DescriptionThe Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
It was part of the trio of large twin-engine bombers procured for the RAF, joining the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and Vickers Wellington. The newest of the three medium bombers, the Hampden was often referred to by aircrews as the "Flying Suitcase" because of its cramped crew conditions. The Hampden was powered by Bristol Pegasus radial engines but a variant known as the Handley Page Hereford had in-line Napier Daggers.
The Hampden served in the early stages of the Second World War, bearing the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne. When it became obsolete, after a period of mainly operating at night, it was retired from RAF Bomber Command service in late 1942. By 1943, the rest of the trio were being superseded by the larger four-engined heavy bombers such as the Avro Lancaster.
The Hampden Mk I had a pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator and rear gunner. Conceived as a fast, manoeuvrable "fighting bomber", the Hampden had a fixed forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine gun in the upper part of the fuselage nose. To avoid the weight penalties of powered turrets, the Hampden had a curved Perspex nose fitted with a manual .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun and a .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K installation in the rear upper and lower positions. The layout was similar to the all-guns-forward cockpits introduced about the same time in Luftwaffe medium bombers, notably the Dornier Do 17. During the Norwegian Campaign, these guns proved to be thoroughly inadequate for self-defence in daylight; the single guns were replaced by twin Vickers K guns, a process led by Air Vice Marshal Arthur Harris of No. 5 Group RAF in 1940.
The Hampden had a flush-rivetted stressed skin, reinforced with a mixture of bent and extruded sections in an all-metal monocoque design. A split-assembly construction technique was employed: sections were prefabricated and then joined, to enable rapid and economic manufacture. The fuselage was in three big sections – front, centre and rear – that were built using jigs. The centre and rear sections were made of two halves, which meant that the sections could be fitted out in part under better working conditions prior to assembly. All possible assembly work was performed at the benches prior to installation upon each aircraft.
Number built: 1,430
Royal Australian Air Force
No. 455 Squadron RAAF Used between July 1941 and December 1943, Codeletters UB.
For more information on the development, design, operational history and variants, click here.
- Crew: 4 (pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator/dorsal gunner, ventral gunner)
- 53 ft 7 in (16.33 m)
- 69 ft 2 in (21.08 m)
- 14 ft 11 in (4.55 m)
- Wing Area:
- 668 sq ft (62.1 sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 12,764 lb (5,790 kg)
- 22,500 lb (10,206 kg)
- 2 × Bristol Pegasus XVIII 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,000 hp (750 kW) each at 3,000 ft (910 m)
- Maximum speed: 247 mph (398 km/h, 215 kn) at 13,800 ft (4,200 m)
- Cruise Speed:
- 206 mph (332 km/h, 179 kn) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
- 1,720 mi (2,770 km, 1,490 nmi) maximum fuel and 2,000 lb (910 kg) bombs at 206 mph (179 kn; 332 km/h)
- Service Ceiling:
- 19,000 ft (5,800 m)