The Handley Page Hampden 

Great Britain
Great Britain

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The H.P. 52 Hampden is the stable mate of the Vickers Wellington. Both were the response of the respective companies to a British requirement for a modern twin-engined medium bomber. To have the maximum performance, Handley Page chose a pod-and-boom type fuselage, which was extremely slender: 3 ft (0,91 m) wide at most. This reduced drag, but also made it impossible for the crew to switch place in-flight, and made the use of gun-turrets for defense impossible.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Handley Page Hampdens on the construction line
Handley Page Hampdens on the construction line

 

Technical data on the Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Powerplant 2 × Bristol Pegasus XVIII radials, rated at 1000 hp (745.49 kW) each Role during war
  • Medium Bomber
  • Torpedo Bomber
  • Mine-layer
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Trainer
Length 53 ft 7 inch Height 14 ft 11 inch with the tail up
Empty weight 11780 lb Operational weight 18756 lb typical,
21000 lb max
Wing Span 69 ft 2 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.16
Wing Area 668 sq ft Service ceiling 22700 ft
Maximum speed 255 mph at 15500 ft Cruising speed 167 mph at 15000 ft
Initial climb rate 980 ft per minute,
Climb to 15,000 ft in 18 minutes, 54 seconds
Range 870 miles minimum,
1885 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 654 Imp gal (785 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 0.303 inch Vickers or Browning fixed forward-firingon the port side of the upper nose
  • 1 × 0.303 inch Vickers 'K' trainable forward-firing in the nose
  • 1 or 2 × 0.303 inch Vickers 'K' trainable rearward-firing in the dorsal position
  • 1 or 2 × 0.303 inch Vickers 'K' trainable rearward-firing in the ventral position.
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 4,000 lb in a lower fuselage weapons bay rated at 4,000 lb, and on 2 underwing hardpoints rated 500 lb each. General loadout:
  • 2 × 2,000 lb bombs, or
  • 4 or 6 × 500 lb bombs or mines
Torpedoes/rockets 1 × 18 inch torpedo in stead of bombs in weapons bay
Crew 4: pilot, navigator/bombardier/gunner, radio operator/gunner, gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 21 June 1936 Operational Service August 1938 - 1944
Manufacturer Handley Page Ltd. Number produced 1.432 + 152 Herefords total, 1.432 this version
Metric system
Length 16.33 m Height 4.55 m with the tail up
Empty weight 5343 kg Operational weight 8508 kg typical,
9526 kg max
Wing Span 21.08 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.16
Wing Area 62.06 m² Service ceiling 6919 m
Maximum speed 410 km/h at 4724 m Cruising speed 269 km/h at 4572 m
Initial climb rate 299 m per minute,
Climb to 4570 m in 18 minutes, 54 seconds
Range 1400 km minimum,
3034 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 2.973 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 7,7 mm Vickers or Browning fixed forward-firingon the port side of the upper nose
  • 1 × 7,7 mm Vickers 'K' trainable forward-firing in the nose
  • 1 or 2 × 7,7 mm Vickers 'K' trainable rearward-firing in the dorsal position
  • 1 or 2 × 7,7 mm Vickers 'K' trainable rearward-firing in the ventral position.
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 1.814 kg in a lower fuselage weapons bay rated at 1.814 kg, and on 2 underwing hardpoints rated 227 kg each. General loadout:
  • 2 × 907 kg bombs, or
  • 4 or 6 × 227 kg bombs or mines
Torpedoes/rockets 1 × 457 mm torpedo in stead of bombs in weapons bay

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Handley Page Hampden 
Handley Page Hampden Mk I The first and major variant of the Hampden was the Hampden Mk I. Designed and built in a time when there were only vague premonitions of the war to come, the Hampden was advanced and fast for it's time, but terribly outclassed and vulnerable by the time it went to War. See details above.
Number built: 1.453
Handley Page Hampden TB.Mk I After the Hampdens vulnerability was shown it was quickly relegated to nighttime operations. Even then it didn't perform as was hoped, and they were gradually transferred to Coastal Command. There, 157 Hampdens were converted to be able to perform torpedo-bombing duties, receiving the TB.Mk I designation
Number converted: 157
Handley Page Hereford Mk I The twin brother of the Hampden, the Handley Page H.P. 53 Hereford was identical, save for the powerplant. It was fitted with 2 × Napier Dagger VIII H-type pistons, uprated to 1,000 hp (746 kW). The Dagger proved to be unreliable, and the Herefords were quickly put in the training role after a very short first-line career.
Because of the different powerplant, it possesed different performance as well: empty and normal take-off weight were 11,700 lb (5.307 kg) and 17,800 lb (8.074 kg) respectively, max level speed was 265 mph (426 km/h), cruising speed of 172 mph (277 km/h), and a minimum range of 1,200 miles (1.931 km) with a maximum load-out.
Number built: 152

Remarks:

The Hampden (and Hereford) served as one of the front line bombers at the start of the war. Because of the design limitations, and the use of unevolving engines, the Hampdens development halted after the Mk I. It performed badly during daytime as reconnaissance aircraft, and during night time as medium bomber. After the surviving Hampdens were transferred to Coastal Command, a number were converted to act as a torpedo bomber. I do not know at the moment how well or bad it performed in this role
The Hereford was phased out very fast, after the unreliability of the Napier Dagger engines became known. They were used as trainer until scrapped.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 11/8/00