- Handley Page Hampden
name = HP.52 Hampden
manufacturer = Handley Page
caption = No. 455 Squadron (RAAF) Hampden
first flight =
21 June 1936
introduction = 1938
retired = 1945
primary user = RAF
more users = RCAF
produced = 1936-1941
number built = 1,430
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =
The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine
medium bomberof the Royal Air Forceserving in the Second World War. With the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlinand the first 1,000-plane raid on Cologne. The newest of the three medium bombers, the Hampden, known as the "Flying Suitcase" because of its cramped crew conditions, [ Crosby 2007, p.104.] was still unsuited to the modern air war and, after operating mainly at night, it was retired from Bomber Command service in late 1942.
Design and development
Handley Page designed the Hampden to the same specification as the Wellington (
Air MinistrySpecification B.9/32) and the first prototype flew on 21 June1936. The first production batch of 180 Mk I Hampdens was built to specification 30/36.
The Mk I had a crew of four: pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator and rear gunner. Conceived as a fast, manoeuvrable, "fighting bomber", the Hampden had a fixed .303 in
Vickers K machine gunin the forward fuselage. To avoid the weight penalties of powered-turrets, the Hampden had a curved Perspexnose fitted with a manual .303 inch Vickers K gun and two more single Vickers K installations in the rear upper and lower positions. The guns were thoroughly inadequate for defence, consequently, by 1940, the single guns had been replaced by twin Vickers K guns.
A total of 1,430 Hampdens were built: 500 by Handley Page, 770 by
English Electricat Samlesburyin Lancashire; and in 1940–41, 160 in Canadaby the Canadian Associated Aircraftconsortium (although some were retained in Canada, 84 were shipped by sea to the United Kingdom).
No. 49 Squadron received the first Hampdens in September 1938. Throughout the operational history of the type they remained the most famous operators, with Flight Lieutenant Rod Learoyd being awarded the
Victoria Cross(the only VC awarded to Hampden aircrew) for the attack that he lead on the 12 August 1940. A total of 226 Hampdens were in service with eight squadrons by the start of the Second World War. Despite its speed and agility, in operational use the Hampden was no match for Luftwaffefighters. Consequently its career as a day bomber was brief, but Hampdens continued to operate at night on bombing raids over Germany, and mine-laying (code-named "gardening") in the North Sea.
Almost half of the Hampdens built – 714, were lost on operations, taking with them 1,077 crew killed and another 739 missing. German flak accounted for 108; one became the victim of a German
barrage balloon; 263 Hampdens crashed due to "a variety of causes," and 214 others were classed as "missing." Luftwaffe pilots claimed 128 Hampdens, shooting down 92 at night. [ Moyle, 1989.] Guy Gibsonspent most of the first two years of his wartime service flying Hampdens, and his book "Enemy Coast Ahead" gives a strong flavour of the trials and tribulations of taking these aircraft into action.
After being withdrawn from Bomber Command in 1942, it operated with Coastal Command through 1943 as a long-range
torpedo bomber(the Hampden TB Mk I with a Mk XII torpedo in an open bomb-bay and a single 500 lb [227 kg] bomb under each wing) and as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft. No. 144 Squadron RAFand No. 455 Squadron RAAFwere involved in the escort of Convoy PQ-18 operating out of Soviet airbases and left their 23 aircraft in the USSR afterwards. These were then used by the 3rd squadron of the 24 MTAP (Anti-shipping Wing) of the Soviet Navyuntil at least 1943. The Hampden was also used by the RCAFand the RNZAF.
After war service in Europe, about 200 "war-weary" Hampdens were flown to Canada where they were used for bombing and gunnery training.
The Hampden was powered by two 980 hp
Bristol PegasusXVIII 9-cylinder radial engines. A Mk II variant was developed as the HP.62 by converting two Hampdens to use the 1,000 hp Wright Cycloneengine in 1940 but no more was done of the project.
Interest in the HP.52 by the Swedish for placing a potential order led to the HP.53 prototype, which was subsequently used as a testbed for a pair of 1,000 hp
Napier DaggerVIII 24-cylinder H-blockwater-cooled inline engines.
In 1936, the RAF ordered 150 Dagger-engined Hampdens as the Hereford. Problems with engine cooling resulted in most of those built (by Short & Harland) being re-engined as Hampdens. The surviving Herefords served in training units only.
The Hampden in popular culture
The HP Hampden had a featured role in the "Big Blockade" (1941) starring
Michael Rennie, a Second World War propaganda film showing "blockade" bombing and its effects on the German war industry. [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/148338 The Big Blockade (Movie)] ]
The trials of flying Hampdens in the early years of World War Two are also described in the 2002 book "Damned Good Show" by Derek Robinson.
No Hampdens remain in flying condition today, although two wrecks are in the process of being restored. Hampden I "P1344" awaits reconstruction in Great Britain having crashed into a mountain in
Swedenin 1942, and rediscovered and salvaged in 1976 ["Dagens Nyheter", (Swedish newspaper), Aug 18, 1976] . The remains are presently stored in the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford.
The other surviving Hampden, "P5436", is being reconstructed largely from parts of the last Canadian-built example recovered from 600 feet of water in
Saanich Inleton Vancouver Islandin 1989, as well as recovered components from two other Hampden crashes in Canada. The aircraft was ditched on a training flight in 1942 when the pilot lost control after a torpedo drop. As of 2007, the reconstruction of the aircraft is about 97 per cent complete, and is currently the showpiece exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Flightat Langley, British Columbia, in the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver.
Royal Australian Air Force
No. 455 Squadron RAAFUsed between July 1941 and December 1943, Codeletters UB
Royal Canadian Air Force
** No. 408 (Goose) Squadron RCAF Used between July 1941 and September 1942, Codeletters EQ
** No. 415 (Swordfish) Squadron RCAF Used between February 1942 and November 1943, Codeletters GX
** No. 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron RCAF Used between December 1941 and August 1942, Codeletters PT
No. 32 Operational Training Unit RCAFUsed between MAy 1942 and February 1944, Codeletters DK, LB, OP and RO
Royal New Zealand Air Force
No. 489 Squadron RNZAFUsed between February 1942 and November 1943, Codeletters XA
Soviet Naval Aviation
No. 24 MTAP
Swedish Air Forceoperated a single HP.52 aircraft for evaluation.
Royal Air Force
No. 7 Squadron RAFUsed between April 1939 and April 1940, Codeletters LT (pre-War) and MG (Wartime)
No. 44 Squadron RAFUsed between February 1939 and December 1941, Codeletters JW (pre-War) and KM (Wartime)
No. 49 Squadron RAFUsed between October 1938 and April 1942, Codeletters XU (pre-War) and EA (Wartime)
No. 50 Squadron RAFUsed between December 1938 and April 1942, Codeletters QX (pre-War) and VN (Wartime)
No. 61 Squadron RAFUsed between February 1939 and October 1941, Codeletters LS (pre-War) and QR (Wartime)
No. 76 Squadron RAFUsed between March 1939 and April 1940, Codeletters NM (pre-War) and MP (Wartime)
No. 83 Squadron RAFUsed between November 1938 and January 1942, Codeletters QQ (pre-War) and OL (Wartime)
No. 97 Squadron RAFUsed between July and August 1941, Codeletters OF (Wartime)
No. 106 Sqaudron RAFUsed between March 1939 and March 1942, Codeletters XS (pre-War) and ZN (Wartime)
No. 144 Squadron RAFUsed between March 1939 and October 1942, Codeletters NV (pre-War) and PL (Wartime)
No. 185 Squadron RAFUsed between June 1939 and April 1940, Codeletters ZM (pre-War) and GL (Wartime)
No. 207 Squadron RAFUsed between July and August 1941, Codeletters EM (Wartime)
No. 517 Squadron RAFUsed between August and November 1943, Codeletters unknown
No. 519 Squadron RAFUsed between August and November 1943, Codeletters Z9
No. 521 Squadron RAFUsed between September and December 1943, Codeletters 5O
** No. 5 (C)OTU RAF Used between July 1942 and September 1943, Only individual Codeletters and numbers
No. 14 Operational Training UnitUsed between 5 May 1940 and December 1942, Codeletters AM, GL and VB
No. 16 Operational Training UnitUsed between 18 April 1940 and September 1942, Codeletters GA, JS and XG
No. 25 Operational Training UnitUsed between February and December 1941, Codeletters ZP
No. 1401 (Meteorological) Flight RAFat Bircham Newton/Docking
No. 1402 (Meteorological) Flight RAFat Aldergrove
No. 1403 (Meteorological) Flight RAFat Gosport/Bircham Newton/Gibraltar
No. 1404 (Meteorological) Flight RAFat St. Eval
No. 1406 (Meteorological) Flight RAFat Wick
No. 1407 (Meteorological) Flight RAFat Reykjavik
pecifications (Hampden Mk I)
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
length main= 53 ft 7 in
length alt=16.33 m
span main=69 ft 2 in
span alt=21.08 m
height main=14 ft 4 in
height alt=4.37 m
area main= 688 ft²
area alt= 63.9 m²
empty weight main=11,780 lb
empty weight alt= 5,344 kg
loaded weight main=18,756 lb
loaded weight alt= 8,508 kg
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
type of prop=9-cylinder
number of props=2
power main= 980 hp
power alt=730 kW
max speed main= 265 mph at 15,500 ft
max speed alt= 410 km/h at 4,724 m
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main= 1,095 miles
range alt=1,762 km
ceiling main= 19,000 ft
ceiling alt= 5,790 m
climb rate main= 980 ft/min
climb rate alt= 300 m/min
loading main=27.3 lb/ft²
loading alt=133 kg/m²)
power/mass main=0.104 hp/lb
power/mass alt=0.172 kW/kg
*4 to 6 x
.303 in(7.7 mm) Vickers K machine guns. one flexible and one fixed in the nose, one or two each in dorsal and ventral positions
*4,000 lb (1,814 kg) bombs or 1 x 18 in
Handley Page Hereford
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
List of aircraft of the RAF
List of aircraft of the RNZAF
* Barnes, C.H. and James, Derek N. "Handley Page Aircraft since 1907". London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-85177-803-8.
* Bowyer, Chaz. "Hampden Special". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1976. ISBN 0-7110-0683-0.
* Clayton, Donald C. "Handley Page, an Aircraft Album". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1969. ISBN 0-7110-0094-8.
* Crosby, Francis. "The World Encyclopedia of Bombers". London: Anness Publishing Ltd., 2007. ISBN 1-84477-511-9.
* Donald, David and Lake, Jon., eds. "Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft". London: AIRtime Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-880588-24-2.
* Green, William. "Famous Bombers of the Second World War". London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-356-08333-0.
* Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. "WW2 Aircraft Fact Files: RAF Bombers, Part 2". London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 2nd edition revised 1981. ISBN 0-7106-0118-2.
* Gunston, Bill. "Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways". London: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-526-8.
* Mondey, David. "The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II". London: Hamlyn/Aerospace, 1982. ISBN 0-600-34951-9.
* Moyes, Philip J.R. "Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft". London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1964 (2nd edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
* Moyes, Philip J.R. "The Handley Page Hampden (Aircraft in Profile 58)". Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1965.
* Moyes, Philip J.R. "Royal Air Force Bombers of World War Two, Volume Two". Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, UK: Hylton Lacy Publishers, 1968. ISBN 0-85064-000-8.
* Moyle, Harry. "The Hampden File". Tonbridge, UK: Air-Britain Historians Ltd., 1989. ISBN 0-85130-128-2.
* Postlethwaite, Mark. "Hampden Squadrons in Focus". Walton on Thames, UK: Red Kite, 2003. ISBN 0-9546201-0-0.
* Roberts, Nicholas. "Crash Log: Handley Page Hampden & Hereford". Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1980. ISBN 0-904597-34-2.
* [http://www.mablehome.com/aviation/museums/langley/hampden.htm Hampden at the Canadian Museum of Flight]
* [http://www.jaapteeuwen.com/ww2aircraft/html%20pages/HANDLEY%20PAGE%20HP52%20HAMPDEN.htm Handley Page Hampden]
* [http://www.handleypage.com/Aircraft_hp52.html Hampden at Handley Page site]
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