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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 1938–1943
Number built 2,941
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 publications, 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 United States 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 allied aircraft operating from the British Isles to shoot down an enemy aircraft[3] (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, an RAF Hudson of 269 Squadron, 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.[4] A PBO-1 Hudson of US Navy squadron VP-82 became the first US aircraft to destroy a German submarine,[5] 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 396 Sqdn USAAF. 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.[6] 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 0118 hours local time, an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A Hudson was the first Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft in air combat in the Pacific theatre when on 23 Nov 1942,[7] F/O George Gudsell's NZ2049[8] 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. 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 also operated by RAF Special Duties squadrons for clandestine operations; No. 161 Squadron in Europe and No. 357 Squadron in Burma. A total of 2,941 Hudsons were built.[9] 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 New Zealand.


A Hudson I from 11 Squadron, RCAF.

A Hudson Mk V of No. 48 Squadron RAF, in early 1942.

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 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 USN
Tachikawa Type LO Transport Aircraft
Japanese licence production of the Model 14-38 by the Tachikawa Aircraft Company Ltd (立川飛行機株式会社 Tachikawa Hikōki K.K.?) powered by 2x 900 hp (670 kW) Mitsubishi Ha-26-I 14 cylinder radial engines. The 119 production aircraft were given the allied reporting name Thelma.
Kawasaki Army Type 1 Freight Transport
Long designation of the Ki-56
Kawasaki Ki-56
Freight transport aircraft redesigned by Takei Doi at Kawasaki Kokuki Kogoyo K.K. (Kawasaki Aircraft Company), from the Type LO. Careful attention to weight reduction, a 1.5 m (4.9 ft) increase in rear fuselage length and power from 2x 950 hp (710 kW) Nakajima Ha-25 14 cylinder radial engines improved performance and handling. The 121 production aircraft were given the allied reporting name Thalia.


Two Australian Lockheed Hudsons in 1940

 Republic of China (1912–1949)

Hudson in the RNZAF Museum.

 New Zealand
 South Africa
United States

Lockheed Hudson Mk IIIA (T9422) at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Gander, Newfoundland

Civil operators

  • East-West Airlines
  • Adastra Air Surveys [10]
 Trinidad and Tobago
  • British West Indian Airways
 United Kingdom
  • British Overseas Airways Corporation - BOAC


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. 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.[11]
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.

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

  • 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)


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.
  • 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.[12]
  • 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



  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. RAF Museum - Collections - Lockheed Hudson IIIA
  4. Thomas, Andrew (May 24, 2001). "Icelandic Hunters - No 269 Squadron Royal Air Force" (PDF). St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex,: HPC Publishing. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  5. Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 505.
  6. Douglas 1986, p. 520.
  7. "A Veteran's Advice." Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
  8. "RNZAF Hudson Survivors." cambridgeairforce.or. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
  9. Francillon 1987, p. 148, pp.501-502
  10. [1]
  11. [2]
  12. "Above & Beyond." Retrieved: 15 July 2010.


  • Douglas, W.A.B.The Creation of a National Air Force. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.
  • Francillon, René. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-805-4
  • 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

External links

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