nose compartment door was removed from Hudson VH-AGP when
it was restored to military configuration in the late seventies. Although
similar in appearance to the type of door fitted as standard to the Lockheed
14 Super Electra and the Lodestar, this door was evidently scratch-built
by Curtis Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd at Bankstown when they converted the
aeroplane to an airliner as VH-BKY in 1949. The following
year, the Hudson was sold to East-West Airlines and re-registered VH-EWB.
During much of its service with East-West, the aircraft carried the name
"Cathedral City" in honour of the city of Armidale, NSW. In
1958, the Hudson was converted for aerial survey and re-registered VH-EWS.
At this time, the aircraft was also renamed "George Vincent"
in honour of the Surveyor General of NSW. This name was applied to the
forward fuselage aft of the nose door. During these aerial survey modifications,
a small square window was added to the door and a folding navigator's
table was fixed to the inside of the door. The aircraft retained this
door for the remainder of its aerial survey career as VH-SMO
and VH-AGP. When Malcolm Long bought VH-AGP
from Adastra, he converted the aircraft back to military configuration.
So significant were the aerial survey modifications to the nose compartment
that a complete new nose section was grafted on forward of the windshield.
Although the old survey nose was scrapped, the door was saved and eventually
found its way into the possession of Ron Cuskelly. At this time the door
was still painted dark green from when VH-AGP was cosmetically
returned to military appearance. When this paint was stripped, it was
discovered that the door still showed traces of the East-West emblem and
the name "Cathedral City" etched into the metal. This presented
something of a conservation dilemma! Almost certainly at no time during
its East-West service did the window and the name "Cathedral City"
co-exist on the door. Consequently, an authentic restoration of the door
would entail either the removal of the window or the obliteration of all
traces of the name "Cathedral City". Removal of the window would
require the complete re-skinning of the door, hardly good conservation
practice! As the writer is a firm believer in the fine tradition of naming
airliners, obliteration of the name was not an option either. Accordingly,
it was decided that like many things in aviation, the solution lay in
a compromise. Therefore, the restored door now commemorates both phases
of the aeroplane's East-West service, as an airliner and as a survey aircraft.
The Hudson from which the door was removed is now displayed as A16-105
at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Photo: Ron Cuskelly