Lockheed Hudson Mk.IVA, Israel's forgotten bomber

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Israeli_Air_Force_-_Coat_of_arms_svg.png 1029976243_Hudsonillu.jpg.61ec64405ae0c3

Introduction

The Lockheed Hudson was an American made bomber aircraft infamous for it’s service under the RAF during WW2. The Hudson saw service with various countries across the world and while many know of it’s exploits by nations such as the UK, the Republic of China or Australia, very few people are likely to know that this aircraft had seen a very short lived operational service period under the Israeli Air Force. The Mk.IVA in particular, of which the Israelis managed to get a single example from Australia, served for a very brief period as a bomber and will be the focus of this suggestion.

Disclaimer

  • The Israeli Air Force had more Hudsons than just VH-BIH/2601, however this specific Hudson was the only one of the Mk.IVA variant and was the only one that was known to have been armed and used in combat under this air force, so the suggestion will revolve around this aircraft exclusively. If you wish to read about the history of Israeli Hudsons more broadly I highly recommend checking out my sources at the bottom of the post.

vhbih.jpg.f2001e40c407d36b0f19cae9ca8f1c - Lockheed Hudson Mk.IVA VH-BIH photographed in Mascot Australia prior to it’s departure from Australia to Israel. Note that despite it being civilianized and lacking the turrets, the bomb bay doors are still operational.

Acquisition

During the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 Israeli agents looked across the globe for suitable aircraft which could be either purchased or smuggled to Israel to join the war effort. Among the nations who joined the arms embargo on the newly created state was none other than Australia who refused to allow any sort of aircraft of military background to be sold to Israeli agents. Despite the embargo there were many Australians, including aviators, who were sympathetic to the new state and it’s dire need of additional weapons. One such individual, known as Warren Penny, who owned a civilianized ex-RAAF Lockheed Hudson Mk.IVA (Australian designation for the A-28 variant of the Hudson) decided he would deliver his Hudson to the Israelis illegally by notifying the Department of Civil Aviation that he was planning to take his aircraft overseas on a private flight. The aircraft left from Sydney at the very beginning of October and made it to Israel just one month later landing in the port city of Haifa on the 6th of November 1948. It would take another year for Australia to strike off VH-BIH’s registration as “improper sale overseas” .

2601.jpg.4c65a55e9a3f74ef7778f63e206313b - A photo presumed to be of Hudson Mk.IVA VH-BIH, now serialized as 2601, taken in Ekron Air Base in 1949. Note the glass nose for the bombardier station as well as the operational bomb bay.

Service in the Israeli Air Force

After arriving in Israel Hudson VH-BIH was serialized with the IAF number 2601 (and presumably displayed either it or the suffix 01 later in service). The Israelis saw the Hudson as an exceptionally useful aircraft to have both as a transport and, as the Israelis viewed it, a medium bomber. The aircraft served during the war initially under the Air Transport command and later under the 106th squadron operating from Ekron Air Base. A concentrated effort was taken during the first month of service to get the Hudson to a flight worthy state. The Arab-Israeli war was still raging on and so the priority was to turn Hudson 2601 back into a bomber. During it’s civilianization in Australia the Hudson was stripped of it’s bomber sight, bomb loading gear as well as the gunner turrets and guns. By December the aircraft was considered flightworthy and while it likely never got any of it’s machinegun armament back it was functional once again for the bombing role. According to at least one source the Hudson was fitted for carriage of a 798kg (1,760 lbs) bomb load, putting it on par with operational Hudsons of WW2 in terms of bomb armament. Hudson 2601 managed to get involved in combat during the very late stages of the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli war carrying out a few bombing sorties in the war. The most notable operation this aircraft took part in was Operation Uvda in March of 1949 which was the final operation in the war and saw Israel face off against the Kingdom of Jordan for control of the southern Negev desert. On the first day of this operation, the 5th of March 1949, Hudson 2601 crashed seemingly beyond recovery, ending it’s service with the Israeli Air Force.

1306533882_PossibleHudson.jpg.8b2d3d5bf2 - In this photo which was likely taken during the 1948-1949 war we can see an Israeli B-17 and behind it one of the Israeli Hudsons. Due to the time period it is very likely Hudson 2601.

During and After the war the Israeli Air Force acquired 3 additional Hudsons, however those were of the Mk.III and Mk.IIIA variants and were never used by the Israelis as combat aircraft but rather as transports. The Israeli Air Force withdrew all of these remaining Hudsons by 1954.

1079192726_IsraeliHudsonIII.jpg.8cef30ca - A Photo of Hudson 2601 after the crash on the 5th of March 1949. Note the P&W engines confirming it as Israel’s sole Mk.IVA Hudson and the Israeli Air Force roundel under the wing.

Specifications

Type: Medium bomber

Country of origin: USA (through Australia)

Length: 13.51 meters

Height: 3.62 meters

Wingspan: 19.96 meters

Powerplants: 2 x Pratt and Whitney R-1830-45 engines rated at 1,050 hp each

Max speed: 400 km/h

Max altitude: 7,500 meters

Range: 3,150 km

Weight: Empty - 5,865 kg, Fully loaded - 8,400kg

Armaments: A 798kg bomb load (likely the same as the one we see in-game on the Hudson Mk.V and A-29). Importantly, unlike most Hudsons in military service, it appears the Israelis never re-installed any offensive or defensive machinegun armament, limiting this aircraft to just it’s bomb armament.

Sources

Spoiler

The Lockheed File

The Israeli Air Force official website

Air War on the Edge by Bill Norton

The Israeli Air Force in combat - 70 years of air superiority by Danny Shalom (Hebrew)

The Israeli Air Force Aircraft from the Tiger Moth to the Sufa by Danny Shalom (Hebrew)

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Suggestion passed to the developers for consideration.