The Avro Anson began as a British-made two-engine reconnaissance plane with minimal defensive armament and bomb-carrying capability. Chosen as the advanced trainer for the Commonwealth Air Training Plan it was built primarily in Canada when demand outstripped the ability of British factories, under the Blitz, to produce (and deliver by ship.) Anson I and II were of conventional tube-frame construction; the Anson V had a fuselage of molded plywood construction.

Some 50 Anson II were purchased by USAAC as AT-20.