This type of patrol bomber was developed from the Electra airliner to a pre-war RAF specification, but the first Hudsons did not reach New Zealand until 1941. Ninety-four Hudsons were operated by the RNZAF both here and in the Pacific for transports, air sea rescue and training.
The aircraft at MOTAT was shipped to New Zealand aboard the SS Manuel, and was brought on charge by Unit 1 at RNZAF Station Hobsonville on the 29th of October 1941. Re-serialled NZ2031, the aircraft was assembled at No.1 Aircraft Depot, Hobsonville. It was then despatched to No.2 (GR) Squadron at RNZAF Station Nelson on the 2nd of January 1942, and received the unit code UH-H. From August to October 1943 the aircraft was serving with No.3 (GR) Squadron at Espiritu Santo, and later the aircraft was used as personal aircraft for AOC No.1 Islands Group, RNZAF - Group Captain Geoffrey Roberts. It was then based on Guadalcanal and wore a bare metal scheme with RNZAF operational roundels.
It returned to New Zealand by early 1945, and went to the Air Navigation School, RNZAF Station Wigram March 1946, where it still wore the bare metal scheme and was coded "F". NZ2031 made its last flight from Wigram, transiting to storage at RNZAF Station Taieri, Dunedin on the 19th of August 1948. The aircraft was sold by WARB tender 8699 from Taieri to Mr. Carr on the 9th of May 1949. Carr stored the Hudson on his farm near Dunedin on the peninsular. The wings had been torched off at roots. He used it as a farm shed.
This aircraft was restored from the ground up by Lockheed enthusiast and long time MOTAT volunteer Barry East, an Auckland bank manager. He virtually completed the aircraft restoration before he passed away in 1984. It was a massive undertaking as the fuselage was a stripped shell and the wings had been gas axed off the aircraft. This meant a large amount of work to re splice the outer wing sections so allowing the aircraft to once again stand on its own undercarriage. The wings prepared for the aircraft are in fact ex Lodestar examples donated by Fieldair.
Unfortunately space constraints have resulted in the completed Hudson items (fuselage, wings and flaps) being in storage or limited display for over twenty years, but being undercover and well looked after the aircraft is still in exceptionally good condition. During this time though some minor items of vandalism by uncaring museum visitors have occurred to the external aerials, and the paintwork is looking worn in places. There are also signs of corrosion evident in some areas and so the aircraft will require some further ‘catchup’ restoration attention before being finally assembled for display in the new main aviation hanger extension.
Due to the fact that the main spar was gas cut a huge rebuild of the entire center section of the aircraft would be required to regain airworthy status. Possible, but highly, highly unlightly.
New Zealand Hudson Survivors
Two other examples of the medium bomber exist along with various other fuselage sections in various states around the country:
NZ2013 – RNZAF Museum, Christchurch, fully restored and on display.
NZ2084 – Ferrymead Aeronautical Society, Christchurch, under long term restoration to static display.
Further information on Hudson fuselage survivors can be found at:
There are further Hudson remain off the Greenhithe Bridge in the upper Waitamata Harbour that can be seem at low tide. This aircraft crashed while on approach to the nearby airforce base.
- Hudson in storage/display outside while the Belfast Hanger was repositioned in 2007 (Richard Wesley)
- original condition of the Hudson when recovered by Motat in the mid 1960's (Richard Wesley Collection)
- restored fuselage at Motat in 1979 (Mark Denne)
- cockpit of the Hudson 2009 (Richard Wesley)
- Hudson remains in Waitamata Harbour 2009 (Richard Wesley)