Handley Page Heyford Heavy Night-Bomber / Crew Trainer
The Handley Page Heyford Heavy Night-Bomber served no less than twelve Royal Air Force squadrons during her time aloft - but was given up as a frontline bomber before World War 2.
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In 1927 the British Air Ministry introduced Specification B.19/27 calling for a new twin-engined heavy night-bomber capable of speeds of 115 miles per hour with a 1,546lb war load out to 920 miles. The type was expected to replace the aging stock of Vickers Virginia and Handley Page Hinaidi biplane bombers then in service. While the Fairey Hendon was eventually selected as the winner, delays in that program forced the Air Ministry to also select the Handley Page Heyford. Submissions were also had from regular industry players in Avro, Bristol and Vickers.
Handley Page engineers fleshed out the "HP.38" which continued use of a biplane wing planform forming a two-bay arrangement with parallel struts. The fuselage incorporated aluminum in its construction and the internal structure of the wings were also of metal while being covered over in fabric. The HP.38 appeared somewhat unconventional for a biplane bomber as the fuselage was attached to the upper wing section. This forced designers to fit the bomb bay into the center section of the lower wing assembly. As a benefit, the fuselage was now cleared of the space-consuming bomb bay with more room for crew spaces and defensive machine gun positions - guns were fitted to a dorsal, nose and ventral position (7.7mm types). The tail unit incorporated a twin rudder configuration and the undercarriage was fixed and of a "tail dragger" arrangement which saw the main legs faired over (spatted). The operating crew numbered four and consisted of the pilot, the bombardier-navigator (who also doubled as a machine gunner), a dedicated radioman, and a machine gunner to manage both the dorsal and ventral emplacements. The bomb load was listed at 2,500lb of conventional drop stores.
With delays being encountered in the Hendon product by Fairey (the prototype had crashed) and the Handley Page offering proving sound in evaluations with the RAF, the HP.38 was pushed through under the revised designation of "HP.50". The "Heyford" name was derived from the bomber's first posting - this at RAF Upper Heyford (Oxfordshire) as part of No.99 Squadron RAF in November 1933. Production netted 125 bombers from the period spanning 1933 until 1936 with service introduction in 1934.