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Lockheed Hudson

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The Hudson would be the first American aircraft to be used operationally by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and also became the first aircraft delivered by air across the Atlantic. Despite being withdrawn from front line service the Lockheed Hudson would remain in use until the end of hostilities.

Quick Facts
Sorry, no image available
First flight
10th December 1938
Entered service
May 1939
Total built
Over 2,500

Front view
Hudson front view photo
Side view
Sorry, no view photo available
Rear view
Hudson rear view photo

With the Royal Air Force in desperate need for an aircraft to fill the maritime patrol/navigational trainer role in the summer of 1938 the British Purchasing Commission went to the United States. With the British in a desperate need for an aircraft to meet their requirements Lockheed offered a solution, they could provide a Model 14 Super Electra Civil airliner converted for military use. So just a few days after the original approach from the British Purchasing Commission an aircraft was ready to be viewed, the changes to the aircraft included new engines with increased power and armament. Named the Hudson by the RAF two hundred aircraft were ordered on the 23rd June 1938 with the first example flying on the 10th December 1938.

The Hudson Mk I was powered by two 1,100-hp Wright GR-1820-G102A Cyclone engines giving the aircraft a top speed of 246 mph, range of 1,960 miles and a service ceiling of 25,000 ft. Armament was four 0.303-in machine guns and upto 1,400lb bombs and could accommodate a crew of four. The 15th February 1939 saw the first Hudson Mk I arrive in the UK. Three months later during May 1939 the Lockheed Hudson entered Royal Air Force service when No. 224 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars received the first examples.

At the outbreak of the Second World War (1939 - 1945) the RAF could call on seventy eight Hudsons and when a Hudson of No. 224 Squadron, operating over the North Sea, shot down a Dornier Do 18 on the 8th October 1939 it would score the first aerial victory of the war over a German aircraft by an aircraft operating from the UK.

More orders followed and with accommodation for an extra crew member the Hudson Mk II appeared. They had the same top speed, range, service ceiling and armament of the Mk I. The Hudson Mk III followed powered by 1,200-hp Wright GR-1820-G205A engines which gave it a top speed of 255 mph, range of 2,160 miles and a service ceiling of 24,500 ft. Armament was increased over previous variants with seven 0.303-in machine-guns and 1,600lb bombs. It would be the Hudson Mk III which would be the first delivered by air across the Atlantic which was achieved on the 11th November 1940 for the first time when a Hudson arrived in Northern Ireland, and all further deliveries would be done by air.

Powered by the 1,050-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-45 Twin Wasp engine was the Lockheed Hudson Mk IV which had a top speed of 284 mph, range of 2,160 miles and a service ceiling of 27,000 ft with armament reduced back to four 0.303-in machine-guns. The Hudson Mk V was similar to the Mk II but powered by 1,200-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-53C4-G Twin Wasps.

The Hudson Mk VI was next and had its power supplied by two 1,200-hp R-1830-67 Twin Wasps giving the aircraft a top speed of 261 mph, range of 2,160 miles and a service ceiling of 27,000 ft. Armament was seven 0.303-in machine-guns and rocket projectiles. These could also be used to transport troops thanks to convertible interiors.

Seeing service with the Royal Air Force first, the Lockheed Hudson was to be the first American built aircraft used by the RAF operationally during the Second World War. Hudsons of No. 608 Squadron would sink a submarine by rocket fire and in doing so was the first RAF aircraft to achieve the feat. The Hudson was also used for air-sea rescue and on the 5th May 1943 No. 279 Squadron dropped the first airborne lifeboat that rescued a ditched aircrew.

The aircraft would also see service with the United States Army Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force. Around 2,500 Hudsons were produced and the type remained in service, despite its withdrawal from front line service, until the end of the Second World War.

Technical Details

Click on the aircraft image to view a larger version.

Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Hudson Mk I 246 mph 1,960 miles 25,000 ft four 0.303-in machine-guns
1,400lb bombs
Hudson Mk II Indentical to the Mk I but with spinnerless constant speed propellers.
Hudson Mk III 255 mph 2,160 miles 24,500 ft seven 0.303-in machine-guns
1,600lb bombs
Hudson Mk IV 284 mph 2,160 miles 27,000 ft four 0.303-in machine-guns
Hudson Mk V Mk II but powered by a pair of 1,200-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-53C4-G Twin Wasps.
Hudson Mk VI 261 mph 2,160 miles 27,000 ft seven 0.303-in machine guns
rocket projectiles


Click on a photo to view a larger version.
Hudson Mk IIIA

See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Hudson Mk IIIA Royal Air Force Museum, London

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