The Israeli Air Force Hudsons



 


This photograph is reproduced from a magazine entitled Born in Battle (Issue 2) published in 1978 by Eshel-Dramit Ltd. of Israel. Although of poor quality, it is the only photo of an Israeli Hudson known to The Lockheed File. It is claimed that the photo was taken at Ekron Airbase. Although the magazine does not record an identity for the aeroplane, the original clearly shows that the aircraft has been fitted with a door on the port side of the nose compartment. This door is similar to those installed in other Hudsons by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts at Mascot, NSW. As it was this company which converted Hudsons for European Air Transport, it is possible that the aeroplane depicted is either ex VH-BFQ or ex VH-BIA. On the other hand, the open bomb doors, together with the nose transparency, suggest that the Hudson in the photograph may have been used as a bomber, in which case it is most likely ex VH-BIH which is believed to have been the only Hudson used in an offensive role. It is not known if VH-BIH was fitted with a baggage door in the nose, so the existence of such a door on the Hudson in the photograph need not necessarily eliminate VH-BIH as a possibility. Needless to say, additional details or other photographs will be most welcome!

 


THE ISRAELI HUDSONS


Note: The Israeli serials shown in the following table are subject to confirmation.

REGN MSN PREV OWNER DEPART AUST ARRIVE ISRAEL ISRAELI SERIAL
VH-BIH 6076 C.R. Penny SEP48 NOV48 2601
VH-BFQ 6417 G. Marcel FEB49 FEB49 2602
VH-BIA 6477 N. Marcello MAR49 MAR49 2603
VH-BLB 3843 B. Thomas FEB49 MAY49 2604


Ploughshares into Swords

 

In the immediate post-war years, a number of operators sprang up to serve the lucrative migration boom, principally from Italy and Greece. Airlines such as European Air Transport and Intercontinental Air Tours plus a number of individual entrepreneurs were quick to recognise the suitability of the Hudson which was comparatively plentiful and cheap when compared with more desirable types such as the DC-3. Although European Air Transport purchased seven Hudsons post-war, only two (VH-BFQ & VH-BIA) found their way on to the migrant run. The conversion of a third Hudson (VH-BIB) was abandoned and the aircraft scrapped, along with the other four unconverted Hudsons. The Hudson's participation in the migrant trade was comparatively short-lived and most of the operators involved soon found themselves in financial difficulties with the Hudsons being their most significant assets. At this time, the struggle for an independent Jewish state had led to hostilities in Palestine. Australia joined with many other nations in introducing embargoes against the new state. As a consequence, Israel had to scour the world for whatever aircraft it could acquire and it wasn't long before the Australian Hudsons came to their attention. In all, four Australian Hudsons found their way to the Israeli Air Force. These illegal exports invariably commenced with a notification to the Department of Civil Aviation that the aircraft owner was planning to take his aircraft overseas on a private flight. Subsequently the aircraft were diverted to Israel and handed over to the Air Force. As these four Hudsons had been civilianised, it was not until late December 1948 that the first Hudson saw action in the bombing role. It is understood that only the first Hudson (ex VH-BIH) actually entered service as a bomber while the other three Hudsons served as transports with Air Transport Command at Ekron. Subsequently they were assigned to 106 squadron. In May 1949, 106 Squadron disbanded and the Hudsons were transferred to 103 Squadron. Three Hudsons were still on strength to 103 Squadron at 1st January 1950 and these aircraft may have remained in service until as late as 1954.

Australian DCA files indicate that these illegal sales (also involving other aircraft types) were still under investigation as late as 1956. The four Hudsons which found their way to Israel were struck off the Australian Register as "improper sale overseas". Presumably all were destroyed in combat or subsequently scrapped.

If any reader can throw any light on the subsequent histories of these aircraft, the publisher will be very pleased to hear from you.



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Issue Date
3 08JUN98



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