Lockheed Hudsons RAF Special Duties question

chris ballance

Airman 1st Class
116
102
Jul 21, 2022
The Hudson had a reputation for being a "hot ship." Why was it chosen for landing and picking up special agents in occupied Europe? Was it just a matter of being an available aircraft with decent speed and the range to reach places like Poland? Did the Fowler flaps allow for shorter field landings than a C-47/Dakota?
 

EwenS

Staff Sergeant
1,003
1,953
Oct 19, 2021
The Hudson had a reputation for being a "hot ship." Why was it chosen for landing and picking up special agents in occupied Europe? Was it just a matter of being an available aircraft with decent speed and the range to reach places like Poland? Did the Fowler flaps allow for shorter field landings than a C-47/Dakota?
I would recommend that you get hold of a copy of "We Landed By Moonlight" by Hugh Verity who flew many of these pick up missions. It's over 40 years since I read it but the Wiki article here draws heavily on it regarding use of the Hudson. The early SD squadrons had to make do with whatever aircraft they could get their hands on.

See under 161 squadron. A Hudson happened to be available. I have one serial no for a King's Flight Hudson which may or may not have been the aircraft concerned - N7263.

Pick up operations were only a small part of SD operations but attract the most attention. The Hudson didn't have the range to get to Poland from Britain. Most operations to eastern Europe were from Med bases by 148 squadron mostly using Halifaxes and Liberators, and which never operated the Hudson.

A mission to Poland was flown by a 267 transport squadron Dakota to collect V2 parts.
 
EwenS
Great to see someone mention 148 SD Squadron. As you say the squadron was Liberators and Halifax (1943-1945) and never used the Hudson, as far as we are aware. However, in Spring 1944, C flight was formed using Lysanders by former well known U.K. based SD squadron pilots. Franklin, Vaughan-Fowler and Attenborrow, who were joined later by two French pilots. Lt Georges Libert and Lt Bernard Cordier who even brought their own Lysanders with them ! found in Syria March 44, flown to Algiers (144 MU ?) then onto Brindisi. They operated from forward bases to Southern France and to a lesser amount to Yugoslavia and Greece from Brindisi. Still piecing together, this lesser known side of 148’s operations.
Cheers
Steve A



I would recommend that you get hold of a copy of "We Landed By Moonlight" by Hugh Verity who flew many of these pick up missions. It's over 40 years since I read it but the Wiki article here draws heavily on it regarding use of the Hudson. The early SD squadrons had to make do with whatever aircraft they could get their hands on.

See under 161 squadron. A Hudson happened to be available. I have one serial no for a King's Flight Hudson which may or may not have been the aircraft concerned - N7263.

Pick up operations were only a small part of SD operations but attract the most attention. The Hudson didn't have the range to get to Poland from Britain. Most operations to eastern Europe were from Med bases by 148 squadron mostly using Halifaxes and Liberators, and which never operated the Hudson.

A mission to Poland was flown by a 267 transport squadron Dakota to collect V2 parts.
 

EwenS

Staff Sergeant
1,003
1,953
Oct 19, 2021
EwenS
Great to see someone mention 148 SD Squadron. As you say the squadron was Liberators and Halifax (1943-1945) and never used the Hudson, as far as we are aware. However, in Spring 1944, C flight was formed using Lysanders by former well known U.K. based SD squadron pilots. Franklin, Vaughan-Fowler and Attenborrow, who were joined later by two French pilots. Lt Georges Libert and Lt Bernard Cordier who even brought their own Lysanders with them ! found in Syria March 44, flown to Algiers (144 MU ?) then onto Brindisi. They operated from forward bases to Southern France and to a lesser amount to Yugoslavia and Greece from Brindisi. Still piecing together, this lesser known side of 148’s operations.
Cheers
Steve A
Yes. I omitted the Lysander bit to keep the reply short, especially as the OP referred to Poland for which the Lysander had way too little range.

357 in the Far East also used SD Lysanders from March 1945 for short range missions in Burma alongside Dakotas and Liberators, having previously had Hudsons amongst its complement. But other than the Lysanders these aircraft were only dropping agents and supplies, not landing to drop off / pick up agents. Other squadrons involved were 200/8, 160 & 358 squadrons, all with Liberators. 160 was flying sorties of up to just over 24 hours by mid-1945, flying from Ceylon to the Johore area of Malaya, just north of Singapore.
 

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