Lockheed Hudson in RAAF Service

The RAAF was the second service to order the Lockheed Hudson, and the most important operator of the aircraft after the RAF. For the first two years of the war in the Pacific the Hudson was the RAAF’s most important bomber, and like every Allied aircraft in the Pacific in 1942 it suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Japanese.

The Australian government ordered its first Hudsons soon after the RAF, but decided to use different engines - Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasps instead of the Wright engines used by the RAF. Despite this the RAAF originally gave its aircraft the same Mk I and Mk II designations as the RAF. Eventually the RAF gave the Australian Hudsons the designation Mk IV, while lend lease aircraft would become the Mk IVA.

By December 1941 eight RAAF squadrons were fully or partially equipped with the Hudson. Between them these squadrons could muster a total of 77 Hudsons, 24 of which were based in Malaya and Singapore with No.1 and No.8 Squadrons while 53 were in Australia, New Britain and the Dutch East Indies.

On 6 December 1941 the Hudsons of No.1 Squadron would be the first Commonwealth aircraft to find the Japanese invasion fleet heading for Malaya. When the Japanese began to land in the north of Malaya on 8 December, No.1 Squadron sent six Hudsons to attack the landing beaching, sinking a 9,700ton transport ship for the loss of two aircraft. The two squadrons then became involved in the retreat down the Malaya peninsula, losing 18 of their aircraft by late December. Eight new aircraft reached them on Christmas Day, followed by a small number of aircraft from the RAF I the Middle East, but the two squadrons were soon forced to retreat to Sumatra. Once there No.1 Squadron gained another sixteen aircraft and No.8 six ex-RAF Hudsons, and the two squadrons managed to fly a number of offensive missions against the invading Japanese, but by 1 March No.1 Squadron had lost all but one aircraft, and the two squadrons were withdrawn to Australia.

Further south No.13 Squadron was operating its Hudsons from Ambon, in the Dutch East Indies, but heavy losses forced the squadron to retreat back to Darwin on 31 January 1942.  

No.24 Squadron was a minor user of the Hudson, receiving four aircraft in October 1940, operating them alongside its Wirraways. The squadron moved to Rabaul on 21 December 1941. The squadron operated as an Advancing Striking Force until 20 January 1942, when Rabaul was attacked by over 100 Japanese aircraft. At the end of the day the squadron boasted two Wirraways and one Hudson, and the surviving personnel were evacuated from the island. The squadron did not receive any more Hudsons.

Like every Allied aircraft in the Far East, the Hudsons of the RAAF had been overwhelmed by massively superior Japanese numbers. They would remain in front line service through 1942 and into 1943, operating against the Japanese on Timor from Darwin, fighting on New Guinea and flying anti-submarine patrols from New South Wales.

The Hudson was also used by No.459 Squadron RAAF in the Middle East. This squadron was formed in Egypt in February 1942. After a period spent flying patrols off the Egyptian coast, it took part in attacks on Axis supply convoys attempting to reach Rommel’s army in North Africa. The squadron converted to the Lockheed Ventura early in 1944.

Lockheed Hudson Aircraft in WWII, Andrew Hendrie, Crowood Press. A look at the development of the Hudson, and its career with the RAF, USAAF, RNZAF and RAAF. Covers the anti-submarine and anti-shipping uses of the Hudson, as well at its role in Air-Sea Rescue and special operations. The text is supported by a good collection of first hand accounts.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 May 2008), Lockheed Hudson in RAAF Service , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_lockheed_hudson_RAAF.html

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