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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.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Handley Page Hanley Torpedo Biplane Bomber Prototype.  Entry last updated on 1/30/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
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.


YEAR: 1922
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Handley Page - UK
LENGTH: 33.37 ft (10.17 m)
WIDTH: 45.93 ft (14 m)
HEIGHT: 14.17 ft (4.32 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 3,649 lb (1,655 kg)
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

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.

General Assessment

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating
The MF Power Rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (116mph).

Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (3)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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