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  • Handley Page Hermes




    The Handley Page HP.81 Hermes was a British civilian airliner built by Handley Page in the 1940s and 1950s.

    General Information

    Closely related to Handley Page's Hastings military transport, the Hermes was a low-wing monoplane powered by four piston engines. Twenty-nine were built, serving briefly with BOAC in the early 1950s and later with several charter airlines.


    The Hermes was built to meet the 1944 Air Ministry specification for a pressurised civil transport capable of carrying 34 first-class or 50 tourist-class passengers, at the same time as the RAF required a new transport to replace its Handley Page Halifax, for which Handley Page designed the very similar Handley Page Hastings. Unlike the tailwheel Hastings, the Hermes was planned to have a nosewheel undercarriage, although the first two prototypes used a tailwheel undercarriage, of which the first was an unpressurised "bare shell" and the second to be pressurised and fully equipped.  It was intended to introduce the Hermes before the Hastings, but production was delayed after the first prototype (HP 68 Hermes 1), registered G-AGSS crashed on its maiden flight shortly after takeoff on 2 December 1945. Handley Page's chief test pilot and the chief test observer were both killed.


    Development of the civil Hermes was delayed to resolve the instability that caused the accident to the first prototype, and the chance was taken to lengthen the second prototype, producing the HP 74 Hermes II (G-AGUB), first flying on 2 September 1947.


    Meanwhile, orders were placed on 4 February 1947 for 25 of the definitive HP 81 Hermes IV, fitted with a tricycle undercarriage and powered by 2,100 hp (1,570 kW) Bristol Hercules 763 engines, for BOAC and two HP Hermes V, powered by the Bristol Theseus turboprop engines.


    All 29 aircraft were built at Radlett Aerodrome, Hertfordshire, England.

    HP.68 Hermes I
         Prototype powered by four 1,650 hp (1,230 kW) Bristol Hercules 101 radial engines. One built.
    HP.74 Hermes II
         Prototype powered by four 1,675 hp (1,249 kW) Bristol Hercules 121 engines and a 13 ft (4.57 m) longer forward

         fuselage. One built.
    HP.81 Hermes IV
         Production aircraft with tricycle landing gear, powered by four 2,100 hp (1,570 kW) Bristol Hercules 763 engines.

         Twenty-five built.
    HP.81 Hermes IVa
         Hermes IV modified to use 100-octane fuel, with the engine redesignated Hercules 773. Most converted back to

         Hermes IV standard.
    HP.82 Hermes V
         Development aircraft with four 2,490 hp (1,860 kW) Bristol Theseus 502 turboprops. Two built.



    Handley Page Hermes AIR LINKS.jpg

    Handley Page Hermes BOAC.jpg

    Handley Page Hermes G-ALDR.jpg

    Handley Page Hermes G-ALDT.jpg


    Crew: 5 flight crew + cabin crew Capacity: 40 - 82 passengers
    96 ft 10 in (29.51 m)
    113 ft (34 m)
    29 ft 11 in (9.12 m)
    Wing Area:
    1,408 sq ft (130.8 sq m)
    Wing Loading:
    58.2 lb/sq ft (284 kg/sq m)
    Empty Weight:
    55,350 lb (25,106 kg) basic equipped
    82,000 lb (37,195 kg). Maximum landing weight: 75,000 lb (34,019 kg)
    Fuel Capacity:
    3,224 imp gal (3,872 US gal; 14,657 l) in integral wing tanks ; 4x 37 imp gal (44 US gal; 168 l) oil tanks
    4 × Bristol Hercules 763 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 2,020 hp (1,510 kW) each for take-off
    Maximum speed: 357 mph (575 km/h, 310 kn) at 20,000 ft (6,096 m).
    Cruise Speed:
    266 mph (428 km/h, 231 kn) maximum weak mixture at 10,000 ft (3,048 m). 244 mph (212 kn; 393 km/h) maximum range speed at 20,000 ft (6,096 m)
    3,147–3,554 mi (5,065–5,720 km, 2,735–3,088 nmi) with 2,213 lb (1,004 kg) payload at 20,000 ft (6,096 m) dependent on speed
    Takeoff Dist.:
    to 50 ft (15 m): 4,440 ft (1,353 m)
    Landing Dist.:
    from 50 ft (15 m): 4,224 ft (1,287 m)
    Rate of Climb:
    1,030 ft/min (5.2 m/s). Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 25 minutes
    Service Ceiling:
    from 50 ft (15 m): 4,224 ft (1,287 m)

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    And Red forgot to add, the Hermes was powered by the same Sleeve-Valve Hercules 14 cyl radial engine, that powered the Beaufighter!


    These engines were the quietest radials ever built, and gave the nickname of "Whispering Death" to the Beaufighters.

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    7 minutes ago, onetrack said:

    And Red forgot to add, the Hermes was powered by the same Sleeve-Valve Hercules 14 cyl radial engine, that powered the Beaufighter!


    These engines were the quietest radials ever built, and gave the nickname of "Whispering Death" to the Beaufighters.

    Anyone who has heard a Hawker Sea Fury start up would love the sleeve-valve engine.

    I guess there was a lot of manufacturing capacity (and spares) left over from the war. I once happened on a BristolTwo Litre sports car with a beautiful raw aluminum body. The instrument panel was the entire width of the dash, filled with dozens of aircraft steam gauges.

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    I will continue to keep a look out OK, but I have concentrated on airliners a bit lately, to get their number up to 75, and use up all the photos I had accumulated. I will do some of the other categories to keep up interest of everyone. The only category I have difficulty with is the weightshift category. I know nothing about them, and they all look pretty much the same to me. 

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