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Lockheed Hudson

The National Air Force Museum of Canada (NAFMC), in association with the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum (ACAM) in Halifax, is pleased to announce the restoration of a 1942 Mark VI Lockheed Hudson, Serial Number FK466. The NAFMC is very excited with this new and demanding project. It is a significant aircraft restoration, especially given the 70th anniversary of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) in 2011. When restored, FK466 will represent a significant aircraft in the history of Canada’s Air Force and it will be the only Mark VI Hudson on display in the world. In its current state, FK466 is not complete, and it will require numerous items including engine mounts and cockpit items. Restoration has already begun with an early estimate of at least five years to complete.

General History of the Lockheed Hudson

The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft built initially for the Royal Air Force (RAF) shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War and primarily operated by the RAF thereafter. 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 (RCAF) anti-submarine squadrons.

In late 1937 Lockheed sent a cutaway drawing of the Model 14 Super Electra to various publications showing the new aircraft as a civilian aircraft and converted to a light bomber. 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.

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 the United States then-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.

Although later outclassed by larger bombers, such as the Halifax and the Lancaster, the Hudson achieved some significant feats during the first half of the war. On 8 October 1939, over Jutland, a Hudson became the first RAF aircraft to shoot down a German aircraft. They also operated as fighters during the Battle of Dunkirk. A Hudson of RCAF 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.

In all, a total of 2,584 Hudsons were built. They began to be withdrawn from front line service in 1944. Some Hudsons were converted to civil transports after the war, and the Hudson formed the basis for development of the Lockheed Ventura.

 

History of Lockheed Hudson Mark VI – FK466

Thus far, we have been able to determine the following information about this particular historic aircraft:

It is a Lockheed Hudson Mk. VI , with Royal Air Force (RAF) Serial Number FK466, Lockheed Construction Number 414-6942, United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Serial Number 42-47022, and it was built at Burbank, California, in September 1942. It was a Lend-Lease aircraft, with Lend-Lease Requisition Number 7201 and Lend-Lease Contract Number DA-908. It was part of one of the last batches of Lend-Lease Hudsons. The Mk. VI was equivalent to the USAAF Model A-28A.

The A-28A was a contract designation given to 450 Lockheed Hudson twin-engine attack aircraft intended for delivery to British Commonwealth countries under Lend-Lease agreements. The A-28A (Mk. VI) was essentially an improved version of the earlier A-28. One significant difference between the A-28 and A-28A was the upgrade to the Pratt & Whitney 1830-69 radial engine, a more powerful version with 1,200 hp each at maximum takeoff power.

Most A-28As were sent to Great Britain and served in the RAF in various missions. Some also served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). A few aircraft were retained by the USAAF for use as staff transports.

FK466 was ferried from Burbank, California, to Eastern Air Command at RCAF Station Debert, Nova Scotia, on 05 October, 1942 under Transfer Order No. 3263 (30 October 1942). It was first assigned to No. 31 (RAF) Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RCAF Station Debert, a formation of the BCATP. While at No. 31 (RAF) OTU, FK466 was used to train crews to ferry Hudsons to England during WWII.

On 22 May, 1944, FK466 was placed on “Stored Reserve” with Eastern Air Command. On 08 August, 1944, FK466 was then transferred from the BCATP to the War Materials Office as “War Reserve”, at No. 21 Repair Depot, Moncton, New Brunswick, and pending modification to Air Sea Rescue (ASR) configuration.

As part of the ASR conversion, FK466 was equipped with an Uffa Fox, Mk. I, Airborne Lifeboat. These boats, which were mounted under the aircraft’s fuselage, were equipped with two gas engines, one sail and emergency rations.

FK466 was then transferred back to Eastern Air Command on 12 December, 1944, after conversion to the ASR role. FK466 was now attached to No. 1 (Composite) Detachment, which was later re-designated No. 1 (Composite) Squadron on 01 April 1945, and was based at RCAF Station Torbay, Newfoundland. No. 1 Composite Detachment and later No.1 Composite Squadron had been formed to provide target towing, search and rescue, and communications duties as part of Eastern Air Command. No. 1 Composite Squadron’s diary indicates that on 17 April 1945, Flying Officer (F/O) McKay dropped a dummy lifeboat from FK466 over Quidi Vidi Lake, near St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The Air Sea Rescue element of the squadron, which included FK466 and other aircraft and personnel, was transferred to the control of RCAF Station Torbay, when No. 1 Composite Squadron was disbanded on 7 July, 1945. The Air Sea Rescue Flight operated for about two months using Hudsons FK466 and FK495.

The lifeboat system was utilized on 6 July, 1945, when an Airborne Lifeboat was dropped to the crew of a B-24D Liberator, Tail Number 595, which had ditched in the Atlantic off Newfoundland, after experiencing flight control problems. Whether FK466 or FK 495 carried out the lifeboat drop is currently unclear, but we are working on that mystery.

FK466 was flown to No. 1 Reconnaissance and Navigation School at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, by the Officer Commanding (OC) of the Air Sea Rescue Flight, George Webster, after disbandment of the Air Sea Rescue Flight, on 15 September, 1945.

No. 1 Reconnaissance and Navigation School was re-designated as the RCAF Air Navigation School on 16 September 1945, and the school was moved to RCAF Station Greenwood, Nova Scotia on 15 December, 1945. FK466 was utilized by “Station Flight” at RCAF Station Greenwood for general transport duties until 9 September, 1947, when it was placed on Aircraft Pending Disposal At Location (APDAL) at RCAF Station Greenwood, and then transferred to War Assets on 10 November, 1947.

At this point in time, the history of FK466 from 10 November, 1947 to 1980 remains unclear, but FK466 eventually found its way to a scrap yard with a number of B-24’s and other Hudson’s. It existed as a dismantled hulk at L. W. Layton Salvage, in Canning, Nova Scotia, from 1980 to 1988. FK466 was subsequently found by ACAM members and transported to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1988, where it has remained until October 2010, when it was moved into the restoration shop at the NAFMC.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering as a member of the Restoration Workshop Crew (especially persons with metal work experience), or having additional information or details about these units or about this specific aircraft, is encouraged to contact the Museum directly at (613) 965-2864 or by email to: restoration@airforcemuseum.ca attention: Hudson Restoration.