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  • Handley Page Hampden Medium Bomber / Night Bomber / Maritime Patrol Aircraft

    On the whole, the Handley Page Hampden offered limited value to the Allies during the early going of World War 2.

     Updated: 7/1/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    In 1932, the British Air Ministry sent out Specification B.9/32 calling for a high performance, twin-engine, medium-class bomber. This led to three primary submissions being reviewed - the Bristol Type 131, the Vickers Crecy (to become the Vickers Wellington), and the Handley Page HP.52 (Hampden). The Handley Page design was ordered in prototype form and, when completed, recorded a first flight on June 21st, 1935. The design was thought well enough of that a production contract followed for Hampden Mk. I models and development eventually led to trials occurring in 1938. Production spanned from 1936 to 1941 with a total of 1,430 being built (some sources read 1,532).

    The finalized Hampden product featured a slim, though deep, fuselage with stepped single-seat cockpit and heavily glazed nose section. The total crew complement numbered four and included the pilot, navigator/bombardier, and dedicated gunners (one of whom doubled as the radioman). The cockpit held a greenhouse-style canopy while additional glazed positions were found at the dorsal and ventral sections of the rear fuselage for the defensive machine gun emplacements. The Hampden was given a rather unique shape as interwar bombers go, featuring a thin tail unit extending aft to which was seated a twin vertical tail assembly at the extreme rear of the design. This stem allowed for both a dorsal and ventral gun position to be featured along the aft section of the fuselage - providing good views for the guns. The wing mainplanes were mid-mounted with each housing a radial piston engine along the leading edge while driving three-bladed propellers. The undercarriage was wheeled and wholly retractable while arranged in a tail-dragger configuration (giving the aircraft a pronounced "nose-up" attitude when on the ground).

    Performance came from 2 x Bristol Pegasus XVIII 9-cylinder radial piston engines of 1,000 horsepower each. This supplied the airframe with a maximum speed of 250 miles per hour, a cruising speed of around 200 miles per hour, a range out to 1,720 miles, and a service ceiling of up to 19,000 feet. At one point, the original B.9/32 specification was revised to include use of the Rolls-Royce "Goshawk" V12 engine but this requirement was later dropped and just twenty of the engines were produced in all.

    Defensive armament was entirely machine gun-based: 1 x 7.7mm Browning M1919 machine gun was set in a fixed, forward-firing position over the nose while another 7.7mm machine gun was set on a trainable mounting looking down from the lower nose windscreen. The dorsal and ventral aft positions each managed a single 7.7mm Vickers K machine gun - also on trainable mounts. All told, this was intended to provide maximum coverage against intercepting enemy fighters though wartime experience would show that the aircraft was truly under-gunned for daylight work. Also its machine guns were directed by hand and not power-assisted in any way.

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    Handley Page Hampden Mk I Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1938
    Type: Medium Bomber / Night Bomber / Maritime Patrol Aircraft
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): Handley Page - UK
    Production Total: 1,430

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 53.58 feet (16.33 meters)
    Width: 69.16 feet (21.08 meters)
    Height: 14.34 feet (4.37 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 11,773 lb (5,340 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 18,739 lb (8,500 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Bristol Pegasus XVIII 9-cylinder radial piston engines developing 980 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 255 mph (410 kph; 221 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,095 miles (1,762 km)
    Service Ceiling: 18,996 feet (5,790 meters; 3.60 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 980 feet-per-minute (299 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x 7.7mm Vickers machine gun in upper fuselage (fixed, forward-firing).
    1 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine gun in trainable nose position.
    1 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine gun in dorsal position (trainable).
    1 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine gun in ventral position (trainable).

    Up to 4,000 lb of internal stores OR equivalent in naval mines OR 1 x 18" torpedo.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Australia; Canada; New Zealand; Soviet Union; Sweden; United Kingdom

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Hampden - Base Series Designation

    Hampden Mk I (HP.52) - Definitive bomber model; Bristol Pegasus XVIII radial piston engines.

    Hampden TB.Mk I - Torpedo Bomber Variant

    Hampden Mk II (HP.62) - Two modified Mk I bombers with Wright Cyclone engines of 1,000 horsepower; not adopted.

    HP.53 (P.5) - Swedish designation for evaluation prototype fitted with Napier Dagger VIII inline engines of 1,000 horsepower; not adopted.