by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
BackgroundThe Hudson is a militarized version of the super Electra Airliner made by Lockheed. The military version made it's first flight in December 1938. The Mk III version was fitted with more powerful engines and had a strengthened airframe. Additional modifications were made to later versions to increase range, bombload and defensive armament. The USAAC used Hudsons under the designation AT-18, A-28 and A-29.
The Hudson was an aircraft of "firsts". First RAF aircraft to shoot down a German Aircraft in WW2, first aircraft to sink a Japanese ship in the Pacific in WW2, first US Army aircraft to sink a German U-boat in WW2 and first US Navy aircraft to sink a German U-Boat in WW2.
The Hudson was also used by the Air Forces of South Africa, New Zealand, China, Portugal, Ireland and also by many civilian airlines after the war.
The KitThe kit comes in the usual Classic Airframes top opening box, only that this time, it is much deeper to allow all the parts to fit in it. What I like about CA boxes is that they are never "too big", unlike some made by other manufacturers, and gives the modeller a sens of opulence when they look inside of them (picture 1). In this case it is not only a feeling, it is reality! The box is full packed with plastic sprues and resin parts.
The plastic parts (picture 2) are amongst the last ones made by MPM for Classic Airframes, that were produced using resin molds. MPM later used metal molds wich improved considerably the quality of the parts. Does this means the Hudson injected parts are bad? Not at all! I found them to be pretty good in fact despite the limitations of the moulding process. Only the panel lines on the fuselage could have been deeper in my opinion (picture 3), but that's a matter of taste. I like deep panel lines but not everyone does. As you can see on the other pieces like the wings (picture 4), the surface is very smooth and won't need any additional work. This is not always the case with short run kits, believe me!
The detail parts are also nicely done, especially the structures of the elements made of fabric, such as the rudders (picture 5). On the same picture you can also notice that the landing gear struts are crisply done and will only need some cleaning. this, again, is not something obvious on short run kits. The wheels are made of plastic (picture 7) and I would have prefered to have weighted ones made of resin instead. But those provided in the kit are alright. Only the very small detail parts "suffered" a little from flash (picture 7). But unlike in other kits of the like, you won't have to replace them, but only to carefuly clean them.
The propellers are representative of the quality of the kit. They are simply amongst the best I've seen in a short run kit (picture 8). Even better, they are in one piece, wich is a good thing as it will save you time and the additional effort of getting them at the right angle.
As it is the case with all Classic Airframes kits, the additional detail parts are cast in resin. The Hudson variants having different engines, four are provided in the kit (picture 9)! For the Mk III/PBO-1, two Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder radials and for the Mk IV/V/VI, two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row radials. As per the instructions, the pushrods will have to be made out of stretched sprue or an equivalent material.
A complete cockpit interior is also provided in resin (picture 10) and you will only have to add the seatbelts as none are present in the kit. Sadly, the "passengers" cabin has been totaly forgotten! No detail whatsoever has been moulded on the fuselage inner sides and no resin parts have been produced for the seats, floor, roof etc... If you want to show the side door open on your model, better be prepared for a lot of scratchbuilding! Neither will you be surprised if I tell you that the bomb bay has also been totally omitted.
The clear parts (picture 11) are injected and look good. The nose is made out of three pieces and getting them to fit properly to the fuselage will be the trickiest part of the build for sure. The turret is also injected and you will have to hollow the two openings for the resin Browning guns. This also won't be a "mince affaire"!
Decals and InstructionsTwo decoration options are possible (picture 12) with the kit's decals (picture 13).
The first one represents a Hudson Mk IV from No. 1 Squadron, RAAF, in Malaysia in 1941. The colors on the instructions are given as silver for the underside and a RAF Dark Earth/RAF Dark Green camouflage for the upperside. Some sources indicate that the undersurface could have been grey and that the uppersurfaces could have been painted with American paints (Olive Drab) so check your references.
The second one represents an US Navy PBO-1 of VP-82 in 1942. Here the instruction go for a RAF Sky underside and the same RAF Dark Earth/Dark Green for the upper camouflage. This plane has early US roundels with the red dots and the red/white stripes on the rudder.
The decals look nice and have been made by Microscale. The are in perfect register and the red dots for the roundels are seperate pieces. It is to note that the red of the dots is not the same for the British and US roundels. I know some manufacturers who would have simply used the same color! The Dark Blue of the British and US roundels is the same though...
The assembly guide is made out of two folded A4+ sheets so to make an eight page booklet (picture 14). A parts layout plan is provided and that's a good thing as the parts are not numbered otherwise. The drawings are clear and sometimes a small text helps the modeller to anticipate the difficulties of the kit.
Accuracy and fittingFrom what I've read (and it's not much), the Hudson kit is quite accurate. Maybe the dorsal turret is to flat on the top but this alone can't make it possible to somebody to affirm that Classic Airframes have produced a bad kit. But you can be sure of one thing, the Hudson can't be considered to be an easy model to build. Because of the short run nature of the kit but also because of the numerous clear parts wich will require a clean job. Nothing an experienced modeller couldn't master though.
ConclusionI always found the Hudson to look somewhat strange, almost ugly, in it's military version. I've built the Airfix kit in my youth and didn't liked the plane when compared to other aircraft. However, this is only a personal opinion and the civil nature of the aircraft is what makes it look so particular when compared to planes designed 100% for combat.
The kit is not available anymore via the usual way. I found mine some years ago in a Toy Shop near Strasburg for 45,65€ on sale (it would have cost 71,50 € otherwise) but it can reach 100€ on bidding sites! So if you see one at a good price, don't hesitate! Collector Warning!
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AeroScale.