The Lockheed Hudson

Flown by 38 Squadron: 1943 to 1944

The Squadron’s first aircraft was the Lockheed Hudson MK IV. Its duties were that of general cargo, passengers and V.I.P flights. Number 38 Squadron’s first official sortie was a freight run from Richmond to Gorrie in the Northern Territory on the 17th December 1943. The aircraft made stops at Dubbo, Charleville, Cloncurry and Tenant Creek on the forward and return trips. Number 38 Squadron’s very first aircraft was Hudson serial number A16-134, ferried from Tocumal on 07 Nov 1943 by the then Commanding Officer SQNLDR C.C. Forman (RAF) (290487).

The Hudson served the Allies faithfully during WW2 on most fronts and with little fanfare. The air forces of Britain, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, the Netherlands, China, Brazil and Australia all operated Hudsons.

Derived from the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra 12 passenger transport, it first flew in December 1938 and by the time production ended in mid-1943, a total of 2,941 had been built, most of which served the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth countries. The RAAF received 247 Hudson’s between January 1940 and May 1942 and as the war progressed a growing number of roles were found for it, including transport (14 troops could be carried if the turret and other items of equipment were removed), meteorological reconnaissance, VIP transport and air-sea rescue, for which role an under-fuselage airborne lifeboat could be carried. The versatility of the Hudson ensured it remained in service throughout the war and for a time afterwards.

You have to pity the poor old bomb aimer on this aircraft. To get into his position, first, the right-hand seat had to be removed, then he had to crawl forward into the nose cone. If anything happened to the aircraft the poor bloke would first have to “back out” from his position, then try and negotiate the right-hand seat then crawl down the back to find an opening to leave the aeroplane. Guts men the lot of them.

This particular aircraft (A16-112) was built in 1939 and received ex USA on the 5th December 1941. After service with No.1 O.T.U. it was allotted to No. 14 Squadron on 8th July 1942 for anti-submarine patrol off the coast of Western Australia. It then served for a period with 32 Squadron off the East coast after which it was transferred to 6 Squadron in Milne Bay, PNG for the bombing, armed reconnaissance and patrol work. It returned to the Australian mainland for a major after which it was allocated to the RAAF Survey Flight and flew with them for the next two years. Post-war, it was sold to East-West Airlines and for the next six years became their flagship (VH-EWA) when Adastra Aerial Surveys purchased it as a photographic aircraft. The Long family then purchased it in 1976.

Restoration and conversion to its original military configuration were completed in 1993. It was repainted to represent a Hudson III (A16-211) bomber that served with 6 Squadron during the decisive Battle for Milne Bay and later with 2 Squadron in the North Western Area (Timor/Dutch East Indies – Indonesia). Together with four other Hudsons, A16-211 carried out an armed reconnaissance to Maikor and Taberfane (both Japanese floatplane bases) in the Aru Islands on 7th May 1943. On returning to Millingimbi, its undercarriage gave way and the aircraft ground looped. It was severely damaged and was converted to components, the remains of this aircraft are still at Millingimbi to this day.

Temora Aviation Museum acquired the aircraft in May 2004 from Malcolm J. Long and operates it as a tribute to Hudson crews of World War II.

If you’re ever in the Temora area, do yourself a favour and have a look through their museum.

Thanks to Trevor Benneworth and the RADSCHOOL Magazine for this content.