So what was a
Hudson bomber really like?

When I talk to people about the history of Gander, one main point of interest is that historic flight of 10 November 1940 when the first aircraft – seven Hudson bombers – departed Gander and landed in Ireland ten hours later.

Questions come upon occasion concerning the specifications of the Hudson. Was it big, small?  How high did it fly?  How cramped would it be to fly ten hours over the Atlantic?

It is hard to visualise it unless you have seen one “up close and personal”, like the one at Gander’s Aviation Museum.  So I made a table comparing it to a few well-known airplanes of today, namely a series 100 Dash 8 and a Beech 1900D as might be used on local runs around Newfoundland.


Dash 8


Series 100
Dash 8
44 ft
73 ft
57.6 ft
65.5 ft
83 ft
57.7 ft
Max ceiling
24500 ft
25000 ft
25000 ft
Empty weight
12000 lbs
23000 lbs
10400 lbs
Max weight
18600 lbs
36300 lbs
17100 ls
Max speed
250 mph
320 hmp
320 mps

So here’s the basic story…you call on some adveturous chaps, some young, some old, some there for the money, some to escape the law or a love affair, and have them fly an airplane roughly the same size as a Beechcraft 1900D passenger plane, but almost 14 feet shorter and quite a bit slower, across the Atlantic with practically no navigation equipment, un-pressurised and unheated. Then you say to them, while you are over there, if you don’t mind, perhaps you could scoot out and drop a few bombs on Germany once in while. Don’t worry about the Messerschmitts – they go so much faster than you, they will probably overshoot anyway.

To drop the bombs, the bombader snakes his way along the right hand side of the cockpit down into the aiming post to get a better view of where the bad guys are supposed to be and then he says the famous words "Bombs away!".  Of course seeing how one gets down to the aiming post, it is easy to see why the bombaders tend to be  on the thin side.

So, to sum it up, a Hudson would be roughly like a cheaper, shorter and slower version of a Beechcraft 1900D. The biggest difference is that the 1900D has four less machine guns.