro Anson Mk.I (Export) Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2006 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Avro Anson Mk.I (Export) Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4122 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, Photo-Etch
Pros Easily the best Anson kit produced in any scale Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


During the early 1930s, Avro developed an aircraft design for the civil aviation market. It was the UK equivalent of the early Lockheed Electra or the early Beech twin-engined utility aircraft. The Model 652A was designed around a tubular structure that was fabric-covered, a lightweight carry-over from the recent biplane era. Unlike the earlier biplane designs, however, this new aircraft was a low-wing monoplane that would seat four, and was powered by a pair of 320 horsepower radial engines. Another innovation was retractable landing gear (hand-cranked). The Anson had the distinction of being the first retractable landing gear aircraft in the RAF.

The aircraft was quickly adopted for military service and over 7,100 examples were produced for the RAF, RN, RAAF, RNZAF, RCAF, SAAF, Greece, and Egypt. a small number even entered service as the AT-20 within the USAAC.

Coastal Command pressed the Anson into maritime patrol duties, using the Ansons ability to carry a small array of bombs. Unfortunately, an accidental attack upon a Royal Navy submarine using the Anson's 100lb bombs only broke a few light bulbs. It was clear that the Anson was not powerful enough to carry sufficient weapons aloft and it was phased out in favor of the Lockheed Hudson. The vast majority of Ansons were pressed into aircrew training, utility, and liaison duties.

In the ongoing tradition of tackling aircraft subjects that have mostly been ignored by other manufacturers, Classic Airframes has released this historic aircraft in 1/48 scale. While mostly a footnote in aviation history books, the Anson was nevertheless widely used during World War II among most of the allied forces. Until now, the only styrene kit of the Anson was the venerable 1/72 Airfix kit, while Aeroclub produced a vacuformed version in 1/72 and Combat Models had produced theirs in 1/32 scale vacuform. This is the first kit (that I am aware of) of the Anson in 1/48.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. That's right, the transparencies in this release are styrene, not vacuformed.

In addition to the styrene parts, there is a nice array of resin detail parts providing the interior structure of the main cabin, the engines, cowlings, interior details, and part of the main landing gear structure.

A fret of photo-etched details are also included for the instrument panel (with acetate instrument faces also included), seatbelts, throttle levers, flight control pushrods, and prop hub plates.

Out of the box, the kit represents the Mark I version of the aircraft. The most notable difference between the Mk.I and subsequent versions was the cowlings. In the Mk.I, the cowlings had bumps to provide clearance over the cylinder heads, whereas the later Marks had smooth cowlings with outer diameters large enough to provide cylinder head clearance.

Decals are provided for seven examples:

  • Anson Mk.I, AN-102, LeLv 48, Finnish AF, 1942
  • Anson Mk.I, NZ-418, School of General Reconnaissance, RNZAF, 1944
  • Anson Mk.I, A4-1, RAAF, 1936
  • Anson Mk.I, A4-6, 22 Sqn, RAAF, 1939
  • Anson Mk.I, A4-43, 1 Comm Flt, RAAF, 1941
  • Anson Mk.I, A4-26, 2 Sqn, RAAF, 1940
  • Anson Mk.I, 1134, SAAF, 1939-40

At first blush, one might look at this kit and think the subject might be a bit too esoteric. Think again! If you look at the detailing and engineering of the kit, plus just how visible the cabin interior will be after assembly, plus the variety of interesting pre-war and WW2 color schemes to choose from, you'll find this kit a pleasant break from the usual diet of Mustangs, Gustavs, and Warhawks!

I highly recommended this kit to intermediate/advanced modelers.

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!