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Handley Page Hanley

Torpedo Biplane Bomber Prototype

Just three Hanley torpedo bombers were completed by Handley Page of the United Kingdom in the early part of the 1920s.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 1/30/2019
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Year: 1922
Status: Cancelled
Manufacturer(s): Handley Page - UK
Production: 3
Capabilities: Ground Attack; Navy/Maritime; X-Plane;
Crew: 1
Length: 33.37 ft (10.17 m)
Width: 45.93 ft (14 m)
Height: 14.17 ft (4.32 m)
Weight (Empty): 3,649 lb (1,655 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 6,614 lb (3,000 kg)
Power: 1 x Napier Lion IIB 12-cylinder water-cooled engine developing 450 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Speed: 116 mph (187 kph; 101 kts)
Ceiling: 15,223 feet (4,640 m; 2.88 miles)
Operators: United Kingdom
Before the end of 1920, the British Air Ministry drew up a requirement for a new carrier-borne combat aircraft capable of aerial torpedo delivery for the Royal Air Force's Fleet Air Arm (FAA). To this point, the Sopwith "Cuckoo" was fulfilling the role but this design had its roots in the fighting of World War 1 (1918) and was on its last legs performance-wise and technologically (some 232 were built in all). The new torpedo bomber would have to be inherently carrier-capable - as the aircraft carrier had proven itself the future of naval warfare - carry a single 18" torpedo under its belly, and offer the performance and low-speed handling required of such an aircraft. Bomber-maker Handley Page of Britain began work on what would become its "Hanley" prototype and its chief competition would be had from rival Blackburn who soon moved to develop their "Dart" torpedo-delivery platform at the same time.

The Handley Page offerings was known internally as the "Type T" and named "Hanley" while retroactively being assigned the designator of "HP.19". The contract called for a total of three flyable single-seat, single-engine prototypes to be built and powered by the Napier "Lion" engine.

The engine was positioned at the nose with the cockpit directly aft. The pilot sat in an open-air cockpit aft and under the upper wing member. The wing arrangement utilized a traditional over-under, unstaggered biplane with full-length slots (along both wing leading edges to slow the aircraft down), parallel support struts, and triple bays. The wings were also designed to fold for carrier storage as needed. The fuselage then tapered towards the tail to which a single-finned rudder was affixed with a pair of horizontal planes. The undercarriage consisted of a strutted twin-wheeled main landing gear under center mass and a simple tail skid under the tail for ground-running. Overall construction involved mainly wood.

As completed, the aircraft had an overall length of 33.3 feet, a wingspan of 46 feet, and a height of 14.1 feet. Empty weight reached 3,640lb to a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) near 6,445lb.

Power was supplied by a Napier Lion IIB series 12-cylinder, water-cooled engine developing 450 horsepower turning a two-bladed propeller at the nose. Performance included a maximum speed of 116 miles-per-hour and a service ceiling up to 15,000 feet.

A first-flight by the "Hanley I" prototype was had on January 3rd, 1922 but subsequent testing soon found issues with the design: vision out-of-the-cockpit was limited (a common failing of World War 1-era biplanes), performance was generally lacking, and low-speed handling was deemed poor. The initial prototype was subsequently damaged during a landing action but salvaged with all-new wing components, including updated control surfaces, to become the "Hanley II".

The Hanley II took to the skies for the first time in December of 1922 and the revised design improved performance some but failed to solve the low-speed handling issue - a quality critical to naval / carrier-based aircraft at any level. This then led to a third prototype being developed as the "Hanley III" and this offering brought with it improved aerodynamics and modified control slots at the wings, the latter which rectified handling issues but, by this time, the FAA had already moved on a competing type, the Blackburn "Dart" torpedo bomber (detailed elsewhere on this site). 118 of these were built and the type flew from 1922 until 1933 with the FAA.

The two-seat Handley Page "Hendon" became a related development of the single-seat Hanley but this ultimately abandoned aircraft program resulted in just six prototypes completed with a first-flight conducted during 1924.


1 x 18" aerial torpedo carried under fuselage centerline.

Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo

Variants / Models

• Hanley - Base Series Name; three examples completed.
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