In late 1937 Lockheed sent a cutaway drawing of the Model 14 to various publications, showing the new aircraft as a civilian aircraft and converted to a light bomber. This attracted the interest of various air forces and in 1938, the British Purchasing Commission sought an American maritime patrol aircraft for the United Kingdom to support the Avro Anson. On 10 December 1938, Lockheed demonstrated a modified version of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra commercial airliner, which swiftly went into production as the Hudson Mk I.
A total of 350 Mk I and 20 Mk II Hudsons were supplied (the Mk II had different propellers). These had two fixed Browning machine guns in the nose and two more in the Boulton Paul dorsal turret. The Hudson Mk III added one ventral and two beam machine guns and replaced the 1,100 hp Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder radials with 1,200 hp versions (428 produced).
The Hudson Mk V (309 produced) and Mk VI (450 produced) were powered by the 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row radial. The RAF also obtained 380 Mk IIIA and 30 Mk IV Hudsons under the Lend-Lease programme.
By February 1939, RAF Hudsons began to be delivered, initially equipping No. 224 Squadron RAF at RAF Leuchars, Scotland in May 1939. By the start of the war in September, 78 Hudsons were in service. Due to the United States' neutrality at that time, early series aircraft were flown to the Canadian border, landed, and then towed on their wheels over the border into Canada by tractors or horse drawn teams, before then being flown to Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) airfields where they were then dismantled and "cocooned" for transport as deck cargo, by ship to Liverpool. The Hudsons were supplied without the Boulton Paul dorsal turret, which was installed on arrival in the United Kingdom.
In 1941, the USAAF began operating the Hudson; the Twin Wasp-powered variant was designated the A-28 (82 acquired) and the Cyclone-powered variant was designated the A-29 (418 acquired). The US Navy operated 20 A-28s, redesignated the PBO-1. A further 300 were built as aircrew trainers, designated the AT-18.
A Hudson was the first Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft in air combat in the Pacific theatre when on 23 November 1942, F/O George Gudsell's NZ2049 was engaged by three Japanese floatplane fighters, after spotting an enemy convoy near Vella Lavella. After skilled evasive manoeuvring at less than 50' above the sea, the Hudson returned to Henderson Field with no casualties.
A total of 2,941 Hudsons were built. The type formed the basis for development of the Lockheed Ventura resulting in them being withdrawn from front line service from 1944, though many survived the war to be used as civil transports, primarily in Australia and New Zealand.
A-29 with convertible interiors as troop transports; 384 to the RAF as Hudson IIIA, some retained by USAAF as the RA-29A.
24 repossessed A-29s converted for photo-survey.
A US Navy PBO-1 from VP-82 at Argentia, 1942.
Gunnery trainer version of the A-29 powered by two R-1820-87 engines, 217 built.
Navigational trainer version with dorsal turret removed, 83 built.
Provisional designation changed to A-29A.
Three civil Model 14s impressed in Australia.
Twenty former RAF Hudson IIIAs repossessed for use by VP-82 Squadron of the USN
Tachikawa Type LO Transport Aircraft
Japanese licence production of the Model 14-38 by the Tachikawa Aircraft Company Ltd (立川飛行機株式会社 Tachikawa Hikōki K.K.?) powered by 2x 900 hp (670 kW) Mitsubishi Ha-26-I 14 cylinder radial engines. The 119 production aircraft were given the allied reporting name Thelma.
Kawasaki Army Type 1 Freight Transport
Long designation of the Ki-56
Freight transport aircraft redesigned by Takei Doi at Kawasaki Kokuki Kogoyo K.K. (Kawasaki Aircraft Company), from the Type LO. Careful attention to weight reduction, a 1.5 m (4.9 ft) increase in rear fuselage length and power from 2x 950 hp (710 kW) Nakajima Ha-25 14 cylinder radial engines improved performance and handling. The 121 production aircraft were given the allied reporting name Thalia.
The Lockheed Hudson features prominently in the Captains of the Clouds (1942). The film starred James Cagney and Dennis Morgan as Canadian bush pilots who do their part in the Second World War as ferry pilots, bringing Hudsons to Britain. The film ends with a depiction of a Hudson ferry flight that mixes authentic live action with studio footage.
A de-militarized Hudson is flown by Humphrey Bogart's character in Tokyo Joe (1949). Bogart played an ex-World War II pilot attempting to operate a cargo airline in occupied Japan. The Hudson is identifiable by the turret platform at the rear of the fuselage, and by the numerous windows in the cockpit area.
The Lockheed Hudson was featured in the movie The Great Raid as a distraction to Japanese soldiers, although in the real event, a P-61 Black Widow was used. The Hudson was used instead because there were no airworthy Black Widows at the time of the movie's filming.