Type: L-414-08 Hudson Mk IVA (A-28)
MSN: 6039
Previous Identities: 41-23180






05DEC41 Received 2 AD ex USA. (Source: 6)
14DEC41 Being fitted with dual controls but no armament for use by 1 OTU at Bairnsdale. (Source: 6)
02MAR42 Bounced on landing at Sale and undercarriage damaged. (Source: 6)
03JUL42 Allotted 1 AD for fitment of Boulton Paul Turret. (Source: 6)
06AUG42 Issued 1 OTU ex 1 AD. (Source: 6)
10DEC42 One wing tip damaged in taxying accident. (Source: 6)
26DEC42 Attacked by five Zeros on take-off from Dobodura, New Guinea. Landed and was again attacked on the ground. (Source: 6)
03JAN43 Issued 15 RSU for repairs. (Source: 6)
18AUG43 Issued 3 AD ex 15 ARD for completion of repairs. (Source: 6)
30JUL44 Issued 1 CU ex 3 AD. (Source: 6)
11NOV44 Carried film of the Melbourne Cup from Essendon to Mascot and Leyburn for onward despatch to units in New Guinea. (Source: NAA: RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Numbers 1, 2 and 3 Communication Unit Feb 40 - Feb 46, Series number A9186)
10APR45 Received 2 AD ex 1 CU. (Source: 6)
15JUL45 Received 1 OTU ex 2 AD. (Source: 6)
29NOV45 Allotted 2 AD Storage ex 1 OTU. (Source: 6)
03DEC45 Allotment to storage suspended. Aircraft to conduct bush fire patrols by 1 OTU until 31MAR46 then proceed to storage. (Source: 6)
05MAR46 Received 2 AD Storage ex 1 OTU. (Source: 6)
01APR47 Sold to V.J. Madsen, Sydney for £1,500. (Source: 6)
02JUN47 Application for CofA by Vernard James Madsen, Leichhardt, NSW. Application specifies 2 pilots plus 15 passengers. (Source: 5)
05JUN47 Issued to purchaser. (Source: 6)
11AUG47 V.J. Madsen requests DCA to reserve VH-JCM for Hudson A16-110. (Source: 5)
13AUG47 Registration VH-JCM approved. (Source: 5)
23OCT47 Registration application from Vernard James Madsen trading as Curtis-Madsen Aircrafts Pty Ltd, Sydney. (Source: 5)
CMA operated from Hangar 17 at Bankstown (next to the Marshall Airways hangar). (Source: 4)
Refer: Hudson Civil Conversions
NOV47 Test flown by Ted Gabriel and Mac Twemlow. (Source: 4)
02DEC47 CofR #1431 and CofA #1347 issued for VH-JCM. (Source: 5)
02DEC47 Departed Sydney for Athens under charter to European Air Transport. (The conversion of EAT's first Hudson was still underway.) The aircraft was commanded by Captain F.M. 'Mac' Twemlow and Ted Gabriel. The aircraft was named Kythira. (Source: 4)
11FEB48 Arrived in Sydney from Athens under charter to European Air Transport with 13 Greek immigrants plus 3 crew. Commanded by Captain Frank M. Twemlow (Source: 4)
19MAR48 Departed Sydney for Athens under charter to European Air Transport to bring migrants to Australia. The aircraft was commanded by Captain Burdus. (Source: 2)
13MAY48 Arrived Sydney from Athens with 13 Greek immigrants plus 1 Australian. Commanded by Captain W. Burdus. (Source: 2)
17DEC48 V.J. Madsen has held an Airline licence since this date. Aircraft class to be changed from Class 3 (Charter) to Class 4 (Airline) (Source: 5)
14JAN49 Curtis Madsen Airlines Pty Ltd commenced airline services from Sydney to Cootamundra and Temora. The aircraft arrived at Cootamundra at 1026 hours. Captain was Jim Madsen and co-pilot was Jack Curtis. (Source: 4)
18JAN49 Because of continuing bad weather which had grounded its Anson aircraft, East-West Airlines chartered the aircraft to operate two return services from Sydney to Tamworth to shift the backlog of passengers and freight. (Source: 3)
23DEC49 Ownership transferred to John David Curtis, Glebe, NSW. (Source: 5)
20NOV50 Change of ownership to East-West Airlines Ltd., Tamworth, NSW (Source: 5)
01DEC50 East-West Airlines requests change of registration from VH-JCM to VH-EWE. (Source: 5)
20DEC50 Registration change approved. (Source: 5)
21DEC50 Converted to a freighter with seating for 2 crew and nil passengers. (Source: 5)
12MAY51 At the opening of Gunnedah Airport, the aircraft was named Namoi City. During its East-West service, the cabin door was widened to accommodate a standard wool bale and a window was added to the door. (Source: 3)
16JUL51 CofA amended to show aircraft as a freighter or 16 passenger airliner. (Source: 5)
10APR52 Total Time: 3019 hours. Time since last overhaul: 925 hours 53 minutes. (Source: 5)
14APR53 Total Time: 4075 hours. Time since last overhaul: 1056 hours. (Source: 5)
26AUG53 Ownership transferred to South Coast Airways Pty Ltd (by this time an East-West subsidiary). Aircraft still registered to East-West.
08APR54 Total Time: 5215 hours. Time since last overhaul: 1148 hours (CofA). (Source: 5)
06APR55 Total Time: 6595 hours. Time since last overhaul: 1380 hours. (Source: 5)
22AUG55 Operated the inaugural East-West service from Tamworth to Newcastle. (Source: 3)
19MAR56 Total Time: 7289.47 hours. Time since last overhaul: 641.49 hours. (Source: 5)
12JUN56 Letter from EWA stating that aircraft "-EWE has been withdrawn from Airline Operations with this Co. and is for disposal, we are desirous of retaining our regn. VH-EWE. Could you arrange to have another registration other than the -EW Block allotted to this aircraft." (Source: 5)
18JUN56 Letter from DCA stating that VH-BPT has been allocated. (Source: 5)
Coincidentally, the abbreviation "BPT" was often used on RAAF Hudson status cards to denote the fitment of the Boulton Paul Turret.
26JUN56 CofR and CofA re-issued as VH-BPT. (Source: 5)
13AUG56 Request to operate as a freighter for carriage of freight in the flood bound NW of NSW. (Source: 5)
14AUG56 "Aircraft stripped of chairs, curtains and carpets for use as a freighter." (Source: 5)
20AUG56 "Aircraft back to its original state." (2 Pilots, 1 Hostess, 16 Passengers) (Source: 5)
12SEP56 Commenced a three day airlift of 112 bales of wool from flood bound "Swanley" about 80 km NE of Moree, NSW. (Source: 3)
08FEB57 "Aircraft has been out of regular service for past year and is being re-introduced as standby aircraft for emergency use only." (Source: 5)
01MAR57 Commenced rainmaking operations over the Snowy Mountains area under contract to the CSIRO. Based at Wagga for approximately 2 years on this operation. Fitted with silver iodide burners under each wingtip. (Source: 3)
26APR57 "Aircraft has been converted for cloud seeding operations, by installation of four (4) tanks in the bomb bay and burners installed on each wing tip. A control panel for operating this equipment is installed in front left hand corner of cabin. Drift recorder fitted through floor and skin at left rear cabin to CSIRO drawings and EWA Drawings 62, 63 & 64." (2 Pilots, 1 Hostess, 9 Passengers, 1 Drift Recorder). (Source: 5)
30APR57 Total Time: 7463.41 hours. Time since last overhaul: 173.54 hours. (Source: 5)
28NOV57 Aircraft is operating in the Snowy Mountains area. (Source: 5)
21MAR58 Re-registered VH-EWR and continued rain-making operations in full East-West livery with additional titles "Special Projects Division".
23APR58 Total Time: 7724.42 hours. Time since last overhaul: 261.01 hours. (Source: 5)
28APR58 One passenger seat removed from port side (Position 5) to allow for installation of camera mount mounting bracket. (Source: 5)
06APR59 Total Time: 7976.58 hours. Time since last overhaul: 252.16 hours. (Source: 5)
08APR60 Total Time: 8206.49 hours. Time since last overhaul: 226.16 hours. (Source: 5)
23JUN60 Withdrawn from service and stored at Tamworth.
07APR61 Retrospectively struck off Register on this date with CofA expiry in light of subsequent late advice from EWA on 11APR61 that they do not intend to renew the CofA.
11APR61 Letter from EWA stating that "we do not intend to renew the CofA for the above aircraft and also wish to have the CofR cancelled." (Source: 5)
31MAR62 East-West board resolved to wind up South Coast Airways and re-purchase two Hudsons. (Source: 3)
02APR62 Application for CofR and CofA by East-West Airlines Ltd., Tamworth, NSW. (Source: 5)
12APR62 Returned to Register as VH-EWR. CofR #4101, CofA #4101. Seating 2 Pilots, 1 Hostess, 4 Passengers, 1 CSIRO operator. (Source: 5)
15APR62 Total Time: 8244.19 hours. Time since last overhaul: 37.30 hours. (Source: 5)
17APR62 Arrived at Essendon to begin a rain-making contract for the Victorian Government. (Source: 3)
28APR62 Operated first rain-making flight from Essendon under the command of F.C. Braund.
31MAY62 Returned to Tamworth from Essendon. (Source: 3)
10AUG62 Letter to DCA from Australian Aircraft Sales Pty Ltd stating that they have purchased the aircraft from East-West and requesting transfer of certificate to Sepal Pty Ltd, c/- Adastra Airways, Mascot who are now the sole proprietors of the aircraft. (Source: 5)
10AUG62 Change of ownership to Sepal Pty Ltd (an Adastra company). (Source: 5)
Re-registered VH-AGE on this date.
20AUG62 Application for CofR by Sepal Pty Ltd, Mascot, requesting registration VH-AGE. (Source: 5)
21AUG62 Letter from East-West to DCA confirming the sale and requesting retention of the registration VH-EWR. (Source: 5)
24AUG62 Letter from Adastra to DCA requesting renewal of CofA for 12 months from date of purchase. Aircraft has flown only 57 hours 50 minutes since renewal of CofA on 06APR62.
10SEP62 Total Time: 8302.40 hours. Time since last overhaul: 58.20 hours. (Source: 5)
17SEP62 The request for CofA renewal was approved on this date and the CofA renewed from 14SEP62. (Source: 5)
The aircraft was converted for mineral survey work with a magnetometer "bird" mounted externally in a cradle on the bomb bay doors. Operated initially in natural metal with white top and Adastra titles but later painted in Adastra's green livery.
The aircraft initially entered service with the only nose glazing being a transparent nose cone. A single nose window in the top forward position was added later.
24SEP62 Commenced an aeromagnetic survey of the Bollon district in Qld. VH-AGE was joined by VH-AGS on 16OCT62. Report
21DEC62 The Bollon survey was completed.
26APR63 Aircraft re-weighed following installation of P&W 1830-90B engines and provision for cameras etc. (Source: 5)
03MAY63 Test flight Sydney-Bankstown-Camden-Sydney after installation of R-1830-90B engines. (Source: 5)
19AUG63 Aircraft operating out of Darwin, NT. (Source: 5)
14APR64 Total Time: 9004.40 hours. Time since last overhaul: 762.08 hours. (Source: 5)
25SEP64 Aircraft fitted with Doppler and Magnetometer equipment. (Source: 5)
It is believed that VH-AGE was test flown around this time with a magnetometer boom installed between the fins (similar to VH-AGS in late 1962). Although Ted McKenzie cannot recall if the magnetometer being tested at this time was a boom or a towed bird, correspondence in DCA files suggests that it was a boom. As both were fitted simultaneously to VH-AGS this is also a possibility with VH-AGE. By January 1965 VH-AGE was fitted only with a towed bird. For more information about the magnetometer boom installation see here.
26SEP64 Magnetometer and Doppler test flight (55 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
27SEP64 Magnetometer and Doppler test flight (40 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
28SEP64 Magnetometer test flight (30 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
29SEP64 Magnetometer test flight (1 hr 5 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
02OCT64 Test flight after fitment of Boom Support Modification. (Source: 5)
Magnetometer test flight (45 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
03OCT64 Magnetometer test flight (30 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
05OCT64 Magnetometer test flight (2 hrs 15 mins) by Ted McKenzie. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
16OCT64 Test flight after fitment of Doppler equipment. (Source: 5)
JAN65 Ted McKenzie flew aeromagnetic surveys out of Maralinga at which time the only magnetometer fitted to the aircraft was a towed bird. (Source: Ted McKenzie's log book)
28MAR65 While operating on photo survey in NW of South Australia, VH-AGE located the Wackett VH-BEC which had been missing since 14JAN62. See The Missing Wackett Vol 1 and The Missing Wackett Vol 2
12APR65 Aircraft based at Oodnadatta. (Source: 5)
17MAY65 Total Time: 9651.40 hours. Time since last overhaul: 647 hours. (Source: 5)
03JUN65 Test flight after fitment of French Oil Search equipment (winch bird and cradle). (Source: 5)
Operated an aeromagnetic survey of the Bonaparte Gulf and Timor Sea on behalf of Compagnie Générale de Géophysique (CGG) and ARCO. The survey concluded on 11NOV65. The Bonaparte Gulf/Timor Sea Survey

Crashed at Tennant Creek killing Captain Kenneth Rowlands plus four crew plus a boy passenger.
The following is extracted from "Aviation Safety Digest" No 51 of July 1967:

"The aircraft was owned and operated by an aerial survey company, and at the time of the accident, was returning from a magnetometer survey flight in an area about 120 miles southeast of Tennant Creek. The aircraft had been carrying out survey flights from Tennant Creek for several weeks. Before departing on the morning of the accident, the captain of the aircraft submitted a flight plan which showed that the aircraft would he operating in the survey area for 200 minutes. The flight was to be carried out below 5,000 feet and the aircraft's endurance was 400 minutes. The flight plan nominated a SARTIME of 0300 hours G.M.T., 1230 hours local time. For survey flights of this nature, the usual complement of the aircraft was pilot-in-command, survey navigator and magnetometer operator, but on this particular flight, three additional persons were being carried. A second pilot, who had recently been endorsed on the aircraft, was observing the operation to gain experience in survey work, a Doppler equipment technician was travelling on the aircraft to check the operation of the equipment in the air, and an eleven year old boy was being carried as a passenger at the invitation of the pilot-in-command. After a daily inspection had been completed, the aircraft departed from Tennant Creek at 0630 hours local time and reached the survey area an hour later. The aircraft commenced survey operations, but at 0750 hours the Doppler equipment became unserviceable, and at 0800 hours, after light rain had been encountered the survey work had to be abandoned. Ten minutes later, the aircraft advised Tennant Creek that it was returning and that its estimated time of arrival was 0910 hours. At 0907 hours, the aircraft reported 10 miles south of Tennant Creek and the aerodrome weather was passed to the aircraft. At 0914 hours, the aircraft reported that it was in the circuit area and requested the present wind velocity. The Flight Service Officer advised the aircraft that the wind was 070 degrees at 14 knots, and the aircraft acknowledged the transmission. The aircraft did not call again and although the Flight Service Officer knew it had not landed, he also knew that on several previous occasions when the aircraft had returned with unserviceable equipment, the crew had carried out lengthy equipment checks before landing. At 0952 hours however, the aerodrome refuelling agent walked into the Flight Service Office and asked what had become of the Hudson, mentioning that he had seen it in the circuit more than half an hour before with the undercarriage down. The refuelling agent said the aircraft had been to the north of the airport, heading west with the undercarriage lowered, as though on a downwind leg for a landing on runway 07. The aircraft's SARTIME was not due to expire for more than two and a half hours, but the Flight Service Officer, disturbed at the refuelling agent's information, immediately began calling the aircraft and when it failed to reply, declared the Uncertainty Phase. Further attempts were then made to contact the aircraft from both Tennant Creek and adjacent Flight Service Units, but without success. At 1014 hours, the Alert Phase was declared and attempts were made to obtain aircraft sighting reports from the surrounding area. The airport area was checked from the ground and the pilot of a Cessna aircraft based at Tennant Creek, was requested to carry out an aerial search of the surrounding area. At 1043 hours, the Distress Phase was introduced. Some ten minutes later, the pilot of the Cessna sighted the wreckage of the Hudson two miles west of the threshold of runway 07."
Those on board the aircraft were:
Kenneth Rowlands (Captain)
Robert Rowston (Co-pilot)
David von Ploennies (Navigator)
Leslie Sheffield (Electronics Engineer)
James Moles (Technician)
Marvyn Matthews (11 years, Passenger)


There is a persistent story that Hudson VH-AGE was engaged by DCA to take aerial photographs of the crash site of Viscount VH-RMI near Winton, Qld. in September 1966. Macarthur Job, who was involved in the investigation of the Viscount crash as well as the subsequent investigation of the crash of Hudson VH-AGE, has no knowledge of this. Certainly, no such photographs feature in the report into the Viscount crash. Furthermore, he is adamant that such photographs would not have been required anyway, as the Viscount wreckage was confined to a surprisingly small area, despite the fact that it had broken up in flight. In all probability, what happened was exactly as recalled in June 2006 by Trevor Sheffield whose father Les had rung the family home on the night of 22 September 1966 to advise that he was not on the Viscount as had been previously planned and that "they had flown over the site of the crash and photographed it". It is surmised that the normal operations of VH-AGE from its Tennant Creek base had taken it close enough to Winton such that an unofficial diversion was feasible. In all probability, VH-AGE would not have been fitted with a survey camera, as it was engaged in aeromagnetic work at the time. Therefore, any photos that were taken would have been taken with personal cameras belonging to the crew or at best with the 35mm tracking camera used in conjunction with aeromagnetic work. In either case, it is reasonable to assume that such photos, being unofficial in nature, would have perished with the Hudson two days later. As aeromagnetic work is usually conducted at lower altitudes, the over-flying Hudson would have been conspicuous to anyone at the Viscount crash site and any one of these persons could have been the source of the persistent story that the Hudson had "surveyed" the Viscount crash site. Ironically, Harold Bagot, an Adastra employee, was amongst the passengers on Viscount VH-RMI.

UPDATE February 2009:

Ian Leslie advises that he went to Winton with the Viscount VH-RMI investigation team arriving there on 23 September 1966, the day after the accident. He was to have led the operations group but the next day he was despatched to Tennant Creek to lead the investigation of the VH-AGE accident. He confirms that Hudson VH-AGE had not been engaged by DCA to photograph the Viscount crash site.

Wal Bowles, who had earlier flown Hudsons with Adastra, was an Inspector of Air Safety with the NSW Region of DCA at the time VH-AGE crashed. He recalls: "From memory, AGE was the first aircraft accident I was called upon to help investigate and, being an aircraft with which I had been familiar, it was being thrown in at the deep end for me in the aircraft accident investigation scene, however I did learn much from Ian Leslie, who was probably the most experienced aircraft accident investigator at the time." Wal also has no knowledge of VH-AGE having been used to photograph the Viscount crash site so it would appear that this story has finally been laid to rest.

24SEP66 Struck off Register. (Source: 5)
24SEP16 A memorial was unveiled at the Tennant Creek Airport on the 50th anniversary of the crash.


The Tennant Creek Memorial


The Viscount Memorial


National Archives of Aust., Canberra, ACT
A10297/1 Block 84
Extracted by Chris O'Neill
National Archives of Aust., Chester Hill, NSW.
SP797/2 & SP797/3 "Inwards/Outwards Aeroplane Register" 1947/48
Extracted by Chris O'Neill
East-West Airlines files held by Roger McDonald
Geoff Goodall The Migrant Caper
National Archives of Aust., Chester Hill, NSW.
C3905/9 VH/EWR Part 2 [21]
C3905/9 VH/EWR Part 3 [21]
C3905/1 VH/AGE [19]
National Archives of Aust., Melbourne, Vic.
MP113/1 VH/EWE Part 1
Extracted by Chris O'Neill
RAAF Form E/E.88.


The conversion of former RAAF Hudsons to airliners was largely driven by the upsurge in migration from Europe in the immediate post-war years. Several entrepreneurs began operating charter flights, mainly from Rome and Athens, in what became known amongst the main players as The Migrant Caper. These operations are covered in exquisite detail in Geoff Goodall's seminal work. The following link will take you to Geoff Goodall's Aviation History Site:

The Migrant Caper

Issue Date Remarks
34 30DEC22
Added a Slideshow
33 15DEC22
Added details of the civil conversion at 10FEB48.
Added details from Source: 4.
32 21SEP22
Added three images of VH-EWR thanks to Eric Allen.
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
Added an image of VH-AGE thanks to Eric Allen.
31 07AUG22
Added an image of VH-EWE thanks to Eric Allen.
30 15FEB22
Added an image of VH-EWR thanks to Ken Watson.
29 29JUL21
Added an image of the magnetometer bird in flight thanks to Tony Halley.
28 29JUN21
Added two colour images from the collection of the late Owen McKenzie Smith thanks to Alan Flett. Image 1 Image 2
27 22DEC18
Added two colour images of the aircraft in cloud-seeding configuration thanks to Ben Dannecker. VH-BPT VH-EWR
26 30MAY18
Added a reference to the Bollon survey in SEP-DEC62.
25 24FEB18
Added details of the Timor Sea survey on 30JUN65.
24 15JAN17
Added the reference at 11NOV44.
23 28SEP16
Added a page on the Tennant Creek Memorial.
22 31JAN16
Refreshed the page and images.
21 20AUG15
Added a new image which was later determined to have come from the collection of Owen McKenzie-Smith. Refer Issue 28.
20 09JUN14
Added an image of VH-EWE in East-West livery. Thanks to Roger McDonald.
19 29SEP13
Added a link to a new page on the Viscount crash memorial. Thanks to Greg Weir.
18 10JAN13
Added a glorious air-to-air image of VH-EWR cloud-seeding over the Snowy Mountains. Thanks to Nigel Daw of SAAM.
17 20MAY09
Added four images of VH-EWE/R from the Geoff Howarth Collection held by the Queensland Air Museum.
16 19FEB09
Added input from Ian Leslie and Wal Bowles on the subject of the crashes of Hudson VH-AGE and Viscount VH-RMI.
15 10MAR08
Added a colour image of VH-AGE taken soon after entering service with Adastra.
14 07AUG06
Added a reference to the crash of Viscount VH-RMI.
13 02APR06
Added references to magnetometer test flying in the period Sep/Oct 1964.
12 02SEP05
Slight revisions to entry of 07APR61 to clarify events.
11 10FEB05
Chris O'Neill has extracted several files from the NAA and this has enabled a significant expansion of the history of this aircraft. These sources are listed in the table above and the revised entries are appropriately annotated. Many thanks Chris!
10 01OCT04
Ted McKenzie advises that his log book shows a series of magnetometer test flights in October 1964. These flights relate to the boom installation, so clearly, earlier reports that VH-AGE was never flown in this configuration are incorrect.
9 06JUL04
Added a colour photo taken at Maralinga thanks to Rob Hornsby.
8 08JUN03
Added a reference to the aircraft being named "Kithira".