Lockheed Hudson IIIA (41-36975)Lockheed Hudson IIIA (41-36975)

Lockheed Hudson IIIA (41-36975)  [@ RAF Hendon]

The Lockheed Hudson was a military version of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra twin-engined commercial airliner, one of the success stories of the late 1930s.  The RAF placed an initial order for 200 aircraft, the first of which were delivered to 224 Squadron at RAF Leuchars, Scotland, in May 1939 as a maritime patrol aircraft to support the Avro Anson.  The first Hudson I (given RAF serial number N7205) flew from Burbank, California, on the 10th December 1938 and became the second Hudson to reach the UK.  Allocated to the A&AEE at Boscombe Down, N7205 was used as a test aircraft.  The first Hudson to reach the UK was N7026 which arrived at Liverpool in February 1939.  N7026 was taken to the  Boulton Paul factory to have a turret installed before undergoing extensive testing.  The Hudson I was found to be nearly 60mph faster than the Anson, able to carry four times the bomb load and had a range of nearly 2,000 miles, more than twice that of the Anson. Consequently the Anson was down graded to the light transport and various trainer roles.  The Hudson I entered service with 224 Squadron of Coastal Command based at RAF Leuchars, Fife, during May 1939.  By the start of WW2 78 Hudsons were in service with the RAF Coastal Command. 

Supplied without the Boulton Paul turret and so it was fitted on the arrival of the Hudson to the UK.   Lockheed supplied 350 Hudson Is and 20 Hudson IIs (the same as the Hudson I except for with spinnerless constant speed propellers) and 50 Hudson Is & 50 Hudson IIs for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) before introducing the Hudson III [RAF designation for A-29], an improved version of the Hudson I with 1200hp Wright GR-1820-G205A Cyclone engines, ventral and beam gun positions.  The RAF received 416 of this version, purchased direct; subsequent aircraft, however, were supplied under Lend-Lease, the only other direct purchases being 409 Hudson Vs with 1200hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines.  Lend-Lease aircraft included 382 Cyclone-engined Hudson IIIAs [RAF design for A-29A], 30 Hudson IVs (as the Hudson II but with the ventral gun removed - all RAAF Hudson Is & IIs were converted to this standard) and 450 Hudson VIs [RAF designation for A-28A] with Twin Wasp engines.  Fifty-two Hudson IVAs [RAAF designation for A-28] were delivered to the RAAF powered by two 1,050hp engines. A total of 2,941 Hudsons would finally be built before production ended in May 1943.

Lockheed Hudson IIIA (41-36975)Lockheed Hudson IIIA (41-36975)

Lockheed Hudson IIIA (41-36975)  [@ RAF Hendon]

Built by Lockheed at Burbank, California, and powered with Wright Cyclone R-1820-87 engines, 41-36975 was originally intended for the RAF under the Lend-Lease scheme but instead was delivered to 1 AD of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on the 2nd April 1942 as A16-199.  Allocated to 13 Squadron based at Hughes Airbase, Darwin, on the 30 June 1942, the Squadron were one of twelve RAAF squadrons to operate the type in the Australia/South West Pacific areas.   41-36975 went on to have an active war time career with the RAAF.  On the 3rd February 1943 while on a mission claimed a Mitsubishi F1M2 (Allied reporting name "Pete") - a two-seat reconnaissance floatplane of the Imperial Japanese Navy41-36975 transferred on the 4th April 1943 to 2 Squadron, RAAF, which had moved to the Hughes Airbase when 13 Squadron moved to Canberra to reform.  41-36975 claimed a Mitsubishi Ki-21 Heavy Bomber (Allied reporting name: "Sally") on the 11th May 1943 off the New Guinea coast.  On the 9th April 1944 41-36975 was transferred to 3 Communications Unit for experimental duties with the Radio Physics Laboratories.  Placed into storage at RAAF Richmond, NSW, on the 16th November 1945 41-36975 was offered to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for sale on the 28th July 1946 and entered private hands for the sum of £150 to start a varied civilian career.   From December 1950 to March 1953 41-36975 was used to air-drop, with other ex-RAAF Hudsonís, the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper to country areas.  During surveying work in June 1960 1-36975 struck power cables at Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory.  The impact demolished the cockpit roof however 41-36975 landed safely with no injuries to the crew.   The cockpit roof was repaired to virtually Lockheed Lodestar rather than Hudson standard.  Purchased by Adastra Aerial Surveys on the 24th October 1969 and so flew with Adastra's Mk.III Hudsons (VH-AGP, VH-AGX and VH-AGS (ex A16-112 - see 41-23182 below).  Finally on the 19th April 1973 41-36975 left Australia on her final flight to the Strathallen Collection, 41-36975 covered 12, 000 miles in 73 flying hours which gave total airframe hours of 8,494.45.  In April 1975 41-36975 was returned to 13 Squadron RAAF colours and sold on the 14th July 1981 at Christies to the RAF museum at Hendon for £16,000.  In the photograph 41-36975 is in a spurious livery of 13 Squadron RAAF with fuselage code SF-R.

During the first half of WW2 the Hudson achieved some very notable successors.  On the 8th October 1939, over Jutland, a Hudson from 224 Squadron became the first Allied aircraft, operating from the British Isles, to shoot down an enemy aircraft (a Dornier Do18 flying boat) having also been the first RAF aircraft and Squadron to clash with the Luftwaffe (a Dornier Do18 flying boat) on the 4th September 1939.  Interestingly, Hudsons also helped to provided cover during the Battle of Dunkirk.  Although the main job of the Hudsons were to keep the German E-boats away from the transport ships, Hudsons from 206 and 220 Squadrons also claimed aerial victories.  On the 1st June 220 Squadron shot down three Ju 87 Stukas and on the 3rd June 206 Squadron shooting down three Messerschmitt Bf 109s who were trying to attack a patrol of Blackburn Skuas.

In the North Atlantic, one of the Hudsonís most famous actions occurred on 27th August 1941, when the German submarine U570 was attacked and damaged by an aircraft of 269 Squadron (flown by Sqn Ldr J. Thompson) off Iceland.  The Hudson from Kaldadarnes, Iceland, circled the U-boat, which was unable to dive until its crew indicated that they wished to surrender.  A Catalina relieved the Hudson and the submarine towed to Iceland by an armed trawler.  RAF Hudsons accounted for at least five U-boats in 1942/43, during the height of the Battle of the Atlantic.

The need for long range patrols by Costal Command over the Atlantic became increasing urgent due to the U Boat menace so the Squadrons started to be equipped with four-engined aircraft.  During 1941 and 1942 the Squadrons started reequipping with the Boeing B-17 Fortress and the Consolidated Liberator.  A limited number of Hudsons remained in Coastal Command service until 1945 performing a mix of air-sea rescue, meteorological and target-towing duties.

Lockheed Hudson IVA (41-23182)Lockheed Hudson IVA (41-23182)

Lockheed Hudson IVA (41-23182)  [@ Royal Australian Air Force Museum]

The Hudson also served in USAAC/USAAF colours and with the US Navy as the PBO-1.  On  the 1st March 1942, a PBO-1 Hudson of VP-82 (Ensign William Tepuni, USNR) attacked and sank the submarine U-656 southwest of Newfoundland; this was the first German U-boat sunk to US forces during World War II.  In July 1942, a Hudson of the same squadron sank the U701 off the eastern coast of the United States.  On the 31st July 1942 an Hudson from 113 Squadron RCAF became the first Canadian aircraft to sink a submarine when Hudson 625 sank U-754.

In the Far East, Hudsons equipped 1 and 8 Squadrons, RAAF, many of these aircraft being lost in attacks on Japanese forces invading the Malay Peninsula.  Hudsons from 1 Squadron RAAF became the first aircraft to make an attack in the Pacific War, sinking a Japanese transport ship, the Awazisan Maru, off Kota Bharu at 01:18 (local time), an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Skilled and experienced pilots found that the Hudson had an exceptional manoeuvrability for a twin-engined aircraft, especially a tight turning circle if either engine was briefly feathered. For example, an outnumbered Hudson IIIA (41-36979) from 32 Squadron RAAF on the 22nd July 1942 was intercepted over Buna, New Guinea by nine Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes of the Tainan Kaigun Kōkūtai led by the Japanese ace Saburō Sakai.  He reported that their opponent made many sharp and unexpected turns engaging while engaging the Zero pilots in a turning dogfight which lasted at least 10 minutes.  Similarly on the 23rd November 1942 another Hudson IIIA (41-46465) of 3 Squadron RNZAF) was engaged by three Japanese floatplane fighters after spotting a Japanese convoy near Vella Lavella.  The Hudson's captain, Flying Officer George Gudsell, managed to return with no casualties to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, after skilled evasive manoeuvring at an altitude of less than 15m.

Built by Lockheed 41-23182 was delivered to the USAAF on the 17th September 1941 and allocated for Defence Aid on the 13th October 1941.  Received from the USAAF on the 5th December 1941, 41-23182 was reassembled by 2 AD (Aircraft Depot) based at Richmond, NSW, as A16-112.  Fitted with dual controls and stripped of armament 41-23182 was then allotted to I OTU (Operational Training Unit) RAAF on the 17th January 1942.  41-23182 was reallocated to 14 Squadron RAAF on the 8th July 1942 for anti-submarine patrols off the coast of Western Australia.  Initially equipped with six Avro Ansons, 14 Squadron had formed at RAAF Base Pearce, Perth, on the 6th February 1939.  From May 1940 they reequipped with the Lockheed Hudson and by late 1942 the Squadron was re-equipped with Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) built Bristol Beauforts. Hence 41-23182 was transferred to 32 Squadron RAAF and operated off the East coast of Australia on bombing, armed reconnaissance, and patrol work.  Formed at Port Moresby on the 21st February 1942 and equipped with Lockheed Hudsons, 32 Squadron played an important role during the early stages of the New Guinea campaign, conducting anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols, flying bombing sorties against enemy airfields and flying boat bases, as well as conducting reconnaissance and supply missions against Japanese forces.  In September 1942 the Squadron was withdrawn to Southern Australia and was re-equipped with DAP Bristol Beauforts during March 1943.  After fitment of ASV and IFF equipment by 5 AD 41-23182 was allocated to 6 Squadron RAAF on the 20th May 1943.  Originally formed in England in September 1917 to provide training for Australian fighter pilots, the Squadron began WW2 flying anti-submarine and general reconnaissance patrols off the east coast of Australia.  In August 1942 the Squadron had moved Milne Bay, New Guinea, to provide reconnaissance and bomber support in defence of the Australian garrison.  During the Japanese invasion of Milne Bay 6 Squadron flew constant bombing and strafing missions against troop positions, landing barges and ships.  As a result of re-equipment with Bristol Beauforts in the September 41-23182 was transferred to 1 AD for overall and modification to a Survey Flight aircraft on the 24th August 1943.  Formed in 1937 41-23182 was delivered to the RAAF Communication and Survey Flight on the 17th May 1944.  With the gradual replacement by de Havilland Mosquitoes by the Flight 41-23182 was transferred to 2 AD on the 16th May 1946 for storage.  Struck off Charge on the 17th July 1943 41-23182 was then sold on the private market.  Owners included East-West Airlines and Adastra Aerial Surveys before joining Temora Aviation Museum in May 2004.  By 1993 41-23182 had been restored to its original military livery and is the only flying Hudson in the World.  In the photograph 41-23182 is shown in the livery of A16-211 with nose art "The Tojo Busters".  A16-211 was a Hudson III variant that flew with 6 Squadron RAAF during the Battle for Milne Bay and later with 2 Squadron RAAF in the North Western Area (Timor/Dutch East Indies -Indonesia).  Following an armed reconnaissance mission over Japanese floatplane bases at Maikor and Taberfane in the Aru Islands A16-211 crash landed at Millingimbi Airfield in the Northern Territory.  Damaged beyond repair, A16-211 was used for components.  [The photographs of 41-23182 are by the kind permission of Alf Batchelder of the RAAF Museum]

Lockheed Hudson IVA (41-23182)Lockheed Hudson IVA (41-23182)

Lockheed Hudson IVA (41-23182)  [@ Royal Australian Air Force Museum]

Hudsons were also used for clandestine operations, landing parties of agents in France and bringing them out again.  161 (Special Duties) Squadron used several Hudsons in this capacity until the end of the war, latterly dropping supplies to agents in Germany itself.  Operating alongside the Westland Lysander the Hudson was one of the aircraft used for actual landings in occupied Europe.  Three Hudsons were shot down on the night of 20/21 March 1945, possibly destroyed in error by Allied night fighters.  Hudsons were also used for similar missions over Burma by 357 (Special Duties) Squadron, which flew many successful sorties for comparatively small loss.  The Hudsons operated mainly from Dum Dum, in India.