A-28 / A-29 / AT-18
|Lockheed A-29 Hudson|
|Role||Bomber, reconnaissance aircraft|
|Designer||Clarence "Kelly" Johnson|
|First flight||10 December 1938|
|Primary users||Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|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
In late 1937 Lockheed sent a cutaway drawing of the Model 14 to various publications, showing the new aircraft as a civilian aircraft and converted to a light bomber. 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.
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.
World War Two
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' neutrality at that time, 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 Royal Canadian Air Force (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 Allied aircraft operating from the British Isles to shoot down an enemy aircraft (earlier victories by a Fairey Battle on 20 September 1939 over Aachen and by Blackburn Skuas of the Fleet Air Arm on 26 September 1939 had been by aircraft based in France or on an aircraft carrier). Hudsons also provided top cover during the Battle of Dunkirk.
On 27 August 1941, a Hudson of No. 269 Squadron RAF, operating from Kaldadarnes, Iceland, attacked and damaged the U-boat U-570 causing the submarine's crew to display a white flag and surrender – the aircraft achieved the unusual distinction of capturing a naval vessel. The Germans were taken prisoner and the submarine taken under tow when Royal Navy ships subsequently arrived on the scene. A PBO-1 Hudson of the United States Navy squadron VP-82 became the first US aircraft to destroy a German submarine, when it sank U-656 southwest of Newfoundland on 1 March 1942. German U-boat U-701 was destroyed on 7 July 1942 while running on the surface off Cape Hatteras by a Hudson of the 396th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). A Hudson of No. 113 Squadron RCAF became the first aircraft of the RCAF's Eastern Air Command to sink a submarine, when Hudson 625 sank U-754 on 31 July 1942.
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 at 0118h local time, an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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. Saburō Sakai, who would become the highest-scoring Japanese ace of the war, praised the fighting abilities of a lone, outnumbered Hudson Mk IIIA crew from No. 32 Squadron RAAF on 22 July 1942. Hudson A16–201 (bu. no. 41-36979) was intercepted over Buna, New Guinea by nine Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes of the Tainan Kaigun Kōkūtai led by Sakai, who reported that their opponent made many sharp and unexpected turns, engaging the Zero pilots in a turning dogfight for at least 10 minutes. It was only after Sakai himself scored hits on the (rear/upper) gun position that he was able to down the Hudson; its crew was killed. The Japanese pilots were so impressed by their enemy that, after the war's end, Sakai asked Australian researchers to identify the pilot and in 1997 wrote to the Australian government, recommending that Pilot Officer Warren Cowan be "posthumously awarded your country's highest military decoration". Similarly, on 23 November 1942, the crew of a No. 3 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Hudson Mk IIIA, NZ2049, (41-46465) after spotting an enemy convoy near Vella Lavella, was engaged by three Japanese floatplane fighters. After skilled evasive manoeuvring at an altitude of less than 50 feet (15 metres), by the Hudson's captain, Flying Officer George Gudsell, the crew returned with no casualties to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
Postwar, numbers of Hudsons were sold by the military for civil operation as airliners and survey aircraft. In Australia, East-West Airlines of Tamworth, New South Wales (NSW), operated four Hudsons on scheduled services from Tamworth to many towns in NSW and Queensland between 1950 and 1955. Adastra Aerial Surveys based at Sydney's Mascot Airport operated seven L-414s between 1950 and 1972 on air taxi, survey and photographic flights.
A total of 2,941 Hudsons were built.
The type formed the basis for development of the Lockheed Ventura resulting in them being withdrawn from front line service from 1944, though many survived the war to be used as civil transports, primarily in Australia and a single example was briefly used as an airline crew trainer in New Zealand.
- Model 414
- Company designation for the military A-28 / A-29 and Hudson variants.
- Hudson I
- Production aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF); 351 built and 50 for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
- 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 (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C4-G Twin Wasp engines; 409 built.
- Hudson VI
- A-28As under lend-lease; 450 built.
- US Military powered by two 1,050 hp (780 kW) 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 (890 kW) R-1830-87 engines; 416 built for the RAF, 153 diverted to United States Army Air Force (USAAF) as the RA-29 and 20 to the United States Navy (USN) 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 repossessed A-29s converted for photo-survey.
- 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.
- Twenty former RAF Hudson IIIAs repossessed for use by VP-82 Squadron of the USN
- Royal Australian Air Force
- Squadrons serving in the Pacific War:
- Article XV squadrons serving with RAF Middle East Command:
- Brazilian Air Force
- 2nd Medium Bomber Group (27 units A-28A)
- Royal Canadian Air Force
- Royal New Zealand Air Force
- Royal Air Force
- No. 24 Squadron RAF
- No. 48 Squadron RAF
- No. 53 Squadron RAF
- No. 59 Squadron RAF
- No. 62 Squadron RAF
- No. 117 Squadron RAF
- No. 139 Squadron RAF
- No. 161 Squadron RAF
- No. 163 Squadron RAF
- No. 194 Squadron RAF
- No. 200 Squadron RAF
- No. 203 Squadron RAF
- No. 206 Squadron RAF
- No. 212 Squadron RAF
- No. 217 Squadron RAF
- No. 220 Squadron RAF
- No. 224 Squadron RAF
- No. 231 Squadron RAF
- No. 233 Squadron RAF
- No. 251 Squadron RAF
- No. 267 Squadron RAF
- No. 269 Squadron RAF
- No. 271 Squadron RAF
- No. 279 Squadron RAF
- No. 285 Squadron RAF
- No. 287 Squadron RAF
- No. 288 Squadron RAF
- No. 289 Squadron RAF
- No. 353 Squadron RAF
- No. 357 Squadron RAF
- No. 500 Squadron RAF
- No. 517 Squadron RAF
- No. 519 Squadron RAF
- No. 520 Squadron RAF
- No. 521 Squadron RAF
- No. 608 Squadron RAF
- Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm
- 4 aircraft from Royal Air Force
- RAAF Hudsons can be found at the Temora Aviation Museum, the Australian War Memorial and the RAAF Museum. The ex-RAAF Hudsons, and the example in the RAF Museum, had previously been converted for aerial survey use and flown by ADASTRA Air Surveys.
- 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.
- NZ2013 Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Wigram, Christchurch.
- NZ2031 Museum of Transport and Technology MOTAT, Western Springs, Auckland.
- NZ2035 Ferrymead Aeronautical Society, Ferrymead Heritage Park, Christchurch.
- NZ2049 Bill Reid, Wakefield.
- NZ2084 Nigel Wilcox, Christchurch.
- NZ20XX Ex RNZAF Fuselage section under long term static rebuild, (Private Collection) near Ardmore Aerodrome, South 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
- Crew: 6
- Length: 44 ft 4 in (13.51 m)
- Wingspan: 65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)
- Height: 11 ft 10 in (3.62 m)
- Wing area: 551 ft² (51.2 m²)
- Empty weight: 12,000 lb (5,400 kg)
- Loaded weight: 17,500 lb (7,930 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 18,500 lb (8,390 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engines, 1,100 hp (820 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 218 kt (246 mph, 397 km/h)
- Range: 1,700 nm (1,960 mi, 3,150 km)
- Service ceiling: 24,500 ft (7,470 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (6.2 m/s)
- Bombs: 750 lb (340 kg) of bombs or depth charges
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.
- A Hudson appears in Back-Room Boy (1941)
- 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.
- Lockheed Hudsons make an appearance in the movie Aerial Gunner (1943). A story of two men at Harlingen (TX) Aerial Gunnery School.
- 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 from the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in Gander, supplemented with numerous CGI Hudsons.
- 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.
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- List of aircraft of World War II
- List of aircraft of the RAF
- List of aircraft of the RNZAF
- List of military aircraft of the United States
- List of Lockheed aircraft
- Herman 2012, pp. 11, 85, 86.
- Parker 2013, pp. 59, 71.
- Borth 1945, p. 244.
- "New Transport Plane Can Be Converted To Bomber" Popular Science Monthly, November 1937
- "British Buy Dual Purpose War Planes." Popular Science, August 1939.
- Parker 2013, p. 71.
- "Collections: Lockheed Hudson IIIA." RAF Museum. Retrieved: 15 October 2014.
- Thomas, Andrew. "Icelandic Hunters - No 269 Squadron Royal Air Force." Aviation News, 24 May 2001. Retrieved: 15 October 2014.
- Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 505.
- Douglas 1986, p. 520.
- "Australian Story: Enemy Lines". ABC-TV, 2002. Retrieved: 30 April 2014.
- Birkett, Gordon. "RAAF A16 Lockheed Hudson Mk.I/Mk.II/Mk.III/Mk.IIIA/Mk.IV/MK.IVA". ADF-Serials, 2013. Retrieved: 30 April 2014.
- "RNZAF Lockheed Hudson Survivors." Cambridge Air Force, 2008. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
- "A Veteran's Advice." rsa.org.nz. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
- Marson 2001, p. 110.
- Marson 2001, p. 76.
- Francillon 1987, pp. 148, 501–502.
- "Lockheed Hudson." Adastra Aerial Surveys. Retrieved: 15 October 2014.
- "Above & Beyond." CBC.ca. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
- Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1945.
- Douglas, W.A.B. The Creation of a National Air Force. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1986. ISBN 978-0-80202-584-5.
- Francillon, René. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-805-4.
- Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II. New York: Random House, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
- Marson, Peter J. The Lockheed Twins. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 2001. ISBN 0-85130-284-X.
- Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II. Cypress, California: Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
- 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
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