RAAF Warbird bombers of the WWII era are extremely rare and especially a Lockheed Hudson. At present there is only a single Lockheed Hudson flying anywhere in the world and this aircraft is an RAAF WWII veteran with operational service.
Lockheed Hudson A16-112 was built in the USA at the Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Burbank, California, in 1939 and received from USA on 5th December 1941. The aircraft was allocated to No1 Operational Training Unit (OTU), however it was fairly quickly passed on to 14 Sqn on the 8th of July 1942 and was utilized by this unit for maritime patrol and anti-submarine duties over the coastline of Western Australia. On 23rd of December 1942 the aircraft commenced duties with 32 Sqn RAAF. However it again passed on to 7 Air Depot on 26th January 1943, remaining there until 28th April 1943 when it was allocated to 6 Sqn however it first went to 5 Air Depot, Forest Hill for the fitting of ASV and IFF equipment, arriving at 6Sqn RAAF on 9th June 1943. With 6Sqn, the Hudson then served with distinction out of Milne Bay, PNG on armed reconnaissance, bombing and maritime patrol work. The Hudson returned to Australia and was converted for use by the RAAF survey flight joining this unit on 17th May 1944 with the Unit Code SU-P. On 16th May 1946 the Hudson was retired from the Survey flight and allotted to 2 Air Depot at Richmond for storage Category D.
The aircraft was subsequently approved for disposal and on 10th April 1947 it was sold to Mr. S Godden, Potts Point, and Sydney NSW. Then in December 1949 the aircraft passed to East West Airlines registered as VH-BNJ East West Airlines and was later re registered as VH-EWA (again with East West Airlines). In June 1953 the aircraft suffered moderate damage following running into a drainage ditch at Mascot Airport, NSW.
The aircraft then passed on to the Adastra Aerial Services fleet re registered as VH-AIU and later VH-AGS in late 1953. The Hudson stayed with Adastra as a high altitude photographic mapping aircraft until withdrawn from service and stored at Tamworth from 1972 until 1976. The aircraft was struck off the civil register in April 1976.
In 1976 the Hudson was acquired by Malcolm J. Long, Melbourne VIC and was flown from Tamworth to Point Cook on 26th March 1976 where it remained in storage until December 1983 when it was dismantled and moved by road to Moorabbin VIC for restoration by Malcom Long and his team. Flying again on 10th April 1993 and registered as VH-KOY in its RAAF colors as A16-112 it was then loaned to Air World, Wangaratta VIC and displayed there until 5th November 2000 when it flew to Coolangatta QLD and was displayed at the Chewing Gum Museum. In 2002 the aircraft appeared in the film The Great Raid marked as USAAC “889”.
The aircraft moved on loan to the Temora Aviation Museum (TAM), Temora NSW in 2003 as a flying exhibit and was acquired by TAM in 2004 where it remains to this day as a flying tribute to the magnificent work done by RAAF Hudson Crews. In 2005 the aircraft was refurbished and repainted as RAAF Hudson A16-211 “The Tojo Busters”, a very attractive scheme and still civil registered as VH-KOY.
The Hudson has had an extensive record of displays across Australia as an active Warbird and is a real crowd favorite wherever it goes. Over the years there has been a sustained effort to fully refurbish the aircraft to restore all of the original operational military equipment which had been removed during its airliner and survey service. This has included 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 aircraft now represents a fully representative WWII era Mk.IVA RAAF Bomber Hudson.
Lockheed Hudson A16-211 History
A16-211 Mk.IIIA Manufacture No 6430 USAAC 41-23613, RAF serial BW751 was constructed at Lockheed Burbank USA on 13th April 1942 and sent to Australia by ship. The aircraft then allocated to 1 Air Depot (AD) from where it was allocated 6 Sqn RAAF 23/04/42.
The aircraft suffered an accident on 21st May 1942, on a flight from Flinders Island to Laverton, made a forced landing at Redva near Marrawah in the north coast of Tasmania due to a compass failure. The aircraft, carrying a sick airman suffering from appendicitis, made a bumpy landing damaging flaps and the tip of one of her airscrews Crew F/Lt J G Emerton, F/Lt H A Sundstrup, P/O L R Brady, Sgt D Balderstone Serv#416112, Padre E E Nolan and unnamed sick LAC were un-injured. The Hudson then repaired was operated by 6 Sqn and suffered several more minor accidents. On 3rd March 1943 the Hudson joined 2 Sqn RAAF where upon it received the Tojo Busters nose art.
A16-211 suffered another accident on 7th May 1943 when returning from a bombing and missing Beaufighter search mission, from Maikoor and Taberfane in the Aroe Islands. On this mission, the formation of five Hudsons (A16-171/199/211/219/233) were intercepted by two Japanese Rufes who shot down A16-171 with its bomb load. Three of the aircraft jettison their bombs, but not A16-211.The aircraft made a heavy landing (with bombs aboard) and on the third “bounce”, the under carriage collapsed on landing at Millingimbi. Crew F/O Hornsby, F/O Kidman, P/O Williams, F/Sgt Lye, and Sgt Luxton were not injured. The aircraft was then approved to be converted to components and was subsequently scrapped being struck off charge on 17th July 1943.
TAM are to be congratulated for maintaining Lockheed Hudson A16-112 as the only flying WWII RAAF Bomber and currently the only flying Hudson in the world. Long may it continue to do so.
© John Parker 2017