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Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1

Classic Airframes 1/48 Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2017 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 449 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Nice detailing, unique subject Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1
Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1
Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1
Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1
Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1
Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1
Hudson Mk.III/IV/V/VI/PBO-1

The year was 1938 and Great Britain was at war. When representatives of the British government came to the US to purchase combat aircraft to augment the RAF, one of the companies visited was Lockheed. This might seem obvious today, but in 1938, Lockheed had never built a military aircraft before and they had submitted a multi-role design to Britain based upon their Super Electra. The proposed aircraft was modified with a bomb bay, fixed machine guns over the nose, and a powered dorsal turret in the rear. After adopting a number of modifications requested by the British representatives, the resulting design was put into production as the Hudson. With over 2,900 aircraft produced, the Hudson served in the RAF, RAAF, RCAF, USAAF, and the USN.

In RAF service, the Hudson had the distinction of being the first US-built aircraft to down an enemy aircraft and it was a rocket-armed RAF Hudson that damaged U-570 leading that crew to surrender. The USN operated the Hudson as the PBO-1 and sank U-656 while a USAAF Hudson destroyed U-701. The Canadians also sank a U-boat when U-754 was engaged by 113 Sqn (RCAF). An RAAF Hudson was ambushed by nine A6M Zeros over New Guinea and the pilot was able to out-maneuver the fighters for over 10 minutes before Saburo Sakai, noted Japanese ace, was able to down the aircraft. Sakai was so impressed by the Hudson crew's actions that he recommended to the Australian government that the pilot be awarded their highest honor after researchers were able to identify the aircraft and crew.

Here is the one and only kit of Lockheed's Hudson in 1/48 scale. This was the second of two boxings of the tooling produced by Classic Airframes, the first was kit 448 which covered the Super Electra as well as the Hudson Mk.I. This release has additional plastic and resin parts to render the later versions of the aircraft. This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts, and two bags of resin parts. The plastic molds are low-pressure injection types which is typical of limited-run kits. To the best of my knowledge, neither boxing of this kit was ever reissued.

As with any limited production kit, the plastic will require a little fitting and trimming to get a smooth fit, but the work will be minimal. There are no ejector pin marks on any visible parts of the kit, and there is very little flash. The resin parts are beautifully molded with one of the two bags of parts containing the cockpit and nose compartment interiors (quite visible through the very clear transparencies). In this release, the second bag contains the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines as well as the Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines, so you have the engines and cowlings to replicate any of the above-listed variants.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed flight deck
  • Nice observer's station in the nose
  • Choice of engines and cowlings (R-1820 for Mk.III or PBO-1, R-1830 for Mk.IV/V/VI
  • Detailed dorsal turret
  • Choice of early or late-type DF antennas

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • Hudson Mk.IV, A-16-25, US-K, 1 Sqn, RAAF, Malaysia, 1941
  • PBO-1, VP-82, 82-P-7, USN, 1942

Classic Airframes also released additional decal sheets to support other variants of the aircraft which can still be found 'out there'.

Having built the Hudson Mk.I many years ago (look here), here are a few notes:

  • This is a limited-production kit, so you'll need to test fit and adjust everything
  • One fuselage half was slightly longer than the other in my build but this was easy enough to overcome
  • The elevators need a modification to be accurate - while the elevator is full span across the tail, the tailcone that houses the elevator control linkages is not portrayed in the kit. You'll see in photo walk arounds of the aircraft that this is a prominent detail but easy to portray once you see it
  • This is the first kit I've built where the individual side windows fit perfectly. It has been over 17 years since I built this kit and I still have yet to see this done as well in any other kit
  • You can read my build notes, but this wasn't a difficult build as long as I took the cynical approach and tested/adjusted everything

Classic Airframes kits were usually produced by MPM or Sword, both based in the Czech Republic. MPM did release a Hudson kit later on in 1/72 scale, but this kit has not been reissued. While Revell AG produced the Hudson's follow-on, the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura, the Hudson continues to be overlooked.

You can see the Classic Airframes Hudson kits on eBay for around $150, which would have been an obscene price for this kit at one time, but given the rising prices for new kits from Asia as well as the inflated reissue prices from other companies, $150 isn't quite as startling.

This kit is one of my favorites from Classic Airframes, and I hope to tackle the Hudson once again to see how far my skills have evolved since my last experience 17 years ago.