Lockheed Hudson

Lockheed Hudson
A-28 / A-29 / AT-18
Lockheed A-29 Hudson
Role Bomber, reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer Lockheed
Designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson
First flight 10 December 1938
Introduction 1939
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Produced 1938–1942
Number built 2,584
Developed from Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra

The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft built initially for the Royal Air Force shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War and primarily operated by the RAF thereafter. The Hudson was the first significant aircraft construction contract for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation—the initial RAF order for 200 Hudsons far surpassed any previous order the company had received. The Hudson served throughout the war, mainly with Coastal Command but also in transport and training roles as well as delivering agents into occupied France. They were also used extensively with the Royal Canadian Air Force's anti-submarine squadrons.


Design and development

Lockheed Hudson cockpit.

In late 1937 Lockheed sent a cutaway drawing of the Model 14 to various publication showing the new aircraft as a civilian aircraft and converted to a light bomber.[1] This attracted the interest of various air forces and in 1938, the British Purchasing Commission sought an American maritime patrol aircraft for the United Kingdom to support the Avro Anson. On 10 December 1938, Lockheed demonstrated a modified version of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra commercial airliner, which swiftly went into production as the Hudson Mk I.[2]

A total of 350 Mk I and 20 Mk II Hudsons were supplied (the Mk II had different propellers). These had two fixed Browning machine guns in the nose and two more in the Boulton Paul dorsal turret. The Hudson Mk III added one ventral and two beam machine guns and replaced the 1,100 hp Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder radials with 1,200 hp versions (428 produced).

The Hudson Mk V (309 produced) and Mk VI (450 produced) were powered by the 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row radial. The RAF also obtained 380 Mk IIIA and 30 Mk IV Hudsons under the Lend-Lease programme.

Operational history

By February 1939, RAF Hudsons began to be delivered, initially equipping No. 224 Squadron RAF at RAF Leuchars, Scotland in May 1939. By the start of the war in September, 78 Hudsons were in service. Due to the United States then-neutrality, early series aircraft were flown to the Canadian border, landed, and then towed on their wheels over the border into Canada by tractors or horse drawn teams, before then being flown to RCAF airfields where they were then dismantled and "cocooned" for transport as deck cargo, by ship to Liverpool. The Hudsons were supplied without the Boulton Paul dorsal turret, which was installed on arrival in the United Kingdom.

Although later outclassed by larger bombers, the Hudson achieved some significant feats during the first half of the war. On 8 October 1939, over Jutland, a Hudson became the first RAF aircraft to shoot down a German aircraft. (The first British aircraft to shoot down a German plane was a Blackburn Skua of the Fleet Air Arm on 26 September 1939.) They operated as fighters during the Battle of Dunkirk. A PBO-1 Hudson of US Navy squadron VP-82 became the first US aircraft to destroy a German submarine [3] when it sank U-656 southwest of Newfoundland on 1 March 1942. A Hudson of Royal Canadian Air Force Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron 113 became the first aircraft of RCAF's Eastern Air Command to sink a submarine, when Hudson 625 sank U-754 on 31 July 1942.[4]

A Royal Australian Air Force Hudson was involved in the Canberra, Australia air disaster of 1940, in which three cabinet ministers of the Australian government were killed.

In 1941, the USAAF began operating the Hudson; the Twin Wasp-powered variant was designated the A-28 (82 acquired) and the Cyclone-powered variant was designated the A-29 (418 acquired). The US Navy operated 20 A-28s, redesignated the PBO-1. A further 300 were built as aircrew trainers, designated the AT-18.

Following Japanese attacks on Malaya, Hudsons from No. 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, an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor. If this occurred one hour before the Pearl Harbor attack it would have been 0118 local time, an extraordinary night operation.

A Hudson was the first Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft in air combat in the Pacific theatre when on 23 Nov 1942.[5] F/O George Gudsell's NZ2049[6] was engaged by three Japanese floatplane fighters after spotting an enemy convoy near Vella Lavella. After skilled evasive manoeuvring at less than 50' above the sea, the Hudson returned to Henderson Field with no casualties.

During the war, they were used as maritime patrol aircraft in the Pacific by the US Navy, the RAAF and the RNZAF.

While running on the surface off Cape Hatteras on 7 July 1942, U-701 was attacked by a Hudson of 396 Sqdn USAAF. She was hit by two bombs and sunk.

They were operated by RAF Special Duties squadrons for clandestine operations; No. 161 Squadron in Europe and No. 357 Squadron in Burma.

A total of 2,584 Hudsons were built. They began to be withdrawn from front line service in 1944.

The type formed the basis for development of the Lockheed Ventura.

Some Hudsons were converted to civil transports after the war.


A Hudson I from 11 Squadron, RCAF.
A RAF Hudson Mk.V.
Hudson I
Production aircraft for the Royal Air Force; 351 built and 50 for the Royal Australian Air Force
Hudson II
As the Mk I but with spinnerless constant speed propellers; 20 built for the RAF and 50 for the RAAF.
Hudson III
Production aircraft with retractable ventral gun position; 428 built.
Hudson IIIA
Lend-lease variants of the A-29 and A-29A aircraft; 800 built.
Hudson IV
As Mk II with ventral gun removed; 30 built and RAAF Mk I and IIs were converted to this standard.
Hudson IVA
52 A-28s delivered to the RAAF.
Hudson V
Mk III with two 1,200 hp R-1830-S3C4-G engine; 409 built.
Hudson VI
A-28As under lend-lease; 450 built.
US Military powered by two 1,050hp R-1830-45 engines; 52 delivered to Australia as Hudson IVA.
A-28 with convertible interiors as troop transports; 450 delivered to RAF as Hudson VI; 27 units passed to the Brazilian Air Force
A-28 powered by two 1,200 hp R-1820-87 engines; 416 built for the RAF, 153 diverted to USAAF as the RA-29 and 20 to the United States Navy as the PBO-1
A-29 with convertible interiors as troop transports; 384 to the RAF as Hudson IIIA, some retained by USAAF as the RA-29A.
24 repossesed A-29s converted for photo-survey.
A US Navy PBO-1 from VP-82 at Argentia, 1942.
Gunnery trainer version of the A-29 powered by two R-1820-87 engines, 217 built.
Navigational trainer version with dorsal turret removed, 83 built.
Provisional designation changed to A-29A.
Three civil Model 14s impressed in Australia.
Twenty former RAF Hudson IIIAs repossesed for use by VP-82 Squadron of the United States Navy


Two Australian Lockheed Hudsons in 1940

11 Squadron (Hudson I & III)

  • Chinese Nationalist Air Force
Hudson in the RNZAF Museum.
 New Zealand
  • Portugal Air Force
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
 United States
Lockheed Hudson Mk IIIA (T9422) at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Gander, Newfoundland

Civil operators

 Trinidad and Tobago
  • British West Indian Airways
 United Kingdom


Hudson Mk III at Point Cook (2008).
A Hudson Bomber converted for passenger use after the Second World War and flown by East-West Airlines; it is restored as a Hudson Mk III and is currently located at the Temora Aviation Museum
RAAF Hudsons can be found at the Temora Aviation Museum, the Australian War Memorial and the RAAF Museum. Other ex-RNZAF and RAAF machines are in private hands. The Hudson at Temora had previously been converted for passenger use and flown by East-West Airlines.
One complete and several partial Hudsons also exist in Canada. A Lockheed Hudson Mk IIIA (T9422) after years mounted on a pedestal near Washington Street, is on outdoor display at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Gander, Newfoundland.
New Zealand
Former Royal New Zealand Air Force Hudsons which saw service during the Second World War in the South Pacific are on display at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum and Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch and the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland.
United Kingdom
A Hudson in Royal Australian Air Force colours is preserved in the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon.

Specifications (Hudson Mk I)

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics



Notable appearances in media

  • In the 1941 film A Yank in the RAF with Tyrone Power and Betty Grable, Lockheed Hudsons are the bombers flown by Power and his squadron.
  • The Lockheed Hudson features prominently in the Captains of the Clouds (1942). The film starred James Cagney and Dennis Morgan as Canadian bush pilots who do their part in the Second World War as ferry pilots, bringing Hudsons to Britain. The film ends with a depiction of a Hudson ferry flight that mixes authentic live action with studio footage.
  • Above and Beyond (2006), a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) four-hour mini series, was inspired by the true story of the Atlantic Ferry Organization, recounting the daring plan to deliver aircraft across the North Atlantic to the beleaguered Royal Air Force. The Lockheed Hudson is the primary aircraft portrayed in the mini series in the form of a real life example and numerous CGI Hudsons.[7]
  • A de-militarized Hudson is flown by Humphrey Bogart's character in Tokyo Joe (1949). Bogart played an ex-World War II pilot attempting to operate a cargo airline in occupied Japan. The Hudson is identifiable by the turret platform at the rear of the fuselage, and by the numerous windows in the cockpit area.
  • The Lockheed Hudson was featured in the movie The Great Raid as a distraction to Japanese soldiers, although in the real event, a P-61 Black Widow was used. The Hudson was used instead because there were no airworthy Black Widows at the time of the movie's filming.

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ "New Transport Plane Can Be Converted To Bomber" Popular Science Monthly, November 1937
  2. ^ "British Buy Dual Purpose War Planes" Popular Science, August 1939
  3. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 505.
  4. ^ Douglas 1986, p. 520.
  5. ^ "A Veteran's Advice." rsa.org.nz. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
  6. ^ "RNZAF Hudson Survivors." cambridgeairforce.or. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Above & Beyond." CBC.ca. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
  • Douglas, W.A.B.The Creation of a National Air Force. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.
  • Swanborough, Gordon, and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1976. ISBN 0-87021-792-5.
  • Vincent, David. The RAAF Hudson Story: Book One Highbury, South Australia: David Vincent, 1999 ISBN 0 9596052 2 3

External links

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