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History

Delivery and RAAF Service

Following completion, this aircraft was allocated US serial 41-23182, and designated as an A-28 attack bomber,[N 3] before being passed to Australia as A16-112.[3]

Assigned to No 1 Operational Training Unit at Victoria, A16-112 had it's armament removed, and dual controls fitted, on 14 December 1941. Passed to 14 Squadron for anti submarine patrols of the coast of Western Australia on 8 July 1942. Crossing the continent again, it then served a period with No 32 Sqn off the east coast of Australia, before travelling again to No 6 Sqn on May 20, 1943, after being fitted with ASV radar and IFF, and it served out of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, on bombing, armed reconnaissance and patrol work until August 24 that year. It was returned to the mainland for overhaul, allocated to the RAAF Survey Flight, and flew with them for the next two years, before being stored at Camden, New South Wales, on November 21, 1946.

Civilain Service

Its second career commenced when it was overhauled and converted to airliner standard for East-West Airlines (EWA) service, initially, as VH-BNJ. It was ferried from Camden to Tamworth, on April 23, 1949, being rolled out equipped as a 16-seat, three-crew airliner ” on December 11, and undertaking route- proving flights and publicity. This included The Northern Daily Leader writing 'This is possibly the best Hudson aircraft in Australia, and will provide comfort as a toilet is installed, and a hostess will attend the needs of passengers.'

The Hudson, and following sister aircraft, seriously stretched EWA finances, but they also increased customer confidence in the airline, so the less prestigious Avro Anson VH-EWA had its registration changed to enable -BNJ to become the new flagship named Peel City as VH-EWA on 21 March 1951. East West Airlines was a newly founded airline, established at the county town of Tamworth, New South Wales, to “fight the city-based airline monopolies" of Australia's two-airline policy. Starting out with Ansons and then adding three Hudsons, the Hudsons proved superior, as more powerful, all-metal stressed-skin construction types than the cheaper and widely-available Avro Ansons which were taken out of service in 1951. The Hudsons themselves were in turn replaced in 1957 by the even better, but contemporary, Douglas DC-3. However, one reason for the Hudson's use was that it was able to operate from the then small regional airfields that needed to be upgraded before DC-3 operations were possible.

EWA’s flagship Hudson didn't make it to type-replacement, being badly damaged by running into a ditch during a ground engine run accident (under the care of another airline's engineer) at Mascot Airport on April 1, 1953. However, it was not the end, despite an insurance payout to the airline. The ownership of VH-EWA was officially transferred to Adastra Aerial Surveys Pty Ltd on July I, 1953, after the insurance money was received for the damaged aircraft, and the Hudson started its third career. At Adastra Aerial Surveys it was initially, briefly, registered VH-AIU (then becoming VH-AGS) primarily for high altitude photographic mapping. This was a remarkable task, requiring high altitude flights with two camera operators and a pilot on oxygen, and deployments away in often remote parts of Australia for extended periods; tents and motorbikes being regarded as essential equipment.

In 1956, Adastra replaced the original Pratt & Whitney engines with Wright Cyclones, thus converting it from a Mk IVA to a Mk III. Adastra preferred Wright engines for better altitude performance required for survey work. Adastra also removed the nose compartment door and restored the standard Hudson nose glazing. There were other task modifications as well. In 1960, an Eagle IX Ordnance Survey camera was fitted to —AGS at the existing camera hatch in the nose section, and in 1962, a magnetometer “towed bird" and towing equipment were also trialled on the Hudson for survey work, as well as being test flown with a strut-mounted magnetometer boom above the rear fuselage. Between I959 and 1962 it was also being operated in Western Australia and painted in subsidiary company colours of Westralian Aerial Surveys.

Finally parked up in I973 for a period of storage, it was acquired by Malcolm Long, of Melbourne, in 1976. It was restored to fly and back to an overall accurate wartime configuration, being re-fitted with a dorsal Boulton Paul turret, radio operator's position, nose gun blast tubes and pilot's gunsight, and Australian-developed beam gun posts, between 1983 and 1993. It flew again on April I0, 1993, as VH-KOY (after the No 2 Sqn RAAF code letters carried) from Moorabbin Airport, before being loaned to Air World, Wangaratta, Victoria, from 1993, later moving to Coolangatta, Queensland, with Malcolm in 2000. In 2002 it flew as USAAC "889" for the film The Great Raid which was eventually released in 2005. The film was based on the raid at Cabanatuan, where 500 prisoners of war were rescued. Ironically the Hudson was standing in for the even rarer Northrop P-6l Black Widow used as a diversion in the real raid! After filming, the US markings were replaced with RAAF blue and white roundels.

Loaned to the Temora Aviation Museum, (TAM) in 2003, the Hudson was acquired by the museum in 2004 and repainted in RAAF “A16-211” (a reversal of its real serial) as The Tojo Busters, and where it is based today, a popular and unique sight on the Australian scene. The Aircraft was the subject of an aerial photo shoot on October 31 2013.[4]

Notes

  1. Photographed by Robert Frola on 5 October 2008.[1]
  2. Used in place of a P-61 Black Widow, which was used during the actual raid.
  3. This was done as a paperwork neutrality exercise, as the United States were not at war at this point.[2]

Sources

  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org
  2. Aeroplane Monthly. Kelsey Media. April 2014 Page 44
  3. http://cgibin.rcn.com/jeremy.k/cgi-bin/gzUsafSearch.pl?target=41-23182&content=
  4. Aeroplane Magazine April 2014 Page 42

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