Handley Page H.P.53 Hereford


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Handley Page H.P.53 Hereford

The Hereford bomber was a Napier Dagger-engined version of the Hampden 'Flying Suitcase', ordered as a back-up at the same time as the first Hampden production contracts. The noisy new inline engines overheated on the ground and cooled too quickly and seized in the air. Even routine maintenance was more complicated than that required for the Hampden's Pegasus radials. There were no performance advantages from the new engines. On daylight raids in 1940-41 the Hampdens and Herefords were shot to bits by faster and better-armed German fighters, so were quickly relegated to night missions. Only a very small number of Herefords saw action (in Hampden squadrons). The rest were relegated to training units, soon followed by their (marginally) better brethren.


The Hereford was distinguishable from the Hampden by its longer engine cowlings and greater dihedral on the outer wings.

The exhaust note of the Dagger engines was of a high frequency that proved irritating to the crews.

The narrow, cramped and badly heated fuselage made long missions extremely uncomfortable and the crew could not change positions during flight.

The Hereford and Hampden had a single-pilot cockpit with a sliding canopy, which was sometimes left open in flight for the 'wind-in-the-hair' feel.

Handley Page H.P.53 HerefordA three-view drawing (900 x 627)

 ENGINE2 x Napier Dagger VIII, 746kW
  Take-off weight8070 kg17791 lb
  Empty weight5300 kg11685 lb
  Wingspan21.08 m69 ft 2 in
  Length16.33 m54 ft 7 in
  Height4.55 m15 ft 11 in
  Wing area62.06 m2668.01 sq ft
  Max. speed426 km/h265 mph
  Cruise speed277 km/h172 mph
  Ceiling5790 m19000 ft
  Range w/max payload1930 km1199 miles
 ARMAMENT4 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1800kg of bombs

John, e-mail, 01.01.2017 16:30

The Napier dagger was not an unproven engine. The RAF used several types that were dagger- engined! Early versions of the Bristol Pegasus were troublesome because of high oil consumption. In retrospect the ministry was right to develop 2 versions.
when the Hawker Tornado first flew everybody expected it to be successful but it wasn't. The typhoon used the same airframe with the Napier Sabre. That was the same policy working quite well. I think that both Napier engines were simply disliked by ground crews because of their complexity. A spark plug change required 48 spark plugs to be removed for instance.


Klaatu83, e-mail, 01.04.2016 12:04

This was simply a good airplane ruined by bureaucratic meddling. Apparently the Powers-That-Be at the Air Ministry decided that there would be a shortage of Bristol Pegasus engines, which were in demand for use in other types of aircraft, and insisted upon a second version of the Hampden bomber fitted with Napier Dagger engines. However, the choice of the Dagger engine was a disastrous one, and the entire Hereford program was a complete waste of valuable aircraft production capacity at a time when Britain could least afford it. In fact, some of the Herefords were subsequently refitted with Pegasus engines and converted into Hampdens.


bombardier, e-mail, 02.09.2012 21:16

Actually only one Hereford of 185 Squadron flew a combat mission.The Hereford's biggest contribution was as source of spare parts for the Hampdens.


mick knott, e-mail, 17.10.2011 02:35

I flew hampdens torpedo bombers,my late friend Geof. Longford from S-O-Avon was POW shot down in a Hereford,over the Rhur.Goodnight young sirs.I liked the hampden the pilot sat up well and Ilooped one.


Barry, 21.02.2011 16:55

This was a bad aeroplane and one wonders why anyone thought that useing such an unproven power unit would add anything to the original design. Only 100 were built, by Shorts, and whilst a handful went to active Hampden units it is doubtful if they ever saw any action.


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