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Handley Page Limited was founded by Frederick Handley Page (later Sir Frederick) in 1909 as the United Kingdommarker's first publicly traded aircraft manufacturing company. It went into voluntary liquidation and ceased to exist in 1970. The company, based at Radlettmarker Aerodrome in Hertfordshiremarker, was noted for producing heavy bombers and large airliners.

History

Frederick Handley Page first experimented with and built several biplanes and monoplanes at premises in Woolwichmarker, Fambridge and Barking Creekmarker. His company, founded on 17 June 1909, became the first British public company to build aircraft.

In 1912 Handley Page established an aircraft factory at Cricklewoodmarker after moving from Barking. Aircraft were built there and flown from the company's adjacent air field.

World War I

During the First World War Handley Page produced a series of heavy bombers for the Royal Navy to bomb the Germanmarker Zeppelin yards, with the ultimate intent of bombing Berlin in revenge for the Zeppelin attacks on London. Handley Page had been asked by the Admiralty to produce a "bloody paralyser of an aeroplane". These aircraft included the O/100 of 1915, the O/400 of 1918 and the four engined V/1500 with the range to reach Berlin. The V/1500 only just reached operational service as the war ended in 1918.

In the immediate post-war years, Handley Page modified a number of O/400's to passenger use, which they flew on the Londonmarker-Parismarker route as Handley Page Transport. The V/1500 was considered too large to be practical at the time, but a number of design features of the V/1500 were later incorporated into a O/400 airframe to produce their first dedicated passenger design, the W.8. In 1924 Handley Page Transport merged with two other regional airlines to create Imperial Airways, the UK's first national airline service. Handley Page developed several large biplane airliners, including the 8 luxurious Handley Page H.P.42, for use on Imperial routes to Africa and India.

Handley Page also paid for the development of what soon became known as the Handley Page Slat (or slot, see slats), a small channel cut into the leading edge of the wing to improve airflow at high angles of attack. The design was so successful that licensing fees to other companies was their main source of income in the early 1920s.

In 1929 the airfield at Cricklewood was closed and a new one built at Radlettmarker, where most aircraft were now to be constructed. However the construction of aircraft at Cricklewood continued until 1964 when the premises were sold to become the Cricklewood trading estate.

World War II

With the Second World War looming, Handley Page turned back to bomber design and produced the HP.52 Hampden, which took part in the first British raid on Berlinmarker. In response to government request for heavier, longer ranged aircraft Handley Page produced the HP.56. Powered by twin Rolls-Royce Vulture engines, the latter proved so troublesome that the aircraft was cancelled. The design was however elaborated into the four-engined HP.57 Halifax which, after the Lancaster, was the most prolific British heavy bomber. This had been the same development route as the Lancaster, and although the Halifax had a somewhat more protracted development, it soon reached maturity and was considered by some to be to a superior aircraft .

Post-war

After the war the British Government sought tenders for jet bombers to carry the nation's nuclear deterrent. The three types produced were known as the V-Bomber, and Handley Page's contribution was the HP.80 Victor, a four-engined, crescent-winged design. This aircraft remained in service (as a tanker aircraft) well beyond the demise of the company which created it.

In 1947 Handley Page bought some of the assets of the bankrupt Miles Aircraft company. These assets include existing designs, tools and jigs, most notably for the Miles M.52 supersonic research aircraft, and the Miles Readingmarker site at Woodley. The whole operation was Handley Page (Reading) Ltd the company constituted to buy and operate the assets formed out of the legally alive but otherwise inactive Handley Page Transport Ltd. The most significant of the inherited designs was the Herald airliner. Designs coming out of the Reading site were shown by the initials HPR (from "Handley Page (Reading) Limited" )

Demise

Unlike the other large British aircraft manufacturers, Handley Page resisted the Government's pressure to merge into larger entities. By the late 1960s, the British aviation industry was dominated by just two combines; Hawker Siddeley and the British Aircraft Corporation.

Unable to compete for Government orders or with large commercial aircraft, Handley Page produced its final notable Handley Page design; the Jetstream. This was a small turboprop-powered commuter aircraft, with a pressurised cabin and a passenger capacity of 12 to 18. It was designed primarily for the United Statesmarker "feederliner" market.

The Jetstream was too late to save Handley Page, and the company went into voluntary liquidation in March 1970 and was wound up after 61 years trading under the same name. The Jetstream however lived on as a successful product, the design being purchased and produced by Scottish Aviation at Prestwickmarker and later when Scottish Aviation was incorporated into British Aerospace from 1977.

Sites

Site of Cricklewood Factory
OS Grid Reference:
Site of Radlett Aerodrome
OS Grid Reference:
The Handley Page Cricklewood site in early 1921
Radlett Aerodrome was opened in 1929 as a grass aerodrome for Handley Page Civil Aircraft, the runway was extended in 1939 to enable production of Halifax bombers. Most of the towers, hangars and runways were demolished in the 1970s after the Company was wound up. The M25 Motorway now stands on the south of the site, with Lafarge Aggregates now owning the remainder.

Products

Designations

Handley Page originally used a letter progression to designate types (i.e. R, S, T etc. ) in combination with a number, that may or may not have been meaningful, to designate sub-types (e.g. the O/100 indicated the type's 100 foot wingspan).In 1924, Handley Page moved to using the letters HP and a number to indicate the model. Thus the O/400 became the HP.16 and the W.8 the HP.18.When the assets of Miles Aircraft were taken over, the latter's Reading design office began using HPR. (for Handley Page Reading), followed by a number indicates that the design originated in the Reading design office (e.g. the HPR.1 Marathon).

Designs



Handley Page (Reading) designs

See also



References



External links




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