Lockheed-Vega Hudson Mystery
By J. Pinsent
The Lockheed-Vega Corp, in California, were building Hudson bombers to be flown to Great Britain for the war effort. The employees of Lockheed-Vega asked their company if they could personally contribute to the building of one particular bomber, using pay role deductions from their pay cheques, to be given as a Christmas gift to the people of Great Britain for a moral booster. The company agreed to this idea resulting in a special bomber been built with the name Spirit Of Lockheed Vega Employees painted on its fuselage. The aircraft was then handed over to Ferry Command on Dec 25, 1940. So starts the mystery.
The aircraft was delivered to Gander and flown to England by Don Bennett. However, according to Ted Beaudoin in his book “Earth Angels Rising”, the aircraft named “Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees” flew all right, but into history and not to the United Kingdom. The Imperial War Museum in London has a plaque stating the Hudson bomber bearing the name “Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees” with the registry T9465 had arrived and assigned to the RAF 269 Sqn. on May 1941. The question is asked “why did it take 4 months to arrive?”
From Ted’s research, there was a report of a Hudson bomber, when taking off from Gander, ran into a snow bank. The incident was of an aircraft, a Lockheed Hudson bomber, christened the Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees, Serial Number T9465. No other particulars were ever recorded. A Dec 29 news story related at the time, indicated the airport experienced it’s first crash. While taking off Runway 32, the aircraft burned, but the pilot and crew were not hurt. The news story did not give the registration or any particular details. Further evidence shows the sawed-off propeller tip from the Hudson bomber T9465, was removed from the wreck of the original aircraft the morning of Dec. 30th, 1940 by RCAF mechanic Ivan Harmann. Meanwhile, according to history, Don Bennett had led a formation of 7 Hudson bombers to the UK arriving there on November 11, 1940. The ferry comand crews travelled back to Canada via an ocean liner.
According to Teds Beaudoin's theory, another Hudson bomber was later repainted with the name “Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees” and it registration changed to T9465. It was flown by the now famous, Don Bennett, to England giving the intended moral boost to the UK population.
From reading the evidence and arguments by Ted Beaudoin, it all sounds very convincing. The evidence is outlined on his website for your evaluation.
To continue the discussion, we have received a counterargument from a Mr. Darrell Hillier. He has recearched some of Gander airport's historical records and has another theory which provides for a more closer look into this question.
Submitted by J. Pinsent