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Mystery of a Chinese Hudson


  I found two pictures (shown below) in "Lockheed Log" Volume 3, Number 2 (an in-house Lockheed aircraft publication) that purport to be of Hudson(s) in service with the Chinese Air Force. Pictures of Hudsons in Chinese markings are few and far between; thus these two pictures interested me greatly. But as I have studied them, I have more questions than answers.

First, a little background. A number of Lockheed Hudsons were supplied to the Chinese Air Force under Lend-Lease; these Hudsons were originally allocated to the RAF, but were diverted to the Chinese. The operational history of the Lockheed Hudson in service with the Chinese Air Force has long been shrouded in mystery, with a great deal of speculation and little or no hard facts.

Even the number of Hudsons supplied varies depending on the source. Some claim 27-29 Hudsons were supplied; " The Lockheed Twins", written by Peter Marson claims 35 (and identifies them by serial numbers.) However, all sources agree on one thing: there is very little concrete information as to what happened to the Hudsons after they were delivered to China. Some websites claim to have some details of service, including squadron information and the like, but there are just too many errors, including some claiming that the Hudson was in Chinese service in summer of 1941 (all published sources seem to agree that the aircraft were not delivered before 1942.)

Part of the confusion arises from the fact that China was in the middle of a civil war when the Japanese invaded in 1937, and though most factions allied against the Japanese, they were anything but a unified force. One of the biggest complaints of US military advisors in China was that a lot of the US-supplied aid to China was not being used to fight the Japanese; instead it was being hoarded by General Chiang Kai-shek's Koumintang Government for use against the Communists and other combatants in the civil war after the Japanese were defeated by the Allies. In this atmosphere of secrecy and suspicion, trying to track down less than two score of Hudson bombers becomes challenging indeed.

And now on to the pictures in question:

The first picture shows a Hudson from a three-quarters rear view. I assume both photos are of the same aircraft, but this is far from certain. The upper surface camouflage is hard to discern due to the low contrast of the colors. There is no markings visible except for a character that looks similar to "II" behind the entry door on the fuselage, directly under the dorsal turret.

The second picture is a three-quarters front view. The Lockheed airframe number is clearly "6013", the last two digits repeated in larger size immediately behind it (a not uncommon practice.) The book "Lockheed Twins" identifies this as USAAF 41-23248, supplied to Britain under Lend-Lease as BW386. This aircraft was diverted to the Chinese Air Force along with 34 other Hudsons, and was delivered in March of 1942. Its subsequent service career is unknown.
There are a number of other interesting details here. There would appear to be no markings underwing, but this could be the poor quality of the original this was scanned from. Next detail is the nose art:

While the image is less than crystal clear, there is very clearly a dark figure painted on the nose, clutching what would appear to be lightning bolts or arrows in its right hand, and holding what appears to be a bomb under its left arm. There is also a light line in front of this figure, though I don't know if this is an artifact on the picture or part of the nose art. In yet another look:

the figure is fairly clear. Another interesting item is what would appear to be two words over top of the figure, possibly "Hell's Angels"? This would certainly be in keeping with the standing figure, which would appear to to have horns on its head.

The only other markings visible are on the rear fuselage. To the left of the man at the entry door would appear to be the same "II" marking as in the first photo. Above his right shoulder appears to be a vertical white mark, and what would appear to be a "O" or zero to his right .

The publication I took these from was printed 60 years ago on very poor quality paper. This makes it very difficult to get a good scan of the images. I'm interested in any details anyone may have about this aircraft. The possible "Hell's Angels" name on the nose makes me wonder if this aircraft saw service with the AVG? If you have any information, please drop me a line at:

pauls AT (take out the spaces and replace "AT" with "@")

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