The Lockheed Hudson Mk.I was one of a number of American military aircraft developed and produced to satisfy overseas orders, in this case from the RAF. Work on the Hudson began in April 1938, after the British Purchasing Commission in America realised that Lockheed’s proposed navigational trainer would actually be significantly superior to the Avro Anson, itself then only just coming into service.
The Hudson was very closed related to the Lockheed Model 14 airliner, and would have the exact same width and length as the earlier aircraft. The main changes made to the design were the installation of a glass nose to contain the navigator and of a bomb bay capable of carrying 1,400lb of bombs or depth charges internally and provision for a Boulton-Paul two gun dorsal turret.
The main flaw with the Hudson I, as with many pre-war bombers, was its inadequate defensive firepower. It was armed with four .303in machine guns, two fixed guns in the upper nose, fired by the pilot, and two guns in a Boulton-Paul dorsal turret.
The resulting aircraft was a great improvement over the Anson, which had a top speed of 188mph, a range of 790 miles and a 360lb bomb load. In comparison the Hudson Mk.I had a top speed of 246mph and a range of 1,960 miles, well over double that of the earlier aircraft. The longer range was particularly important to Coastal Command, the intended operator of the Hudson, allowing it to spend much longer patrolling over the ocean (the Hudson I also compares well with the Bristol Blenheim, a similar two-engined aircraft – although the Blenheim was faster, it had a shorter range and carried a smaller bomb load).
A total of 350 Hudson Mk.Is were ordered in three batches. The initial order, placed on 23 June 1938, was for 200 aircraft. Work was proceeding so well that in the autumn of 1939 Lockheed offered to complete another 50 aircraft by Christmas. This batch of 50 aircraft was completed seven and a half weeks ahead of schedule, and was followed by a third batch of 100 Hudson Mk.Is. The majority of these aircraft went to the RAF, although South Africa was given two and the RCAF received 28. Lockheed had to produce one extra aircraft after N7260 was written off before delivery. By the time the war started two Coastal Command squadrons were already equipped with the Hudson I.
Engines: Wright GR1820-G102A
Horsepower: 1,100hp at take-off, 900hp at 6,700ft
Wing span: 65ft 6in
Length: 44ft 4in
Empty Weight: 11,630lb
Gross Weight: 17,500lb
Max Speed: 246mph at 6,500ft
Cruising Speed: 220mph or 170mph*
Climb rate: 2,180ft/min or 1,200ft/min*
Range: 1,960 miles
Armament: Four 0.303in machine guns, two fixed guns in upper nose and two in a Boulton-Paul dorsal turret
Payload: 1,400lb in internal bomb bay under cabin
* Different sources disagree on these statistics.