Lockheed Hudson IIIA (A16-199)Lockheed Hudson IIIA (A16-199)

Lockheed Hudson IIIA (A16-199)  [@ RAF Hendon]

The Lockheed Hudson was a military version of the Lockheed Model 14 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 Leuchars, Scotland, in May 1939.  Lockheed supplied 350 Hudson Is and 20 Hudson IIs (the same as the Mk I except for different propellers) before introducing the Mk III, an improved version of the Mk I with 1200hp Wright GR-1820-G205A Cyclone engines, ventral and beam gun positions.  The RAF received 428 of this version, all purchased direct; subsequent aircraft, however, were supplied under Lend-Lease, the only other direct purchases being 309 Hudson Vs with 1200hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines.  Lend-Lease aircraft included 382 Cyclone-engined Mk IIIAs [RAF design for A29/29A], 30 Mk IVs and 450 Mk VIs [RAF designation for A28A] with Twin Wasp engines.

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 (Sqn Ldr J.  Thompson) off Iceland.  The Hudson 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.

In the Far East, Hudsons equipped Nos 1 and 8 Squadrons, RAAF, many of these aircraft being lost in attacks on Japanese forces invading the Malay Peninsula.  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. 

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.  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.

Lockheed Hudson IIIA (A16-199)Lockheed Hudson IIIA (A16-199)

Lockheed Hudson IIIA (A16-199)  [@ RAF Hendon]

Built by Lockheed at Burbank, California, and powered with Wright Cyclone R-1820-87 engines, A16-199 was originally intended for the RAF under the Lend-Lease scheme but instead was delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on the 2nd April 1942.  Allocated to 13 Squadron based at Hughes Airbase, Darwin, who were one of twelve RAAF squadrons to operate the type in the Australia/South West Pacific areas.   A16-199 went on to have an active war time career with the RAAF.  A16-199 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, to continue the active career.  On the 9th April 1944 A16-199 was transferred to 3 Communications Unit for experimental duties with the Radio Physics Laboratories.  Offered to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for sale on the 28th July 1946, A16-199 entered private hands for the sum of £150 to start a varied civilian career.   From December 1950 to March 1953 A16-199 was used to air-drop, with other ex-RAAF Hudsonís, the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper to country areas.  During surveying work in June 1960 A16-199 struck power cables at Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory.  The impact demolished the cockpit roof however A16-199 landed safely with no injuries to the crew.   The cockpit roof was repaired to virtually Lockheed Lodestar rather than Hudson standard.  Finally on the 19th April 1973 A16-199 left Australia on her final flight to the Strathallen Collection, A16-199 covered 12, 000 miles in 73 flying hours which gave total airframe hours of 8,494.45.  In April 1975 A16-199 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.  Unfortunately, only 6 Hudsonís exist around the world, five were former RNZAF aircraft and are all located in New Zealand.