Lockheed Hudson

The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal command reconnaisance aircraft built initially for the Royal Air Force shortly before the outbreak of the Second World Way and primarily operated by RAF thereafter

  • Top Speed: 404km/h
  • Wingspan: 20m
  • Length: 14m
  • First Flight: December 10, 1938
  • Engine Type: Radial Engine
  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Corporation
  • Designer: Kelly Johnson
Acknowledgement: George Doughty Archive
Acknowledgement: George Doughty Archive

Problems with Hudsons at Silloth Aerodrome

64 Hudsons were lost by No 1 OTU during their time at Silloth. Of these, 17 can be said to have been into the Solway, whereas at least 24 were on take-off or landing. The fact that a number crashed into the Solway resulting in a number of fatalities gave rise to an area of the Solway being nicknamed Hudson Bay.

Information below has been extracted from Gordon Akitt’s Archives

Engine starting Problems

While at Silloth Airfield, the engines on Hudsons were often difficult to start. This was put down to the fact that Silloth was subject to strong cold air sweeps and damp mist. Combined with this problem, the planes were often kept outside hangars and seldom had engine covers. The solution was to fit an oil dilution kit to each engine, which thinned the oil prior to starting. This gave the plane a better chance of starting.

Petrol Tanks Leaking

Being a traning unit, Hudsons often suffered heavy and hard landings. The top of the main undercarriage leg was fixed to the side of the petrol tank which was itself built into the framework of the wing and could not be removed. Over time, the large rivets holding the brackets were weakened slightly and they were not tight enough to prevent a very slight trickle of high octane fuel from leaking. This could be fatal being so near the hot engines. To cure this problem, the tanks were emptied and defumed and the access panels on the top of the wing removed so as to allow access to the interior wall where the problem was located. After much thought, some of the rivets were replaced with bolts and the remaining rivets were taken out and replaced with a different type. All the Hudsons received the same treatment and in addition orders went out to all pilots to report heavy landings so that the undercarriage could be inspected. This solved the problem.

Ditched aircraft sinking very quickly

Inspection of aircraft recovered from ditching showed that the bomb doors were crushed inwards and the navigators front glass panel situated in the floor, a short distance from the nose, would be pushed inwards/ Silloth had a reputation for having so many ditchings that the locals re-named the Solway Firth ‘Hudsons Bay.’

The two  runways most often used were those that that pointed towards the open sea and therefore were subjected to the heavy wind. This meant that, if there was a problem, the planes would end up in the sea.

Many planes were lost while carrying out low level bombing on a target anchored about half a mile from shore. The problem was alleviated when the the front glass was re-inforced with an inner frame and two cross bars.

Another problem was that in between the two bomb bay bulkheads, a strong aluminium girder was fitted so that the bomb doors would close upon it for their entire length. Nothing, of course, could prevent a quick sinking if hitting the water with great force,however, the feedback suggested the modifications had some success.

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