Accident Lockheed 414-56 Hudson IIIA VH-ALA, Sunday 18 April 1948
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Date:Sunday 18 April 1948
Type:Silhouette image of generic L14 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Lockheed 414-56 Hudson IIIA
Owner/operator:Guinea Air Traders
Registration: VH-ALA
MSN: 6460
Year of manufacture:1942
Total airframe hrs:851 hours
Engine model:Wright GR-1820 Cyclone
Fatalities:Fatalities: 37 / Occupants: 37
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:4 km W of Lae Airfield -   Papua New Guinea
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Lae Airfield
Destination airport:Bulolo Airport (BUL)
Investigating agency: DCA Australia
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The Lockheed Hudson departed Lae Airfield for Bulolo and Wau, Papua New Guinea, at 09:19 hours. Shortly after takeoff, when at an altitude of about 500 feet, the no.1 engine failed. The aircraft then stalled and spun into the ground on an island in the Markham River. Only the pilot was provided with a seat and seatbelt as the airplane was operated in freighter configuration.

The loss of power on the no.1 engine was due to the failure, through fatigue, of the Accessory Drive Gear.

Cause: "Loss of control of the aircraft, most probably due to poor technique on the part of the pilot, following failure of the port engine shortly after takeoff.
Probabe contributory causes:
1. The inadequate conversion course to Hudson aircraft undergone by the pilot. The syllabus laid down in Air Navigation Orders was not followed, in that the pilot was not required to demonstrate adequatly his ability to control the aircraft in asymmetric flight during landing and takeoff, and in stalling.
2. The incorrect disposabl of the load, resulting in the position of the Centre of Gravity of the aircraft being outside the rearmost limit laid down in the Interim Certificate of Airworthiness of VH-ALA. Under these conditions the stability of the aircraft would be adversely affected."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: DCA Australia
Report number: Final report
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 months
Download report: Final report


The Lockheed File - VH-ALA
Early Aviation Disasters / D. Gero, 2011


  • 4th worst accident in 1948
  • worst accident of this aircraft type
  • worst accident of this aircraft type at the time



photo (c) Department of Civil Aviation Australia; near Lae Airfield; April 1948

photo (c) Department of Civil Aviation Australia; near Lae Airfield; April 1948

photo (c) Department of Civil Aviation Australia; near Lae Airfield; 18 April 1948

Revision history:


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