Handley Page H.P.42 / 45
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Handley Page H.P.42 / 45

Commercial aviation got off to a slow start in the years immediately following World War I, and it was not until the mid-1920s that the pioneering civil airlines began to push out tentative long-range routes. In Britain the pace had been set by such companies as Aircraft Transport and Travel, British Marine Air Navigation Company, the Daimler Airways, Handley Page Transport and the Instone Air Line. Air Transport and Travel (Britain's first airline) ceased operations on 17 December 1920; the remaining four companies formed the building blocks from which Imperial Airways was created on 1 April 1924.

To Imperial Airways fell the task of establishing British commercial air transport on an economic basis, and with government backing it became possible - at least in a modest way - to begin the procurement of new aircraft and the survey and inauguration of air routes to link the British Empire. Needing more capacity than was provided by its 18-20-seat Armstrong Whitworth Argosy or 14-seat Handley Page W.10 aircraft, Imperial Airways acquired from the latter a total of eight aircraft designed specifically for use on the European and eastern sections of the Empire air routes.

Large biplanes, with a maximum wing loading of less than 48.2kg/m2, they were of all-metal construction except for the aerofoil surfaces and aft fuselage, which were fabric-covered. The unequal-span biplane wings were devoid of flying and landing wires, braced instead by massive Warren girder struts, and having ailerons and Handley Page slots only on the upper wing. The tail unit was also of biplane configuration, with triple fins and rudders, and the heavy landing gear was of fixed-tailwheel type. Power plant comprised four supercharged Bristol Jupiter engines, two mounted on the upper wing and one on each side of the fuselage on the lower wing. All four engines were kept as near as possible to the aircraft's centreline, to minimise the problems of asymmetric flight in the event of an engine failure. For the first time in any British airliner the crew were accommodated inside the aircraft, in a compartment high in the fuselage nose which we would now call a flight deck. Within the main cabins - fore and aft of the wing area where the engine noise originated - passengers were provided with completely new standards of comfort and spaciousness. Those intended originally for eastern use (on the Indian and South African routes) carried six (later 12) passengers in the forward cabin and 12 in the rear, with space for 14.16m3 of baggage and mail amid-ships. The four equipped for the European routes (based at Croydon) carried 18 passengers forward, 20 aft and had 7.08m3 of baggage space.

The prototype flew first in November 1930. It was equipped subsequently for long-range service (H.P.42E, 'E' for Eastern) and named Hannibal. First of the H.P.42W ('W' for Western) for the European services was delivered in September 1931 and named Heracles. The remainder of this family of 1930s 'Jumbo' airliners had the names Hadrian, Hanno, Helena, Hengist, Horatius and Horsa. Remembered nostalgically in the early history of Imperial Airways, it was an unforgettable sight to see one climbing majestically away from Croydon or floating in on those enormous wings. Anthony Fokker once commented that H.P.42s had built-in headwinds, but their cruising speed of around 161km/h, excellent handling at low speeds and robust structure ensured that they were able to boast a decade of fatal-accident-free flight before being withdrawn from civil airline service on 1 September 1939.

Handley Page H.P.42 / 45

 MODELH.P.42W (H.P.45)
 ENGINE4 x Bristol Jupiter XFBM, 414kW
    Take-off weight12700 kg27999 lb
    Empty weight8047 kg17741 lb
    Wingspan39.62 m130 ft 0 in
    Max. speed204 km/h127 mph
    Cruise speed153-169 km/h95 - 105 mph
    Range805 km500 miles

Handley Page H.P.42 / 45

Comments1-20 21-40
Barry V Redmond, 03.05.2015

I remember building an airfix model of hp-42 in 1971 when I was 11 years old. must have been a fun experience to have flown in one, A lot more stylish than cramped flying conditions these days!

George, 31.07.2014

Putting the finishing touches on my 1/144 scale Airfix model of the HP 42. Had a lot of fun researching and building this one; especially all the little extra details no included in the kit. I hope that Airfix will reissue this one in the future and possibly fix some of the issues, like the lack of a window on the forward hatch, in the next run. Or better yet that someone like Revell or MiniCraft will offer up the HP 42 in 1/72 scale. Wow, no that would be a biplane to model. One can only wish.

Howard Faure, 15.02.2014

I built one of the HP 42 Hannibal's from the original Aeromodeller plan in 1956 aged 17.
It was free flight with 2 DC Merlin .75ccc diesel engines.and had pendulum controls.
Unfortunately icannot remember what happened to it.
I am waiting for another copy of this model to build a R/C version.

Michael Wheeler, 02.12.2013

In 1933 I boarded a HP42 Hannibal name of Helena in Basra for the return flight to Croydon. If memory serves me correctly the journey was approx. 6 days with overnight stops in various European Capital cities staying at the finest hotels. My memory is shaky and I would appreciate any information on the actual routing and statistics/specifications of this aircraft and the number of passengers.

Dave, 04.08.2013

G-AAFX is seen in "The Solitaire Man" movie from1933 starring Herbert Marshall and Mary Boland.

Neil Farley, 28.06.2013

Very interested to here all your comments. I run the Imperial Airways website (in fact the text and picture above comes from it). We are 2 months away from opening the world's first dedicated Imperial Airways museum and would love to make contact and hear from anyone with reminiscences or connections with anything to do with the airline.

Roger Braga, 14.05.2013

I visited old Stow Maries airfield (see site) last Sunday on an Open Day and saw a beautiful R/C Model H.P.42/45 fly. The wingspan must have been around 8ft and even in a light breeze the a/c flew very gracefully. I do not know who owns or who built the a/c but the curator at Stow Maries (Essex) may be able to answer any queeries. Having flown on an H.P.Hermes Blackbushe to Singapore in 1958 as a child of 10 years old, I've always had a keen interest in all H.P. aircraft.

tim, 20.04.2013

My Grandfather flew on G-AAGX from Karachi to Baghdad in 1932. I have several photographs. They stopped at Jask, Bushehr and Rutbah to refuel as well as overnighting at Jask.

peter, 26.01.2012

Don't worry. I'm buying a lottery ticket tonight. Once I've built a replica "Claughton" steam loco, the 12inch = 1 foot replica HP42 is next. I can dream, can't I ?

Josue Moreno, 16.10.2011

I'm an AMT in small aircrafts and reading about the wing span , it was large than my house. My litle boy has a wall poster from Shell petrol corp. And Imperial Airways. I like this aviation gold age.

Sunderajan, 10.10.2011

i would think that it probly had four fuel tanks ,in a nacelle one behind each engine. This could avoid having pumps requiring non existent electric power, and of course no cross feed etc. Giant half steering wheels which was the fashion then.By the way my old boss had once serviced these planes could confirm all this but he is no more.

Robert Allen, 22.09.2011

Where was the fuel (petrol) tankage on the HP 42, above, on the high wing or lower down? And weren't the control columns a bit like giant steering wheels?
Does anybody have reference of what the flight deck looked like? Would be nice to see a photo if one exists.

Sunderajan, 30.04.2011

Bernard Shaw- By now you must have successfully built a couple of models. If so, I could buy one

Sunderajan, 28.03.2011

I eould love to have a small static model of the HP 42, as true as possibble to the real one. I have flown the Tiger moth and Chipmunk and have had hours of soaring fun on sseveral sail planes including the T21B and Eon Olympia. Going on 83, I still dream of atleast seeing an HP42 replica. Does any one know of where i can got a static model.

deaftom, 26.03.2011

There's a fairly large (about 4 feet/120cm wingspan, if I remember correctly) non-flying model of a H.P.42 displayed in the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, near Seattle. A magnificent aircraft that perfectly captures the spirit of commercial aviation in the between-wars era.

Laurie Pocock, 20.11.2010

I want to build a Radio Control model of the HP42 based on plans by S Newman. Do I need to make any major modifications, wings seam a bit fragile, and how do I control the aileros, do I build a one piece top plane and put he actuator into the engine pod?

Mr. R.G.Covington, 06.10.2010

I do not know very much about the HP42 Airliner but was on holiday with a relative near Hendon and was walking with him along a road in Hendon when one of them took off flying right over our heads. It was so low that I remember both of us flinging ourselves to the ground. I didn't know the airport existed so wasn't expecting it.I am just on ninety now and have been trying for a number of years to get a set of plans to make a model. I would just like one to sit and look at. It was a beautiful sight even if it did put the fear of the devil into us. I wish one had servived to be seen by all in a musium somewhere for all to see. I might have been one on its test flight, but I dont know I know that the year was 1930 and I was ten.

Alan Coring, 04.09.2010

Hi David

I remember as a lad buying the Aeromodeller magazine in 1955 which had an article on this model, and have decided, at a somewhat late stage in my life to attempt building this lovely aircraft. I have a copy of the original Newton plans as shown in the Aeromodeller but unfortunately much of the detail is difficult to read. If you can help in any way I would be much obliged.

bobby, 10.08.2010

i mu aba of of muno

Pete Bogué, 07.08.2010

I was taken often to Croydon Airport as a small boy. You could watch the flying for a small fee from the terminal which still exists. My father somehow arranged for me to sit in the cockpit of the HP 42 Heracles. I was about 6 or 7 then in 1936/7 - I am now 79 and a lot! That experience inspired me to fly - gliders at first and then, in the RAF, Jet fighters and helicopters and, later, business jets. But I still prefer Tiger Moths and piston engined 'tail draggers' generally. I was born a bit too late, but I would have loved to fly with the legendary Captain O.P. Jones - that was REAL aviation!

1-20 21-40

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