A very extensive and important restoration is taking place at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) where the former RAAF Lockheed Hudson A16-105 is being meticulously returned to its exact WWII military configuration by the staff in the conservation area. Although a considerable amount of work had been previously undertaken by Malcom Long and others to restore the aircraft externally, the interior still requires a lot of work as it has had many changes over the years of civil use as a transport, airliner and Aerial Survey aircraft.
Most of the military equipment and outfitting has long since been removed as has the military paint finish. Once the aircraft had the internal civil interior and insulation removed a bonus was that the WWII paint was still largely in place as were a number of signs and fittings. However a large effort has had to be expended locating and restoring a multitude of correct WWII parts and fittings to meet the high standards of the AWM restoration process. Where an item has not been available it has been replicated from blueprints sourced from the USA to ensure accuracy.
One the most complex tasks involved in the restoration has been the location and refurbishment of the upper and lower turrets, particularly the ultra-rare Boulton Paul Type C Mk.II upper turret which has been meticulously stripped back to its basic components and fully rebuilt. The upper and lower turrets were often removed during service when Hudsons were converted to transport roles and post war when used as airliners. Luckily there were a few turrets that survived scrapping and this has allowed this aircraft to be returned to accurate original configuration.
The exterior of A16-105 will be finished in an accurate representation of the paint scheme it wore during its operational service during WWII. So far, the restoration of Lockheed Hudson A16-105 has taken about 4 years and it is anticipated that it will take about another 12 months.
Lockheed Hudson A16-105 history
Lockheed Hudson A16-105 was ordered by the RAAF as part of a USAAF Defense Aid package on 9th October 1941 and was delivered as Mk.IVA 6034 41-23175 on 05/12/41 and arrived at 2AD (Aircraft Depot) on the 5th of December 1941. The aircraft was then flight tested on 13 December 1941. On the 20th of December 1941 the aircraft was handed over to 1 OTU Bairnsdale Vic (Operational Training Unit, Special Transport Flight) and served there until it returned to 5 Air Depot on the 14th of April 1942 subsequently the aircraft moved back to !OTU again on the 30th of April 1942. On the 10th of July 1942 the aircraft was involved in an accident at Western Junction, Tasmania when it overshot a runway and was subsequently repaired. On December 10th 1942 the aircraft moved to Ward’s Airstrip, Port Moresby PNG and flew regular Transport missions to Soputa and Dobodura. On January 23rd 1943 the aircraft returned down south to 1 OTU and was modified to dual control configuration on 28th of August 1943. On April 3rd 1945 the Hudson returned to 2 Air Depot, Richmond and was deemed surplus on September 1947 and sold by tender to European Air Transport (EAT) for 200 Pounds.
The Hudson went on to have a lengthy civil career with Curtis Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd, East West Airlines Ltd, Overland Air Services, South Coast Airways Pty Ltd, Jon Fairfax & Sons t/a Herald Flying Services and then Adastra Aerial Surveys Pty Ltd .During this time it carried the civil registrations VH-BKY, VH-EWB, VH-AGP and VH-EWS.
Following its civil aviation career the aircraft was sold to Malcolm Long and subsequently it was displayed at Chewing Gum Field and later at Air World, Wangarrata, Victoria. It was restored to ‘military’ configuration and marked as A16-123 ‘FX-F’. During the restoration a stock Hudson nose was obtained from New Zealand and grafted onto the airframe to replace the photo survey one fitted at the time. It was then sold to the Australian War Memorial, Canberra on January 15, 2001.
So very soon the Lockheed Hudson A16-105 will be one of most accurate and comprehensively restored WWII veterans of the RAAF to join the superb collection of the Australian War Memorial. Well done! I am sure all Warbird enthusiasts will be eager to see this beautiful restoration.
© John Parker 2014
We wish to thank the Australian War Memorial staff who assisted us to prepare this important news item.