Handley Page Aircraft since 1907

C.Barnes - Handley Page Aircraft since 1907 /Putnam/

Tom Harry England ready to take off with Harold Bolas to demonstrate the automatic slot on Bristol Fighter F4967 at Cricklewood on 18 November, 1927, with Col Seely at port wingtip.
Wing Commander Vernon Brown explains the auto-slot to members of Cambridge University Air Squadron during summer training at Old Sarum in 1929.
Ross Smith’s O/400 C9861 with two Bristol Fighters of No.1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, at Haifa after the capture of Damascus in October 1918.
Early Single-Seat Monoplanes A, C and D (H.P.1, 3 and 4)

   Soon after publication of Jose Weiss’s flexible wing patent (No. 17150) on 14 August, 1908, Handley Page began building his canard glider, with the help of his first employee, Tucker, and his first two premium pupils, Cyril W. Meredith and Arthur Dukinfield Jones. With this apparatus he hoped to emulate the Wright brothers by teaching himself to fly. His attempts to take off from the sloping dykes adjoining Barking Creek were unsuccessful, but at least he learned the necessity for a long skid to bridge the many ditches lying in wait to trip and break an unprotected wheeled chassis; these would have been fatal to an unguarded airscrew.
Frederick Handley Page on his first experimental glider. The maker famous for large aircraft had small beginnings in 1909.
Tucker on the first glider at Creekmouth in 1909.
Handley Page's first glider at Barking in 1909
Early Single-Seat Monoplanes A, C and D (H.P.1, 3 and 4)

<...> For his first powered machine he may have been unduly bold in choosing a tractor monoplane, but it was cheaper to build than a Wright or Voisin-type biplane, and his primary aim was to fly at minimum cost. Nevertheless, he employed only the best quality spruce, ash, steel plate, piano wire and stranded cable in the construction of his first aeroplane.
   The wing, of Weiss’s patent shape, had a stiff inner box with four parallel spars and chordwise ribs, with flexible ribs extending radially from the outer ends of the spars. In view of the automatic stability claimed by Weiss, warping for lateral control was deemed unnecessary, and the inner ends of the spars were pinned to the top longerons and wire-braced above to a central vertical kingpost and below to the chassis. The fuselage was boat-shaped, with four longerons tapering to the stern; the two lower longerons converged halfway back to the tail, so that the rear fuselage section was triangular, and the two upper longerons were reinforced at the forward end to act as bearers for the 20 hp Advance vee-four air-cooled engine; a small petrol tank was strapped across the top longerons in line with the leading edge of the wing. The engine was direct-coupled to a 6 ft 6 in diameter two-blade airscrew copied by Handley Page from a design by Weiss for Lascelles & Co; Handley Page was not prepared to buy what he could make more cheaply himself and had begun selling his own popular range of airscrews, enabling him to undercut Lascelles’ prices. The control surfaces comprised a cruciform tail unit, combining elevator and rudder and mounted on a universal joint, as in Santos-Dumont’s Demoiselle. The wing, fuselage and empennage were covered with blue-grey rubberised fabric, and the chassis had a central channel-section ash skid, with a resilient ash cross-axle carrying a lightweight wheel at each end, having tension spokes radiating from wide hubs designed to resist side loads; the axle was stiff enough to carry the static weight while taxying and taking off, but flexible enough for the skid to take the main landing impact.
   This first monoplane, Type A or Bluebird, was still unfinished when exhibited on Stand No. 82 at the second Olympia Aero Exhibition in March 1910, with a price tag of ?375, and although the critics were kind no customers came forward. The general opinion was that the empennage was too small and, indeed, on its first trials the elevator power was insufficient to prevent the skid digging into the ground when the engine was opened up; but this was countered by reinforcing the axle and moving it 4 inches forward, at the same time adding a small triangular fixed tailplane. Thereafter the rudder was effective for ground steering at 15 mph and the elevator at 20-25 mph; but it was not until 26 May, 1910, that Handley Page became airborne, only to sideslip into the ground on his first attempt to turn across wind. This indicated the need for positive lateral control to correct overbanking, so during reconstruction Handley Page incorporated wing warping and enlarged the rudder. The single top kingpost was replaced by a twin-strut pylon; the axle was shortened and further reinforced, and the temperamental Advance was replaced by a 25 hp Alvaston flat-twin water-cooled engine driving a heavy square-tipped airscrew; a rectangular multitube radiator was mounted above the engine edge-on to the slipstream and slightly to the left of the centreline so as not to interfere with the pilot’s view. But the Bluebird, thus modified and now known as Type C, refused to fly in spite of its more powerful engine; so Handley Page next installed a 50 hp Isaacson five-cylinder air-cooled radial, which necessitated further strengthening of the fuselage front-end and chassis, the outer ends of the axle being braced to the upper longerons by struts incorporating rubber-cord shock-absorbers. This was completed late in 1910, by which time Handley Page had begun work on a new monoplane, Type D, so the modified Bluebird was set aside, eventually reappearing in the Northampton Polytechnic Institute’s aeronautical laboratory at Clerkenwell, as an instructional airframe.

Monoplane A (20 hp Advance)
   Span 32 ft 6 in (9-9 m); length 20 ft 6 in (6-25 m); wing area 150 sq ft (13-9 m2). Empty weight 300 lb (136 kg); loaded weight 450 lb (204 kg). Speed 35 mph (56 km/h). Pilot only.

Monoplane C (25 hp Alvaston)
   Span 30 ft (9-15 m); length 21 ft (6-4 m); wing area 150 sq ft (13-9 m2). Empty weight 250 lb (113 kg); loaded weight 450 lb (204 kg). Speed 35 mph (56 km/h). Pilot only.
Bluebird after addition of tailplane in May 1910.
Frederick Handley Page in Bluebird in April 1910.
Bluebird rebuilt as Type C in 1910 with Alvaston engine, with wings of Type D in background.
Early Biplanes B, G, K, L, M and N (H.P.2, 7, 8, 9 and 10)

   The first biplane made by Handley Page was not of his own design, although he contributed a very substantial amount of alteration before it became a practical proposition, and so acquired the company designation of Type B. It was the invention (rather than design) of a Liverpool patent agent, W. P. Thompson, who had registered several ingenious methods of adjusting wing area and centre of gravity position as a means of control and manoeuvre. Unfortunately he had no idea of economy in structure weight and proposed to use tubular frameworks with ordinary plumber’s screwed joints. He took out six aeronautical patents of no real merit between 1893 and 1908 and had evolved a biplane layout with both pilot and engine below the wing to ensure ‘pendulum stability’. He met Handley Page in 1909 and commissioned a prototype, which was built at Barking as a biplane of orthodox spruce and fabric construction; much of the work was done by Thompson’s assistant Robert Fenwick, who was very much more aware of the problems and pitfalls than his employer, and insisted on having long tail booms carrying a biplane elevator and a pair of rudders. Type B was completed in October 1909 and originally had two propellers mounted level with the lower wing and chain-driven by a 60 hp Green engine installed below the wing, with the pilot seated ahead of the engine. The undercarriage comprised a pair of main landing wheels under the wing on either side of the pilot’s seat, small outrigger wheels under the wing-tips, and a tailskid. Fenwick attempted a flight at Barking, but almost at once the main wheels buckled, and while repairs were in progress the factory shed was partly demolished by a gale, causing further damage. Handley Page considered Type B to be a failure and not worth repairing, but allowed Fenwick to rebuilt it at Thompson’s expense, and in spite of its derisory nickname of ‘The Scrapheap’ Fenwick succeeded in making good most of the damage during the spring and summer of 1910, finally sending it by rail to Freshfield, Lancashire, where Thompson had equipped a flying ground and registered his enterprise as Planes Limited. Before completion, Fenwick added ailerons and improved the tail unit; he also discarded the chain-driven twin propellers in favour of a single one direct-coupled to the engine. On 29 November, 1910, Fenwick was rewarded for his efforts by calm weather in which he succeeded in flying far enough and high enough to qualify for Royal Aero Club certificate No. 35. A few days later, when the weather broke, he crashed, but the machine was once more repaired and eventually flown from the sands at Formby; but by this time its origin had been forgotten and Handley Page was glad to forget it.
Type B at Barking in October 1909.
Early Single-Seat Monoplanes A, C and D (H.P.1, 3 and 4)

   Type D was designed specifically for the 1911 Olympia Aero Show and work on it began at Barking in October 1910. Robert Fenwick assisted Handley Page with it, and probably designed the fuselage, which was a mahogany semi-monocoque, planked like a carvel boat. Type D resembled Type C, but had a lengthened skid to support the tail, also a divided rudder and single elevator hinged to an integral tailplane. The pilot’s controls comprised a handwheel for warping, mounted on a fore-and-aft lever for the elevator and a foot tiller-bar for the rudder; his instruments comprised fuel and oil tank pressure gauges, an aneroid altimeter and, optimistically, a compass, but no airspeed indicator. For the show, Handley Page had borrowed a 35 hp Green four-cylinder vertical water-cooled engine, installed in the nose with tubular radiators below on each flank; the aeroplane was offered for sale at ?450 with free flying lessons for the buyer, and was extremely well-finished, but there were no takers. Having to return the Green engine when the show ended, Handley Page had only the 50 hp Isaacson from Type C available, and found it impossible to mount this on the monocoque fuselage, so he had to build a new fabric-covered fuselage; in fact he built a second complete Type D airframe, but kept the wings and tail unit in reserve as spares. On completion, Type D was entered in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race to be held on 22 July, 1911, with Fenwick as pilot; but he crashed it in landing after its first flight at Fairlop on 15 July and Handley Page, incensed, sacked him on the spot. Type D was quite easily repaired, using the spare components, though not in time for the race, and in due course re-emerged from Barking works with its wings and tail varnished yellow and all its metal fittings coated with anti-rust paint; Handley Page’s new pilot, Edward Petre, named it The Antiseptic, although it was also known in the works as the Yellow Peril, after the current nickname for Gold Flake cigarettes. Petre flew it several times at Fairlop, but by this time Handley Page had received the results of further wind-tunnel work by Rupert Turnbull on reflexed aerofoils, and had improved on the original Weiss wing shape sufficiently to attempt a passenger-carrying monoplane, which was more likely to appeal than a single-seater.

Monoplane D (35 hp Green)
   Span 32 ft (9-76 m); length 22 ft (6-71 m); wing area 156 sq ft (14-5 m2). Empty weight 420 lb (190 kg); loaded weight 600 lb (272 kg). Speed 40 mph (64 km/h).

Monoplane D (50 hp Isaacson)
   Empty weight 440 lb (199 kg); loaded weight 620 lb (281 kg). Speed 50 mph (80 km/h). Pilot only.
HP Type D (HP4) was at Olympia in March 1911 with Green engine.
Close-up of Type D at Olympia in April 1911.
Bluebird rebuilt as Type C in 1910 with Alvaston engine, with wings of Type D in background.
Type D
Early Two-Seat Monoplanes E, F and H (H.P.5 and 6)

   With Edward Petre’s unflagging energy and enthusiasm in the Barking factory, and a wind-tunnel readily available at the Northampton Institute, Handley Page made quick progress with the design of a tandem two-seat monoplane, Type E, hoping that it might be suitable for the Army aeroplane competition promoted by the War Office in the closing weeks of 1911; but when the proposed rules were announced, he declared the specified gliding angle (even if capable of being measured in actual flight) to be unattainable and the prize money much too small to compensate for the effort entailed. Then the stock of the Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd, including several 50 hp and 70 hp Gnome engines with spares, came on to the market and Handley Page snapped it up at a bargain price; having taken his pick and sold the remainder at a fair profit to George Holt Thomas, Handley Page was left with an ample supply of new materials and decided to complete Type E as a demonstration machine and to build an improved monoplane to match the War Office specification as closely as possible; to assist with the latter he enlisted the aid of Edward Petre’s elder brother Henry. The best of the ex-ASL 50 hp Gnomes was installed in Type E on completion in April, and on the 26th Edward Petre flew it for several straight hops at Fairlop. Before long he was flying circuits and by the end of June was confident enough to fly six miles across country to the Barking works; considerable damage resulted in the unavoidably difficult landing on rough ground, but the engine was unharmed and the machine was improved during the necessary rebuilding. As soon as repairs were completed, Petre’s qualifying flights for a Royal Aero Club certificate (No.259) were officially observed at Fairlop by Tom O’Brien Hubbard and C. G. Grey on 24 July. On 27 July he flew Type E from Fairlop to Brooklands via Rainham and along the course of the Thames to Kew; this was the only legal route across London since flying over built-up areas was prohibited, and his time for this tortuous passage of 55 miles was 50 minutes, in gusty weather but helped along by an easterly wind.
   As it first appeared at Brooklands, Type E was a handsome monoplane, similar to Type D (as rebuilt) but more robust. The two-spar crescent wings had extended flexible trailing edges near the wing-tips, somewhat in the Etrich style, and the fuselage was basically a rectangular frame of four ash longerons, tapering to a vertical wedge at the tail and extended below by a deep curved keel to form a deep belly of triangular section; it was wire-braced and fabric-covered, being faired by decking and stringers to a more or less streamline form. The cabane structure comprised two inverted V-struts rising from the wing spar root fittings and joined above the centreline by a horizontal tie-rod; at the outer ends of the rear spar, the wing was braced by kingposts to restrict spanwise flexure, leaving the wing-tips to twist in response to the warp control. The small rear cockpit was occupied by the passenger, while the pilot in the larger front cockpit had the same type of handwheel and central control column as in Type D. The original grey rubberised fabric had been replaced during rebuilding by linen tautened and proofed by cellulose nitrate dope, and smartly finished in yellow varnish for the wings and tail, and blue varnish for the fuselage, specially produced by Jenson & Nicholson Ltd whom Handley Page had encouraged to experiment with cellulose lacquers after their success in producing ‘Robbialac’ enamels for bicycles and automobiles. At Brooklands it quickly acquired Type D’s earlier soubriquet Yellow Peril which pleased Handley Page but has often confused latter-day historians. The tail surfaces consisted of a slender triangular tailplane with divided semi-elliptic elevators and a rudder of similar shape, with a long narrow fixed fin above the tailplane. The sturdy landing gear comprised a central skid and two wheels carried on centre-hinged swing-axles and spring-loaded telescopic struts, together with a long resilient tailskid. In front of the pilot’s cockpit and under the decking behind the engine mounting plate were installed side by side a pair of cylindrical tanks, for petrol to starboard and oil to port, each having a vertical sight glass in the rear end; the petrol tank was pressurised by air from a handpump at the pilot’s right hand, near the magneto switch; the only instruments were an engine tachometer in the centre dash panel between the tank ends and a petrol feed air-pressure gauge on the port side. The engine was carried on an overhung mounting and enclosed above in a partial cowl whose function was primarily to prevent oil being thrown back on to the pilot’s goggles.
   Type E remained at Brooklands during August while the military trials on Salisbury Plain claimed a temporary diversion of interest, and during this period Handley Page moved his factory from Barking to Cricklewood, with a flight hangar at Hendon, to which Type E should have been flown on 28 September to join a review by Major Carden, RE; but Petre was indisposed and on 5 October Lieutenant Wilfred Parke, RN, ferried it across from Brooklands to Hendon and was so well pleased that he continued flying it next day for some hours, taking up several passengers including Mrs de Beauvoir Stocks and Eric Clift, the latter having installed a compass of his own design. On the following Sunday, 13 October, Parke took up a dozen passengers, including Robert Blackburn and the Hendon aerodrome manager Richard Gates; then he took up two children (a total live load of 367 lb) for 20 minutes and finally flew to Brooklands with Mr Nicholson of Jenson & Nicholson, before returning to Hendon; during these two weekends at Hendon, Parke had carried 28 passengers. He flew it again on 20 October, making a careful assessment of its handling and stability, and Handley Page invited several other pilots to sample it, but on 31 October one of them, Desmond Arthur, flew too low and scraped the railings, breaking the airscrew, one wing-tip and one landing wheel.
   During repairs at Cricklewood, a revised fin of triangular shape was fitted and Type E’s first flight in this form was made by Sydney Pickles on 1 February, 1913, and after several circuits he reported a distinct improvement in its flying qualities. Next day Pickles was up at dawn taking up three passengers for short joy-rides, before setting out with Cyril Meredith, newly appointed works manager, to fly to Barking. Although the wind had risen to 20 mph at ground level, they made a start, but found half a gale higher up, blowing from the southeast, and after 30 minutes in the air had only succeeded in reaching Sudbury, a mere five miles from Hendon and in the wrong direction; so they abandoned their journey and returned to their starting point in six minutes; this was a striking demonstration of the value of automatic stability in rough weather. Type E then returned to the works to be cleaned up for exhibition at the 1913 Olympia Aero Show which opened on 14 February. A Stolz Electrophone, for communication between pilot and passenger, was installed and this was favourably noted by King George V when he visited stand No. 54 after declaring the show open. The Handley Page show brochure was decorated on its front cover with a perspective outline sketch of Type E - the first drawing made by George Volkert at Cricklewood, but he immediately followed this up with a scheme to convert the lateral control from warping to ailerons. As soon as this design was complete, a new pair of wings with ailerons was made and these were fitted during April; on 1 May Type E was flown for 45 minutes by the firm’s newly appointed staff pilot Ronald Whitehouse, who reported that the ailerons had cured the former tendency to roll from side to side in level flight. On 10 May Pickles flew it again, via Brooklands and Farnborough, to take part in exhibition flights at Winchester polo ground, returning on the 17th in time for the Hendon race meeting, in which he flew in the 16 miles cross-country handicap, followed by Whitehouse in the speed handicap. On the 25th Whitehouse burst a tyre while landing, without any damage, and on the following Sunday he took up his mother for her first flight, which she much enjoyed.
   A fortnight later Whitehouse began a series of exhibition flights in provincial towns, starting with Buxton, Leicester and Mansfield, moving onto Lincoln for a week, then into Yorkshire to Hull and Beverley. Most of these four-day programmes included races and more or less spectacular stunts, such as bombing with flour-bags. Unrehearsed incidents were inevitable and at Hull Whitehouse was forbidden to fly within the city boundary on Sunday 13 July, the Mayor having invoked the Lord’s Day Observance Act of 1625, with the support of the Wesleyan mission and the Hull Education Committee; on the previous evening Whitehouse had decided to defy the ban, but then, as if by divine intervention, had taxied into a watery ditch, breaking the skid and airscrew; he wired urgently to Hendon for spares, which arrived by train next morning after he had worked all night stripping the damage, and by Sunday evening he was airborne once more, to the cheers of 7,000 Sabbath-breakers, some half of whom had had their names taken by the police; however, on finding that the display had taken place outside the city limits, the Hull magistrates declined to issue summonses, and were perhaps swayed by the legal argument that, under a much earlier Act, a monoplane might be held to be an arrow, which made the assembly a perfectly lawful archery practice. Whitehouse’s effort was indeed exceptional, for the engine had been entirely submerged for over four hours during initial salvage; in return his admirers in Hull presented him with a purse of gold sovereigns. After four days at Hull, he continued his tour and concluded with four days at Burton-on-Trent over the August Bank Holiday week-end. He then flew Type E back to Hendon, where Handley Page reluctantly prepared to fly it himself in consequence of his ill-advised wager with Noel Pemberton Billing on 17 September, but was fortunately relieved of this trial by ordeal by Pemberton Billing’s early success.
   By this time Type E had carried several hundred passengers and had flown several thousand miles across country, so was due for a major overhaul. With his new Type G biplane nearing completion, Handley Page agreed to make Type E available to George Beatty, who had just inaugurated a flying school at Hendon, with Edouard Baumann as assistant chief instructor. For this purpose it was converted into a single-seater with the rear cockpit deleted and the cabane modified to a pyramid structure; at the same time the original landing gear was replaced by a twin-skid cross-axle chassis of B.E.2 pattern; some time earlier a simplified rubber-sprung tailskid had been fitted. Intended for use by advanced pupils who had gone solo, Type E was first flown as a single-seater on 4 July, 1914, by Baumann and a week later his best pupil Ruffy began flying it solo, but with the outbreak of war in August it was requisitioned, only to be rejected as unfit for Service use, although its engine was retained. After being returned to Cricklewood it was stored for many years, being brought out in July 1919 to take part in the ‘Victory Parade’ which celebrated the signing of the Versailles Treaty, and later again at the official opening of Radlett aerodrome by Prince George in July 1930. Thereafter it hung in the rafters above ‘Archdale Alley’ until 1940 as one of Handley Page’s most cherished relics; then works manager James Hamilton, urgently needing more space, unwarily consigned it to the incinerator without the owner’s knowledge (and had his knuckles rapped later), but it had already become so decrepit that continued preservation would have been difficult.

E/50 (50 hp Gnome)
   Span 42 ft 6 in (12-9 m); length 28 ft 2 in (8-6 m); wing area 240 sq ft (22-3 m2). Empty weight 800 lb (363 kg); loaded weight 1,300 lb (590 kg). Speed 60 mph (96 km/h); endurance 3 hr. Pilot and passenger (tandem). (Length after rebuild as single-seater 27 ft (8-23 m)).
Ronald Whitehouse taking off in Yellow Peril.
Ronald Whitehouse in Yellow Peril at Hendon in August 1913.
HP Type E (HP5) in 1913 with modified fin and ailerons instead of warping.
Yellow Peril in the Beatty Flying School at Hendon after conversion to single-seater in 1914.
G.R.Volkert's original general arrangement drawing of E/50 with ailerons
Early Two-Seat Monoplanes E, F and H (H.P.5 and 6)

   In contrast to Type E, the contemporary military trials monoplane, Type F, was short-lived and unlucky from the beginning. Technically, it was an advance on Type E and followed closely the requirements of the War Office specification in respect of good view and protection for pilot and observer, who sat side by side in a deep commodious cockpit, with unobstructed all round vision in the upper hemisphere and additional downward view through the ‘Cellon’ covered entry hatch alongside the observer in the port seat. The 70 hp Gnome rotary engine was fully enclosed, for silence, in the streamlined nose, with central air entry around the airscrew boss and exhaust and air exit diffused through multiple slots in the under belly. The crescent wing, with warp control, was very stiff from root to a kingpost at 60 per cent of the semispan and braced by stranded steel cables to a cabane of regular pyramid shape, formed by two triangular frames hinged to the upper longerons alongside the cockpit and joined at the apex by a pair of 5/8 inch bolts; thus the wings could be quickly assembled and their cables tensioned simply by bolting up the two halves of the cabane. The front spar was 10 inches deep at the root and the planform of the wing was lenticular without the tip chord extension of Type E. The rudder was polygonal, without a fixed fin, and the large tailplane, nearly semicircular in plan, carried small separate elevators. The fuselage had flat sides and was faired above and below to give minimum drag. The very robust landing gear had swing axles and telescopic spring struts as in Type E and the long central skid was intended to support the tail while taxying, but it was found necessary to add a tailskid of crossed rattan hoops in the early Bleriot style. The pilot’s instruments comprised an Elliott airspeed indicator, a tachometer, fuel tank air pressure gauge and a Clift compass. Within the general layout sketched out by Handley Page, the design of Type F was detailed by Henry Petre, who was nominated to fly it in the military trials (No.28), but he distrusted Handley Page’s crescent wing and had a second pair of wings made with equivalent sweepback but straight leading and trailing edges. The machine was the last to be built at Barking, and while Handley Page and Edward Petre were preoccupied with moving to Cricklewood, Henry Petre had the straight wings assembled for the first flight; but Edward warned his brother of the consequences of disagreeing with Handley Page on so important a matter and had the crescent wing reinstated in time to be seen and approved by Handley Page on his next visit. But Henry declined to fly it except with straight wings, so Edward took his place and the monoplane was transported to Larkhill, packed in a crate as specified, almost too late for acceptance.
   There had been no time for a previous test flight and its engine, one of those bought from the Aeronautical Syndicate, was not as well tuned as could have been wished, but on the afternoon of 21 August, 1912, it was brought out of its hangar at Larkhill and flown successfully in very blustery weather, showing the same wallowing tendency as Type E in its pre-aileron days; while taxying back to the hangar, the skid caught a tussock in the turf and the monoplane nearly stood on its nose, but settled back without damage. Next morning Petre brought it out again for a short check flight before starting the official 3-hour endurance test, but the engine misfired after take-off and cut out completely as he turned downwind; he had no other choice than to alight near the Bristol sheds, overrunning almost into the chains surrounding them, finally having to swerve to avoid bystanders; while across wind, a 30 mph gust lifted one wing, smashing the other and the landing gear. So Type F was out of the competition; inspection showed it to be beyond repair on site to fly back to Hendon, so Handley Page had the expense of taking it back by road. New wings and landing gear were manufactured at Cricklewood, and Type F was flown again on 9 November by Wilfred Parke, who had been waiting a month for the opportunity. He liked it so much that he flew it almost daily thereafter, with mounting enthusiasm, and recommended it as a potential scout for naval use. On the 17th he took up W. E. de B. Whitaker of The Aeroplane, and had carried over fifty passengers by the end of the month. On Sunday 24 November, Parke flew it across country to Brooklands with Handley Page’s cousin, Trevor Handley of Southsea, as passenger, but had to land in a ploughed field at Sunbury-on-Thames with a choked petrol pipe; Trevor Handley completed his journey by road, but Parke managed to clear the stoppage and took off solo, arriving at Brooklands in time to fly his passenger back to Hendon and thereafter to take up twelve passengers (including Rene Desoutter) for short flights. On the following Saturday, 30 November, Parke again flew to Brooklands, this time with Tony Fletcher, Handley Page’s erstwhile apprentice, now with Martin & Handasyde. Helped by a northeaster gusting to 45 mph at ground level, as measured by the Hendon anemometer, the 23 miles were covered in only 14 minutes, at a ground speed of 99 mph.
   A week later, Parke flew back to Hendon in driving mist with less than one mile visibility, locating the aerodrome from a fleeting glimpse of the Welsh Harp reservoir; on this occasion his passenger was Handley Page’s works manager, A. Arkell Hardwick, and a new tailskid of B.E. pattern had been substituted for the cane hoops. C. G. Grey was at Hendon next day to watch Parke flying Type F in gusty conditions; he noted the effectiveness of the crescent wing in restoring an even keel after repeated upsets, and remarked that the engine sounded very rough, but Parke did not consider this to be serious. On 15 December, with Hardwick once more in the passenger seat, Parke took off from Hendon, intending to fly to Oxford, but the engine was giving much less than its normal power. He gained height slowly, but was only a few hundred feet up at Wembley, when the engine failed completely while crossing a belt of trees; these created a downwash which gave Parke no chance of recovering from the stall and incipient spin caused by the sudden loss of thrust, and both men were killed in the crash. So ended two promising careers and Handley Page’s immediate prospects of supplying scouts for the Royal Navy; the War Office had already imposed a ban on monoplanes and was prepared to purchase from British contractors only biplanes of the Royal Aircraft Factory’s design. The designation H was used, somewhat anomalously, for a projected Type H-70, drawn by H. A. Petre, which appeared to be identical with Type F, and had a 70 hp Gnome (drg. No.542); also for Type H-110, drawn by G. R. Volkert as an improved version of Type E, with a 110 hp Anzani radial and both seats in tandem within a single elongated cockpit, the main fuel tank being moved aft (drg. No. 590); it seems that these were prepared for presentation to the Admiralty on the recommendation of Wilfred Parke.

F/70 (70 hp Gnome)
   Span 43 ft 6 in (13-7 m); length 30 ft 2 in (9-2 m); wing area 250 sq ft (23-2 m2). Empty weight 850 lb (386 kg); loaded weight 1,450 lb (657 kg). Speed 55 mph (88 km/h). Pilot and observer (side by side).
F/70 flying at Hendon on 17 November, 1912.
H.P. Type F
Early Biplanes B, G, K, L, M and N (H.P.2, 7, 8, 9 and 10)

   The second Handley Page biplane resulted from the War Office ban on monoplanes being flown by the Royal Flying Corps, after a spate of accidents in the late summer and autumn of 1912; in consequence the only War Office contracts offered to British manufacturers were for B.E.2a biplanes designed at Farnborough and Handley Page had moved from Barking to Cricklewood in expectation of a substantial share in this programme. He was disappointed to find that only five B.E.2as were required in his first order and exasperated when he tried to buy the small quantities of special high tensile steel required by the Royal Aircraft Factory specification; the large armament and shipbuilding firms like Armstrong Whitworth and Vickers already held ample stocks, but Handley Page resented being charged high prices for small offcuts and refused to accept any further B.E.2a orders unless much larger contracts were offered. Two of the five B.E.2as were delivered after some weeks’ delay in making good the critical shortages and meanwhile Handley Page had engaged George Volkert as chief designer and instructed him to develop a biplane as good as the B.E.2a, but using the materials already at hand and the experience gained with the Type E and F monoplanes; the third B.E.2a was not completed till 1914 and the other two were cancelled. While the new biplane, Type G, was under construction in 1913, the design was shown to a pupil of the Beatty School at Hendon, Rowland Ding, who, with Lindsay Bainbridge and others, had taken over the Lakes Flying Co from Captain Wakefield at Bowness-on-Windermere and restyled it the Northern Aircraft Co; they were expanding their seaplane school and Ding offered to buy Type G on completion provided it could be equipped with floats. Accordingly it was given a twin-skid chassis, but Handley Page persuaded Ding that as a landplane it would be excellently suitable for exhibition flying from public open spaces, where crowds of spectators could be equally dangerous to the aircraft and themselves. Originally intended to have a Green engine of 100 hp. Type G needed only a very short take-off and landing distance, with steep initial climb and approach. It was derived mainly from Type E, having a closely similar fuselage and tail unit; the upper wing was almost the same as Type E’s in its final state with ailerons, while the lower wing was similar to Type F’s wing, but with a smaller aspect ratio. The upper wing was made in two halves butted together at the centre line, while the lower wing was in one piece from tip to tip; the wings were staggered, with spruce interplane struts arranged in 3-bay formation, with the fuselage mounted at mid-gap. Only a single strut could be accommodated at the outboard position because of the taper, and to prevent wing-tip torsion the leading edges were braced to this strut by steel tubes. The twin-skid chassis was robust and carried a straight rubber-sprung cross-axle with two Palmer wheels. The engine actually installed was a 100 hp Anzani ten-cylinder air-cooled radial of less weight than the Green, driving a two-blade Chauviere airscrew with brass-sheathed tips; petrol and oil for 4 hours were carried in tanks on the decking forward of the front cockpit, which was roomy enough for two passengers on a short joy-ride. As in the B.E.2a, the pilot occupied the rear cockpit, where he had the usual controls, the aileron handwheel being mounted on an arched frame hinged from the lower longerons, instead of a central column; at first there was no decking between the cockpits.
   In this form it was first flown by Ronald Whitehouse just before dusk on Thursday 6 November, 1913; he began with several slow short straights, then made a circuit and finally invited Cyril Meredith (now Handley Page’s manager in succession to Hardwick) into the front seat for a trip. A further flight was made on Sunday the 9th, when Whitehouse recorded one of the first bird-strikes by decapitating a partridge, which was later retrieved and enjoyed for supper, the metal-clad airscrew being undamaged. By the 26th, he had progressed to flying for over an hour at 3,000 ft, where the motion was so steady that Ding, in the front cockpit, wrote a long letter without difficulty; later the same day he took up Meredith again, and Lindsay Bainbridge, the nominal owner-to-be. Final acceptance tests were made on 12 December, when Whitehouse climbed with two passengers to 3,000 ft at 300 ft/min and cruised at that height for 20 minutes; next, with one passenger and full load, he was timed over a measured course at 70 mph maximum and 35 mph minimum, and the same afternoon he flew across country to Farnborough for official performance measurements. He returned on the 14th via Oxford and Prince’s Risborough, narrowly avoiding the cords of two advertising kites as he came in to land over Colindale Avenue. The only modification suggested by the Royal Aircraft Factory was a small increase in tailplane area, and Handley Page’s predictably perverse reaction was to instruct Whitehouse to fly the biplane with tailplane and fin removed altogether, to show that the crescent wing with reflexed trailing edge made fixed tail surfaces unnecessary for stability.
   During February and March various improvements were incorporated, including increased tailplane and reduced fin area; decking was added between the cockpits, and the outer leading edge bracing tubes, which vibrated in flight, were shortened to form braces at the top and bottom of the outer struts; a Garuda airscrew replaced the original heavy Chauviere since the metal sheathing was only necessary on a seaplane. Whitehouse flew Type G to check these modifications at Hendon on 23 April and again with Ding as passenger two days later; then Ding (who had gained Royal Aero Club certificate No.774 two days previously) took formal delivery on the 29th and flew across country to Ealing and back. Repeating this trip on 2 May, he landed heavily and broke the twin-skid landing gear, which was remade as a simpler V-type, a silencer being fitted to the somewhat noisy twin exhausts at the same time. These repairs were finished on 17 May and on the 21st Ding was asked to fly Princess Ludwig of Lowenstein-Wertheim (formerly Lady Ann Savile, a well-known society sportswoman) from Hendon to Paris; they ran into fog which grounded them, off course, at Eastbourne for six hours; taking off again when it cleared, they reached Dover just after 4 p.m. and Calais 15 minutes later; there the Princess decided to continue to Paris by train, while Ding put up in Calais for the night and flew back to Hendon in the morning. Although no time had been saved, because of the weather, the Princess was delighted with air travel and forthwith enrolled as a pupil at the Beatty School of Flying at Hendon.
   Satisfied with his new biplane, Ding began his first barnstorming tour on 26 May by flying to Lansdown racecourse at Bath to give displays during Whit-week. He should have returned to Hendon on 6 June to compete in the Aerial Derby, for which he was entered as No. 8, but trade at Lansdown was so prosperous that he stayed there and so escaped the fog which ruined the race round London, though he encountered it a few days later over the Cotswolds on his way north to Yorkshire, where his next engagements were booked. Flying almost blind on a compass course, with one cylinder misfiring, he groped his way at a steady 35 mph until further progress was impossible; then he ‘felt’ his way down into a barley field near Stroud without damage. When the mist cleared, he found he had settled on the only level open space in several miles of thick woodland and steep grassy slopes. During June and July he toured Yorkshire, giving displays at fairs and garden fetes and taking his wife and six-year-old daughter as passengers from point to point; in the two months after leaving Hendon he flew 10,000 miles and took up 200 passengers, 78 of them at Harrogate, where he operated from The Stray with spectators thronging round the machine in large numbers. On 21 July he moved on to Gosforth Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, staying there nearly a week; on the 27th he started his return southwards too late to reach Northallerton, his intended goal, so he had to land in darkness at Willington, Co Durham, completing the stage next morning. He always made full use of the biplane’s short take-off and landing capabilities, but in the Northallerton carnival on 29 July his chassis hit an obstruction while landing with a passenger; no one was hurt, but the machine nosed over and had to go back by rail to Hendon for repairs. While these were in progress, war began with Germany, and Hendon aerodrome was commandeered for the Royal Naval Air Service; Type G was requisitioned and emerged resplendent in clear-doped linen, with a Union Jack and serial number 892 painted on each side of the rudder, to be pressed into service as a trainer, but its resemblance to the much publicised Etrich Taube frequently drew the fire of trigger-happy Territorials; because of this hazard it was further marked with red circles on the wings, which became the standard marking for RNAS aircraft for a few months, till superseded by the well-known tri-colour roundels and rudder stripes. It was flown regularly from November onwards by F. Warren Merriam, who was chief instructor of the RNAS flying school at Hendon. During its rebuilding, it had been given a longer belly fairing, which much improved its appearance and performance, but on 2 January, 1915, the engine failed and in the ensuing forced landing it collided with a parked Avro, breaking several wing struts. Repaired once more, it was flown by Merriam early in May and remained in use at Hendon for both training and anti-Zeppelin patrol; for the latter warlike purpose the pilot was issued with a Service revolver, but never had occasion to use it. In June it accompanied the RNAS school to its new base at Chingford, but soon after arrival 892 crashed again, and was finally written off in August. By then, its legal owner Lindsay Bainbridge had been killed and it is believed that Rowland Ding, to whom he bequeathed it, was allowed to reclaim the Anzani engine for use in the Blackburn Land/Sea monoplane, which he began flying at Bowness-on-Windermere in October.
   From Type G was derived the third Handley Page biplane, designated K/35, a small single-seater, with a 35 hp Y-type Anzani engine. Intended for solo pupils of the Beatty and similar schools, it was designed by Volkert in December 1913. Initially all the wing and tail surfaces followed the planforms of Type G closely, from which it was scaled down by a factor of 3/4, resulting in an upper wing span of 30 ft and total wing area of 225 sq ft. In January 1914 the tail unit was redesigned on the lines of the B.E.2a and the landing gear was also revised, but construction of Type K was postponed to allow Type G to be developed and repaired, and finally discarded in favour of the fourth Handley Page biplane design, L/200, a much more ambitious project intended to compete for the Daily Mail's ?10,000 prize for the first direct nonstop flight across the Atlantic. This machine was built during the summer of 1914 to the order of Princess Ludwig of Lowenstein-Wertheim, who proposed to accompany Rowland Ding as co-pilot on the flight. It seems to have been derived directly from K/35 by doubling its linear dimensions to give a span of 60 ft and wing area of 900 sq ft; its well-streamlined fuselage contained tanks for 350 gallons of petrol, with 35 gallons of oil and equivalent water, and the crew occupied side-by-side seats with dual controls in an enclosed cabin, which contained a third seat as a rest station. The chosen engine was a 200 hp Canton-Unne water-cooled radial built by Salmson, but this had not been delivered before war broke out; when it did arrive from France, it was promptly requisitioned by the Admiralty and so the L/200, though virtually complete, remained unassembled and was never flown. Handley Page offered it to the Admiralty as a potential coastal patrol aeroplane or seaplane, in which two extra seats could be accommodated by reducing the fuel capacity to 120 gallons. L/200 was estimated to be able to fly at 80 mph for 23 hours and to have a minimum safe speed of 43 mph; it was priced at ?2,750.
   On 10 August, 1914, when it was known that all 200 hp engines had been commandeered by the Admiralty, Handley Page offered to install two 100 hp engines in the wings; then he tendered on 24 August, a version with two similar engines in the nose, at ?2,300 on wheels or ?2,750 on floats. Type M/200 and its seaplane variant MS/200 were staggered biplanes with straight wings of 70 ft span and two water-cooled 95 hp Salmson radial engines mounted coaxially nose to nose, with chain-drive to a wing-mounted outboard tractor airscrew on each side of the fuselage. No drawings or photographs of the L/200 have survived, as they were searched for without success in February 1920, when they were needed as evidence in support of Handley Page’s claim for compensation before the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors in respect of Crown user of the Handley Page O and V type aeroplanes. The M/200 and MS/200 drawings only came to light in recent years when the archives relating to this claim were searched. Type N/80 was a proposed side-by-side scout biplane derived from K/35, having the same crescent wings with a parallel centre section inserted; it was intended to have an 80 hp Gnome engine but the design was abandoned incomplete in January 1915. On 3 September, 1914, Captain Murray Sueter had written to Handley Page ‘It is not proposed to order any seaplanes of the designs in question [L & M] at present’, and he declined on 1 February, 1915, to change this view, even though Handley Page offered to assemble the L/200 immediately with straight wings.

G/100 (100 hp Anzani)
   Span 40 ft (12-2 m); length 27 ft (8-23 m) with skids, later 25 ft 1 in (7-65 m); wing area 384 sq ft (36 m2). Empty weight 1,150 lb (521 kg); loaded weight 1,775 lb (805 kg). Speed (max) 73 mph (117 km/h), (min) 35 mph (56 km/h); climb to 3,000 ft (915 m) in 10-5 min; endurance 4 hr. Pilot and one or two passengers.

K/35 (35 hp Anzani)
   Span 30 ft (915 m); length 20 ft 6 in (6-25 m); wing area 225 sq ft (20-9 m2). Empty weight (est) 500 lb (225-5 kg); loaded weight (est) 680 lb (308 kg). Speed (est) 65 mph (104 km/h). Pilot alone.

L/200 (200 hp Salmson)
   Span 60 ft (18-3 m); length 41 ft (12-5 m); wing area 900 sq ft (83-6 m2). Empty weight (est) 2,800 lb (1,270 kg); loaded weight (est) 6,000 lb (2,720 kg). Speed (est cruise) 80 mph (128 km/h), (est min) 43 mph (69 km/h); endurance (est) 23 hr at 80 mph. Two pilots with dual controls.

M/200 and MS/200 (Two 95 hp Salmson)
   Span 70 ft (21-38 m); length 37 ft 6 in (11-45 m); wing area 950 sq ft (88-3 m2). Empty weight (est) 3,000 lb (1,360 kg); loaded weight (est) 5,000lb (2,270 kg). Speed (est) 75 mph (120 km/h). Crew four.

N/80 (80 hp Gnome)
   Span 32 ft 6 in (9-9 m); length 24 ft (7-32 m). Pilot and observer side by side.
G/100 at Hendon in March 1914 with revised outer wing struts and Garuda airscrew.
G/100 with brass-tipped Chauviere airscrew at Hendon in November 1913.
Princess Lowenstein-Wertheim and Rowland Ding in G/100 at Hendon in May 1914, showing silencer and simplified chassis.
Princess Lowenstein-Wertheim and Rowland Ding in G/100 at Hendon in MAy 1914
Crowd surrounding G/100 at the Stray, Harrogate, in July 1914.
O/100 and O/400 (H.P.11 and 12)

   Handley Page Ltd had been in business for five years when hostilities flared up on 4 August, 1914, but its total output - eight aeroplanes of its own design and six more (including three B.E.2as) to customers’ designs - compared unfavourably with nearly 100 turned out by Short Brothers and over 200 by Bristol during the same period, to say nothing of rapidly increasing output from Sopwith and Vickers. The difficulties experienced (and exasperation expressed) over the B.E.2a contract had not endeared Handley Page and the War Office to one another, but nevertheless Handley Page offered the resources of his factory at 110 Cricklewood Lane to both Army and Navy without reservation. An inter-Service struggle for control of all aircraft manufacture having begun, it was to be expected that reluctance by one Service to place contracts would be promptly matched with enthusiasm by the other; so Captain Murray Sueter was quick off the mark in calling Handley Page to a discussion of naval aircraft requirements.
   At the Air Department headquarters above the Admiralty Arch, Handley Page and Volkert displayed drawings of the L/200 and sketches of its proposed twin-engined variants, M/200 and MS/200; but Sueter’s technical adviser, Harris Booth, preferred a very large seaplane for coastal patrol and dockyard defence, capable also of bombing the German High Seas Fleet before it ever left the safety of its anchorage at Kiel, and had already ordered prototypes from J. Samuel White & Co of Cowes. In view of Commander Samson’s urgent call from Flanders for a ‘bloody paralyser’ to hold back the German advance on Antwerp, Handley Page offered to build a land-based machine of this size, and very quickly a specification was drafted, discussed and agreed for a large twin-engined patrol bomber designated Type O, with a span of 114 ft and defined by general arrangement drawing No.628A.1; this specification was issued on 28 December, 1914, as the basis for a contract for four prototypes serialled 1372-1375. It called for two 150 hp Sunbeam engines, 200 gallons of petrol, 30 gallons of oil, a bombsight and six 100 lb bombs, a Rouzet W/T transmitter/receiver and a crew of two, with armour plate to protect all these items from small arms fire from below. Wing loading was not to exceed 5 lb/sq ft, but a top speed of 65 mph and ability to climb to 3,000 ft in 10 minutes were required. The aeroplane, with wings folded, had to be housed in a shed not larger than 70 ft square by 18 ft high and the sole defensive weapon was to be a Lee-Enfield Service rifle with 100 rounds of ammunition. The idea for this imaginative and practical ‘battleplane’ was fully approved and largely inspired by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, whose enthusiasm for flying was a sore trial to his surface-bound colleagues, both naval and parliamentary; its specification was almost completely achieved, only the wing loading and overall height being exceeded in the final result, whose performance and utility in turn greatly exceeded the original requirements.
   Geometrical simplicity was one of the keys to low structure weight, and Handley Page’s crescent wing gave way to an unstaggered straight-edged biplane layout for both mainplane and tail unit. Early in the discussions the problem of wing-folding resulted in the span being reduced to 100 ft, the slight increase in wing loading being offset by the prospect of 200 hp engines being available, but the Admiralty forbade any indication of horsepower in the revised type designation, which became O/100 by reference to the span; a surviving manuscript note from Meredith to Volkert dated 25 January, 1915, and headed ‘0/300’ may indicate the cause of the Admiralty’s concern over nomenclature. The rectangular-section fuselage was straight-tapered from wing to tail, with the top longerons horizontal. Forward of the wing the fuselage was short, with a blunt ‘chin’ surmounted by a glazed cockpit enclosure having a large V-shaped Triplex glass windscreen, rectangular Cellon side windows and a Cellon roof panel with an open hatchway; through this the observer could aim his rifle over a wide field of fire from a standing position almost astride the pilot’s seat, which was an ordinary cane garden chair. A 10-gauge manganese-steel armour plate protected the cockpit floor and the sides had 14-gauge armour-plating up to sill level, this assembly being known in the works as ‘The Bath’. The pilot’s controls comprised a large handwheel for the ailerons mounted on a tubular column rocking fore-and-aft for the elevators, and the usual rudder-bar; the narrow vertical instrument panel obscured very little of the excellent forward view. In designing the control surfaces, great care was taken to relieve the pilot of all unnecessary loads, the ailerons and elevators being aerodynamically balanced by full-chord horns taking in most of the bluntly rounded wing and tailplane tips; there were no ailerons on the lower wings, which were 15 ft shorter than the upper at each tip to give ground clearance when folded, the top overhang being braced by a triangular kingpost above each outer pair of interplane struts. The balanced twin rudders were pivoted between the tailplane rear spars and there was no fixed fin. Volkert preferred rigid tubular trailing edges to Harris Booth’s favourite flexible cord or cable, and restored the aileron area lost in reducing the overall span by locally increasing the chord so that the ailerons extended behind the fixed trailing edge, giving a characteristic planform to the upper wing. The lower wing-tips were at first drawn square, but Harris Booth insisted on rounding them to reduce drag. The two engines rotated in opposite directions to cancel out torque effects and were mounted midway in the gap as close to the fuselage as clearance for 11 ft four-blade airscrews would permit; each nacelle comprised a 100-gallon petrol tank made from 14-gauge armour plate, carried on two groups of steel-tube struts, with the engine bearers cantilevered in front of the tank and a long conical fairing attached at the back; this fairing had originally been blunt, but Harris Booth requested a long pointed tail, which was found to complicate the wing-folding and later shortened again. Each engine had armour plate underneath and at the sides and its radiator was mounted vertically above the petrol tank. In the original design, the undercarriage was of the well-established Farman pattern, with pairs of wheels on short axles tied by rubber cord to short fore-and-aft skids supported by struts directly below the nacelles, so that the weight of the engines and fuel was immediately above the wheels and local offset loading was avoided.
   At Harris Booth’s request, a model of this layout was tested in the National Physical Laboratory wind-tunnel and found generally satisfactory, but detail structural design was more difficult, as Volkert found when he needed to stiffen the ailerons torsionally to take the reverse loading of the horn-balance tips; the solution he adopted was to reduce the horn area forward of the hinge, the resulting square-cut horn balance being found quite adequate; in fact it avoided the severe overbalance encountered by the Royal Aircraft Factory on the original ailerons of the B.E. 12a and F.E.9. The aerofoil section was RAF 6, and the wing was built round two spruce spars of rectangular section, spindled out to I section between strut attachments; the close-pitched ribs, though of light section, were very stiff when assembled. The hollow spruce compression struts between the front and rear spars were made from two spindled out rectangular pieces glued with their hollow faces together, the joints being reinforced lengthways by thin oak tongues (Patent No. 138006). The interplane struts were similar but had nose and tail fairings built on, the whole assembly being wrapped in glued linen tape before final varnishing. For ease of storage and erection, and to avoid using very long spars when Baltic and Scandinavian timber became scarce, the mainplanes were made in nine sections, the upper mainplane comprising the centreplane, two outer planes and two tip extensions, while the lower comprised two half centre planes and two outer planes. The fuselage was manufactured in four separate portions - front, centre, rear and tail - the latter two being permanently assembled with a scarfed and fish-plated joint in each longeron. All longerons and struts were carefully matched in cross-section to the local loads and, where extra thickness was necessary to provide stiffness, the members were built up, like the wing struts, from spindled halves glued together. Joints and strut fittings were fabricated from mild steel plates, ingeniously folded and brazed together, with fretwork holes between lines of maximum stress to save weight; nevertheless they were simple to produce in quantity with semi-skilled labour. To begin with, all internal bracing, and external bracing outside the slipstream, was by stranded cables, which naval artificers knew how to splice, although streamlined wires were required in the tail and centre bays. A sample of every part was weighed and tested to destruction to confirm weight and stress calculations, and numerous detail improvements were made as construction of the four prototypes proceeded, with sufficient lead-time between them to permit progressive refinement.
   On 4 February, 1915, the basic design was substantially agreed by Captain W. L. Elder, including the substitution of new 250 hp Rolls-Royce vee-twelve engines for the original Sunbeams, as their greater power was obtained for less than a proportionate weight increase. On 9 February the contract was amended to cover four prototypes, 1455-1458, and eight production aircraft, 1459-1466. Initially it was intended to carry the bombs horizontally in a rotating cage enclosed in the fuselage, but as soon as the first few bombs had been released the cage became unbalanced and impossible to rotate. So a system of bomb suspension and release was devised which allowed up to sixteen 112-lb bombs to be hung from nose-rings in the same space as eight would have occupied in the cage. Concentration of the bomb load in the fuselage necessitated spanwise distribution of the landing gear, so the original design, with short cross-axles, was replaced by two separate chassis units with the outer wheels under the nacelles and the inner wheels under the longerons, with a clear space between units for the release of bombs. To accommodate the length of shock-absorber cord needed to prevent its extension being limited by the inextensible cotton-braiding, it was wrapped round the spreaders of telescopic struts of the type pioneered by A. V. Roe in the Avro 504, which the revised O/100 chassis resembled in principle; each unit had a vestigial central skid, reduced to a horizontal steel tube, with a braced swing axle on each side of it and a shock absorber strut on the outside of the wheel on each axle; the shock absorbers were faired by sheet metal casings and in production aeroplanes vertical steps were formed in the two innermost fairings to allow a clear path for the bomb tails. The bomb release gears (Handley Page Patent No. 17346 of December 1915) were mounted on four cross-beams in the fuselage above the bomb-cell floor, which was a square grid or ‘honeycomb’ with sixteen spring-loaded flaps separately pushed open by each bomb as it fell; under active service conditions, these flaps soon became worn and were more easily replaced by brown paper glued across the grid openings. Bombs could be dropped singly, in pairs, in salvoes of four, or all together. The revised landing gear, nacelle structure and wing hinges were covered by Patents Nos. 17066, 17067, 132478, 140276 and 144867, all dated December 1915.
   The first prototype, 1455, was finished at Cricklewood during November 1915 and its components were taken to the requisitioned Lamson factory at Kingsbury for final erection; the complete fuselage was joined up at Cricklewood and towed along Edgware Road to Kingsbury by Handley Page personally in his Arrol-Johnston drop-head coupe. Late at night on 9 December two teams of naval ratings wheeled the assembled prototype, with wings folded, out on to the tramlines of Edgware Road; almost at once two tyres burst and had to be replaced; they were of the early beaded- edge pattern and were easily twisted off the rim. The procession restarted and all went well as far as the corner into Colindale Avenue, where the other two tyres burst. Overhead tramwires, telephone wires and gas lamp standards had already been removed on Admiralty orders and there was a reasonably clear passage along Colindale Avenue, but near the Hendon aerodrome entrance by the Silk Stream the way was blocked by trees in several front gardens. Calling for a ladder and a handsaw, Handley Page himself climbed up and removed the offending branches, taking no notice of protests from bedroom windows. None of these unfortunate residents ever claimed damages, but in due course the Gas Light & Coke Company sent Handley Page Ltd a substantial bill for the cost of removing and reinstating their street lamps; blandly Handley Page referred them to the Admiralty, stating that it had been a naval operation, not a commercial one, and eventually Their Lordships paid up. The three-quarter-mile journey had taken five hours and a further week had to be spent in final rigging and engine tuning, but by the morning of 17 December, 1915, there stood at Hendon, ready to fly, an aeroplane whose span was not much less than the total distance covered by Orville Wright’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, twelve years earlier to the day.
   As the first two engines (Rolls-Royce numbers 2 and 3) had no turning gear, the only means of starting them was by pulling the airscrews round by hand; they could not be reached from ground level and it was unsafe to erect scaffolding or ladders close to moving blades, so a double ramp was contrived, which enabled a naval rating to run up one side within reach of the lowest blade and swing it as he passed down the other side. With a team of men it was thus possible to get the engines primed, after which they were started by turning the hand-magneto, provided the sequence was quickly carried out. Shortly before 2 p.m. on 17 December Lt-Cmdr J. T. Babington and Lt-Cmdr E. W. Stedman (formerly of the NPL staff) taxied to the downwind end of Hendon aerodrome, turned ponderously into wind and opened the throttles; to their relief they took off at 50 mph, flew straight and landed well short of the boundary. Overnight a number of slack bracing wires were tightened and next day another take-off was made, but Babington found that acceleration beyond 55 mph was negligible because of excessive drag. Handley Page blamed the large flat honeycomb radiators and Rolls-Royce recommended changing them to vertical tube units mounted on either side of the nacelle. So 1455 had to be grounded for two weeks while work went on night and day throughout the Christmas holiday, being finished in time for a third flight on New Year’s Eve. This time performance was much better and handling could be assessed at up to 65 mph; the ailerons and elevators were found to be heavy though effective, but the rudders were seriously overbalanced and their chord had to be extended 3 inches by strips added at the trailing edges. Control friction was high, particularly in the aileron circuit, and elasticity in the cables allowed random movements of the ailerons and elevators which the pilot had no means of damping out. The aileron controls were much improved by deleting the original internal cable and pulley system and substituting conventional external cables with longer levers on the ailerons. Impatient at the delay caused by these modifications, Murray Sueter ordered Sqn Cmdr A. M. Longmore to ferry the machine to Eastchurch forthwith and on 10 January, 1916, he and Stedman took off from Hendon without waiting for further trials; all went well apart from loss of power in the port engine, due to partial magneto failure, and some windscreen misting. A few days later Longmore began maximum speed tests, but at 70 mph the tail began to vibrate and twist violently, and he had to throttle back and land promptly. On inspection considerable damage was found in the rear fuselage structure, with badly warped longerons locally crushed by strut-ends, bowed struts and all cables slack. Handley Page and Volkert were quickly on the scene and drew up repair schemes for local reinforcement and reduction of the offsets which caused torsional stresses. The bowed struts were stiffened with kingposts and local crushing was eased by means of hardwood facings at the butt-joints. Unfortunately these modifications did nothing to check the tail vibration and a new weak point was found at the attachment of the wings to the bottom longerons, causing the angle of incidence to vary during taxying, so that take-off became impossible. This was cured by replacing the stranded cables in the fuselage by swaged tie-rods of high-tensile steel, and 1455 could then be flown consistently provided its speed did not exceed 75 mph, beyond which tail oscillation began once more. At the request of the Eastchurch pilots, the cockpit enclosure was removed, having already shown signs of collapse, and in the second prototype, 1456, the whole front fuselage was converted to a long tapered nose, with an open cockpit for the two crew members side by side and provision for a gunner’s cockpit in front of them. Deletion of the Triplex windscreen and armour-plate ‘bath’ saved over 500 lb in weight and the new nose was made long enough to keep the c.g. position unchanged, the new bottom longerons being swept up at the same angle as the upper ones were swept down. The new pilot’s position was 12 ft ahead of the wing leading edge, tending to exaggerate his control responses, and this was a further factor to be reckoned with in improving stability. In 1456 the whole nose back to the rear of the pilot’s cockpit was clad with plywood, but in 1457 and subsequent O/100s the plywood area was restricted to the curved part of the nose cockpit, the flat flanks being fabric- covered. Most of the nacelle armour was also discarded, although the weight of the tanks could not be reduced immediately. With a much strengthened fuselage structure incorporating massive reinforcement across the lower wing roots, 1456 was ready to be flown early in April 1916 by Gilford B. Prodger, an American who had come to Hendon a year earlier as chief instructor at the Beatty School and later formed a syndicate with Sydney Pickles and Bernard Isaacs for free-lance test-flying. Handley Page had attributed the tail oscillation to elevator over-balance and on 1456 the elevator horns were cropped square in the same way as the ailerons, so he was gratified when Prodger reported that the first flight up to 75 mph was quite steady. On 23 April, with ten volunteers aboard, Prodger climbed to 10,000 ft in just under 40 min and Handley Page invited the RNAS to witness acceptance trials on 7 May, when he called for sixteen volunteers to emplane and Prodger flew them to 3,000 ft in 8 1/2 min; a few days later Prodger improved on this by lifting twenty Handley Page employees to 7,180 ft, and on 27 May the RNAS took formal delivery and flew 1456 to a new aerodrome at Manston, which was more spacious than Eastchurch. During this flight it was difficult to maintain a compass course and evident that extra fin area was needed to compensate for the longer nose. This was contrived quickly by covering in the panel between the fore and aft inner tailplane struts above the starboard upper longeron. On 30 May high speed tests were begun again, but the tail oscillation recurred at 80 mph and above. Furthermore, there was an elevator ‘kick’ at take-off with full load which started the oscillation at a much lower speed, although this could be avoided by accelerating immediately after 'unstick’ while still in the ground cushion. The machine was still directionally unstable, but an attempt on 19 June to cure this by rigging the rudders with ‘toe-out’ only made matters worse. By this time, the tail oscillation problem had been referred by the Admiralty to the NPL and F. W. Lanchester agreed that the cause could not be simple structural weakness; he suspected dynamic resonance between engine vibration and the fuselage structure, but static tests on the third prototype, 1457, with the engines running at various speeds on the ground, proved negative. 1457 had a very stiff, completely redesigned, fuselage structure and was first flown on 25 June; it had a third crew position amidships, so Lanchester took the opportunity of flying in it with Babington next day, when the trouble began as soon as the speed reached 80 mph. He observed that the tail oscillation, at a frequency of about 4 cycles/second, caused the whole empennage to twist by as much as 15 degrees from the neutral position; he calculated that such a deflection would need a force of more than a ton to be applied at each tailplane tip if produced by a static test - a couple far greater than the pilot could apply through his controls. He deduced that this could only be caused by anti-symmetric movement of the port and starboard halves of the elevators, whose only interconnection was through long springy control cables, which ran separately to fairleads halfway along the rear fuselage; it was, in fact, one of the earliest reported cases of aero-elastic coupling. In R & M 276 Lanchester recommended positive interconnection of the two halves of each elevator; removal of the horn-balance area forward of the hinge-line (as first suggested by Handley Page himself) but retention of the full elevator span; also means for adjusting tailplane incidence during flight and extra bracing wires between both ends of the outer struts and the upper longerons. These measures were completely successful and the Admiralty, which had temporarily regretted having increased the original order from four to twelve in February 1915, had now vindicated its decision on 11 April to order a follow-on batch of twenty-eight (3115-3142) at a price of ?4,375 each, under contract No.CP 69522/15/X.
   The fourth prototype, 1458, the first with a one-piece upper elevator, also had provision for armament, with a Scarff ring at the nose cockpit, two gun-pillars at the mid-upper position and a quadrant mounting to fire under the tail from the rear floor hatch, but was otherwise completed quickly to the same structural standard as 1456 and restricted to training duties. It was also the first to be fitted with 320 hp Rolls-Royce Mark III engines - newly named Eagles - which were installed before delivery from Hendon to Manston on 20 August. In the first twelve O/100s, 1455-1466, initially built with armoured nacelles, the nacelle tail fairings were long and tapered nearly to a point; they were hinged to the rear of the petrol tank and had to be swung inboard when the wings were folded, to clear the outer-plane bracing cables. In the second batch, 3115-3142, these fairings were shortened and blunted to clear the cables and could remain fixed. Wind-tunnel tests at the NPL in July 1916 showed a slight increase of drag with the shortened tail, but also that minimum drag was obtained with the nacelle reversed to point its tail upstream! It had been necessary to add an aerofoil section fuel gravity tank above the engine to avoid air-locks, and from 1461 onwards the total fuel tankage was increased by installing a cylindrical overload tank of 130 gallons in the fuselage above the bomb compartment; this increased range, but the higher take-off weight then necessitated a change in the size of the Palmer tyres from 800 x 150 mm to 900 x200 mm. Early in 1917 a shortage of Rolls-Royce Eagles was threatened and the third O/100 of the second batch, 3117, was built with 320 hp Sunbeam Cossacks, but these were heavier than Eagles for the same nominal power. 3117 was then sent to Farnborough for trials with uprated 260 hp RAF 3a engines after the War Office had staked a cautious claim in February 1916 with contract No. AS. 1198 for twelve O/100s (B8802-B8813) to be built at the Royal Aircraft Factory with these engines.
   On completion of their acceptance trials, 1456 and 1457 remained at Manston as the nucleus of a Handley Page Training Flight formed in September 1916, while 1455 was rebuilt to production standard and 1458 was tested with new nacelles of lower drag and lighter weight. These had frontal honeycomb radiators with vertical shutters and deeper fuel tanks, no longer made of armour plate, giving a capacity of 120 gallons per nacelle or a total overload capacity per aircraft of 370 gallons; alternatively sixteen 112-lb bombs could be carried with the nacelle tanks full. Meanwhile the earlier nacelles were retained in production aircraft up to 3120 as these emerged from Kingsbury to be flown from Hendon to Manston, where they were armed and equipped for issue to RNAS units in France. Initially, the only such unit was the ‘Handley Page Squadron’, commanded by Sqn Cmdr John Babington from August 1916 and assigned to the 3rd Wing at Luxeuil-les-Bains, whence it was intended to raid steel foundries and chemical plants in the Saar valley. Babington himself, with Lieutenant Jones and Sub Lieut Paul Bewsher as crew, flew 1460 to Villacoublay at the end of October, having been preceded by 1459, which continued to Luxeuil according to plan; but Babington had to land in a very small field soon after taking off en route for Luxeuil, the resulting damage being repaired on site after some weeks’ delay. Meanwhile Lieutenant Waller in 1461 had force-landed at Abbeville with engine trouble en route for Villacoublay, but returned to service in December 1916. Only 1459 and 1460 were operated from Luxeuil by the 3rd Wing and the first O/100 action recorded was on the night of 16/17 March. 1917, when Babington in 1460 bombed an enemy-held railway junction southwest of Metz. The next two O/100s, 1462 and 1463, were due to leave Manston for Villacoublay on Christmas Eve 1916, but were delayed by minor engine trouble; on New Year’s Day 1917 they took off once more within 15 minutes of each other, but found unbroken cloud over the Channel. Sub Lieut Sands in 1462 reached Villacoublay by dead reckoning, but Lieutenant Vereker in 1463, with Lieutenant Hibbard and three other crew, went astray because of a compass error and on descending to an altimeter reading of 200 ft could find no break in the cloud, so they climbed back to 6,000 ft where they spent some time trying to fix their position. With fuel running low, they had to come down again and were able to land in clear air after sighting a church spire at an altimeter reading of 500 ft. They left their aircraft to enquire their position, but found too late that they were behind the German lines at Chalandry, near Laon; they hurried back to make an immediate take-off, but were met by an infantry patrol; in fact Vereker had already climbed up the entrance ladder, but was hauled down by the seat of his breeches, so he had no chance to set fire to the machine. Thus 1463 was captured intact, but Vereker refused to fly it again, so it was dismantled for transport to Johannisthal, where it was re-erected after detailed examination. Marked with the German Eisenkreuz, it was paraded with other captured Allied aeroplanes and is reputed to have been flown to 10,000 ft by Manfred von Richthofen at Essen in a demonstration before Kaiser Wilhelm II; but, before its performance could be fully assessed, it crashed after its aileron cables had been inadvertently crossed during maintenance work.
   When the 3rd Wing at Luxeuil was disbanded to provide urgently needed reinforcements for the Royal Flying Corps on 30 June, 1917,1459 and 1460 were sent to join the 5th Wing at Coudekerque, whence daylight raids were made daily along the Belgian coast against U-boat bases at Bruges, Zeebrugge and Ostende, and later against other targets such as the long- range heavy shore batteries emplaced by the Germans along the dunes from Westende and Middelkerke to the Dutch frontier at Sluys. The first unit to operate at full strength was No.7 Squadron RNAS formed by combining O/100s from Luxeuil and Manston with the Short bombers remaining in ‘B’ Squadron of the 4th Wing after its Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters had been transferred to the RFC. On 25 April four O/100s bombed and sank a German destroyer and damaged another, but 3115 was shot down into the sea off Nieuport and three of its crew of four were captured. After this, daylight sorties by O/100s were suspended and all efforts were concentrated against the docks at Bruges and the Zeebrugge canal where U-boats were repaired and revictualled. At first only moonlight raids were possible, the first being on 9 May, but by September night-flying training had so improved that only the worst weather prevented operations every night. The submarine pens, like the shore batteries, were strongly protected with concrete and progressively heavier bombs were needed to make any impression; apart from the Short 184 seaplanes of the Dover Patrol, only the O/100 could effectively carry the 520 lb ‘light case’ and 550 lb ‘heavy case’ bombs developed for these targets. On 28 July the 5th Wing was strengthened by the formation of No.7A Squadron at Coudekerque, which later became No. 14 Squadron and was trained exclusively for night bombing. It took over several of No.7’s earlier aircraft, including 1459, 1461 and 1462, as these were replaced from the second production batch, including 3116, 3118, 3123, 3125 and 3127. In September one flight of four O/100s from No. 7 was detached to Redcar to protect shipping entering and leaving the Hartlepools, where U-boats had been active inshore; on 21 September Flt Lieut Lance Sieveking (later well known in broadcasting) in 3123 dropped four bombs on a U-boat lying on the sea-bed, without apparent result; the flight remained at Redcar till 2 October, when it moved to Manston. Several of the O/l00s in use at this time had Scarff rings amidships and in all of them the nose Scarff ring was mounted below the level of the pilot’s cockpit.
   In the spring of 1917 the Admiralty decided to conduct operational trials with the six-pounder Davis gun against the growing menace of inshore enemy submarines; this was a single-shot double-ended recoilless weapon, firing an explosive shell from the ‘active’ barrel and a dispersible fragmented charge of equal mass (a mixture of lead shot and vaseline) from the ‘recoil’ barrel; it was breech-loaded in the middle and electrically fired, being normally aimed at 30 to 60 degrees below horizontal to avoid damage to the aircraft from the recoil charge; it was mounted on a strong outrigged bracket on the nose, where it was not easy to reload in the air. On 7 September, 1917, 3127 was sent to Redcar with 50 rounds of ammunition, after earlier firing tests at Manston, using a prototype mounting bracket made by the Admiralty workshops at Battersea; blast damage to the upper wing had resulted at first from the recoil charge and had been overcome in July by raising the mounting and nose cockpit rim by 8 inches. In August, the same modification was applied to 1459, 1461 and 1462 and six-pounder Davis guns were fitted in them for urgent use at Coudekerque, but in December Dunkirk reported that the installation was not a success and in February 1918 the four guns and unspent residue of 500 rounds were withdrawn from service. Meanwhile the raised cockpit rim became a production modification from 3131 onwards (having also been fitted to 3124) and continued as a standard feature until the spring of 1918.
   Early in 1917 the Dardanelles campaign had reached stalemate and Commodore Murray Sueter, transferred to the Mediterranean, called for a heavy long-range bomber to attack the enemy cruisers Goeben and Breslau, which had entered the Bosphorus soon after the declaration of war with Turkey in 1914. At first Sueter’s request was for a floatplane conversion of the O/100, because so much of the route from Mudros to Constantinople lay over water, but Handley Page resisted this proposal, and Sueter then ordered Handley Page to design and build folding wings for two Porte F.3 flying-boats, to be allotted serials N62 and N63 under contract No.AS. 17562. The wing design was completed and paid for, but construction was cancelled on 10 December, 1917; the designation Type T given to this project was also cancelled, as was Type S allotted to the O/100 seaplane. In May 1917 Sueter decided to divert 3124 from its intended Davis gun trials for urgent use by the 2nd Wing at Mudros against Goeben and Breslau, which would seriously threaten shipping in the Mediterranean if they could escape from the Dardanelles. On 22 May, 3124, fresh from the Cricklewood production line and specially equipped at Hendon, was flown to Manston and left next day for Mudros in a 2,000-mile dash via Villacoublay, Lyons, Frejus, Pisa, Rome (Centocelle), Naples, Otranto and Salonika in a flying time of 55 hours. Mudros was reached on 8 June and the crew comprised Sqn Cmdr Kenneth Savory DSC, Flt Lieut H. McClelland, Lieutenant P. T. Rawlings, Chief Petty Officer Adams and Leading Mechanic Cromack; in addition to hammocks and other personal gear, they carried a full set of aircraft spares including a stripped-down engine and two airscrews; the latter, being four-bladers, would not go inside the fuselage and had to be lashed on top of it. They made good progress to Otranto, where they found a collection of spares urgently needed at Mudros, so these were taken on board too, but the take-off weight then exceeded tons and Savory was unable to climb high enough to cross the 8,000 ft Albanian mountains. After two attempts to surmount this inhospitable terrain, Savory was compelled to offload the additional spares at Otranto and, after installing the spare airscrews in place of the original ones, succeeded in reaching Salonika at the third attempt, although the radiators froze and the crew were in danger from rifle shots from Albanian marksmen. The final stage to Mudros was uneventful and, but for the abortive starts and returns at Otranto, the flying time would have been only 31 hours. After thorough servicing at Mudros, Savory made two attempts to bomb Constantinople, on 3 and 8 July, both failing because of headwinds which compelled returns to base after reaching the Sea of Marmora, although other targets were bombed en route. On 9 July a third attempt succeeded, Constantinople being reached after a flight of 3 1/4 hours; arriving just after midnight, Savory circled over the city for half an hour at 1,000 ft, dropping eight 112-lb bombs on the Goeben in Stenia Bay, two more on the steamer General (being used as the German headquarters) and the last two on the Turkish War Office. In spite of a broken oil pipe which compelled him to shut down one engine on the homeward flight, Savory brought 3124 safely back to Mudros at 3.40 a.m. and was awarded a Bar to his DSC for the exploit. On 6 August 3124 bombed Panderma and for the rest of the month flew anti-submarine patrols in the Aegean, then on 2 September attacked Adrianople railway station with success; finally on 30 September Flt Lieut Jack Alcock, with Sub Lieuts S. J. Wise and H. Aird as crew, took off to bomb railway yards near Constantinople, but after 1 1/2 hours they were met by anti-aircraft fire and one engine failed from a broken oil-pipe; in the attempt to return to Mudros they were forced to ditch in the Gulf of Xeros near Suvla Bay and, although 3124 floated for over two hours, they were not seen and eventually had to swim ashore, finally reaching Constantinople as prisoners of war.

O/100 (Two Rolls-Royce Eagle II or IV or two Sunbeam Cossack)
   Span 100 ft (30-5 m); length 62 ft 10 in (19-2 m); wing area 1,648 sq ft (153 m2). Empty weight 8,000 lb (3,630 kg); maximum weight 14,000 lb (6,350 kg). Speed 76 mph (122 km/h). Crew four.
The first prototype Handley Page O/100, No 1455, at Hendon in December 1915 at about the time of its maiden flight; note the enclosed crew cabin and the vertical radiators above the engine nacelles.
View of 1455 at Hendon in December 1915, showing original radiators and enclosed cockpit, taken by the late H.R.Busteed.
Handley Page and Lieut Commander J. T. Babington in the cockpit of 1456.
1456 at Manston in May 1916.
1457 at Hendon in June 1916, showing aft crew station and elevators with fabric removed from horn balance.
Engine runs at Cricklewood on 1458 with new nacelles in September 1916.
1458 at Manston in October 1916.
3119 at Cricklewood in April 1917.
3117 at Cricklewood with Sunbeam Cossacks, showing original exhaust stacks through upper wing.
3117 at Manston in July 1917, showing Sunbeam Cossacks with modified exhausts.
3117 at Farnborough in November 1917 after installation of four Hispano-Suizas.
3138 at Martlesham Heath before progressive modification into prototype O/400.
First O/100 to arrive at Coudekerque in June 1917 was 3116.
1463 at Chalandry after capture on 1 January, 1917.
Savory’s 3124 at Otranto en route for Mudros, with spare airscrews lashed to the fuselage.
Davis gun installed on 3127 at Redcar in September 1917.
Lance Sieveking’s 3123 Split-Pin at Redcar in September 1917.
An elaborately camouflaged O/100 3126 at Manston (at Orfordness ???) in 1917, an aerodrome used by the RNAS both as an O/100 crew training station and as a base for operational North Sea patrols.
The only Щ/100 with Fiat A.12bis engines was 3142, intended for Russia in November 1917.
O/100 and O/400 (H.P.11 and 12)

   Trials of 3117 at Hendon and Manston with RAF 3a engines proved disappointing, so contract No.AS.1198 was suspended and replaced by AS.20629/17 for six Cricklewood-built machines (B9446-B9451) with Sunbeam Cossacks; these were not used operationally and represented an interim stage between the O/100 and its later development, the O/400, retaining most of the features, including the nacelle tanks, of the former; one at least was used as a trainer by the Australian Flying Corps at Halton and some were issued to the Wireless Flight at Netheravon; yet another was inspected by King George V when he visited the new works at Cricklewood early in 1918. The concurrent trial installation of two 260 hp Fiat A.12bis engines in 3142 in July 1917 was a one-off job specifically ordered at the request of the Russian government, but it crashed early in its trials at Martlesham Heath, just before the October revolution ended Russia’s participation in the war; it is notable for having had a simplified four-wheeled landing gear of the pattern employed on the V/1500 and, later, the W.8. In October 1917, 3117 was flown more successfully at Farnborough after being converted to take four 200 hp Hispano-Suizas arranged back to back in tandem pairs in an installation contrived by Major Percy Bishop, Chief Inspector of Engines, AID; the pilot for these trials was Captain Frank Courtney and the main reason for them was that Hispanos were available at a time when Eagles were not. Initial flight tests showed a lower performance than predicted, because the slipstream effects of tandem pairs were not well understood, and the project was abandoned; however, wind-tunnel experiments with tandem airscrews of various diameters and pitches indicated that the front tractor should be of greater diameter and finer pitch than the rear pusher, and this was taken into account in the design of the four-engined Handley Page V/1500; this principle had already been deduced by Horace Short at Eastchurch as early as 1911, but had remained unpublished and was apparently not known at Farnborough. The most significant development was made on 3138 at Martlesham Heath by Babington and Stedman and by September 1917 this machine had been progressively modified to become the prototype of a much-improved model, the O/400. Tested initially with 320 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IVs, it was next flown with 275 hp Sunbeam Maoris, pending the arrival of up-rated Eagles. On 14 August, 1917, after discussion since January, contract No. AS.22434 had been awarded for one hundred O/400s (C3381-C3480) with either Rolls-Royce Eagles or Sunbeam Maoris and production had begun at Cricklewood, but with definite results from 3138 still awaited from Martlesham, it was cancelled six days later. The first few sets of Cricklewood-built components were then sent to Farnborough so that twelve urgently-needed O/400s could be handbuilt under contract No.AS1198 as C3487-3498, in place of B8802-B8813, while the new Handley Page factory at Somerton Road, Cricklewood, was being finished and tooled-up. Later in 1918 the Royal Aircraft Establishment (as the Factory had by then become) received contract No.35A/88/C.43 for twelve more O/400s, which were given the reinstated serials B8802-B8813, but were built to an advanced modification standard; two of these, B8810 and B8811, were used in October 1918 to test the .improved ‘Raftite’ doping scheme.
   The principal differences between the O/400 and O/100 were the substitution of 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines, both rotating the same way, increased structural strength and bomb-load, and a completely revised fuel system. Final approval of the Eagle VIII was held up till December 1917 because Rolls-Royce could not produce the numbers required in both right- and left-handed versions. Then technical agreement was reached quite simply when it was shown that the counter-rotation principle, first expounded by the Wright brothers and slavishly followed by the Technical Design department of the Air Board, was, in fact, the underlying cause of directional instability in the O/100, as well as a severe handicap to increased production and serviceability. The torque effects were quite easily dealt with by offsetting the central fin, which was made adjustable on the ground; this resulted in its being repositioned a few inches farther aft than in the O/100. In the O/400's revised fuel system, the nacelle tanks were deleted and all the fuel was contained in two 130-gallon fuselage tanks and two 15-gallon gravity tanks in the centre-section leading edge. Petrol was pumped up from each main tank to its associated gravity tank by wind-driven pumps located just inside the fuselage, with horizontal rotors having four Pelton cups exposed two at a time through dumb-bell-shaped slots in the fabric panels on each side; an alternative scheme employed a pair of air-turbine wheels mounted horizontally on top of the fuselage, one for each tank, but these were out of the slipstream and stopped working during ground runs. In later production, Vickers or Rotherham air pumps driven by windmills were mounted on brackets in the slipstream. The new nacelles incorporated large-capacity front radiators with horizontal shutters and were short enough for a single large interplane strut to be used between the mainplane rear spar hinges in place of the former tubular framework; this saved both weight and drag, putting up the maximum speed to 95 mph and the ceiling to 13,000 ft.
   A new Allied offensive began in Flanders on 31 July, 1917, and Nos.7 and 7A Squadrons, RNAS, had the task of disrupting the supply of enemy munitions and stores from Germany to the Ypres sector, in addition to their continued attacks on aerodromes and submarine pens around Bruges and Ostende. Fourteen O/100s set the pattern on 16 August by dropping more than nine tons of bombs on Thourout railway junction; between 2 and 5 September they followed up with 18 tons on the docks at Bruges, to which the enemy retaliated with a succesion of night raids by Gotha bombers on Kent and London, followed by a sustained assault on Coudekerque, which was under almost continuous attack from 23 September to 2 October. In spite of considerable disruption and hurried dispersal to avoid further damage, the RNAS were able to drop nearly ten tons of bombs on the Thourout-Lichtervelde-Cortemarck railway triangle on 25 September, and on the 29th 3130 of No. 7 Squadron, crewed by Flt Cmdr H. G. Brackley, Sub Lieut Bewsher and A/M Wardrop, flew 250 miles in bright moonlight to plant four 250-lb and eight 65-lb bombs on the important Meuse railway bridge at Namur. On the same night, another O/100, specially armed with five Lewis guns and crewed by a pilot and four gunners, patrolled at 10,000 ft in the path of Gotha bombers returning from a raid on England; during the four hours that this patrol lasted, three Gothas were met and two were engaged; one which passed within 150 ft dived away when attacked and was believed to have landed in Holland. This was probably the earliest use of the tactics so effectively developed 27 years later by 100 (Bomber Support) Group, RAF.
   In two preliminary raids on London on 13 June and 7 July, daylight formations of Gotha bombers had caused many civilian casualties in the City and East End, raising a public demand for similar action against Germany, which was intensified when the enemy’s night raids began on 2 September. Although the Admiralty and War Office were opposed to purely retaliatory bombing of civilian targets, the Admiralty had always favoured strategic bombing of the Saar and Ruhr steel industry, centred round Krupps of Essen, as a means of depriving the U-boat fleet of replacements and repairs; the public outcry over the raids on London at last convinced the Air Board of the effectiveness of night bombing and it was agreed that more Handley Page O/400s should be ordered, both to re-equip existing squadrons in Flanders and for a new strategic force, the 41st Wing, RFC, to be based (as the 3rd Wing RNAS had earlier been) in the Vosges region around Nancy, south of the Metz salient. The first heavy bomber unit to be sent there was ‘A’ Squadron RNAS, formed at Manston in September 1917 from the nucleus of four O/100s detached from Coudekerque to Redcar earlier in the year. Under the command of Sqn Cmdr Savory, ‘A’ Sqn. arrived at Ochey on 17 October, 1917, with a complement of twelve O/100s, including such veterans as 1455 (the first prototype rebuilt), 1458, 1459, 1465, 1466, 3120, 3123, 3126 and 3127; this last was still piloted by Flt Cmdr F. K. Digby and had been flown by him with No. 7 Squadron continuously since its first delivery to Coudekerque on 25 May. It remained in Digby’s charge at Ochey, went on to lead a raid on Mannheim on 24/25 January, 1918, and then, in a flight lasting 8^ hours, the first raid since 1914 on Cologne; the latter exceptional feat, on 24/25 March, 1918, earned Digby a DSO; 3127 survived rebuilding, after a later forced landing, to take part in the final attack on Frescaty aerodrome on the night of 10/11 November, 1918. Not all the squadron’s O/100s were so long-lived; of the last four to be issued, 3140 crashed and 3141, flown by Sub Lieut Geoffrey Linnell, was shot down in the squadron’s first raid on Saarbrucken on 25 October, 1917, only a few days after arriving from Manston, while 3139 never arrived at all, having crashed on take-off from Manston on 3 November. Of the original dozen, the first, 1455, was destroyed on the ground at Ochey by enemy action in February 1918 and the last, 1466, returning from a raid on Frankfurt-am-Main on 22 August, 1918, was burnt out after a forced landing one mile short of Ochey, when a landing flare set light to petrol leaking from a shrapnel-punctured tank.
   Many requests came from RFC squadrons for Handley Pages to replace their veteran F.E.2bs for night bombing, but the Air Board was still reluctant to order them until Sir William Weir brought up evidence from the 5th Wing RNAS showing a lower casualty rate and higher target accuracy at night than with single-engined D.H.4s by day. ‘Naval A’ was the only twin-engined strategic night-bomber unit to operate on the Vosges sector until the formation of the Independent Force, RAF, in June 1918. It remained at Ochey till March 1918, being renamed No. 16 Squadron RNAS on 8 January and 216 Squadron RAF on 1 April, by which time it had begun to receive some of the first O/400s to enter service. When the Gotha night raids on London and Kent began in September and official policy on night bombing was reversed, one hundred and fifty O/400s (C9636-C9785) were ordered from Cricklewood, together with one hundred (D4561-D4660) from the Metropolitan Wagon Co and fifty (D5401-D5450) from the Birmingham Carriage Co. To these contracts were added, early in the new year, fifty (D8301-D8350) from the British Caudron Co (neighbours of Handley Page Ltd at Cricklewood) and fifty (D9681-D9730) from Clayton & Shuttleworth at Lincoln. The first twenty O/400s did not arrive in service till April 1918, yet by the end of August over two hundred had been issued to the RAF. The expanded production programme to equip new squadrons from the spring of 1918 onwards was more than even the enlarged Cricklewood factory could cope with, and was therefore shared with firms which had already gained some experience as sub-contractors for smaller types of aircraft. A great deal of organisation and planning was necessary to ensure standardisation of methods and materials between all the contractors in view of their differing background and traditions, but agreement was finally reached in a meeting at Cricklewood on 17 January, 1918, at which the Royal Aircraft Factory and Cubitts Ltd (managers of the new National Aircraft Factory No. 1 at Waddon) were also represented. Two further batches of twenty were ordered from the Birmingham Carriage Co (F301-F320) and Handley Page Ltd (F3748-F3767) in May, and on 5 June a first batch of one hundred (F5349-F5448) was ordered from Waddon, which was to be the final assembly line for components supplied by numerous sub-contractors in the furniture and building industries. It was clear that the demand for Eagle VIIIs would greatly exceed available production so provision was made for both the last batch from Cricklewood and those from Waddon to be equipped with American Liberty 12 engines as soon as these became available. In all these later batches the nose gunner’s cockpit reverted to its original low level and permanent maintenance platforms were fitted above the engines to aid daily servicing.
   In Flanders, activity became intense in March 1918 as the Germans mounted a counter-offensive against the Ypres salient and the RNAS squadrons with the British Expeditionary Force were kept at full stretch. No.7A had been renumbered No. 14 in December 1917 and No. 16’s place was filled by a new squadron, No. 15, formed in March from both Nos.7 and 14; all three remained based at Coudekerque and No. 15 was trained specifically for night bombing, although during its first few weeks it shared in combined air and naval operations aimed at blocking the entrances to Ostende harbour and the Zeebrugge canal. With the merging of the RNAS and the RFC to form the Royal Air Force on 1 April, 1918, the former naval Wing and Squadron numbers were increased by 60 and 200 respectively, so that the 5th Wing RNAS became the 65th Wing RAF, to which Nos.207, 214 and 215 Squadrons belonged. In their last operation under the White Ensign on 26 March, Nos.7 and 14 Squadrons combined to attack Valenciennes and neighbouring railway targets. On 11 April seven O/100s of Nos.214 and 215 Squadrons were detailed to bomb the Mole and coastal batteries at Zeebrugge, to distract attention from a naval force which attempted to block the harbour entrance; in particular 3129 of 214 Squadron, flown by Captain J. R. Allen, Captain Bewsher and Lieutenant Purvis, was to patrol along the coast in advance of the others, releasing 112-lb bombs at intervals to draw the enemy’s anti-aircraft fire. Unfortunately the latter was too accurate and after 2\ hours on patrol one engine stopped and the aircraft failed by a few hundred yards to reach the coast at Nieuport; Allen was swept out of the cockpit and drowned, but Bewsher and Purvis were rescued by a coastal motor boat from Dunkirk. Meanwhile rain and mist had blanketed the coast and only three of the other six bombers managed to find targets, one of them having to land beyond the Dutch frontier, where its crew were interned; the naval force also was called off because of the weather, but on the night of 22/23 April returned to make the famous St George’s Day raid on Zeebrugge, which bottled up twelve submarines and 23 motor torpedo boats in the canal. On 9 May a second attempt was made to block Ostende harbour by sinking the old cruiser Vindictive across the entrance and seven O/100s from No.214 Squadron co-operated by dropping six 550-lb and eighty smaller bombs on the German shore batteries; once more these attacks were almost frustrated by the sudden arrival of sea-fog and four returning crews failed to locate Coudekerque and had to land elsewhere, but only one aircraft was seriously damaged.
   Early in June heavy enemy counter-attacks on British aerodromes were stepped up, Coudekerque being bombed for 3 1/2 hours on 5/6 June and two hangars burnt out, although no aircraft were totally lost. The RAF retaliated on 10 June, when 214 Squadron dropped three 550-lb bombs on the Zeebrugge sea-lock, 34 smaller bombs on the Bruges canal and 20 on Thourout junction. This was a sequel to experimental night raids in O/400s by Captain Cecil Darley and Captain T. A. Batchelor, using a silent gliding approach from 9,000 ft to within 80 ft of the target; the aim was to release simultaneously one bomb close to each lock and a third midway between them, so that the combined under-water blast would burst open the lock gates. For this operation Captain Batchelor had designed a special low- altitude bombsight and had carefully rehearsed its use with the aid of a full-scale model of the target marked out on the ground at Cranwell, where Darley and both crews had attended a special briefing. On the first attempt the two aircraft were spotted during their approach and heavily engaged at 500 ft by anti-aircraft guns, Batchelor and his observer being wounded and barely able to return to a safe landing at Coudekerque. Darley and his crew escaped personal damage, and on 28 May in C9666 he repeated the silent attack successfully with three 520-lb light case bombs from 200 ft, a subsequent photograph showing one of the gates being changed. Though successful in principle, such attacks could only close the canal for a few days and 10 June was the last raid until more effective ‘SN’ bombs of 1,650 lb became available; the first of these was dropped on a target at Middelkerke by C9643 flown by Sergt Dell of 214 Squadron on the night of 24/25 July, 1918. By this time No. 215 Squadron had been re-equipped with O/400s and transferred to the Independent Force, after a brief rest and retraining sojourn at Netheravon, so Nos.207 and 214 remained the only O/400 squadrons attached to the British Expeditionary Force until September, when they were joined by No. 58 on its conversion from F.E.2bs, its first O/400 being received in August.
   In the south No. 216 was joined in August by Nos.97 and 115 as well as No.215, all newly equipped with O/400s and located around Nancy. No.97 was to have had special training at Netheravon in new wireless techniques, including direction-finding, but finally went to France as a normal bombing squadron; like No.215, it was based at Xaffevillers, with No.115 nearby at Roville-aux-Chenes. For the more distant targets O/400s flew singly or in pairs, notable raids being made by two aircraft of No.216 on Cologne on 21/22 August and by two of No. 215 on the Badisch Anilin und Soda Fabrik at Mannheim on 25/26 August, when direct hits were scored from only 200 ft. Also at Xaffevillers, No. 100 Squadron converted from F.E.2bs to O/400s, receiving C9697 on 13 August; with No.216, this unit came temporarily under French Army orders during September, when they moved from Ochey to Autreville and Villesneux to support the French and American counter-offensive against the German threat to Paris, being particularly valuable to the Americans in the battle for St Mihiel; after this detachment they resumed strategic bombing from Xaffevillers, where the five squadrons formed the 83rd Wing of the VIII Brigade, Independent Force, RAF, and were the true precursors of Bomber Command. By September production of new O/400s was more than keeping pace with demand and only two further contracts were awarded, No.AS.34499 for fifty (J2242-J2291) to the Birmingham Carriage Co and No.AS.35429 for seventy-five (J3542-J3616) to the Metropolitan Wagon Co, both of which firms drew their labour force from the same district and delivered their products to the same Acceptance Park at Castle Bromwich. Unfortunately not all contractors were equally efficient or happy in their labour relations, a state of affairs reflected by the fact that when the Armistice came on 11 November, 1918, the Birmingham Carriage Co had completed and delivered thirty-four of their final batch, while Metropolitan Wagon had not begun theirs. In September, October and the first ten days of November, in face of very adverse weather and well-defended targets, the five Handley Page squadrons of the 83rd Wing dropped 350 tons of bombs, including eleven 1,650-pounders, on key installations in the Saar and Ruhr basins, as far afield as Essen and Cologne, yet the number of O/400s airborne on any one night was never more than forty. In September, the average weight of bombs dropped by each of the five squadrons was 26 tons, compared with 9\ tons by the single-engined D.H.4 and D.H.9 squadrons of the Independent Force; the greatest individual weight dropped in the same month was 37 1/2 tons by the pioneer No.216 Squadron.
   Handley Page operations were by no means confined to the Expeditionary and Independent Forces, and in the summer of 1918 a single O/400, C9681, following the Mediterranean trail blazed by Savory the previous year, was flown from Cranwell to Egypt in five days. This machine had been delivered new to Martlesham Heath and later detached to Cranwell for experiments by Captain Batchelor leading up to his and Darley’s low-level attacks on the Zeebrugge lock gates; it retained the special low-altitude bombsight developed by Batchelor, now to be put to good use on another front. During 1917 the force sent earlier to Egypt to protect the Suez Canal had advanced into Palestine against the occupying Turkish armies; with meagre but vigorous air support, General Allenby, after significant victories at Beersheba and Gaza, had recaptured Jerusalem just before Christmas. His advance towards Damascus was opposed in the Jordan valley by three Turkish divisions, well supported by German aircraft based at Jenin and Deraa, and No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, had moved to Ramleh to restore the balance. Meanwhile T. E. Lawrence, the enigmatic egyptologist newly-gazetted as Colonel, was busy behind the Turkish lines organising Bedouin irregulars led by Sherif Feisal of Hedjaz, particularly in wrecking the railway which carried supplies from Damascus to Amman. Lawrence needed rapid communications between Feisal and Allenby, so he requested, and received, two of No.1 Squadron’s newly acquired Bristol Fighters; at the same time he suggested that one or more heavy bombers were urgently needed. So on 28 May, 1918, Brig-Gen A. E. Borton flew C9681 from Cranwell to Manston, where he picked up Major A. S. C. MacLaren, and continued by Savory’s route to Otranto, thence by Suda Bay and Solium to Heliopolis, finally arriving at the RAF base at Kantara on the Suez Canal on 8 August. After being serviced, C9681 was flown to Ramleh on loan to No.1 Squadron AFC, arriving there on 29 August. Piloted by Captain Ross Smith, it was promptly put to logistic use to carry one-ton loads of petrol, oil, spares and ammunition to Azrak, Lawrence’s special flight base, where its arrival profoundly improved Arab morale impaired by recent enemy bombing; like wildfire the news spread that ‘Allah has sent us THE aeroplane of which these others are foals’ and C9681’s mere presence was enough to unite the many independent Bedouin clans into a dedicated and invincible army. An early blow in the Battle of Nablus was struck by Ross Smith when C9681, with sixteen 112-lb bombs, took off an hour after midnight on 19 September, 1918, to score direct hits on the Turkish headquarters and central telephone exchange at El Afule, thus preventing the whole of the Turkish Seventh and Eighth Armies in the Plain of Sharon from getting wind of Allenby’s movements for two vital days. Ross Smith returned that evening, and again early next day, to knock out the railway and aerodrome at Jenin. On the 21st the nine-mile column of the Seventh and Eighth Armies retreating towards the Jordan was trapped in the narrow defile of Wadi el Far’a and slaughtered by three squadrons of fighters from Ramleh; the O/400 took no direct part in this daylight action, but finally obliterated the enemy’s remaining aerodrome at Deraa with a ton of bombs on the evening of the 23rd; meanwhile it had been airlifting more fuel and supplies from Ramleh, thus greatly speeding Allenby’s advance to Damascus, where Feisal’s columns entered in triumph on 1 October. For a few days C9681 remained at Haifa, thereafter flying back to Ramleh and thence to Kantara, whither Borton had meanwhile ferried from England the second O/400, C9700, to be sent to Egypt.
   During these same last days, the Germans had begun a fast retreat in Flanders and on 18 October Brackley flew No.214 Squadron’s C9696 from St Inglevert to St Pol where he had the privilege of taking up King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians to witness from the air the Allied reoccupation of Ostende, Ghent and Ghistelles, although on that day Bruges was still held by the enemy. On the 24th, No.214 Squadron flew in formation from St Inglevert to Quilen and thence on the 30th to Camphin in readiness to join with No. 58 at Provin and No.207 at Figescourt and Estrees-en-Chaussee in the final assault on Germany. Both these squadrons had effectively used 1,650-lb ‘SN’ bombs against railway targets at Valenciennes and Namur in September and October, No. 207 alone dropping seventeen of them - more than the whole Independent Force in its nightly attacks on the Saar, Ruhr and Rhineland industries, where target priority was given to railways first and blast furnaces second. Austria signed an Armistice on 3 November, when O/400 squadrons prepared to move to eastern bases near Prague, within 200 miles of Berlin, but the total end of the war eight days later saved the German capital from actual assault. On the final night, 10/11 November, all eight O/400 squadrons, in appalling weather, sent out a total of twenty-six aircraft, railway targets being taken by five from No.58 and seven from No.214 at Louvain, and six from No.214 at Namur; Nos.97, 100, 115, 215 and 216 dispatched single machines against aerodromes at Morhange, Metz-Sablon, Lellinghen and Frescaty; No.216’s representative at the last target was the O/100 veteran 3127 with 400 operational flying hours on its log, rebuilt after a forced landing and 'as good as new’.
   In the last weeks of the war, new developments in night flying were impending; all national markings had been revised to exclude white circles or stripes for some months past, although the P.C.10 khaki-drab all-over colour scheme remained standard, relieved only by bright white vertical lines, considered invisible at a few hundred yards, which reinforced the standard arrows indicating the lifting and trestling points on the fuselage. In an attempt to find an 'invisible’ colour scheme trials had been made at Orfordness with a ‘dappled’ O/100 (3126) as a result of which a dull green colour showing minimum reflection in searchlight beams was evolved as the well-known Nivo finish; this was adopted as standard in June 1918 for Home Defence night fighters, but was not available for bombers until October, so few of the O/400s on active service in France carried this scheme; it was to be seen, however, on the long-range training aircraft of No.1 School of Navigation and Bomb-dropping at Stonehenge and Andover. About this time the High Altitude Drift Sight Mk IA was superseded by the Wimperis Course Setting Bombsight, incorporating a compass, which was to remain standard, with minor improvements, for another twenty years. The CSBS was originally mounted on the nose in the same position as the HA IA, but for the worst weather No.214 Squadron, and later the others, preferred a new position below the navigator’s seat, adjacent to the permanently-fitted negative-lens drift sight, since the front cockpit was rarely manned at night. Some O/400s had two, three or four spotlights tilted downwards and a variation of this for very precise low- level attacks was to have the beams set to intersect at the required height, thus anticipating the method employed 25 years later by No.617 Squadron’s ‘Dam-Busters’. It was intended to fly secret service agents and saboteurs on to German aerodromes in Alsace-Lorraine, using either Calthrop ‘Guardian Angel’ parachutes, or ladders in a quick ‘touch-and-go’ landing; the first operation was planned for the December full moon, but by then the war was over. In April 1918, when many pilots recuperating from front-line operations were employed in ferrying new aeroplanes to France, No. 1 (Southern) Aircraft Repair Depot at Farnborough had fitted out an O/400 with sixteen inward-facing bench seats in place of the internal bomb-racks, with flat rectangular fuel tanks below the seats, for use on a proposed return ferry service between Marquise and Lympne. In an alternative Handley Page ‘ferry-bus’ scheme at Cricklewood, sixteen B.E.2c-type semicircular wicker seats were strapped to the floor in two circles, so that passengers sat with their feet together as in an Army bell-tent, and could then play pontoon. An auxiliary petrol tank had already been adopted for long-range flying, to fit on top of the fuselage, and it was practicable to use this alone in place of the normal internal tanks for short cross-Channel flights, thus making more room inside for passengers. The Farnborough scheme was used by the Parachute Experimental Unit under Major Orde Lees, but the return ferry service never materialised and eventually the aircraft was reconverted to its bomber role. The Cricklewood ‘ferry-bus’ scheme, however, was applied from August 1918 onwards to several newly-built O/400s used for officially-sponsored flights by foreign and Empire press correspondents at Hendon. Only one O/400 squadron, No.207, was allocated to the Army of Occupation after the Armistice, and this unit flew from Carvin to Merheim on New Year’s Day 1919, moving on to Hangelar in May until its return to England in August. Nos.97, 115 and 215 returned to Ford, Sussex, in February and March 1919, while No. 100 was posted to Baldonnel, Ireland, in September 1919, becoming a Bristol Fighter squadron in January 1920; the remaining three waited in France for orders to proceed to Egypt.
   Meanwhile, on 13 December, the 86th (Communication) Wing had been formed at Hendon to provide quick transport between London and Paris for Cabinet Ministers and other officials engaged in negotiating the Peace Treaty at Versailles; it had eight O/400s on its strength, of which two (or possibly three) were specially converted for VIP passengers and finished all over in aluminium dope, with small roundels instead of stripes on the rudders. These were designated ‘H.M. Airliners’ - the first official recognition of this term - D8326 being named Silver Star and another Great Britain; a third is said to have been named Silver Queen, but in the absence of photographic evidence this is unconfirmed, as this was then a popular nickname for any large aeroplane (or airship) of that colour, and was given to both the Vickers Vimys which shared the first Cairo-Cape flight. Silver Star had a cabin for six passengers round a circular table and was upholstered with chintz-covered 100se cushions; it had a large square window, with curtains, in each side. Great Britain was less luxurious, with eight side-facing leather-covered seats along the port side and four small square windows on each side. The arrangement in Silver Queen is not known, although the remainder of the eight aircraft also had side-facing bench seats, but retained their Nivo colour scheme. The 86th (Communication) Wing moved from Hendon in May 1919 and then comprised No.l (Communication) Squadron at Kenley and No.2 (Communication) Squadron at Buc, near Paris, only the former having O/400s; traffic diminished after signature of the Peace Treaty and the Wing was disbanded in October. Additionally No.214 Squadron was employed in the early months of 1919 to carry military mails between Cologne and the Armistice Commission at Spa. The first airmail flight was made by Major Brackley on New Year’s Day 1919 from Camphin, via Carvin, Lens, Arras, St Pol and Hesdin, to Ligescourt, but from 5 January the O/400s were only used nonstop between Marquise and Cologne, with D.H.9s taking the shorter stages.
   The second O/400 flown from England to Egypt by Brig Gen Borton, C9700, had meanwhile pioneered the airway from Egypt to India, leaving Heliopolis on 30 November and flying via Damascus, Baghdad, Bushire, Bandar Abbas, Charbar, Karachi and Nasirabad to reach Delhi on 12 December. The credit for this flight has been wrongly attributed to the battle-scarred C9681, but in fact C9700 was the only O/400 to fly all the way from England to India. It wore roundels on its rudders instead of stripes, indicating that it was carrying Major-Gen W. G. H. Salmond, GOC RAF, Middle East, to survey the airmail route to India. The crew consisted of Ross Smith as co-pilot with Borton, and Sergts J. M. Bennett and W. H. Shiers of the Australian Flying Corps. The flight to Delhi was completed almost without incident, thanks to good advance planning of supplies of petrol, oil and spares at landing grounds en route; the only repair needed was to minor damage to the undercarriage after a heavy landing at Bandar Abbas, and Bennett and Shiers took this in their stride. On 16 December C9700 was flown on to Allahabad, and next morning to Calcutta, where the starboard wing-tip sustained slight damage from a tree while taxying in after landing on the maidan. In February Borton and Ross Smith continued their route survey to Burma by sea, while C9700 was flown to Ambala and Lahore for patrol duties along the North West Frontier, where in March Afghan rebels were threatening trouble; but soon after arriving at Lahore it was destroyed on the ground by a sudden storm.
   Preparations were being made at home to develop an Empire-wide airmail and transport service as soon as international air-traffic regulations could be agreed, and the RAF made valuable contributions towards improved safety, particularly in night flying, until Treasury intervention curtailed expenditure on these activities. No. 1 (Communication) Squadron at Kenley, in its daily London-Paris service, was gaining operational experience of scheduled night flying, maintaining radio contact throughout, and No.1 School of Navigation and Bomb-dropping at Andover began a series of training flights round the British Isles. In one of the first of these, two O/400s, piloted by Captains Stewart and Snook, left Andover on 19 April at 2.20 a.m. each with a crew of seven; flying along the coast from Brighton to the Wash via Dover, Great Yarmouth and Hunstanton, they reached their first refuelling stop at Waddington by 9 a.m. Taking off again at 12.30 p.m. they continued via Cleethorpes, Whitby, Sunderland and Berwick-upon-Tweed to arrive for the night at Turnhouse by 7 p.m. Next day they left at 11.30 a.m. and flew via Dundee, Aberdeen, Longside (Fraserburgh), Inverness and the Great Glen to their second night-stop at Aldergrove, arriving at 7.30 p.m. Resuming on the third day via Dublin, Anglesey, Aberystwyth and Cardigan to their third night-stop at Tenby, they took off at 4 a.m. on 22 April to fly home via Ilfracombe, Bodmin, Plymouth, Torquay and Portsmouth to a landing at Andover at 10 a.m. Regrettably, another O/400 (F3758), starting a similar flight, had crashed in flames at Weyhill on take-off at 2 a.m. that same morning, killing the pilots Major Batchelor and Captain Adkins and three of their crew, two survivors being injured. Major Batchelor’s death was a severe loss to the peacetime RAF, as his contribution to navigational training was very great; his part in developing low-level bombing at Cranwell has already been mentioned and probably his most important invention was the Batchelor Mirror for training bomb-aimers. Another notable flight, this time by a double crew in a single O/400 (F3750, which at the time bore the legend LAST DAYS on its sides) was made by Major K. R. Park and Captain Stewart (pilots). Major B. E. Smythies and Lieutenant Wilson (navigators), with a crew of two wireless operators and three engine fitters, at the end of April. They followed the established coastwise route to Waddington and intended to make Longside for the night, but rain and low cloud over the Cheviots forced them to put down at Turnhouse. Next day they resumed their planned course via Aberdeen, Longside, Inverness and the Great Glen to the Mull of Kintyre, but found Aldergrove completely fog-bound. Arriving over Belfast at 7 p.m. with petrol running low, Major Park brought off a masterly cross-wind landing on Harland & Wolff’s wharf at Queen’s Island in a space only 400 yds long by 50 yds wide. Next day, to lighten the machine as much as possible, Park took off solo, having sent the rest of the crew by road to Aldergrove, where he landed to pick them up; the flight was then continued via Dublin, Pembroke (night-stop), Bodmin, Plymouth and Bournemouth to land at Andover at 9.30 a.m. on the fourth day; this flight covered 1,600 miles in 30 hours, averaging 66 mph and 450 miles per day. Just previously another O/400 from Andover had flown nonstop to Baldonnel in 6 1/2 hours, by dead reckoning entirely in darkness.
   Such experience was urgently needed when the Allied Armistice Commission awarded the mandate for the administration of Palestine to Britain; this revived an age-long dispute incapable of just solution, for the Arabs had been encouraged to win their freedom from the Ottoman Empire by Winston Churchill’s promise, via Lawrence, that they would be given land in the Jordan valley; but the same territory had also been assigned by Arthur Balfour to the Zionist Jews of Europe, who were determined to build a new State of Israel in the Promised Land. Fifty years later this conflict was to become even more acute, but in 1919 the first essential was to enforce the mandate and secure peace by military occupation, in both Palestine and the other ex-Ottoman territory of Mesopotamia. In March 1919, No.58 Squadron was ordered to move to Egypt, and for the first time, in view of the difficulty and cost of packing O/400s for transit as deck cargo, it was decided that the squadron should fly out in formation, using the route already pioneered by Savory and Borton. So ten O/400s of 58 Squadron left their Belgian base at Provin on 3 May and flew to Paris, thence via Lyons, Marseilles, Pisa, Centocelle, Foggia, Taranto, Valona, Suda Bay, Solium and Amria to Heliopolis, where they arrived on 2 July after many vicissitudes and several casualties. Meanwhile Nos.214 and 216 had received similar orders; No.214 left Camphin on 1 July and seven of its ten aircraft (including C9666 flown by Second Lieutenant C. A. Hall) had arrived at Abu Sueir by 2 August; No.216 left Marquise on 10 July in three flights, the first of which crashed en route; the remainder struggled through to Kantara by mid-October. All three squadrons became part of the Middle East Training Brigade, but only at the cost of eleven pilots killed, including Captain Cecil Darley, another veteran of the silent raids on Zeebrugge. Accusations in Parliament by Sir William Joynson-Hicks of inefficient maintenance, and a complaint that thirty-two O/400s had been picketed out at Hendon unprotected from heavy rain in March, brought a rejoinder from his old adversary, General Seely, that these were not the aeroplanes involved and that in any case they had all been repaired at an average cost of ?52 each.
   Coincidentally with the departure of 58 Squadron from Provin, Col T. E. Lawrence, who had been in attendance at Versailles, decided to return urgently to Egypt and, as was his way, ‘thumbed a lift’ with Lieutenants Prince and Spratt in D5439 of ‘B’ Flight when they called at Marquise to join formation with other O/400s flying from Hendon. The aerodromes along the Mediterranean coast were in a bad state of repair and the O/400 nearly overturned in landing at Pisa, but damage was averted; next day, 17 May, the flight proceeded, but D5439 arrived very late at Centocelle and crashed while attempting to land in the dusk. Prince was killed outright, Spratt died on arrival in hospital, and A/M Tomlin died later; the fourth crew member was less badly injured and Lawrence broke a collar-bone and several ribs. He was visited in hospital by King Victor Emmanuel, who arranged for adequate treatment and comfort, and Lieutenant Carl Dixon, the American pilot of C9745 of ‘B’ Flight, remained to attend the inquest and funeral. Although far from fit to travel, Lawrence insisted on flying on with Dixon when he resumed his journey; they reached Taranto and Valona safely, but came to grief at Suda Bay, and Lawrence was stranded once more, this time for a month. Then the Canadian crew of F318 of the 86th (Communication) Wing at Kenley was ordered to take another Middle East expert, Harry St. John Philby, very urgently to Cairo. Leaving Lympne on 21 June, Lieutenants Yates and Vance, with mechanics Stedman and Hand, set out to deliver their very important passenger to Cairo in record time. Refuelling at Lyons, they landed for the night at Marseilles and punctured two tyres taxying out to take off at dawn next day. In spite of this delay, they reached Pisa for the night and flew on to Centocelle and Taranto on the 23rd. On take-off next morning the starboard fuel pump failed, so that none of the petrol in the aft tank was available; there was not enough in the forward tank alone to reach Suda Bay, so they diverted to Athens, which was an hour nearer, but south of the Gulf of Corinth their fuel gave out and Yates pulled off a very marginal landing on a rocky plateau, puncturing one tyre and breaking the tailskid. They had no jack, but local villagers lifted the tail while the skid was repaired, and Yates then taxied the aircraft to a position where the punctured tyre overhung a pot-hole and could be removed for repair; then they transferred 3 hours’ fuel from the aft tank to the forward one, took off in the bare 50 yards available and reached Athens with Stedman and Hand manning the handpumps. Next morning both engines cut on take-off because of water in the carburettors and all the petrol had to be drained and strained through chamois leather - delaying them another ten hours. At last on the 25th they got airborne, using the handpumps all the time, but halfway to Crete a blade cracked on the port airscrew and its engine had to be throttled back to reduce vibration; they arrived at Suda Bay with only 600 ft in hand. There Lawrence helped them to take an airscrew from C9745 and, in return, Philby invited him to join his party. Because of the extra weight and high ambient temperature they made two abortive attempts to take off on the 26th and then incurred four hours’ delay from water in the carburettors; when at last they were airborne, they could not climb high enough to clear the mountains of Crete, so Yates flew round to the south of the island and set a course for Solium, which they reached in 4 hours by dead reckoning, to Lawrence’s great delight. By this time the external control cables were frayed and the fabric was worn through in patches, but they decided to risk flying 6 hours across 500 miles of desert direct to Heliopolis, arriving 1 1/2 hours after sunset and taking another 40 minutes to find the aerodrome; F318’s flying time of 36 hours in a total elapsed time of five days was a new record, the previous best being Borton and MacLaren’s in C9681. A month later another O/400 of the same batch, F304, had to ditch off Spezia and its pilot, Lieutenant Collinge, was drowned, although his navigator and two sergeants were rescued. Other casualties along the route in July were C9714 and D4591, which crashed in Italy, and C9743, destroyed by a gale at St Raphael. Such were the conditions faced by fifty-one crews of these three squadrons on the first long overseas movement by the Royal Air Force; small wonder that only twenty-six arrived, leaving a trail of fifteen wrecked and ten abandoned O/400s along the Mediterranean shores.
   In the later months of 1919 No.58 Squadron began to replace its O/400s with Vickers Vimys, but two notable long-distance flights were achieved in September, one to Baghdad via Damascus using radio, and the other to Khartoum; the latter may have been an unannounced attempt to fly to the Cape in stages, but the O/400 was still at Khartoum in February 1920 and was offered to (and declined by) Brackley and Tymms as a replacement for G-EAMC; it was in a run-down state and in an ill-advised attempt to fly back to Heliopolis, it crashed at Abu Hamed on 4 April killing all its crew (Flying Officers Barclay and Sibley, Sergt Wadey and AM2 Meldrum). No.58 Squadron’s last five Handley Pages remained with the unit after it had been renumbered 70 Squadron on 1 February, 1920, and in June 1920 one O/400 was employed on a twice-weekly desert reconnaissance in liaison with the Camel Corps, who were trying to check Bedouin gun-running; as a further experiment, in September, one of No.70 Squadron’s O/400s successfully air-lifted a mountain gun weighing half a ton and demonstrated this operation to the AOC, Sir Geoffrey Salmond, at Almaza. At least four O/400s remained on the strength of 70 Squadron during 1921 and took part in an air display at Heliopolis on 3 March; two of these were later lent to Wing Cmdr P. F. M. Fellowes to supply fuel and rations to the motor convoy which first ploughed the furrow marking the desert airmail route to Baghdad; one of them was wrecked at Ramleh at the end of May and the other was scrapped later in the year. Meanwhile 214 Squadron had been disbanded at Abu Sueir in February 1920 and in October 1921 the O/400s of 216 Squadron were replaced by D.H.lOs; among the last in service was C9666, formerly bearer of the battle honour Zeebrugge.
   At home O/400s still flew on liaison duties, notably to Baldonnel in Ireland, and on 17 December, 1920, J2259 ditched in the Irish Sea off Holyhead, the crew of five all being rescued by the Elder Dempster cargo ship Ijakaty. Another had come to grief on 11 January, 1920, while pegged down for the night at Werrington, near Peterborough, when a gale had uprooted it and blown it across the Great Northern Railway mainline; the southbound Flying Scotsman was held up by it for 80 minutes and the wings were sawn off to save time in clearing the track. No fewer than fourteen O/400s were equipped for trials with the Aveline auto-stabiliser, a French device which in reasonably smooth air could hold an aeroplane on a steady course for up to two hours without intervention by the pilot, but could not cope with repeated gusts. In the RAF Tournament at Hendon in July 1920 and again at the Pageant there a year later, an O/400 flown by Flt Lieut Cecil Rea from Martlesham Heath demonstrated various pyrotechnic devices, including smoke and incendiary bombs developed at the Isle of Grain by Sqn Ldr J. K. Wells. Although the ‘Geddes Axe’ interim report stated that O/400s were no longer on RAF charge in October 1921, a few had, in fact, been retained for miscellaneous and experimental duties after being superseded in squadron service by Vickers Vimys and D.H.10s. In July 1922 two O/400s were detailed to drop eight 9-lb practice bombs each in simulated attacks on the old battleship Agamemnon while steaming at 10 knots under radio control off the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth; one had to return to Leuchars, but the other scored two direct hits and six near misses from 8,000 ft, arousing much animosity in the Royal Navy, who resented the RAF’s control of naval flying before the independent Fleet Air Arm was formed. One or two O/400s had survived as the equipment of Lt-Col L. F. Blandy’s Wireless Testing Park at Biggin Hill, and one of them may have been J2260 which paid several visits to Croydon in 1922 for night landing practice without ground aids; the first was on 2 March for preliminary tests, then on 5 April it flew with eight technicians (one of whom was P. P. Eckersley, later the BBC’s first chief engineer) to test lighting and wireless facilities at Lympne and St Inglevert; these tests culminated in a demonstration to Sir Sefton Brancker, the new Director of Civil Aviation, of night flying between Croydon and Le Bourget on 1 June. J2260 was equipped with Holt landing flares, improved navigation and identification lights and the latest Marconi radio telephone and direction-finding aids. A Martlesham O/400 reappeared twelve months later to make a farewell appearance as dispenser of coloured smoke in the final item of the RAF Pageant at Hendon on 30 June, 1923, but the last two O/400s were in use at Farnborough as late as 1 August, 1923, when Flying Officer Junor crashed one while testing a gyro-stabilised rudder control system; at that date C9773 was still in commission, after completing slipstream exploration trials in the hands of Flying Officer Howard Saint, who later became test pilot to the Gloster Aircraft Company.
   So far only British production has been considered, but the O/400 was one of the only two European multi-engined bombers selected for mass production in America after the United States joined the Allies in April 1917, the other being the Caproni Ca.46. In June Colonel Raynal C. Bolling arrived in Europe with a commission to select suitable types of aircraft and in August a set of O/400 drawings was sent to McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, where the US Signals Corps Engineering Division designed a modification scheme to substitute the new Liberty 12 engine for the Rolls-Royce Eagle. Like the D.H.4 and D.H. 10, the O/400 was strong enough to accept this engine change with advantage, although some other selected types, including the Bristol Fighter and S.E.5a, were too light. In January 1918 a sample airframe was shipped to McCook Field; this was in fact B9449, an ‘intermediate’ O/100 in which most parts were the same as in O/400, those which were different being painted red. The change of engine delayed production to the extent that, of the first batch of five hundred O/400s ordered from the Standard Aircraft Corporation of Elizabeth, New Jersey, only 100 sets of components (each 85 per cent complete) were ready to be shipped to Liverpool before Armistice Day; of these, 70 sets were dispatched in five ships, but only ten sets reached their destination; the second batch of 1,000, ordered in August 1918 for the equipment of 30 US squadrons in Europe, was cancelled before any work began on it. In November 1917 a conference at Springfield, Mass, had considered the possibility of flying Standard-built O/400s across the Atlantic to Aldergrove, and Handley Page was very keen to have this done, but the project was later given up. The first O/400 (almost certainly B9449 reworked) to emerge from the Standard Corporation’s new factory at Bayway, NJ, was tested first by Colonel the Master of Sempill and Captain E. B. Waller and ceremonially launched with a bottle of champagne on 6 July by Mrs Mingle, wife of Standard’s president; immediately afterwards it was again taken up by Colonel Sempill, accompanied by Captain E. L. Austin and General L. Kenly, in the presence of Major Gen. Brancker, Sir Henry Fowler, W. A. Chamberlain of Handley Page Ltd and W. H. Workman, who was Handley Page’s agent in America. Because of the existing indigenous cotton crop and the scarcity of flax, a specially developed scoured cotton fabric (similar to madapalam) was used instead of Irish linen, and this required cellulose acetate dope, which was in short supply, instead of the more plentiful nitrate dope; for the first few flights the dope scheme was unpigmented and finished with clear varnish; the name Langley was painted on each flank and also across the nose, together with crossed Union Jack and Old Glory. The nose cockpit was of the high (Davis gun) pattern, with a Scarff ring mounting a yoked pair of Marlin 0-300 calibre machine-guns. After handing over in August for flight trials, the Langley was repainted all over in olive-drab, with red-blue roundels and full red, white and blue rudder stripes, but retained its nose and flank decorations. During the next twelve months a Bayway-built O/400 was assessed against a new Glenn Martin G.M.B. prototype, and the first of two Caproni Ca.46s also built by Standard. All three were destroyed at Hazelhurst Field, Long Island, on 28 July, 1919, when the base was struck by a hurricane, the Langley itself was stored at Wilbur Wright Field, Dayton, in November 1919; it never had a serial number.
   Apart from the ten sets of components actually shipped to Liverpool, to be completed at Gorse Mill, Hollinwood and Lilac Mill, Shaw, and shipped back to New York after the Armistice, only three more O/400s were assembled in 1919 for Service trials by the US Air Service; at least one of these retained the raised nose cockpit, but twenty others with the later low gun-rings were held in store; one O/400 stationed at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, was numbered 32 and had a Gallopin’ Goose emblem painted on the nose. In 1920 seven of those in store, serials 62445-62451 were recommissioned at Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia, for trials with experimental 2,000-lb armour-piercing bombs, made at McCook Field to the order of General William Mitchell. On 21 July, 1921, after the US Navy’s F5-L flying-boats had failed to make any impression with 520-pounders on the 3-inch deck armour and 12-inch belt armour of the former German battleship Ostfriesland, while anchored in Chesapeake Bay, the US Army sent in six Martin MB-5s and a single O/400 (probably 62448), each with a 2,000-pounder 11 ft 6 in long and 18 1/2 inches in diameter, packed with 1,000 lb of TNT. Flying 98 miles from Langley Field to the target ship, they attacked in line astern with the Handley Page last; all six of the Martins’ bombs scored direct hits and the seventh, from the O/400, finished the job as the ship began to sink. In September 1921 an even more powerful 4,000 lb bomb was successfully dropped by 62448 at the Aberdeen, Maryland, proving range. Such demonstrations of the vulnerability to air attack of heavily armoured but unescorted battleships made ‘Billy’ Mitchell a marked man in US Navy circles and the vendetta leading to his court-martial and dismissal, followed too late by posthumous recognition, is a matter of history.
   In the confusion following the Armistice it was inevitable that application of the break clause to cancel contracts not already started by that date, superimposed on the breakdown in labour relations which had occurred earlier in several of the Waring group of factories, should have left some of the production records incomplete. The best attempt at elucidation was made by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors in 1920, when Handley Page’s claim to compensation in respect of Crown user of the O and V types was investigated. In the pleadings it is recorded that a total of 840 O-type aircraft was ordered, of which 600 were manufactured and paid for by the Ministry of Munitions and 476 were delivered to Service units and stores depots. These totals include forty O/100s, six intermediate O/100-400s (i.e. B9446-B9451) and 281 O/400s manufactured by Handley Page Ltd; and 273 O/400s by other contractors. Taking into account the known cancellations under the break clause, it is evident that Handley Page Ltd received payment for 120 more O/400s than were originally ordered from them. It is known that Handley Page Ltd erected the British Caudron batch of fifty and that Cubitts’ National Aircraft Factory No. 1 at Waddon was closed down on 31 December, 1918, without having delivered any O/400s, but that seventy of the Cubitts batch were in fact completed, being assembled at Cricklewood from components manufactured by Cubitts’ sub-contractors; it is a reasonable assumption that Handley Page Ltd were credited with the manufacture of these seventy in the final reckoning; only the first, F5349, had Liberty engines, which were installed at Ford Junction, Sussex, in October 1918 by American personnel, who also erected the aircraft. This appears to have been the only British-built Liberty-engined O/400, and was test-flown at Cricklewood early in 1919. The British totals stated do not include the total of American production, which was officially recorded as 107 delivered and 1,393 cancelled.
   By comparison with the D.H. 10 and Vickers Vimy, which superseded it in post-war RAF service, the O/400 was outdated and outpaced, but should not be too harshly judged. In 1914, the O/100 was a bold embodiment of the most advanced state of the art of its day; after early troubles had been overcome, it succeeded far beyond its creators’ hopes and its critics’ fears, but most of its success was due to progressive improvements in its Rolls-Royce engines. Without the constraint and compulsion of standardised wartime production schedules, there might well have been a case for developing and refining the airframe to gain more speed, increased bomb load, higher ceiling and longer range, to say nothing of an assured single-engine capability. There were schemes to reduce drag by simplifying the landing gear and tail arrangement and it is believed that the single O/400 manufactured by Harland & Wolff, J1934, was a prototype in which the longerons were McGruer tubular spars, as in the V/1500. A relatively small change in wing section from RAF 6 to RAF 15 would have enhanced the O/400’s overall performance in 1917, and it might then have competed with the D.FI.10 and Vimy; it accepted Liberty 12 engines without structural change and a successful civil conversion of D5444 to Napier Lions (as G-EASO) in 1920 showed how its post-war service, both military and commercial, could have been prolonged.
   Handley Page and Volkert may have considered this possibility, but were wiser than to risk new wine in old bottles; instead, they developed the W series, combining the experience and best features of both O and V. So the O/400 remained virtually unchanged in the changing environment it had done much to create, and not till Fairey Hendon monoplanes arrived in 1936 did the RAF again have land-based bombers of 100 ft span in squadron service.

O/400 (Two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII or two Sunbeam Maori or two Liberty 12-N)
   Span 100 ft (30-5 m); length 62 ft 10 in (19-2 m); wing area 1,648 sq ft (153 m2). Empty weight 8,200 lb (3,720 kg); maximum weight 14,000 lb (6,350 kg). Speed 97 mph (156 km/h); ceiling 8,500 ft (2,625 m); endurance 8 hr. Crew four.
3138, the O/400 prototype, flying with Sunbeam Maori engines at Martlesham Heath in April 1918.
C9700 at Provin before being flown to Kantara in November 1918 by Brigadier-General Borton.
C3487, the first production O/400, completed at the Royal Aircraft Factory in March 1918.
F318 at Heliopolis in June 1919 after flying from Lympne in 36 hours.
Ross Smith’s O/400 C9861 with two Bristol Fighters of No.1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, at Haifa after the capture of Damascus in October 1918.
J2260 of the Wireless Testing Park, Biggin Hill, during night navigation trials at Croydon in April 1922.
Maintenance work on O/400 of No.214 Squadron at Coudekerque on 1 June, 1918.
Getting an R.A.F. "baby" bomber into position in an aerodrome on the British Western front in France
O/400 of No.207 Squadron at Ligescourt on 29 August, 1918.
Gallopin' Goose at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1921, compared with a Martin MB-1.
A Standard-built Liberty-engined O/400
F5349 with Liberty engines at Cricklewood in February 1919; in the pilot’s cockpit is the Crown Prince of Sweden, with Lt-Col Ormonde Darby beside him.
Standard-built 62448 over Aberdeen proving range with 4,000-lb bomb in September 1921.
Langley at Wilbur Wright Field in 1919.
Major K.R. Park with his double crew at Andover after flying F3750 Last Days round the British Isles in April 1919.
Silver Star at Cricklewood in April 1919 showing large cabin window.
Great Britain at Cricklewood in April 1919 showing small cabin windows.
O/400 fuselage built by British Caudron at Cricklewood, showing fuel tanks and vertical bomb stowage
F5349 being erected by US Air Service personnel at Ford Junction in October 1918.
C9700 wrecked by cyclone at Lahore in April 1919.
Salvaging engines from the 0/400 which crashed at Abu Hamed on 4 April, 1920.
P/320 and R/200 (H.P.13 and 14)

   By the end of 1916, the Royal Naval Air Service had accepted the technique of flying-off land aeroplanes from the deck of a seaplane carrier as feasible for active service; single-seat scouts were already replacing float seaplanes for short-range attacks on Zeppelin sheds sufficiently near the coast and the Admiralty invited tenders for larger ship-based bombers, both single- and two-seat, in category N.1a. One such was the Handley Page Type P, designed to carry a crew of two, two machine-guns, four 100 lb bombs, and cameras, but no wireless, with a speed range of 50 mph to 115 mph and climb to 10,000 ft in 20 min. Originally sketched as a biplane for which the intended 200 hp Hispano-Suiza engine was not available, a change was made to the much heavier 320 hp Sunbeam Cossack, which in turn required a large increase in wing area to maintain the same wing loading; since the overall dimensions also had to be kept within close limits, Volkert solved the problem by redesigning this machine, P/320, as a triplane. Two prototypes, N519-N520, were ordered, but cancelled almost at once, after which a fresh start was made with a smaller biplane, Type R/200, when at last a supply of 200 hp Hispano-Suizas had been assured for it.
   The R/200 was a small two-seat reconnaissance-fighter intended to operate either as a seaplane or from the decks of HMS Furious and Argus, on which deck landing techniques were being developed during 1917. The specification, in the Admiralty N.2a category, defined dimensional limits to suit the carriers’ hangar space, emphasising interchangeability and ease of maintenance at sea. The engines specified were the Bentley B.R.2 rotary or the 200 hp Hispano-Suiza, which were both in mass production for the Admiralty and War Office. Volkert chose the latter engine and obtained a contract for six prototypes, N27-N32, in the summer of 1917, with a promise of an initial production batch of twenty to follow. Soon afterwards, his involvement with a new heavy bomber project necessitated his delegating the detail design of the R/200 to Leslie Richards, who evolved a neat single-bay biplane of economic construction, with identical upper and lower wings, having 2 degrees dihedral and no stagger; the whole trailing edge aft of the rear spar was taken up by ailerons and camber-changing flaps on both wings. Not only were the ailerons and flaps all of equal span and area, but the port ailerons were interchangeable with the starboard flaps and vice versa. The same principles governed the design of the tail surfaces, where the rudder and each elevator were identical, as were the fin and each half of the tailplane; such comprehensive interchangeability was expected to speed production of components and reduce the variety of spares needed on board ship. The fuselage was a flat-sided wire-braced girder with four spruce longerons and perpendicular struts, stringers being used only to form the curved decking. The pilot occupied the forward cockpit under the centre section and had conventional controls, with the aileron cables arranged to intersect the wing hinge centres so that tension in the circuit was maintained whether the wings were spread or folded. The flaps were pulled down symmetrically, by means of a separate handwheel alongside the pilot, against the tension of rubber cords anchored to the top of the front spar of the upper wing.
   The geared 200 hp Hispano-Suiza vee-eight water-cooled engine was neatly installed with a circular front honeycomb radiator and louvred detachable aluminium cowling panels. There were no exhaust manifolds and the petrol in the main fuselage tank between the cockpits was pumped to a small gravity service tank set into the centre-section leading edge. The observer’s cockpit, with its Scarff ring for a Lewis gun, was aft of the centre section and afforded a good all-round view and field of fire for self-defence. The landing gear comprised interchangeable sea and land chassis, the former having twin carvel-built mahogany floats with single steps and shallow V-bottoms, together with a tail float having a strong central skeg and a water-rudder operated directly from the pilot’s rudder bar by separate cables; the main floats were rubber-sprung, but not the tail float. The alternative wheeled chassis had simple V-struts, with a rubber-sprung cross-axle; the tailskid also was rubber-sprung. The third and fourth prototypes were to be delivered with wheels and the other four with floats. Meredith had arranged for most of the work on the production batch to be sub-contracted, with final assembly in requisitioned premises in Cricklewood Lane, as the main factory was fully occupied, and it is believed that serials N6080-N6099 were reserved for production aircraft.
   The first two seaplanes, N27 and N28, were tested at the Welsh Harp reservoir at Hendon in December 1917 by Gordon Bell, who ferried them to the RNAS testing station at the Isle of Grain, where the first landplane, N29, also arrived in February 1918; but in view of the overriding priority of O/400 and V/1500 production at Cricklewood the remaining three prototypes and all the production R/200s were cancelled in March 1918. The performance, as tested at Grain, was not outstanding and in general the R/200 was considered inferior to the Parnall Panther, which was faster, lighter and even smaller, with the further advantage that its B.R.2 engine was reliable, whereas the Hispano-Suiza suffered badly from reduction gear and crankshaft failures. Possibly the R/200 could have been refined and improved, but for the more urgent demands of the V/1500.

R/200 (200 hp Hispano-Suiza)
   Span 36 ft (10-97 m); length (seaplane) 29 ft 8 in (9-1 m), (landplane) 25 ft 6 in (7-77 m); wing area 390 sq ft (36-2 m2). Empty weight 1,882 lb (853 kg); maximum weight 2,990 lb (1,355 kg). Speed 93 mph (150 km/h); ceiling 12,000 ft (3,710 m). Pilot and observer.
The second R/200, N28, at Grain in December 1917.
N29 at Grain in March 1918.
H.P. Type R.200
V/1500 (H.P.15)

   Ever since the formation of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912, it had been the Army’s consistent view that military aircraft should be used only for reconnaissance, to report back the enemy’s disposition, which the artillery would then destroy so as to clear the way for the infantry’s advance. The idea that aircraft could themselves destroy and occupy was not taken seriously by the War Office, which held that the RFC was to be employed strictly at the discretion of the army commander in the field. The Admiralty, being accustomed to bombardment and blockade, was willing to accept bombers as alternative to long-range guns, provided that they could attain a better level of performance and reliability than the fragile aeroplanes so far available. For this reason Admiral Jellicoe had fought the Battle of Jutland without the carrier Campania and her fourteen seaplanes, and it was left to the relatively junior officers of the RNAS to demonstrate the value of bombing enemy submarine bases along the Belgian coast and to extend this activity to the Saar and Ruhr steelworks where submarine manufacture really began. The Handley Page O/100 and O/400 were the only bombers capable of carrying a worthwhile bomb load to targets, such as Mannheim and Cologne, 250 miles or more from the nearest French base at Nancy, and by early 1917 the naval members of the Air Board had drafted two specifications for night-bombers capable of flying at least 500 miles; A.3(b) for a large aircraft carrying a bomb-load of 3,000 lb at 100 mph and A.2(b) for a smaller one carrying 500 lb at 115 mph. Confident from his experience in evolving the O/400, Handley Page was already designing a new bomber of twice the weight, powered by two of the new 600 hp engines being developed by Rolls-Royce (as the Condor) and Siddeley-Deasy (as the Tiger) and scheduled for production early in 1918. Before this design could be formally offered to meet specification A.3(b), the military members of the Air Board, at a meeting on 23 June, 1917, vetoed all new orders for night bombers, claiming that they diverted effort from the real job of reconnaissance and artillery spotting on which aircraft should properly be engaged, a view that Major-Gen Trenchard, C-in-C RFC, vigorously opposed. The new Controller of the Technical Department at the Air Board, Major John Buchanan, having been informed from naval sources that neither the casualty rate nor bombing accuracy in RNAS squadrons was worse by night than by day, had the question reconsidered a week later, with the support of Sir William Weir, and was allowed to invite and accept tenders to both specifications; then on 7 July, enemy bombers raided London for the second time and the War Cabinet had to take urgent action to restore public confidence. General Smuts was charged with reorganising the flying services and recommended amalgamation of the RNAS and RFC into a single Royal Air Force, with Trenchard at its head. In August 1917, orders were given to Vickers Ltd for three prototypes to A.2(b) and to Handley Page Ltd for three prototypes to A.3(b), the latter being designated Type V and covered by contract No. AS.22690 for serials B9463-B9465.
   Type V was schemed initially as an enlarged equal-span version of the O/400, of twice its weight and carrying more than twice its useful load. It had to accommodate a minimum crew of three in the nose, with the best possible communication between pilot and bomb-aimer, and to carry up to twenty-eight 112-lb bombs suspended vertically on removable racks inside the fuselage. In October 1917, in view of the strict secrecy of the project and lack of drawing office capacity at Cricklewood, Handley Page arranged, with Sir William Weir’s help, for the design work and prototype manufacture to be undertaken at Belfast by Harland & Wolff Ltd, who supplied twenty draughtsmen and a large number of fitters and carpenters, normally employed on the interior furnishings of luxury ocean liners but transferred to aircraft work for the duration of the war. Volkert went to Belfast in charge of the project, taking with him Francis Arcier as his chief assistant and four senior designers, including S. T. A. Richards (younger brother of Leslie Richards and an ex-Great Western Railway apprentice from Swindon) who a year earlier had been personal assistant to Handley Page. The Admiralty lent Captain T. M. Wilson RN, who undertook all the stressing, which Handley Page himself checked during visits to Belfast every week-end; they all worked twelve hours a day from Monday to Saturday, and four hours on Sunday mornings when Handley Page joined them, starting from a preliminary layout drawn on squared paper by Richards under Handley Page’s guidance. With the double aim of saving weight and avoiding the use of long lengths of spruce, all the longerons and struts, except in the extreme nose of the fuselage, were made from hollow spars of circular or streamline section, rolled up from laminated spruce in the manner patented by the Southampton yacht builder McGruer. This resulted in a very slender but strong structural space-frame, of larger cross-section, but little greater length, than the O/400. There were upper and lower gun mountings amidships as on the O/400, and a catwalk along the port side gave interior access to a gunner’s cockpit in the extreme tail. Instead of separate cylindrical fuel tanks, a large internally-braced rectangular tank of 1,000 gallons capacity was designed to fit exactly into the upper half of the centre fuselage above the bomb-carriers, so that all the disposable load was as near as possible to the centre of gravity, maintaining constant trim under all conditions of loading. The wings, of 2,800 sq ft gross area, were generally similar in construction to the O/400’s, but had hollow box spars and were of equal span; as the lower dihedral had to be great enough to ensure ground clearance when folded, the upper wing remained flat.
   Originally the aircraft was designed for two Rolls-Royce Condors in nacelles cantilevered forward from the front spar, but late in 1917, when Condor development was delayed to give priority to Eagle VIII production, Henry Royce advised Handley Page to redesign for tandem pairs of Eagles instead; in this form the design became V/1500, in reference to the total horsepower of the four engines. Trials of an O/100 (3117) with two tandem pairs of Hispano-Suizas at Farnborough, although not entirely conclusive, had confirmed that the rear propeller should be smaller in diameter and coarser in pitch than the front one of the pair, which allowed ample clearance for a four-blader to work within the available gap forward of the wing trailing edge, but since the c.g. of the tandem pair was now above the front spar instead of well forward of the leading edge, it was necessary to sweep back the outer wings. The tail unit was a high aspect ratio biplane, with four unshielded rudders pivoted between the front spars and separate struts aft of the rudders between the rear spars; the rudders were aerodynamically balanced, without fixed fins, and the elevators were rigidly interconnected from side to side. Various landing gears were schemed to cater for the concentrated weights of the engines outboard and the bombs and fuel inboard; some included wheels recessed into the fuselage and wings, mounted on railway-style horn-plate suspensions (jettisonable for ditching), but finally four equally-spaced wheels in a transverse row were disposed in two pairs, with a faired shock-absorber strut and rear radius tube inboard of each wheel and a cross-axle and diagonal bracing tube for each pair. This arrangement was as serviceable on rough ground as the 0/400’s, but simpler to maintain and manufacture. The Palmer wheels were 5 ft in diameter and cost ?135 each, and were calculated to provide two tons buoyancy for ditching. The tailskid, made from a single baulk of ash, was shod with a steel plate and sprung by several skeins of rubber cord. The span of 126 ft was large compared with the fuselage length and resulted in a substantial increase in overall length with wings folded, but wind-tunnel tests predicted adequate longitudinal and directional stability. The ailerons, of high aspect ratio, were balanced by inset triangular horns, imposing less torsional stress than in the overhung O/100 design. The controls were conventional, with a 2 ft diameter wheel on a long column, together with a 2:1 pulley gear which reduced pilot effort but required correspondingly large travels; this gear could be locked out at the pilot's option. The pilot occupied the starboard half of the cockpit, with eight petrol cocks and carburettor jet levers in a vertical stack on the sidewall and two pairs of throttle levers, for forward and aft engines, arranged, as in the 0/400, to control port and starboard engines differentially by rotating the knobs. The engines were uncowled, with a common rectangular oil tank sandwiched between them on the bearers and the four rectangular radiator matrices were combined into a single block mounted above the fuselage and occupying half the centre-section gap. The cooling system included reserve water tanks in the upper centre-section, which also contained gravity tanks to which the petrol pumps delivered fuel from the main tank. As in the O/400, the engine controls were connected from the fuselage to the engines by concentric torque tubes encased in streamline fairings.
   The Air Board decided to place production orders in advance of the prototype’s first flight and on 27 January, 1918, Harland & Wolff received contract No.35A/185/C.74 for twenty V/1500s, E4304-E4323. To speed up the layout of the controls and bomb gear, a centre fuselage mock-up was made at Cricklewood and shipped to Belfast via Fleetwood on 2 February, 1918. A site near Crumlin, Co Antrim, for final assembly hangars was inspected and agreed on 28 February by Lord Pirrie, chairman of Harland & Wolff, and four days later Sir William Weir held a conference at the Alexandria Works, Belfast, to which he invited A. J. Campbell, general manager of William Beardmore & Co Ltd of Dalmuir on the Clyde. It had already been decided that as Handley Page Ltd’s new factory at Cricklewood was fully occupied with O/400 production, the second V/1500 order should be placed with Beardmores, who on 13 March, 1918, received contract No.35A/315/C200 for twenty aircraft, E8287-E8306; their proposal to substitute 500 hp BHP Atlantic engines for Eagles was expected to enhance the overall performance. Like Harland & Wolff, Beardmores were well established Admiralty contractors and were already engaged in rigid airship construction on the Renfrewshire bank of the Clyde at Inchinnan; they had their own aeroplane design office at Dalmuir under George Tilghman-Richards and were fully competent to undertake the alternative engine installation. Sir William Weir had become Director General of Aircraft Production in February and was much concerned by the constant risk of labour disputes under the stress of food rationing and coal shortages, so the Beardmore contract was an insurance against delays at Queen's Island and vice versa; but in fact no strikes were threatened in either shipyard at that time and it was the building contractor’s delay, due to both disputes and bad weather, at the Crumlin aerodrome (later named Aldergrove) which threatened the first flight of the V/1500 first prototype. The carefully planned isolation and secrecy of its final assembly and trials had to be abandoned early in March and the completed components of B9463 were urgently shipped to Cricklewood for erection and test at the new 160-acre aerodrome at Clutterhouse Farm. The fuselage parts arrived at London Docks on 12 March and were sent on by barge to Cricklewood, and the crated mainplanes and other components were ready at Belfast Docks on the 27th, but no ship was available during the next two days, so on the 29th they were sent by mail steamer to Stranraer and railed to Euston, where Handley Page collected them personally by lorry to save transferring them to the Midland Railway for Cricklewood. The final batch of parts arrived on 12 April and nine days later - only six months from the commencement of design work - the first V/1500 was ready to be flown by Captain Vernon E. G. Busby, a Service test pilot of Herculean physique but tender years from Martlesham Heath.
   He made the first straight flight, at a height of 10 ft on 22 May, accompanied only by Jack Hathaway, a former Beatty School instructor, as mechanic. Finding a slight nose-heaviness, Busby decided to carry an extra man in the tail on future flights, the volunteer for this duty being Francis Kappey, a Handley Page apprentice who was waiting to join the Royal Air Force. Four flights were made on 25 May, with Hathaway, Kappey, Volkert and S. T. A. Richards aboard, and Busby climbed to 3,000 ft and recorded a full speed of 101 mph, gliding speed of 70 mph and stalling speed of 38 mph. In spite of the wind-tunnel predictions, the V/1500 was directionally unstable, with ailerons and elevators very heavy and rudders too light. However, Busby did not consider the machine dangerous and on 27 May two more flights were made with a full petrol load of 7,300 lb; for the second of these the elevator 2:1 gear was brought into use and three more passengers - General Brancker, General Ellington and Colonel J. G. Weir (brother of Sir William) - were invited aboard, while Lord Pirrie was among the official spectators; ballast was carried to make up the design gross weight of 12-j tons and General Brancker took a turn at the controls; on this flight Richards was instructed to walk aft along the cat-walk during take-off, so as to reduce the elevator control load for rotation. The sheer size of the V/1500 posed many problems and it was found that when the wings were folded the vertical fuselage struts to which they were latched became permanently bowed outwards; this was simply corrected by interconnecting the mid-points of the two struts by a tension wire across the fuselage. Another difficulty arose from the proximity of the folded wings to the ground, which damaged the aileron control levers, although these had been kept as short as possible and thereby increased cable tension and friction in the aileron circuit. Above all the big central radiator caused excessive drag and disturbed the airflow over the tail. Busby considered the elevator control to be too light with the 2:1 gear in circuit, and objected to the control travel being doubled, so it was removed for the ninth flight on 29 May, the 15 cwt aileron cables having been replaced by 20 cwt to reduce stretch and backlash. For the tenth flight on 30 May, Busby was accompanied by Commander Bartley of the Admiralty and six other passengers, and detected an incipient spin during a right turn at 2,000 ft. Suspecting aileron overbalance, he had the triangular horn balances cut off, but on the eleventh flight, on 2 June, he could find no difference in handling and agreed to Handley Page’s request to reinstate the balances, since wind-tunnel tests had shown no possibility of overbalance. It had taken only an hour to cut off the horns, but nearly a week was needed to put them back, so the twelfth flight was delayed till 8 June, by which time also the elevator levers had been lengthened. After a 15 minute flight with only Hathaway in the tail, Busby landed to report a marked improvement in handling and announced his intention of climbing to 10,000 ft; he took off almost immediately on the thirteenth flight, after taking aboard four more passengers, comprising a second mechanic, Colonel Alec Ogilvie, Ogilvie’s assistant Bertram G. Cooper (formerly secretary of the Aeronautical Society), and George A. Cooper of Harland & Wolff. Heading due north, the aircraft had climbed to 1,000 ft over Golders Green when it turned left and the engines were heard to stop. Possibly Busby was faced with fuel starvation to all four engines and attempted to turn back to the aerodrome, but, being still in a climbing attitude, the machine stalled and spun into the ground, fortunately on allotments and not on the adjacent houses. Busby, Hathaway, Bertram Cooper and the second mechanic, who were all in front, were killed instantly before fire broke out, and the other two were saved through being in the tail cockpit. Although not burned, and quickly rescued, Colonel Ogilvie was taken to Mount Vernon Hospital with a broken arm and severe bruising, but George Cooper had serious head injuries and died within ten minutes from arterial haemorrhage. The fire that followed consumed all evidence of the cause of the disaster, which was a serious setback to the programme; this had assumed very great importance and urgency with the formation of the Independent Force, RAF, for the strategic bombing of more remote German targets, including Berlin. Ironically, it was Ogilvie himself, in the course of his official duties, who had delayed the Belfast production line in April by insisting that 250-lb bombs must be carried vertically as well as 112 lb; this required the main fuel tank and bomb suspension beams to be raised 7 inches from their formerly agreed position and affected all aircraft other than the three prototypes.
   A third production contract, No.35A/1455/C.1528 for ten V/1500s, F7134-F7143, had just been awarded to the Alliance Aircraft Co to manufacture complete aircraft to be test flown by Handley Page Ltd at Cricklewood and these incorporated the revised bomb beam height and so were to be given priority for delivery to the RAF, but there had been labour disputes in several of the Waring & Gillow factories (of which Alliance was one) and it seems that this problem, together with the loss of the first prototype, led to Handley Page Ltd taking on the final assembly of details and components manufactured by Alliance, making up various shortages and incorporating modifications as necessary. Harland & Wolff were instructed to ship the two remaining prototypes and the first three production aircraft to Cricklewood, commencing their own final assembly with the fourth production machine, E4307, scheduled for September. The second prototype was shipped from Belfast on 17 June and meanwhile the first Beardmore V/1500, E8287, had been erected at Inchinnan, in the large airship hangar. It had the same tail unit as the prototype and a similar central radiator block; curiously, it was marked with roundels instead of stripes on the rudders. Its direct-drive Galloway-built BHP Atlantic engines were faster-running than the Eagles and their airscrews turned in the opposite direction. It probably was not flown with the original radiator arrangement, in view of the high drag experienced on the first prototype, and remained grounded for some weeks while flight tests of the second prototype at Cricklewood were made to determine the modifications needed before entry into squadron service. These were discussed urgently during the third week in June and on the 19th Handley Page was informed that an operational crew of nine would be required, comprising captain/bomb-aimer, two pilots (one navigating while off duty), one air- mechanic in charge of engines and fuel system, one wireless operator and four gunners (one each in nose, tail, mid-upper and mid-lower stations). Following satisfactory flight tests at Martlesham, early in July, by Major Savory on an O/400 (C9713) fitted with a new design of aileron, with the horn-balance deleted and full-span aerodynamic balance secured by means of back-set hinges, this type of aileron was adopted for all V/1500s; at the same time the aileron levers were repositioned inside the gap so that they could be made long enough to reduce cable tension and pulley friction, without risk of damage from the ground or the hangar roof. In the hope of further reducing turbulence over the tail, the engines were completely cowled in sheet aluminium nacelle panels resembling airship gondolas and of good streamline form, with a pair of tall narrow radiators at the front, arranged side by side to form a single octagonal matrix with a vertical separator on the centreline; in the nacelle top panel was a water header tank acting as a steam trap and condenser, and the suggestion for this nacelle may have originated from Beardmores, as an improvement to their Atlantic installation.
   Thus modified at Cricklewood, the second prototype was ready for flight testing on 3 August by Clifford Prodger, who found that, although the aileron controls were considerably lighter, directional and longitudinal instability remained, due mainly to variation of downwash with speed and throttle opening. An attempt to remedy this was made by adding a central fin above the tailplane and a tapered fairing behind the tail cockpit, but neither remedy effected a cure and the tail fairing ruined the tail-gunner’s field of fire. The fin and tail piece were removed before delivery on 29 August to Martlesham Heath, where the leading edges of the rudders were stripped of fabric to reduce the balance area, again without effect. After brief trials with no fewer than twelve pitot heads arranged to sample the airflow round the tail, the machine returned to Cricklewood on 6 September and the nacelle cowlings were removed, which immediately improved handling and saved nearly 500 lb of weight; meanwhile, wind-tunnel tests on modified tail surfaces showed that positive stability could be obtained by completely redesigning the tail unit with 50 per cent larger gap, four fixed fins with plain rudders hinged to them, and longer elevator levers to reduce cable tension. So large a series of modifications necessitated not only the use of new components but also substantial contract cover, as a result of which the second and third prototypes, built as B9464-5, acquired new identities as J1935-6. With its new tail unit J1935 was officially accepted at Martlesham Heath late in September and was joined early in October by J1936, brought up to the same standard. Both were equipped with Scarff gun rings at nose and tail and pillar mountings above and below the midships station, all for Lewis guns, but in August it was proposed to install one or two 37 mm shell-firing Coventry Ordnance Works (COW) guns, either singly above the top centre section or at the nose and tail stations, as a defence against pursuing fighters. J1936 was allotted for these and similar armament trials at Orfordness and also made brief tests with a three-inch mortar in the mid-upper cockpit, which lobbed shells over the tail. In September provision was requested for carrying four 550 lb or two 1,650 lb SN bombs horizontally on Gledhill slips, and already a 3,300 lb ‘block-buster’ had been manufactured for later use, although no carrier for it had so far been designed. At the same time the 86th Wing, Independent Force, was brought into being, in great secrecy, at Bircham Newton, near Hunstanton in Norfolk, where two new V/1500 squadrons, Nos. 166 and 167, were formed under the command of Wing Cmdr Redvers H. Mulock.
   Due to the time taken in clearing J1935 for squadron service, and the effect of the necessary modifications on the several production lines, deliveries of V/1500s were delayed till the end of October and only three had arrived at Bircham Newton by 5 November; these are believed to have been F7134 and F7135 built at Cricklewood and the first Beardmore machine E8287, fully modified with enlarged tail unit and with its Atlantic engines replaced by Eagles immediately after arrival from Inchinnan. This change was due to an Air Board decision on 31 October to standardise Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIIs for all V/1500s and to cancel production of the Atlantic. Neither the Napier Lion nor the Siddeley-Deasy Tiger, which were more powerful than the Eagle, were available in sufficient quantity, and even the Eagle was still prone to cooling system troubles in spite of its long period of service in O/400s. The Cricklewood production line was programmed to deliver three V/1500s in October, four in November, eight in December and thereafter fifteen per month, and new contracts had been awarded in July and August for 30 more from Beardmore, 40 more from Handley Page and 40 from Grahame-White Aviation, making a total of 160 on order. Production machines from different makers exhibited minor variations, notably in the pitot-head position; Handley Page-built V/1500s had plain tubes supported by a long lightweight mast taken vertically through the floor immediately below the pilot’s airspeed indicator in the middle of the dashboard. Beardmore machines had a short mast with an Elliott or Ogilvie pitot head attached, at the same location, but for some reason Harland & Wolff machines had a mast of intermediate length set about 2 ft further aft. Another small difference was that Beardmore machines had less plywood cladding round the nose cockpit, the fabric side panels being extended forward to oblique lacing strips.
   As already mentioned, Harland & Wolff’s first three production V/1500s had been built with small tails, like the prototypes, and were shipped to Cricklewood for final modification and assembly. Probably they were aggregated with the Alliance machines and lost their identity, and the first V/1500 to be flown at Aldergrove seems to have been E4307, which was programmed for delivery early in October but delayed for over a month. The three V/1500s which had already reached 166 Squadron suffered many teething troubles, mainly due to engine vibration and bursting of rubber hose joints in the petrol, oil and water pipes. However, on 9 November two of them were ready to carry bomb loads of 1,000 lb each into Germany, intending to penetrate as far as Berlin if possible and prepared to land in either Czechoslovakia or neutral territory if fuel was insufficient for the return journey. But the raid was called off because of bad weather, giving the Rolls-Royce team an opportunity of changing all eight engines before the next raid, planned for 48 hours later, and the new engines were all ready to be started when the Armistice was signalled just before midday on the 11th. All the factories immediately went on three or four days’ holiday and all overtime ceased thereafter with the result that E4307, nearly ready for flight test by Captain Henshaw at Aldergrove on Armistice Day, was not in fact flown till nearly six weeks later. Nevertheless, until the Treasury stepped in to curtail costs, both the Royal Air Force and the manufacturers were anxious to continue development of the V/l500 along lines already discussed and agreed. Already the third Cricklewood machine, F7136, had been designated as an extra prototype, with widened radiators forming regular hexagons, redesigned cylindrical header tanks and the nacelles lowered by 2 ft, not only to improve performance and stability (as found by experience with the D.H.10A), but also to allow the later substitution of Napier Lion engines, which had a higher thrust line. On 15 November, 1918, when normal work had been resumed at Cricklewood, F7136 had just been loaded with 6 hours’ fuel for its first flight, when a party of 28 journalists arrived on a sponsored visit, escorted by Handley Page himself; on the spur of the moment he invited them, and a dozen employees, to sample the delights of flying for themselves and produced fur-lined flying clothes for them all. Clifford Prodger then took off and climbed to 6,500 ft with a total complement of 40 passengers sitting at two levels inside the vast empty fuselage, making up a live load of 6,022 lb; sharing the tail gunner’s cockpit were Handley Page’s secretary, Miss Spiess, and Dorothy Chandler of the design office. Unfortunately F7136 did not survive to become a Lion test-bed, but crashed near Waltham Cross in January 1919, and F7140 was then allotted to replace it, remaining at Cricklewood without armament until Lions became available and meanwhile being used to test an adjustable tail incidence gear.
   On 20 December Clifford Prodger was at last able to test Harland & Wolff’s first complete V/1500, E4307, at Aldergrove. After an entirely satisfactory first flight of one hour, he ferried it next day nonstop to Bircham Newton. He came back to fly the next Belfast machine, E4308, from Aldergrove to No.2 (Northern) Repair Depot at Coal Aston, Sheffield, on 18 January, 1919; later it was flown to an exhibition at No.9 Aircraft Acceptance Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, before delivery to Bircham Newton, where it joined F7137 and F7138 from Cricklewood both with the new hexagon radiators and header tanks, but retaining the standard high engine position; there also was F7135, with an original radiator on the starboard side and a new one on the port side, being flown to investigate various overheating and air-lock troubles which had caused F7134 to crash. Meanwhile, on completion of its stay at Orfordness, the third prototype, J1936, had been prepared and equipped at Martlesham Heath for an ambitious long-range flight to Egypt and India. It retained its original radiators and cooling system and had full tricolour stripes on each rudder to make its nationality plain in the event of a forced landing. Across the nose it bore the name H.M.A. Old Carthusian chosen by its pilot, Major A. S. C. MacLaren; his co-pilot was Captain Robert Halley and their distinguished passenger was Brig-Gen N. D. K. McEwen; the remaining crew members were Sergts Smith, Crockett and Brown. Leaving Martlesham Heath on 13 December, 1918, they were delayed by fog at Le Bourget for several days, but then continued via Marseilles and Pisa, arriving at Centocelle (Rome) on the 19th and Otranto next day. There they picked up nine passengers for Malta on the 21st and on the 22nd flew 1,050 miles nonstop over the sea from Malta to Mersa Matruh, landing in torrential rain, which flooded the cockpits and induced General McEwen and the other passengers to continue to Cairo by train from the railhead. The crew dried the machine out and on Christmas Eve reached Heliopolis, where General McEwen resumed his flight to India. They started well on 29 December with a nonstop stage of 850 miles across the desert to Baghdad, but next day their luck changed and they faced a strong headwind, which reduced their ground speed to 50 mph; after a few hours they had to land at El Amara with a disintegrated wind vane on a fuel pump, which could not be repaired till they reached Bandar Abbas, after using hand pumps, with frequent landings, all along the north coast of the Persian Gulf. On 13 January, 1919, the wind changed and they took off for Jask, hoping to reach Karachi in a single stage next day, but after making fair progress along the coast of Baluchistan on the 14th, the port rear engine overheated and seized up, blowing off one cylinder, and eventually the reduction gear broke away, taking the four-blade propeller with it, fortunately without serious damage to the wings. They landed safely on the hard beach at Ormara, 150 miles short of Karachi, and on the 16th managed to take off again on three engines after discarding most of their load of spares, equipment and clothing to reduce weight; then, 35 miles from Karachi, an oil pipe broke on the starboard rear engine; nevertheless they reached their goal that day with only their front engines in action, thus completing the second through flight from England to India, the honour of making the first having gone to Borton in the O/400 C9700 which had preceded J1936 by five weeks. After repairs and much-needed rest, Halley flew J1936 on to Delhi, Ambala and Lahore, where he arrived on 29 March, having flown 7,000 miles from Martlesham Heath. After a few days C9700 arrived at Lahore, having been sent to intervene in Afghan hostilities on the North West Lrontier, if possible by bombing the rebellious Amir Amanullah’s stronghold at Kabul; but in April the 0/400 was wrecked on the ground by a sudden storm and only the V/1500 was left to do the job, although it had been judged incapable of climbing over the Khyber Pass with maximum fuel load in addition to several 250 lb bombs. Nevertheless, it was carefully serviced and flown to its advanced base at Risalpur, whence on 24 May Captain Halley and his observer Lieutenant Villiers took off at 3 a.m. and climbed precariously over the Pathan Hills to Jalalabad, where they found a tail wind to speed them to Kabul. They spent ten minutes over the target and scored several direct hits on the Arsenal, incidentally breaching the outer wall of Amanullah’s harem. With their load lightened, they returned safely to Risalpur after a round flight of 400 miles over the most difficult terrain in the world. This was the first and only warlike action by any V/1500, but it was so effective that it ended the revolt and, in a political conference later at Rawalpindi, the Afghans were reported to have been ‘very much impressed’. J1936 was not flown again because of damage by termites to the wing spars, but its fuselage survived for some years as the squadron office at Risalpur.
   Had the war in Europe continued, V/1500s would have been employed in the spring of 1919 to fly from bases near Prague, where the 87th Wing was planning to attack Berlin direct with the 3,300 lb ‘block busters’ round which the A.3(b) specification had been drafted. As the war had ended so soon, the 86th Wing organised simulated sorties to test the capacity and reliability of the V/1500 and on 22 May, 1919, one of 166 Squadron’s aircraft, carrying a crew of five officers and three mechanics, flew nonstop from Bircham Newton for 11 hr 33 min over a ‘figure eight’ course of 836 miles, via Birmingham, Southport, Manchester, Lincoln, London, Lelixstowe, Great Yarmouth and Hunstanton, landing back at Bircham Newton at 7.40 p.m.; the take-off weight was 24,890 lb and average speed 72-8 mph. Another such flight was planned for August, but by this time the Versailles Peace Treaty had been signed and strict economy was the order of the day. The 86th Wing was disbanded and its V/1500s transferred to the 71st Wing, whose trial squadron, No.274, was formed at Bircham Newton in May and later based at Hawkinge, its main purpose being to develop methods of coastal patrol and long-range transport that would be relevant to the peacetime duties of the Royal Air Lorce. No.274’s aircraft were generally of a later modification standard exemplified by E8293 and L8281-P8290; these had strengthened landing wheels, adjustable tail incidence and an improved cooling system which retained the hexagonal radiator shape, but had the header tanks raised so as to supply the rear engines without interruption in a prolonged dive; also the shutters were arranged in three vertical rows per radiator instead of one, and the double filler orifice was extended upwards to increase the head of water during manoeuvres.
   Up till Armistice Day, total orders for V/l500s (excluding the three prototypes) amounted to 160, viz:
   Harland & Wolff 20 E4304-E4323
   Beardmore 20 E8287-E8306
   Alliance 10 L7134-L7143
   Beardmore 30 L8201-L8230
   Handley Page 40 L8281-L8320
   Grahame-White 40 H4825-H4864
   Of these, 100 were cancelled in December 1918, namely L8201-L8230, L8291-L8320 and H4825-H4864, from which it is seen that Handley Page Ltd received a direct contract only for ten, L8281-L8290. Yet Handley Page Ltd are known to have delivered, and received payment for, thirty-five V/l 500s, while ‘other contractors’ were credited with only twenty-five. It is evident, therefore, that Handley Page Ltd assembled at Cricklewood not only the ten Alliance machines in addition to their own ten, but also fifteen which can only have been transferred from the Harland & Wolff and Beardmore contracts. Surviving records do not indicate with certainty which individual aircraft these fifteen comprised, but photographic evidence suggests that E8287-E8295 were flown out from Inchinnan and the remaining eleven delivered as spares. E8290 was flown from Inchinnan to Hendon by Clifford Prodger on 17 May, 1919, while he also ferried three V/1500s from Aldergrove in the same month: one to Bircham Newton on 3 May, and two to Hawkinge on 13 and 24 May; these were additional to E4307, flown to Bircham Newton on 21 December, 1918, and E4308 to Coal Aston on 18 January, 1919, as already noted, and were presumably E4309^t311; it seems likely that Harland & Wolff received payment for only the first five and that the remaining twelve (E4304-E4306 having already been shipped to Cricklewood for final modification) were taken over by Handley Page Ltd as spare components at Aldergrove. Probably as many as fifty were in progress at the time of the cancellations, although Grahame-White had not begun any manufacture and Beardmore had not started to assemble their second batch. Before the Versailles Treaty there had certainly been an intention to order fifty Lion-engined V/1500s, J6523-J6572. Some of these were to have had metal wing spars for tropical service, but in August the smaller and more economical Vickers Vimy was adopted and the V/1500 order was revoked; however, the Air Ministry agreed to purchase one Lion-engined machine, J6573, for trial purposes nominally to replace F7140, which Handley Page had been allowed to borrow for an attempt on the direct Atlantic crossing in June. J6573 was assembled and modified from spare components at Aldergrove, where it was test-flown on 3 September, 1919, by Major Keith Park, who then ferried it from Aldergrove to Hawkinge on 22 September at the high average speed of 140 mph. It was flown at Martlesham Heath between May 1920 and March 1921, but the intended full performance trials at 28,000 lb were not completed and it was scrapped in June 1921. At least two other V/1500s were collected from Aldergrove in June 1920 by RAF pilots including Lt-Col Sholto Douglas and Major Keith Park, and a formation of three was seen at the RAF Tournament at Hendon on 3 July, 1920, when one of them carried in its tail cockpit Miss Sylvia Boyden, making her thirteenth drop with a Calthrop ‘Guardian Angel’ static-line parachute. Sholto Douglas, who led this flight, with Keith Park and Flt/Lieut Naish in charge of the other two machines, took off straight over the Royal Box, but King George V was ‘not amused’ and Douglas later received a resounding ‘rocket’ from Sir Hugh Trenchard, to whom the King had complained.
   In spite of early proposals by Handley Page to convert the V/1500 for commercial use, none was ever civil-registered and only three ‘near-civil’ demonstrations were made. In the first of these, F7139 was sent on an officially sponsored goodwill flight to Spain, flown by Major Cecil Darley, with Lieutenant Kilburn as co-pilot, Lieutenant Murray as navigator, and three sergeant-mechanics. They left Manston on 6 May, 1919, for a first stop at Pau, intending to fly via San Sebastian and Vittoria to Madrid, but bad weather ruined the schedule and heavy rain stripped the fabric covering of the two starboard airscrews between Pau and Biarritz. At San Sebastian another severe storm prevented Darley from landing, so he returned to Biarritz, where he made a difficult landing on the shelving beach. Nevertheless, at the next attempt on 11 May, they reached Madrid in 1 hr 40 min and then flew on to Barcelona and back carrying seven passengers including Colonel Sanday, the British military attache; during the next fortnight F7139 was based at Cuatros Vientos and made several more flights over Madrid, including one for King Alfonso XIII when Darley flew over the Alcala at a height of 200 ft. On the return flight on 29 May, the airscrews again suffered damage from heavy rain, but the Pyrenees were crossed safely at 6,000 ft en route for Pau. Then, two miles offshore at Biarritz, the starboard rear reduction gear seized, throwing off the propeller and carrying away two interplane struts and tearing a large hole in the top wing. With this severe damage, Darley was unable to hold up the right wing by means of the ailerons, but managed to retain enough control to attempt a landing on the steep beach. This time he had a cross-wind and could not prevent the machine from swinging down the slope and plunging 30 yds into the sea. The incoming tide soon broke up the wreck, but the engines were recovered later and Darley was able to save a packet of correspondence he was carrying from King Alfonso, though not the hamper of carnations intended for delivery the same day from Queen Ena to Queen Mary.
   Before this unlucky flight began, the next machine of the same batch, F7140, hitherto reserved as a future Lion test-bed, had been loaned free of charge by the Air Ministry to Handley Page for a new bid to win the Daily Mail's ?10,000 prize for the first direct crossing of the North Atlantic - the same prize that Rowland Ding and Princess Ludwig of Lowenstein-Wertheim had intended to compete for in the L/200 of 1914; this prize had not been won before the war and was now revived. The V/1500 was entered by a syndicate of Handley Page’s old friends, Vice-Admiral Mark Kerr, Lt-Col E. W. Stedman and Major Tryggve Gran, the Norwegian polar explorer who had accompanied Captain R. F. Scott to the antarctic in 1911 and had flown a Bleriot monoplane from Scotland to Norway in 1914; apart from Handley Page’s own contribution, generous material support was promised by Rolls-Royce Ltd and several other companies. The syndicate’s chosen pilot was the Canadian ace, Lt-Col Raymond Collishaw, who expected to be demobilised early in 1919; but he was recalled to command the RAF contingent in the White Russian Expeditionary Force at Archangel, so another pilot had to be found; this time Major Herbert Brackley, latterly CO of No.214 Squadron in Flanders, was invited and accepted. Also in the team as meteorologist, though not in the flight crew, was a young Cambridge physicist. Major Geoffrey Ingram Taylor. With his customary attention to detail, Brackley left nothing to chance and on 2 April began extended flight trials at Cricklewood to obtain optimum fuel consumption, and reliable airspeed indicator position errors, using the long vertical radio mast on the nose to carry several pitot heads which could be selected in turn and compared; apparently the standard Handley Page location was the best. For F7140, Volkert had designed an internally braced double-size 2,000 gallon petrol tank which completely filled the centre bay of the fuselage and raised the all-up weight to 32,000 lb. Brackley estimated that this was enough for 30 hours flying and that only 1,700 gallons would be needed for the flight from Newfoundland to Ireland if the wind were right and an economical cruising speed could be held. Aft of the tank were three air bags for emergency flotation and each of the crew had electrically-heated clothing; the engine oil and reserve water tanks were also jacketed to prevent freezing.
   By 14 April Brackley was satisfied with his fuel consumption figures and next day F7140 was dismantled and crated for shipment from Liverpool to St John’s on ss Digby, which had just returned after taking across the rival Sopwith competitors, Harry Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve. In Newfoundland, Stedman had already leased the best available pasture on the east coast, at Harbour Grace about 60 miles from St John’s, and on 2 May Admiral Kerr sailed by ocean liner to Halifax, NS, with the other crew members, who now included Frank Wyatt of the Marconi Co as wireless operator, so as to leave Tryggve Gran free to navigate by star fixes and relieve Brackley and Kerr at the wheel. The W/T set installed was powerful enough to maintain contact with Handley Page at Cricklewood via the Marconi station at Chelmsford, ss Digby docked at St John’s on 10 May and F7140 was uncrated at Harbour Grace on the 12th, when one of the McGruer longerons was found to be damaged; this was spliced and final erection in the open air began on 21 May, being very much hampered by stormy weather. After a brief handling flight on 8 June, Brackley attempted a five-hour test on the 13th, but landed after 1\ hours with the engines boiling, so decided to wait for new radiators of the latest pattern, which were already on their way in ss Digby; the ship docked next day, having been held up by thick fog 200 miles from St John’s, and the radiators were sent on urgently to Harbour Grace by the narrow-gauge railway. They were installed and found satisfactory in the third test flight on 18 June, but meanwhile Jack Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown, the last to arrive on the scene, had flown their Vickers Vimy from Lester’s Field to Clifden on 14/15 June and won the prize.
   Handley Page thereupon cancelled the Atlantic flight and instructed Mark Kerr to fly nonstop to New York instead. So on 5 July Brackley, Kerr, Gran, Wyatt, H. A. Arnold (fitter) and C. C. Clements (rigger) took off at 5.55 p.m. in an attempt to fly 1,000 miles to Hazelhurst Field, Mineola, Long Island, intending to greet the airship R34 on her arrival there. Two hours after starting, the port front and starboard rear engines began boiling and had to be throttled back; soon after midnight the starboard front engine also began to overheat and an oil-pipe joint broke. Arnold climbed out on to the nacelle, but could not stop oil pouring out of the engine and soon after 2 a.m. the engine seized, with a connecting rod breaking through the crankcase. Both Gran and Arnold climbed out to the nacelle twice more to prevent other parts coming adrift, while Brackley cruised around over the lights of a township until daybreak three hours later. He made a good landing on a small racecourse, but hit a fence and then a hummock, collapsing one wheel and tipping the aeroplane on to its nose, which was crushed, although no-one was hurt; the place was Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, and after coming to survey the damage Stedman decided to repair it on site and resume the flight to Long Island as soon as possible, but Gran and Wyatt had to leave the crew and return to England. Spare components, including a complete nose section, undercarriage and starboard bottom wing, were shipped to Halifax in ss Caterino, arriving there on 21 August and being sent on by rail to Parrsboro, where repairs were completed in the open by 1 October with satisfactory test flights during the following week. Then on 9 October, flown by Kerr and Brackley, with Arnold, Clements and three other fitters and riggers as crew, and three journalists and a film cameraman as passengers, F7140 (having had a bulldog badge painted on its nose by the Boston Globe's staff artist) took off at 11 a.m. and landed in total darkness at Greenport, 96 miles short of Mineola, just over twelve hours later, with fuel nearly all gone after a flight of 800 miles against strong headwinds. The aircraft was refuelled next morning but continuing strong wind and heavy rain prevented take-off till fine weather arrived on the 13th, when Mitchel Field, Mineola, was reached in 65 min. Fourteen flights were made over New York City between 17 October and 4 November, with such distinguished passengers as the Governor of New Jersey and the President of the Aero Club of America, Laurence Driggs, as well as many businessmen, journalists and film magnates. Hearing that King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians were staying in New York, Kerr and Brackley sent them a pressing invitation to sample a flight in F7140, but it came too late to be accepted. Next, a commercial demonstration was arranged in conjunction with the American Express Company, to fly a 1,000 lb payload of baggage, newspapers and urgent parcels nonstop from Mitchel Field to Chicago. Taking off at 7 a.m. on 14 November at a gross weight of 29,000 lb Kerr, Brackley and their crew of three, with three passengers, were over Delaware in two hours and reached Ithaca by midday, against strong headwinds at 5,000 ft. Over the Alleghenies three hours later, the starboard rear engine boiled nearly dry and after ten minutes of anxiety Brackley landed safely two miles from Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania. A burst water pipe joint was repaired next day and they took off again at 2.5 p.m. on 16 November, intending to refuel at the Glenn Martin factory at Cleveland, where William Workman was to meet them; but they mistook their landmarks and landed instead on North Randall racecourse, east of the city, and in their final run sheared off both wing-tips in trying to steer between the judge’s stand and the timekeeper’s stand, which were marginally too close together; the cargo was then transferred to the railroad and F7140 was dismantled and not flown again, Brackley and Stedman returning to England from Halifax NS on 9 December.
   During F7140’s protracted Odyssey in America, a third V/1500 had made a brief public appearance in Europe. Though not positively identified, this machine was one of the last to be built by Harland & Wolff and was on charge of No. 274 Squadron at Bircham Newton; it was lent to Handley Page Ltd for exhibition at the First International Air Transport Exhibition at Amsterdam (ELTA) in July and August. On 19 July Lt-Col Sholto Douglas flew it from Cricklewood to Brussels in 3 hours for demonstration to King Albert, and on via Soesterberg to Amsterdam on the 24th. Although level and sufficient in size, the exhibition aerodrome was in a polder (reclaimed land below sea level) and heavy rain had made soft patches in it. On arrival the V/1500 sank axle-deep into the sandy soil and had to be lifted on to baulks of timber, then towed to the exhibition hall on a specially laid road of sleepers; in the hall, it was by far the largest exhibit; only one wing could be unfolded, and then only after slots had been cut in the wall for the wing-tips to protrude. When the show closed on 18 August a great deal of re-rigging was necessary before it could be cleared for flight and then a long delay ensued from flooding of the aerodrome after continuous rain; meanwhile Douglas had resigned from Handley Page Transport Ltd and another approved pilot had to be found to ferry it back to England. Finally on 30 October, it was flown off by an RAF sergeant- pilot at minimum weight to a dry field at Vreeswijk near Utrecht, where passengers were taken on for a 2\ hour flight to Hounslow, for Customs clearance before returning to Cricklewood. This flight and the Mineola to Cleveland flight were the nearest approach to commercial utilisation attempted with the V/1500 and in neither case were fares or freight fees charged. Like its contemporary the Bristol Pullman triplane, the V/1500 was too big and costly to operate while traffic remained sporadic and unpredictable, and it could not have survived the lean years that civil aviation was soon to face. In October 1920 Handley Page proposed a return to the original twin Condor-engined concept with two variants, to meet specifications D of R Type 4A for a long-range bomber and D of R Type 12 for a troop carrier with reduced tankage for 400 miles and a fuselage adapted to seat 25 troops; in each case standard V/1500 components were to be used as far as possible, with square-section hollow-longerons in place of McGruer spars and the innermost bay of the outer wings deleted, reducing the span to 105 ft. Low cost and rapid production were promised, using existing jigs, but the Air Ministry ordered prototypes of the Vickers Virginia and Victoria for these two roles, mainly because they were smaller and used more economical Napier Lion engines.
   The V/1500 story would be incomplete without mentioning a sequel to Handley Page’s claim from the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors for Crown user of his wartime patents, including No. 139230 of 15 March, 1918, for the tail-gunner’s cockpit. In December 1922 the Royal Commission awarded ?30,000 to Handley Page Ltd in respect of the complete designs of both O and V types (for which the total claim had been ?500,000). This brought an immediate reaction from the Receiver in Bankruptcy for Chessborough J. H. Mackenzie-Kennedy, designer of the derelict Kennedy Giant at Northolt, who faced a serious deficiency arising from the Treasury’s claim for Excess Profits Duty. Kennedy claimed prior invention of the tail gun cockpit, while working in Russia with Igor Sikorsky, and that designs he had submitted to the Admiralty in August 1917 had been improperly disclosed by the Air Board to Handley Page. The Patent Office had apparently granted him patent No. 166184 the day after 139230, drawing attention to the priority of the latter, but the Receiver sued the War Office for ?171,000 in royalties due on 166184, plus ?156,506 damages, being Handley Page’s profit from 139230; the aggregated claim would have just discharged Kennedy’s bankruptcy, but in February 1923, when the action came to trial, Mr Justice Russell dismissed it.

V/1500 (Four Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII or four Galloway Atlantic or four Napier Lion IB)
   Span 126 ft (38-4 m); length 64 ft (19-5 m); wing area 2,800 sq ft (260 m2). Empty weight 17,600lb (8,000 kg); maximum weight 30,000lb (13,600 kg). Speed 99 mph (160 km/h); range 1,300 miles (2,090 km); endurance 17 hr; ceiling 11,000 ft (3,400 m). Bomb load 7,500 lb (3,400 kg). Crew six.
Rigging checks on B9463 after erection at Cricklewood in April 1918.
B9463 at Cricklewood in June 1918 before its fatal last flight.
B9464 at Martlesham Heath in September 1918 with enlarged tail unit and nacelle panels removed.
Harland & Wolff delivered E4307, their first complete V/1500, to Aldergrove in the first week of November 1918, but it was not flown till 20 December.
J6573 with Napier Lions at Martlesham Heath in 1920.
Last Cricklewood-built V/1500, F8290, showing raised water header tanks of latest engine installation.
F7141 at Cricklewood in May 1919
A Harland & Wolff-built V/1500 of No. 166 Squadron at Bircham Newton early in 1919.
J1936 in India in March 1919.
J1935 (formerly B9464) in Nivo finish at Martlesham Heath in October 1918.
F7140 at Harbour Grace on 13 June, 1919.
F7136, the third Cricklewood-built V/1500, in which Clifford Prodger took forty passengers aloft on 15 December, 1918; this aircraft featured lowered nacelles and was intended for installation of Napier Lions.
Beardmore-built E8295 at Inchinnan before delivery in May 1919.
Wing Commander R. H. Mulock with aircrew of No. 166 Squadron at Bircham Newton, under the Belfast-built V/1500 in which they flew for nearly 12 hours in April 1919 before Nos. 166 and 167 Squadrons disbanded.
Napier Lions installed in J6573 in September 1919.
B9464 at Martlesham Heath as delivered from Cricklewood in August 1918.
V/1500 second prototype J1935 in October 1918.
F7140 on test after repair on site at Parrsboro.
F7140 over Long Island in October 1919, with 'bulldog' badge on nose.
Wing-folding arrangement and lowered nacelle of F7136.
Cricklewood-built F7135 at Bircham Newton, showing early-type radiator on starboard nacelle and revised hexagonal type on port nacelle.
V/1500 production at Dalmuir works of William Beardmore & Co Ltd in 1918
Pilot’s controls of V/1500.
O/400 Civil Transport Variants

   As early as October 1916 George Holt Thomas, proprietor of the Aircraft Manufacturing Co at Hendon and Handley Page's principal competitor, had staked a claim for British post-war commercial aviation by registering a subsidiary, Aircraft Transport & Travel Ltd, with a capital of ?50,000. He was an advocate of medium-sized single-engined aeroplanes, in preference to Handley Page's twins, and Handley Page missed no opportunity of proclaiming the contrary view in favour of a modified O/400 capable of carrying six-ton loads and accommodating a dozen or more passengers in reasonable comfort in an enclosed saloon. In May 1917 the Air Board set up the Civil Aerial Transport Committee to examine the possibilities and needs of post-war commercial aviation, although hostilities were expected to last at least two more years; and in January 1917, Lord Montague of Beaulieu, during a visit to Delhi, had forecast an air route to India as a peacetime priority task. His view was endorsed by the report of the Civil Aerial Transport Committee to the Air Council in February 1918, recommending development of aerial transport services by the State and stressing the need for Empire air route surveys. With the war ending unexpectedly soon in November 1918, official plans had only partly matured and the government was immediately faced with urgent industrial and social problems arising from the cancellation of munitions contracts. In the ensuing chaos, a Ministry of Reconstruction was set up to redeploy labour and capital into useful channels; in industry, everyone looked to his own survival, as the first exuberance and relief of the Armistice gave way to anxiety in the prevailing environment of unemployment, bankruptcy, demobilisation and accumulation of unwanted 'warlike stores'. On the Service side, there was a good deal of enthusiasm, particularly in the Independent Force, for the immediate conversion of the medium and heavy bomber squadrons into transport units; on 13 December the 86th (Communications) Wing RAF was formed at Hendon under Lt-Col Primrose to operate a few O/400s (as 'H.M. Airliners') and smaller types for carrying mails to the army in Flanders and at Cologne; a month earlier Holt Thomas had announced his intention to start a civilian air service between London and Paris immediately after the Armistice, but was prevented from doing so by the Defence of the Realm Act, which effectively reserved all flying to the armed services until new legislation could introduce civil aviation under formal parliamentary control; furthermore there were complicated issues of international law to be negotiated with neighbouring countries.
   Satisfied that Holt Thomas could not obtain a monopoly of civil aviation, Handley Page concentrated on the most economic ways of adapting both the O/400 and V/1500 to commercial use, giving priority to the former. The cancellation of current production contracts had left a large number of newly delivered O/400s at Hendon and Cricklewood, which were no longer needed by the RAF, and Handley Page had no difficulty in buying back from the Ministry of Munitions, at rather less than cost, a batch of sixteen. Only four of these were already completed, the others being still in the final stages of manufacture and thus more readily modified for transport purposes. The four comprised D8350, the last of a batch of fifty manufactured by the British Caudron Co as sub-contractor to Handley Page Ltd, and F5414, F5417 and F5418, the last three completed of the batch transferred to Cricklewood from Cubitts National Aircraft Factory No. 1 at Waddon, which had closed down at the end of 1918. Neither passengers nor mails could be carried until the Air Navigation Bill became law, but Handley Page was in close touch with Fleet Street and had made the most of officially sponsored press visits to Cricklewood during the later stages of the war; an obvious application of air transport, which did not conflict with the Post Office mail monopoly, was the rapid delivery of newspapers from London and Manchester to provincial cities. In collaboration with Major Orde Lees, the Air Ministry's parachute specialist, these four O/400s were converted to carry parcels of newspapers on their bomb racks, to be dropped by 'Guardian Angel' static-line parachutes. The existing 'honeycomb' grid of sixteen bomb cells was replaced by six larger cells, while rudimentary 'ferry-bus' seats were installed forward and aft of the bomb bay (which retained the internal fuel tanks above), so that up to seven passengers could be carried in tolerable comfort in addition to one or two in the nose-gunner's cockpit.
   The Air Navigation Bill 1919 received the Royal Assent on 27 February and Handley Page celebrated this occasion by exhibiting the fuselage of an O/400, mocked-up (with club lounge chairs) as a saloon for sixteen passengers, at Selfridges in Oxford Street; he also gave a luncheon party at Prince's Restaurant, where he announced the formation of a new subsidiary, Handley Page Transport Ltd, to operate passenger, freight and mail airliners adapted in the manner shown in the mock-up. He proposed to start with a London Paris service; then, as experience and traffic grew, to extend the route to Lyons, Marseilles, Turin, Florence, Rome and finally Brindisi, to connect with P & O ships to Port Said and India. In March 1919 a twin-float seaplane version of the O/400 was planned, probably for Mediterranean use, and Boswall tested several float shapes in the wind-tunnel; as Type S, this layout had already been investigated for Murray Sueter two years earlier. Meanwhile through the good offices of Godfrey Isaacs of the Marconi Company, Handley Page had been invited to tender for the supply of several twin-engined aircraft to carry a payload of ten passengers plus 1,800 lb of cargo, urgently needed by the new republican government of China, which had set up a Ministry of Communications to combat the bandits and pirates who preyed on travellers by land and water. The Chinese authorities saw aircraft as a means of both policing their vast territories to eliminate banditry, and improving commerce between isolated regions more quickly than by building new roads and railways; they were fully aware of recent advances in wireless telegraphy and proposed to coordinate wireless and aviation to the limit of the techniques available at that date. The first job of these aircraft would be to transport the bulky wireless ground stations to their locations in the hinterland, in the absence of any ground access whatever. In April 1919 Handley Page's Chinese agents, the Peking Syndicate, confirmed a contract for six aircraft as specified and these were converted from the twelve uncompleted O/400 airframes already reserved on the halted production line at Cricklewood; only one of them, J1934, already had a Service serial allotted, this being nominally a contract replacement for the sample O/400 airframe sent early in 1918 to the Standard Aircraft Corporation of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
   The new transport design, called O/700 (later O/7), was generally similar to the O/400 and retained all its main components, but the internal fuel tanks were deleted and new fuel tanks were installed in extended nacelles, in the manner of the original O/100. The fuselage cross-bracing tierods were replaced by diagonal tubular struts at each frame, from the upper longerons to the middle of the floor, giving a narrow but adequate central gangway between facing pairs of wicker armchairs arranged in five rows, with seven rectangular Cellon windows in each fuselage side wall. There were seats for one or two additional passengers in the nose cockpit, now fitted with a raised coaming and windscreens, and these were accessible from the crew cockpit, which in turn was entered from the main cabin through a door in the bulkhead behind the cockpit; in the O/7 this bulkhead was the same height as the cabin roof, unlike the 'limousine' transport conversions from existing O/400 bombers, which retained the downward slope of the upper longerons and convex decking between them. The new fuel tanks were larger than those of the O/100 and a small gravity service tank was installed above each nacelle under the top wing. The main cabin was entered by a full-height door in the port side, with a window in it so that there were effectively eight windows on the port side and seven on the starboard.
   It was obviously impracticable to define and promulgate Air Navigation Regulations immediately after the Royal Assent in time for civil flying to commence on 1 March, although Sir Woodman Burbidge of Harrods took a chance on it by chartering a flight from Hendon to Brussels and back, without being prosecuted. Handley Page thought 1 April was a possibility, since the International Convention on Air Navigation had begun sitting at Paris to sort out the legal tangle of international sovereignty and transit rights. So the four converted 0/400s were hurried forward and the first (F5414) was flown at Cricklewood on 4 April; by then the commencing date had been put back to 1 May and both Handley Page and Holt Thomas protested against this delay in permitting commercial flights within the United Kingdom, even though the international difficulties were appreciated. At the last moment the Air Ministry relented to the extent of allowing local passenger flights by approved operators at specified aerodromes during the Easter holiday week-end; and D8350, F5414 and F5417, piloted respectively by Lt-Col Sholto Douglas, Major Leslie Foot and Captain Geoffrey Hill, were kept busily employed at Cricklewood taking up 800 of the many spectators for half-hour joy rides over London. In addition, two of Major Orde Lees' team, 'Professor' Newall and Miss Sylvia Boyden, demonstrated the 'Guardian Angel' parachute with jumps from 1,200 ft. F5418 was test flown soon after Easter and all four were surveyed and approved for awards of the first four British Certificates of Airworthiness, dated 1 May, 1919; No.1 was issued to F5414, No.2 to F5417, No.3 to D8350 and No.4 to F5418. Pending international agreement on registration markings, these four O/400s displayed their existing serial numbers painted as large as possible on the fuselage sides.
   First away from Cricklewood, and the third British civil aircraft to begin operation on 1 May, was D8350 with eleven passengers, flown by Lt-Col Douglas to Manchester (Didsbury) in 3 hr 40 min against a stiff headwind; next day Douglas attempted to fly on to Aberdeen via Carlisle, Dundee and Montrose, intending to drop newspapers at each place and to stop overnight at Edinburgh, but bad weather forced him to return after 100 miles and delayed the flight till the 5th, when it was successfully completed, 1,500 lb of newspapers being conveyed in a total distance of 370 miles; on this trip Major Orde Lees left the aeroplane by parachute over Aberdeen in order, as he said, 'to drop in on a friend there'. Returning on the 6th with Mr Blackwood, the Edinburgh publisher, as his only passenger, Douglas had to make a precautionary landing in bad weather near Penrith, but took off again later and reached Didsbury the same day without further incident. Meanwhile on 3 May, with eight assistants aboard to sort and release packets of newspapers, Major Foot flew a round trip of 170 miles from Hounslow, probably in F5417, over Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings and St Leonards, returning to Cricklewood after 2 1/4 hrs without landing en route; on the 6th he made a similar circuit to deliver newspapers to Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, covering 310 miles in just under 5 hr. Further newspaper flights were made by Foot to Southampton, Bournemouth, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, and by Lieutenant Walker to South Wales and Filton and back, both on 9 May; by Walker to Southend and Clacton on the 10th and to Norwich, Cromer and Great Yarmouth on the 11th; and by Douglas to Castle Bromwich via Nottingham, Northampton and Lichfield on the 12th, returning to Cricklewood the same day. Meanwhile Captain W. Shakespeare had begun flying newspapers from Didsbury to Glasgow in F5414 on 3 May, and on the 12th was returning to Didsbury with Major Orde-Lees and Sylvia Boyden, together with his fitter Bill Crisp and rigger George Marchmont, when he had to make a forced landing with engine trouble at Harker, a few miles north of Carlisle. The trouble was soon rectified but the aircraft crashed in attempting to take off from the small field in which it had landed and was considerably damaged; Orde Lees, Marchmont and Crisp in the rear fuselage were only shaken, but the two in front had to spend a few days in Carlisle hospital, Miss Boyden having several front teeth knocked out. Only the rear fuselage and tail unit of F5414 was found to be worth salvaging for return to Cricklewood, but this was sufficient to preserve the legal identity of the rebuilt airframe which emerged two months later, having been converted to the full O/7 standard in the process; it was, in fact, the only previously flown O/400 to be so converted, its original C of A having lapsed at the end of May and being replaced by a new one, No. 165, dated 14 August, 1919.
   As a result of these experimental flights, most of which had been sponsored by the Daily Mail and Evening News, Handley Page planned to extend his operations and appointed Lavington Brothers and Leopold Walford (London) Ltd as his official passenger and freight agents for services in all parts of the world; but international flights were still prohibited until conditions had been agreed by all the nations involved, so Handley Page meanwhile accepted an invitation from Bournemouth corporation to operate a week-end summer service leaving Cricklewood each Friday and returning each Monday. This service was inaugurated on 5 June by Walker in D8350, which had been brightened up by having its nose painted red, but over such a short distance the O/400 could show no net gain in block speed over the excellent service already provided by the London & South Western Railway, and the experiment ended on 18 August, by which time international agreement had been obtained at Paris. One of the results of regular joy riding flights at Cricklewood was a complaint from the MCC of low flying over a cricket match at Lord's on 18 May, for which Handley Page Transport Ltd's general manager, E. J. Bray, expressed contrition in acceptable terms; although already operating by this date, Handley Page Transport Ltd was not in fact formally incorporated till 14 June. Meanwhile Handley Page had sent Major Ivor Bellairs to Brazil to report on the possibility of running an airline between Buenos Aires and Pernambuco, a project strongly mooted in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
   On 5 July, 1919, the first of the six new O/7s for China was tested by Captain Geoffrey Hill, who climbed to 1,500 ft with eighteen passengers, representing a gross weight of 12,800 lb; at this height he found it possible to fly level with one engine throttled back. This machine, not having a previous identity, was given the maker's mark HP-1, and was also allotted the temporary civil mark K-162, which it never carried; this in turn was superseded by the registration G-EAGN when its C of A No. 149 was awarded on 8 August, but by this time it was already crated for shipment to Shanghai. The other five also were shipped on completion, HP-2 and HP-3 being dispatched on 25 August, HP-4 on 6 September, and HP-5 and HP-6 on 20 September. Meanwhile the surviving tail end of F5414 had been 'rebuilt' as a virtually new O/7 early in July and, while still unfurnished, was equipped to test a new Marconi radio-telephone, for which purpose it carried aerial masts at the nose and tail. It is believed to have flown from Hounslow to Paris and back on 15 July, during the concessionary period of civil flying from 13-20 July granted in connection with the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty. Thereafter its furnishings for fourteen passengers were completed and about 12 August it was flown to Brussels by Major Menzies and thence to the ELTA exhibition at Amsterdam, with a forced landing at Breda en route. At the ELTA aerodrome Menzies landed safely on the soft polder, but the 0/7 became bogged down while taxying in and tipped up on its nose, breaking the wireless mast; six hours were spent in salvage, but it was then found to have suffered no other damage, although the condition of the aerodrome made the proposed flying demonstration impossible. For this flight to Amsterdam it carried no marking on the fuselage except the Handley Page trade mark 'scroll', but to comply with the latest ICAN edict its rudders were marked with the national letter G and the serial displayed above and below the wings was changed to G-5414. The three other civil 0/400s were also converted for full passenger service, retaining the internal fuel tanks and having a cabin for six passengers aft of them, with a door on the port side and four windows on each side; the original mid-upper gunner's floor was retained as 'an observation platform with a sliding roof,' the latter serving also as a ditching exit. Two windows were provided on each side forward of the mainplane, where two further passenger seats were installed; as long as the rear cabin was full, one or two more passengers could be carried in the nose cockpit, which was fitted with coaming and windscreens as in the O/7, and was particularly recommended to 'those who prefer to travel in the open.' A proving flight of the first such conversion, marked G-5417, was made by Captain Shakespeare with several passengers from Hounslow to Brussels and Amsterdam on 21 August; he returned on the 25th, when he became the first man to have breakfasted in Amsterdam, lunched in Brussels and dined in London all in one day. All four of the original machines then received new registration marks in the all-letter style preferred by ICAN, the O/7 G-5414 becoming G-EAAF, and the O/400s G-5417, D8350 and F5418 becoming G-EAAW, G-EAAE and G-EAAG respectively; the last three were temporarily named Flamingo, Vulture and Penguin.
   On 25 August, 1919, international civil flying became legal and Holt Thomas was first away with a scheduled Aircraft Transport & Travel service from Hounslow to Le Bourget. Handley Page, though not quite ready for scheduled operation, laid on a proving flight in G-EAAE, which was the third aircraft to leave Hounslow for Paris that morning; the pilot was Major Leslie Foot and his seven passengers were invited journalists. They reached the cabin door by means of an ordinary step ladder, of which Handley Page had bought six for one guinea as his basic airport equipment. They returned next day, landing at Lympne to clear Customs, in order to fly straight on to Cricklewood without calling at Hounslow. Lt-Col Douglas also flew to Le Bourget on the 25th in G-EAAF, returning next day with his wife and Miss Gertrude Bacon as his only passengers, who thereby became the first women to cross the Channel in a certificated civil airliner, even though it was not yet in scheduled service. Handley Page had hoped to begin regular operation on 1 September, but had to start one day late, when Lt-Col Douglas again flew from Cricklewood, via Hounslow, to Le Bourget in G-EAAF. In anticipation of increasing traffic on the Cricklewood-Paris route and of the complementary service to Brussels that he proposed soon to commence, Handley Page bought in from the Aircraft Disposals Board a further twelve O/400s stored at Castle Bromwich, including seven built by Birmingham Carriage Co and three built by the Metropolitan Wagon Co, none of them having been flown since their half-hour acceptance tests. Two of these, J2249 and J2250, were converted for passenger service forthwith, becoming G-EAKF and G-EAKG, to the same standard as G-EAAW. The Brussels service began on 23 September on three days a week, but on the 28th a railway strike began at home which disrupted both inland passenger and mail traffic, and cross-Channel rail and boat services. On 29 September the Postmaster General authorised AT & T to carry mail between London and Paris and Handley Page Transport to do the same between London and Brussels, while the RAF was called in to carry inland mail between principal centres; the strike ended on 6 October, but Handley Page managed to retain the Brussels airmail concession, and had also helped AT & T to clear some of the backlog of mail for Paris. Civil aviation had surmounted this crisis and Handley Page Transport Ltd looked forward to steadily increasing traffic in the months to come; on 2 October another O/7 (HP-7) received its C of A, becoming G-EANV; this was the first of the second half dozen new machines, which Handley Page hoped to sell abroad at the full price, so he withdrew it from cross-Channel service after a few running-in flights and began conversion of five more of the Castle Bromwich 0/400s to the more utilitarian passenger standard of G-EAAW; these were J2251 (G-EALX) and J2247 (G-EALY) in October, J2248 (G-EAMA) in November, and J2243 (G-EALZ) and D4623 (G-EAMB) in December. During the same period several 0/400s from the same stockpile were modified for demonstration and record-breaking purposes. Earliest of these was G-EAKE (ex J2252), which was a minimal conversion with ten seats, but without extra windows, for a Scandinavian demonstration tour by Captain J. Stewart and Major Tryggve Gran, the latter having returned from Canada after Brackley's misfortune with the V/1500 at Parrsboro. Leaving Cricklewood on the afternoon of 24 August, they reached Soesterberg for the night and flew on to Copenhagen and Arhus before flying on to Norway, where they had a considerable welcome, taking up over 450 passengers at Christiania (Oslo), but came to grief at Lillesand on 6 September when one engine cut after take-off and caused a crash landing between two houses; none of the eight persons on board was injured and the aircraft was rebuilt after a long delay, eventually being flown 350 miles to Stockholm on 28 June, 1920; returning next day, Gran and his co-pilot Carter, after flying 80 miles in heavy rain, had to land at Orebro and damaged one wing, which they patched up; but on take-off next day one engine cut and G-EAKE was burnt out, though without any serious casualties. More fortunate was an expedition to Poland by Captains Herne and McNaught Davis in G-EAMD (ex D4633), leaving Cricklewood on 10 December and arriving via Cologne at Berlin (Spandau) the same day; there they had to wait ten days for permission to fly on to Warsaw, where they arrived on the 20th, and in January gave a series of official exhibition flights; this resulted in the sale of G-EAMD to the Polish Government, which proposed to run airmail services from Warsaw to Danzig and Cracow, with a possible extension through Ukraine to Kiev; six O/400s were ordered, but political difficulties soon afterwards caused them to be cancelled. An enthusiastic reception had been given to Captain Shakespeare, who flew G-EAAW to Athens on 30 October to take part in an exhibition of British industrial products; his route was Paris-Lyons-Pisa-Rome-Benevento-Taranto and on 1 November he took up the King of Greece for a flight at Tatoi near Athens.
   One other O/400, believed to be C9704, had been flown, as HP-17, by Major E. L. Foot on a special charter from Hounslow to Madrid in August 1919aboutthetime that Handley Page tendered for the airmail service across Brazil. Having refuelled at Bordeaux for the stage to Vittoria, Foot was forced by engine failure to land in a maize field at Durango, striking a telegraph pole which damaged one wing. With wings folded HP-17 was towed by two oxen through the narrow streets of the village to a larger field, where repairs were begun and spares ordered from Cricklewood. After several months of delay and frustration, it was made airworthy and on 6 March, 1920, R. H. McIntosh flew it back to Hounslow via Vittoria, Tours and Le Bourget in the record time of 13 1/2 hours; it was then dismantled, for use as spares for G-EAAF, when the latter was withdrawn from the Handley Page Transport fleet in May 1920 and shipped to New York in anticipation of operating charter flights between there and Chicago; but this enterprise was killed by Judge Chatfield's injunction against importation of foreign aircraft into the USA. On arrival G-EAAF was impounded by Customs, but was later released to the Curtiss Engineering Division at Curtiss Field, Garden City, Long Island, where it was renovated in 1921 and flown for exhibition purposes by Curtiss pilots in 1922 and 1923.
   Further afield Major Ivor Bellairs had won for Handley Page the Brazilian government's concession to fly passengers and mails between Pernambuco and Buenos Aires on a four-day schedule in eleven stages totalling 2,725 miles in each direction, for which a fleet of twenty-four O/400s would be needed, but this plan was frustrated by political intrigue, and the only O/400 (probably HP-29) to arrive in Brazil was later flown in Argentina by Lieutenant Charles Eardley Wilmot, who organised a Handley Page flying school at El Palomar during 1920. Similar activity in South Africa by Captain S. Wood proclaimed the formation of Handley Page South African Transports Ltd to operate a passenger and airmail route between Cape Town and Johannesburg. In November 1919 the O/7 G-EANV was withdrawn from the cross-Channel service and shipped to Cape Town in RMS Durham Castle, together with the eighth new O/7 en route to Calcutta as G-IAAA. Major Menzies was put in charge of flying operations at Young's Field, Wynberg, where G-EANV was re-erected in January. This aeroplane had been named Pioneer on arrival, but commercial pressure caused it to be emblazoned with the legend Commando for its first flight; this was not a change of name, but the trade mark of the brandy that it was advertising across its ample wing span. The first flight of 103 miles from Wynberg to Saldanha Bay, with thirteen passengers and a crew of three, was made by Major Menzies on 12 February, but while returning on the 16th the aircraft ran out of fuel in the Karoo near Sutherland, having flown off course due to a compass error over the Hex River ironfields. After a successful forced landing, petrol was brought to the spot and the flight was resumed as far as Beaufort West on the 22nd. Five minutes after take-off next morning, tail flutter developed when the port rudder post came out of its bearing socket and Pioneer spun slowly down from 300 ft fortunately without injuring any of the ten people on board. As a result of this accident, the Cape Town-Johannesburg airline project was abandoned for the time being and although G-IAAA was erected at Wynberg, it was flown only to display the Commando advertisement and was repacked for shipment to Calcutta as soon as this contract had been fulfilled; meanwhile it had been hoped that another O/400 would have succeeded in flying all the way from England to Cape Town.
   After the ?10,000 prize for the first direct crossing of the North Atlantic had been won by Jack Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown in June 1919, the Daily Mail had offered a similar prize for the first continuous flight from England to Australia; this had been won by Ross and Keith Smith in December and the Daily Mail then put up a further ?10,000 prize for the first through flight from Cairo to Cape Town. Since both the previous prizes had been won with Vickers Vimys, it was natural that this type should also be chosen by two of the entrants for the African flight; a Vimy Commercial, flown by Captains Cockerell and Broome, was financed jointly by Vickers Ltd and The Times, while a Vimy bomber, flown by Lt-Col Pierre Van Ryneveld and Flt Lieut Quintin Brand, was officially entered by the South African government. Handley Page was determined not to let Vickers have the field to themselves and persuaded the Daily Telegraph to share the cost of entering an O/400, to be flown by Major Brackley, who had stayed too late with the V/1500 in America to take part in the Australian competition, but had returned to England shortly before Christmas. The Daily Telegraph's special correspondent, Major Charles C. Turner, was to join the flight at Cairo and the other crew members were Captain Frederick Tymms (navigator), Sergt R. Knight (engine fitter) and Jack Stoten, a Handley Page rigger, who had flown with Brackley in the V/1500 from Parrsboro to Cleveland. The O/400, G-EAMC (ex D4624), was a standard bomber with armament removed and high compression Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines installed to improve performance in the tropics. After a test flight at Cricklewood with Geoffrey Hill on 17 January, 1920, Brackley and his crew took off on the 25th, intending to fly 500 miles to Lyons, but unbroken cloud over France compelled them to land at Marquise, whence they edged their way through patchy fog to Le Bourget next day; on the 27th they reached Istres a few hours after Cockerell and Broome had left, but on the 28th bad weather forced them to shelter for two days at St Raphael. They had fine weather for the stage to Centocelle on the 30th and reached Brindisi early next afternoon, but on 1 February, while starting for Athens, the machine taxied into a boggy patch on the edge of the aerodrome. Immediately Stoten and Knight jumped down with spades to dig out the sunken starboard wheels, but the airscrew was still turning and struck Stoten a fatal blow on the head, breaking two blades in the process; he was dead on arrival in hospital. Attempts to obtain a serviceable airscrew in Taranto and Athens proved fruitless and finally a new one was brought from Cricklewood by Stoten's replacement Corporal Banthorpe, who fiercely repelled a threat by the French railway guard to saw pieces off the blade tips when the train was stopped by insufficient clearance under a low bridge. Banthorpe arrived at Brindisi on 17 February and the flight was resumed next morning. They left Athens on the 19th on the 470-mile oversea stage to Solium, steering by the sun, and flew 400 miles across the desert to Heliopolis next day. At Cairo they found Van Ryneveld and Brand, who had crashed their first Vimy, while Cockerell and Broome had reported arrival at Mongalla. After necessary repairs at Heliopolis, Brackley and his crew reached Assiut on the 23rd and Aswan next day, after a very rough ride through sandstorms and turbulence, complicated by a defective fuel pump. Taking off before 7 a.m. on the 25th, while the air was still cool, they made good progress, passing Abu Hamed in four hours, but twenty minutes later, while flying at 8,000 ft, tail flutter forced them to come down without delay. The rudders were partly jammed by the elevators and Brackley was unable to turn fully into wind before touchdown; the undercarriage collapsed and Brackley was shaken, but nobody else was hurt. They were five miles north of Shereik station on the railway line to Atbara and 200 miles from Khartoum. While the engines were being salvaged by the RAF, Brackley tried to ascertain the source of the flutter, but found nothing definite; probably it was the same rudder bearing defect as had afflicted G-EANV in Cape Province, and later in the year Notice to Ground Engineers No. 13 of 1920 drew attention to a risk of fatigue failure at this point on all civil variants of the O/400.
   In contrast to disappointing results with O/400s in Scandinavia and Africa, and political frustration in Brazil, the six O/7s shipped to China made a good beginning. The first was erected at Nanyuan aerodrome and flown over Peking on 6 December, 1919, in a three-hour test flight, carrying fourteen passengers and 1,200 lb of sand ballast to a height of 6,200 ft, where the air temperature fell to -20 deg C. In spite of this intense cold, the Chinese government representatives Mr K. Y. Wei and General Tsing, who were in the front cockpits, praised the machine's steadiness and comfort and the landing was made 'in failing light in an aerodrome festooned with Chinese lanterns,' according to one eye-witness. By the end of February all six were ready and began proving flights, but the first official airmail service was not flown from Peking to Tientsin and back till 7 May; this was the first occasion on which letters posted by 5 p.m. in Tientsin had been delivered at 8 p.m. in Peking on the same day; among the fifteen passengers were again Mr Wei and General Tsing, also the British Minister at Peking, Mr B. F. Alston, and members of the Legation staff. Unfortunately the service was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war, with the result that three of the Handley Pages at Nanyuan were taken by General Tsao Kun to his headquarters at Paotingfu, while the other three, together with most of the Vickers aeroplanes, were removed to Mukden by General Changtso-lin; both warlords refused to release them on the grounds that the Treaty Powers had broken their agreement not to import military material during the civil war, although, in fact, all the aircraft had been supplied strictly for commercial purposes before the fighting began.
   After the early arrival in 1919 of both the O/400 C9700 and the V/1500 J1936 in India, there was a lengthy hiatus before the Indian government announced regulations similar to the British Air Navigation Regulations and attempted to run an airmail service between Karachi and Bombay, using D.H.10s operated by No.97 Squadron RAF; this began in January 1920, but was suspended after six weeks because of the high cost and interruption of schedules. Meanwhile Handley Page had proposed a Calcutta-based air transport company with adequate facilities, in the expectation of being invited to tender for airmail services when these were offered to civilian contractors. The ninth new O/7 was shipped to Calcutta in November 1919, to become G-IAAB on the Indian civil register and G-IAAA arrived some weeks later from Cape Town. A working party un'der Mr Fford erected them on the Ellenborough racecourse soon after the RAF airmail had been suspended. Handley Page proposed to carry passengers on the airmail routes and if possible to fly at night to avoid excessive heat and turbulence, especially during the south-west monsoon season. On 5 March, 1920, Captain Clarke arrived in Bombay after flying G-IAAB from Calcutta in 17 hours flying time, carrying a crew of three, three passengers and three journalists; during the next two months demonstration flights were made from both cities and over 1,400 passengers were carried, including senior naval and army officers, and various rulers. Amongst the latter was His Highness Sir Waghji Ravaji, the Thakur Saheb of Morvi, a small but progressive independent state in Kathiawar, north of Bombay Presidency. He had already installed a metre-gauge railway to handle his extensive grain and cotton crops, and became an enthusiastic advocate of aviation after his first flight. As a result of these first demonstrations, Handley Page had three more O/7s modified for service in India, with improved cabin ventilation and silk upholstery; the first of these to arrive at Calcutta in May was HP-11 (G-EAPA), specially finished in sun-resistant aluminium dope externally, with blue nacelles and pink silk interior trim. HP-11 had been originally prepared in December 1919 as the standby exhibit for the Paris Salon in case the new W.8 failed to keep its date, but was not needed on that occasion. HP-10 (G-EAQZ) and HP-12 (G-EAPB) followed in June, soon after the incorporation of the Handley Page Indo-Burmese Transport Company at Calcutta, with an authorised capital of 1-5 million rupees and Lt-Col Ivo Edwards as managing director; its objects were to secure 15-year contracts for the carriage of airmails from the Indian Post Office, associated with short- range passenger and freight services, and to operate a factory and flying school, also a new hotel, at Calcutta. In promoting this ambitious scheme, Handley Page had fallen into the error of reckoning without the Asiatic temperament and the monsoon weather. To cover the route of 1,200 miles between Calcutta and Bombay an enormous capital outlay was necessary, not so much to prepare landing grounds every 150 miles as to maintain them through all the vagaries of the Deccan climate, which reduced them alternately to quagmires and dust-bowls as the rains came and went. Local labour was unreliable and the railways opposed any competition to their monopoly of long-distance travel, so the airline never really got off the ground; only a fraction of the authorised capital was subscribed in cash and the Indian government, having burnt their fingers on the Karachi-Bombay airmail, refused to subsidise any private undertaking. Although few records remain, it seems that the Ruler of Morvi took up a large proportion of the shares actually subscribed and was allotted HP-11 for his private use, with the registration G-IAAC. While an aerodrome was being prepared at Morvi, HP-11 was flown at Calcutta on various charters; on one occasion it flew over the city dropping leaflets, which were promptly seized in the air and carried off by crows and kites. It is also recorded that on 17 October, 1920, Charles Manson Mann was married to Vera Kathleen Gardner while flying over Calcutta at 6,000 ft in a Handley Page; the passengers included eight guests in addition to the clergyman and bridal party. This event almost certainly took place in HP-11, but this aeroplane was destroyed on the ground by a gale soon afterwards; a replacement was ordered urgently from Cricklewood. Thereafter the Handley Page Indo-Burmese Transport Co restricted its activities to short-range charter and express parcel work, using D.H.9s except when a full Handley Page load was offered, but liquidation became inevitable in July 1921 and all the company's assets were sold by auction in September to the Calcutta motorcar firm, G. McKenzie Ltd.
   At home, Handley Page Transport Ltd had maintained their share of cross-Channel traffic since the end of the rail strike in October 1919 and now offered numbered bookable seats on both the Paris and Brussels routes, also lunch baskets at three shillings each. On 22 October, 1919, their newly recruited pilot, Captain Robert Henry McIntosh, late of No.214 Squadron and No. 1 (Communication) Squadron, flew to Paris and back the same day carrying express freight, which was becoming an important item. The company soon proved its ability to carry safely and speedily such items as news films, scientific instruments, antiques and exotic flowers, all of which were vulnerable in rough handling by rail and sea; it had obtained an exclusive contract from Harrods to carry their imports of new dresses from Paris. In October 1919 Lt-Col Sholto Douglas resigned to return to the RAF and was succeeded as general manager by Major George Woods Humphery; in March 1920 Major Brackley became chief pilot on his return from Khartoum. On 10 January, 1920, Cricklewood was approved by the Home Secretary as a Port of Entry, although Customs facilities were not available until 17 February; meanwhile positioning flights from Cricklewood to Hounslow had to be maintained, with such occasional passengers as presented themselves. On one such flight on 3 February W. F. Jones had to land G-EALY with engine trouble in the Old Deer Park at Richmond, but flew out again without difficulty after rectifying the defect. Meanwhile, the Brussels service ceased until direct flying from Cricklewood could begin. Season tickets were offered on the Paris route at ?120 for ten return flights to encourage a larger proportion of passengers, but it was soon evident that thrice-weekly freight services were paying better than daily passenger flights. In March 1920, Handley Page brought off his famous ?1,000,000 deal to acquire all the assets and stock of the Aircraft Disposals Board for ten per cent of their original cost and during the next six months thirteen more O/400s were selected for the Handley Page Transport Co's fleet and modified to a standard approximating to the O/7, with similar nacelle fuel tanks and full length payload accommodation in the fuselage. A further O/400, G-EASO (ex D5444), was specially prepared for an attempt to win a prize of ?10,000 offered by the Daily Express for the first flight to India and back carrying a payload of not less than 1,200 lb. It was to be flown by Major A. S. C. MacLaren and Captain J. A. Barton, with Sergt Major H. H. Perry as rigger and R. G. Smith of Napiers as fitter, since it was the first and only 0/400 to have Napier Lions installed in place of Rolls-Royce Eagles; by 14 May it was ready to start from Waddon, having been named Old Carthusian II in memory of MacLaren's earlier flight to India in the V/1500 J1936, but the RAF reported Arab unrest in the Cairo-Baghdad sector and the Foreign Office prohibited the competitors from flying beyond Egypt; consequently the attempt was called off and G-EASO went back into storage after its borrowed Lion engines had been removed. In March 1920 the first six new 0/400 civil conversions, G-EASL (ex C9699), G-EASM (ex C9731), G-EASN (ex D4611), G-EASX (ex F308), G-EASY (ex D4614) and G-EASZ (ex F310) emerged from Cricklewood as O/11s, having their fuselages unfurnished, for carrying cargo and mails, except for a small cabin for three passengers at the aft end and seats for two passengers in the nose cockpit. The first three were mainly employed on the new airmail contract to Brussels and Amsterdam, but when the summer tourist traffic increased in June G-EASY and G-EASZ were further modified to the former O/7 standard, with seats for ten passengers and windows the whole length of the cabin, being then designated O/10. These were so immediately successful that a further seven O/10s were converted from O/400s in July and August: G-EATG (ex D4618), G-EATH (ex D4631), G-EATJ (ex F307), G-EATK (ex J2262), G-EATL (ex F312), G-EATM (ex D4609) and G-EATN (ex J2261); G-EASX remained in reserve as an O/11 till October, when it was the only immediately available replacement for the Thakur Saheb of Morvi's O/7 in India. It was urgently trimmed and furnished in pink silk to the same standard as HP-11, but at the Thakur Saheb's request was painted pink externally as well as inside, the nacelles being blue as before; this striking colour scheme was executed in a high gloss varnish and inevitably the machine was known in the works as 'The Pink Elephant'. With its conversion number HP-34 on the tail and the re-issued Indian registration G-IAAC, it was test flown at Cricklewood and granted C of A N o.426 on 15 October, 1920, being the last civil O/400 variant to receive one. It was shipped to Calcutta in eleven crates at the end of November and flown to Morvi by Captain A. F. Muir early in 1921 but its subsequent history is obscure, since the Thakur Saheb died without issue in July 1922; Morvi then joined neighbouring states in a federation whose allegiance to either India or Pakistan remained undecided at the partition in 1947 and not resolved until the Rann of Cutch dispute was settled in 1969.
   The three original O/11s gave good service in the Handley Page Transport Co's fleet, which by December 1920 had carried over 4,000 passengers in a total mileage of 320,000 without a single fatality, but on 14 December Robert Bager took off in the (limited) easterly direction at Cricklewood in G-EAMA, failed to clear a tree on the boundary and crashed into a back garden at Childs' Hill. Bager and his mechanic J. H. Williams were killed, together with the two passengers in the front cabin, but the three other passengers escaped through the rear cabin windows before fire broke out; Eric Studd, the sole occupant of the nose cockpit, was thrown clear, but when the rescue party arrived he was nowhere to be found and was feared lost in the wreckage; next day he was seen in Paris, having no clear memory of how he got there; apparently he had been knocked out in the crash and on recovering consciousness in the garden had remembered only that he had to go urgently to Paris, so he had taken the Underground to Victoria Station and travelled on the boat train via Dover and Calais.
   The loss of G-EAMA was an indication that the O/400 had not enough performance in reserve to maintain scheduled flights under adverse weather conditions and, moreover, that, as engines and airframes wore out with use, their performance was likely to deteriorate further. In a tour of Switzerland during September to explore the route beyond Paris to Basle and Zurich, Walter Hope had found G-EATL difficult to handle in valley cross-winds and down-draughts and on 14 September the pilot of G-EASL had been reported for flying over Golders Green at only 100 ft; residents in Kilburn complained that Handley Pages taking off in a southwest wind flew low enough to blow soot down their chimneys, while one newspaper correspondent claimed that it was dangerous even to stand up on the top deck of a tramcar between Cricklewood Broadway and the Welsh Harp! To add to Handley Page's troubles he had been sued in America by the Wright Corporation for infringement of the Wright patents and prohibited from starting a proposed air freight service with O/400s to be supplied by the Aircraft Disposal Co. At home, both Handley Page Transport Ltd and their compatriots AT & T and the Instone Air Line, had lost traffic to the French airlines, which received a substantial government subsidy and could thus undercut the true economic fares. The Cricklewood-Amsterdam route had to be abandoned at the end of October and on 17 November the Paris passenger service was reduced to three days a week; a month later AT & T suspended their operations permanently and finally all British commercial air traffic ceased on 28 February, 1921.
   Two days later, Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for Air, appointed Lord Londonderry as chairman of a committee set up to examine the question of subsidies for cross-Channel air services. Terms were agreed within a fortnight and Handley Page Transport, now managed by Edward Cogni, began flying to Paris again on 19 March, Instone following suit two days later; the new fares were ?6-6s single and ?12 return, the same as the French airlines were charging. First away under the new agreement was W. L. Hope in G-EATM with seven passengers, but traffic was slow to return and in April, when their Cs of A expired, the three O/11s, G-EASL, 'SM and 'SN, were scrapped and the two original O/10s, G-EASY and 'SZ, were shipped to Calcutta, but arrived too late to be re-erected before the demise of the Indian company. Meanwhile Handley Page had gone to America and George Volkert had accepted an invitation to join Colonel Sempill's naval mission to Japan. Under pressure from the residents of Cricklewood and Hendon, the Air Ministry requested Cogni to transfer Handley Page Transport's operations to the new air terminal at Croydon, which had replaced Hounslow in March 1920; Cricklewood ceased to be a Customs airport on 29 May, 1921, the last service out being flown by McIntosh in G-EATM the day before. The service from Croydon was maintained by G-EATK, 'TM and 'TN, the last of which had earlier been equipped with an Aveline automatic stabiliser for test by Brackley. It was soon found that O/10s had much more difficulty in taking off from Croydon than from Cricklewood; indeed, on the first flight out of Croydon with a southwest wind curling over the Purley ridge, Wilcockson was barely able to get airborne with eight passengers and was forced back to the ground near the waterworks with the engines still at full throttle; later it was found that the cargo hold had been overloaded in error. Handley Page was still detained in America, but called in Colonel W. A. Bristow of Ogilvie & Partners to investigate the loss of performance, which was traced to bad maintenance, rather than age or mishandling. The permitted number of passengers, already reduced from eleven to eight, was temporarily still further restricted to five and on 21 June, H. H. Perry (who had been appointed chief pilot to the Aircraft Disposal Co on leaving the RAF) flew G-EAKG to Martlesham Heath for check weighing and to get an official ruling on the permissible number of passengers. Colonel Bristow had found variations of up to 500 lb between the weights of individual machines, due to differences in wireless equipment and repair schemes, while the Aveline auto-control in G-EATN accounted for 150 lb. Soon there were changes in the maintenance staff and the new engineering manager, W. P. Savage, by careful re-rigging and engine tuning, regained some of the lost performance. Air Ministry approval was eventually given for eight passengers to be carried with full Marconi radio installed, for pilots were reluctant to save weight by reducing radio equipment, which was compulsory on cross- Channel flights for weather information as well as position checks. How valuable radio had become was indicated on 20 October, when McIntosh, with Dismore as his radio operator, flew in from Paris with six passengers in G-EATH, and was 'talked down' by Colonel Bristow to a safe landing at Croydon in dense fog, which had grounded all other incoming air traffic at Tonbridge. This widely reported incident earned McIntosh his famous nickname 'All-weather Mac', but many years later he confessed that in actual fact he had lost his trailing aerial in a tree on the North Downs near Sevenoaks, so his wireless was 'dead' before the talk-down began. His actual method when, as on this day, the fog blanket was shallow enough, was to fly above it till he could see the tops of the two towers of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham; by lining these up and letting down to 200 ft for 4/ miles while flying at a steady 65 mph, he could arrive at Croydon airport with great precision. Previously, radio telephony had been used on 20 November, 1920, to instruct a Handley Page pilot to land at Croydon instead of Cricklewood; on 26 November, 1920, to order a similar diversion, but then to countermand it, with a safe landing at Cricklewood assisted by rocket signals; and on 15 January, 1921, to request rockets and a searchlight for a landing after dark at Lympne, the call being made from mid-Channel. The fleet was halved in 1921, for G-EAAG and G-EASL had been written off after crashes in April 1920, G-EAAE and G-EAKG were scrapped in August 1920 and 'KF, 'LY, 'LZ and 'MB two months later. After Bager's fatal crash in 'MA in December, the next casualty was G-EALX in April 1921, scrapped after a heavy landing which made repair uneconomic, but several other mishaps were survived by the aircraft involved. Thus on 2 November McIntosh, with three passengers from Paris on board, landed G-EATM safely at Crowhurst after shedding the starboard reduction gear and airscrew; after a new engine had been installed, he flew it back to Croydon on the 5th; but three days later exactly the same thing happened to him in another O/10 inbound from Brussels, while over the coast near Folkestone at only 600 ft, below heavy cloud; with five excitable passengers in a state of panic running up and down the length of the cabin, he nevertheless managed to land safely in a field full of cattle, just short of Lympne. Both W. L. Rogers and Gordon Olley claimed the record of seventeen forced landings between Croydon and Paris in a single journey, and normally the O/400 was easy to handle in such an emergency, with its exceptionally low wing loading of 8 lb/sq ft. However, it was sensitive to large longitudinal movements of the centre of gravity, as McIntosh found on an unscheduled flight in an O/10 bringing back a crew of fitters and riggers, who decided to play darts in the empty cabin and caused violent changes of fore and aft trim. With a cruising speed of less than 80 mph it was difficult to maintain schedules in winter against headwinds, as for instance on 2 January, 1922, when an O/10 spent over 5 hours en route from Le Bourget to Croydon in face of a northerly gale. Only four days earlier, McIntosh and Wilcockson had taken off from Le Bourget in similar conditions in 'TN and 'TM respectively at the same time - 11.20 a.m. 'TM's engines overheated, so Wilcockson landed at Berck-sur-Mer to cool off and had just disembarked his passengers when a sudden gust cartwheeled the aircraft on to its back and wrecked it. McIntosh, who had been about to land to render assistance, just had time to change his mind and bang the throttles wide open - 'TN went up like a lift to 3,000 ft and reached Croydon after a journey time of 4 hr 35 min. G-EATM was a write-off that day, leaving only 'TH and 'TN available, since 'TG, 'TJ and 'TL were being overhauled and 'TK had been flown to Filton by McIntosh on 21 December for Bristol Jupiter air-cooled radial engines to be installed for service trials; this job was completed by the end of January, but meanwhile McIntosh had crashed 'TN at Senlis, between Beauvais and Le Bourget, in a fog blanket forecast as having cloudbase at 300 ft, but in fact continuous down to ground level. With only two passengers aboard and Dismore as radio operator, he was groping his way down, expecting to break cloud over Le Bourget, whence he could get no radio reply; he was knocked out and his feet were trapped between the floorboards and the rudder bar. Dismore, though in pain with three broken ribs, checked that the two passengers were only shaken and the three of them managed to free McIntosh, who expected fire to break out at any moment. He was unable to walk for several months and G-EATK, with its Jupiters installed on 5 February, was collected from Filton by Gordon Olley. For a few weeks only G-EATH remained serviceable for regular schedules and, to augment the Handley Page Transport fleet, the Air Ministry loaned the Bristol Ten-seater G-EAWY and D.H.18 G-EAWX previously assigned to Instone. With a total of 850 hp for take-off, G-EATK had a much enhanced performance and could be flown at full weight with either Jupiter dead; it was demonstrated before the Air Conference delegates at Croydon on 6 February and flown by Olley to Le Bourget on 16 March for further demonstrations to French officials in support of the licence to manufacture Jupiters then being negotiated between the Bristol and Gnome-Rhone companies. Olley flew it back to Croydon on the 23rd and on to Filton next day, the Jupiters then being removed and the Eagles reinstalled. Although the Jupiters saved 900 lb in empty weight and G-EATK could climb to 3,000 ft in 6 1/4 min at a gross weight of 12,000 lb, the remaining O/10s were considered to be too nearly obsolete for such rejuvenation to be worth while; so G-EATK was withdrawn from use on 9 June, when McIntosh, returning from convalescence, flew it to Cricklewood for storage; it was scrapped there at the end of the year, together with G-EAAW, 'TG, 'TJ and 'TL; only G-EATH was kept serviceable at Croydon to supplement the W.8bs which had taken over the principal schedules in May and June. Although not regularly flown in passenger traffic, G-EATH was overhauled a year later and opened a new extension service from Paris to Basle and Zurich on 16 August, 1923, being again flown by McIntosh, with Sir Sefton Brancker and Sir Francis Festing among the passengers; for two months it flew out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, returning on the alternate weekdays, but in spite of a joint Anglo-Swiss subsidy the service was reduced to once weekly after the summer season ended in October.
   Thereafter G-EATH, nominally in reserve, was picketed out in the open at Plough Lane and steadfastly resisted the worst the weather could do, until it was finally broken up in June 1925 when the site was cleared. It was thus the only O/10 to pass into the ownership of Imperial Airways in March 1924 and by then had long outlived the last O/400 in RAF service or anywhere else, although there was an unconfirmed report of G-IAAA (HP-8) having survived the Indian debacle of 1921, to reach Egypt (presumably as deck cargo) in 1924; it appears also that G-EAAF was still extant in the USA in 1925, when it was on view at the National Air Races at Roosevelt Field.

O/7, O/10 and O/11 (Two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII)
   Span 100 ft (30-5 m); length 62 ft 10 in (19-2 m); wing area 1,648 sq ft (153 m2). Empty weight 8,326 lb (3,800 kg); maximum weight 12,050 lb (5,470 kg). Speed 97 mph (156 km/h); endurance 7 1/2 hr. Crew two. Passengers O/7 - fourteen, O/10 - twelve, O/11 - five.
O/400 passenger conversion D8350 at Cricklewood in June 1919.
The first O/7, HP-1, at Cricklewood in July 1919, showing long nacelles and full-height forward end of cabin.
F5414 at Cricklewood after being rebuilt as an O/7 in July 1919, showing Marconi R/T aerial masts at nose and stern.
Civil O/400 G-EAKG of Handley Page Transport Ltd climbing out of Cricklewood.
G-EASL, the first O/11 cargo conversion for Handley Page Transport Ltd.
The only Napier Lion engined O/400 was G-EASO Old Carthusian II in May 1920.
G-EBBH flew as Melbourne for only a week before being unveiled as Prince George at Croydon on 16 May, 1922; G-EATH survived as the last O/10 till 1924.
G-IAAA at Calcutta in March 1920 after being shipped from Cape Town.
HP-11 (G-EAPA) at Cricklewood in January 1920, finished in aluminium dope with blue nacelles and pink silk interior trim for Handley Page Indo-Burmese Transport Ltd.
G-EASX, the last O/10 for India, was a replacement for G-EAPA; not only was it trimmed in pink silk, but it was also painted all over in pink for the Thakur Saheb of Morvi.
G-EATH at Plough Lane, Croydon, after overhaul for the Paris-Basle-Zurich route in 1923.
Pioneer at Wynberg before being flown to Beaufort West in February 1920.
The first O/7 air mail flight about to leave Peking for Tientsin on 7 May, 1919, with B. F. Alston and staff of the British Legation.
G-EATK at Filton on 5 February, 1922, after installation of Bristol Jupiters; in the cockpit are (left) Gordon Olley of Handley Page Transport Ltd and (right) Arthur Suddes of the Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd.
Interior of O/10 passenger cabin
W/400, W.8, W.8b and W.8c (H.P.16 and 18)

   From the beginning of 1919, Handley Page realised that adaptation of the O/400 bomber as a transport could not produce a satisfactory post-war airliner, whatever its value as a means of generating traffic and enthusiasm for the new mode of travel. For one thing, the internal tubular bracing, which replaced tie-rods in the cabin, was a hindrance to passengers and prevented seats from being placed in the best positions. So in February 1919, when Volkert, assisted by S. T. A. Richards, began sketching layouts for a new project known as Type W, the first consideration was to eliminate internal bracing in the cabin altogether. At first it seemed that this could be done only by restricting the cabin length to 12 ft, and this would have needed a width of at least 5 ft 6 in to accommodate twelve seats, in four rows of three abreast. This, in turn, would have meant placing the two engines further apart and so increasing yaw with a single engine failure; the ability to maintain height with one engine dead was certain to be marginal and any increment in trim drag was most undesirable. The problem was solved by replacing the central cabane struts by braced vertical struts, whose longeron attachments were braced to the top and bottom ends of the engine struts. This made internal bracing across the middle of the fuselage unnecessary and allowed a longer cabin of 22 ft, with forward and aft frames stiffened at the corners. The internal cabin width could then revert to 4 ft 6 in as in the O/400, accommodating forward-facing pairs of seats in as many as eight rows, if desired, with a central gangway. To provide full height throughout the cabin, the bottom longerons were curved to taper less abruptly aft of the wing and the fuselage was deepened to 7 ft, with the crew’s cockpit lowered and the nose cockpit deleted; pilot opinion was strongly opposed to an enclosed cockpit and no attempt was made to incorporate one.
   For the wing layout, Volkert proposed to use the V/1500 style with equal span, four ailerons and dihedral only on the lower wing, giving a gap of 11 ft at the centre and 8 ft 6 in at the tips, while retaining the O/400’s original chord of 10 ft and area of 1,650 sq ft; this resulted in a span of 85 ft. At a meeting on 3 March, 1919, Handley Page approved this suggestion and ordered a set of the new wings for C9713, an 0/400 which had been used at Cricklewood and Martlesham Heath for V/1500 development; since July 1918 it had had hornless balanced ailerons of the V/1500 type on its original upper wings; it made three satisfactory flights on 31 March with a simplified undercarriage of V/1500 pattern, the pilot being Lieutenant Carruthers, who flew it again in April with the new wings for speed and climb tests at 12,000 lb before taking it to Martlesham for official tests and instrument calibration. Meanwhile a new monoplane tail unit, with the stern tapering to a vertical knife-edge, was designed and made up, ready for assembly to C9713 when it returned from Martlesham; in the event it was flown on to Farnborough for airspeed calibration, which was completed on 22 May. On 19 May the test figures from Martlesham confirmed Volkert’s prediction and Type W was finalised with a fuselage width of 5 ft and variable tailplane incidence. Possibly with the intention of having it ready for the forthcoming First International Air Transport Exhibition (ELTA) at Amsterdam in August, Handley Page pressed on with as full as possible a conversion of C9713 to the new standard, retaining the original main fuselage and centre section, with the Eagles in nacelles extended to include new fuel tanks of 110 gallons each, with a 10-gallon gravity service tank above each, as already designed for the O/7. Carruthers was no longer available and Geoffrey Hill was ill with influenza when C9713, modified to ’W/400’ standard, was ready for flight. Lt-Col Sholto Douglas, chief pilot of Handley Page Transport Ltd, was therefore instructed by Handley Page to take Hill’s place, which he did under protest since Handley Page had declined to pay any bonus for test-flying. Douglas flew C9713 on 22 August, 1919, and confirmed the performance predicted from Boswall’s wind-tunnel tests but asked for the controls to be geared-up 1 1/2 times to improve response. It was already too late for it to appear at ELTA even if a special C of A could have been rushed through.
   It has been suggested that C9713 was converted in stages to become the Type W prototype, which appeared in November 1919 carrying the number HP-15 in the sequence applied to civil conversions of O/400s, but company records show that both these aircraft co-existed for nearly a year; on 8 March, 1920, C9713 was being regularly flown at Cricklewood for routine testing of such experiments as a two-wheeled chassis, slewed engines (to improve directional control with one engine throttled), slotted exhaust pipe silencers, and triple fins and rudders (which had been allowed for in the original monoplane tail design). Arthur Wilcockson flew it on engine-out trials with a single rudder at the end of March 1920 and was waiting in April for a windy day on which to check weathercock effect on cross-wind taxying. A new main fuselage of Type W design had been ordered for C9713 on 24 February, 1919, but had not been incorporated in that aeroplane before it was taken out of service at the end of July 1920; it is likely that this new fuselage became the nucleus of the Type W prototype in May 1919, having initially been included in the production sequence as HP-15. C9713 never had a civil registration, remaining the Air Ministry’s property on loan to the company, thanks to good relations between Handley Page and the new Director of Research, Sir Robert Brooke- Popham. The Type W prototype came very near to the ideal ‘Large Transport Aeroplane’ envisaged by the Civil Aviation department of the Air Ministry, when it promulgated rules for a Civil Aircraft Comfort and Safety Competition, to be held at Martlesham Heath and Felixstowe in August 1920.
   In the final design of Type W, it had been hoped to install a pair of 400 hp Cosmos Jupiter air-cooled radial engines instead of the Eagles, and clearance for 12 ft diameter airscrews had been obtained by narrowing the upper half of the fuselage immediately aft of the cockpit; at the same time the centre-section span was reduced by 2 ft, with the engines mounted on the outboard side of the outer struts, thus maintaining the same distance between engine centres as on the O/400. Jupiters were not available because the Cosmos company’s original contracts had been cancelled after the Armistice and, in reinstating a prototype order for six Jupiters, the Air Ministry had stipulated a more severe type test for civil use; instead of Jupiters, the Air Ministry agreed to lend a pair of 450 hp Napier Lions, since there was considerable official support for Handley Page’s enterprise. With more power available, Volkert reduced the wing area, giving a span of 75 ft, but (as in the earliest days of the O/100) retained the original aileron area by extending the aileron chord. The elevators, like the ailerons, were aerodynamically balanced by setting back the hinges, but a substantial horn balance was retained for the rudder, another sample of which was tested on C9713 in November 1919. In this form, the prototype was designated W.8 and allotted the civil registration G-EAPJ. Hill was still off flying duty and Douglas had resigned rather than undertake further test-flying, so Handley Page decided to delay the first flight until the furnishings had been completed to exhibition standard. They included wall-to-wall carpet, pelmets and curtains for the eight openable circular Triplex windows along each side, a clock on the forward bulkhead and several small electric candelabra on the walls. The sixteen cane seats all faced forward and were upholstered with plush-covered cushions, each passenger having an adjacent window; the cabin was entered by an outward opening door at the aft end on the port side, with a toilet compartment adjacent to the aft bulkhead, behind which was a cargo hold accessible through a floor hatch. An interesting facility at first was the provision of port-holes in the floor to enable passengers to view landmarks, but they proved unpopular and were soon deleted.
   Structurally, the W.8 incorporated all the best features of both the O/400 and V/1500, retaining folding wings with hollow box spars and employing hollow compression struts and longerons, though not of the McGruer tubular pattern, which had given trouble through shrinkage allowing the strut fittings to loosen and rotate. All steel fittings were rust-proofed and stove enamelled, and the wooden members were thoroughly protected with copal varnish. Had Jupiters been available, the fuel and oil tanks would have been installed in circular section nacelles of good streamline form, but with the substitution of Napier Lions it became necessary to lengthen the nacelles, still keeping the circular section; the engines were fed from small cylindrical gravity tanks under the upper wing as in the O/7, fuel being pumped up to them from the main tanks. Finished all over in white Emaillite, the W.8 was rolled out for its first engine runs in November 1919. Geoffrey Hill was still unfit for flying, so 20 years old Robert Bager, of Handley Page Transport Ltd, undertook the first test flight, which lasted 20 minutes, on 2 December. He was entirely satisfied with the W.8’s handling and, on the morning of the 4th, took off at 11.30 for Hounslow to clear Customs before flying on to Le Bourget, which he reached in the record time of 110 minutes; en route he overtook the regular O/400, which had left Hounslow 40 min before him and was to land at Le Bourget ten minutes after him. Late at night a few days later, with wings folded, the W.8 was towed 12 miles on its own wheels to the centre of Paris and into the Grand Palais on the Champs Elysees, where the Handley Page working party, under foreman William MacRostie, was completing the stand to the satisfaction of Edward Cogni, publicity manager, and J. B. Richard, the company’s Continental agent. When the VI-ieme Exposition Internationale de Locomotion Aerienne opened on 19 December, the W.8, in a prominent central position, dominated the smaller exhibits, being matched in size only by the Farman Goliath, and was universally admired, not only for its sparkling white finish and luxurious interior furnishings, but also for its structural ingenuity, which banished all internal bracing from the capacious saloon. After the exhibition closed on 4 January, 1920, some time necessarily elapsed while the W.8 was extricated from the Grand Palais and returned by road to Le Bourget, whence Bager flew it back via Hounslow on 22 January in 130 min, bringing MacRostie and his party home to Cricklewood in time for the company’s annual staff dinner at the Connaught Rooms on the 24th. The W.8 was not flown again until the end of March, when Geoffrey Hill was pronounced fit for flying duties, having spent his latter weeks of convalescence on various wind-tunnel experiments. Soon after beginning a series of carefully graded handling tests, he asked for reduced fin and rudder height without changing the original chord, to improve directional stability and control with one engine throttled back. By the end of April he had completed performance measurements at full weight with varying c.g. positions, the load being made up with water ballast carried in three tanks supported by a strong wooden framework laid on the cabin floor. On receiving Hill’s report, Handley Page at once arranged for a demonstration climb to service ceiling with full payload to be officially observed for a possible world record claim; on 4 May Geoffrey Hill and his engineer, ‘Nigger’ Knight, flew G-EAPJ to a height of 4.276 metres (nearly 14,000 ft) with a payload of 1,674 kg (3,690 lb), equivalent to 26 passengers, in a flight from Cricklewood lasting 80 min. Although this flight did not qualify for homologation by the FAI, the Royal Aero Club recognised it as a British record and awarded a Certificate of Performance on 18 May, 1920. A few days later the W.8 was due to appear at Brussels for demonstration to King Albert of the Belgians, to whom the Aircraft Disposal Co were presenting a specially equipped touring conversion of a Bristol Fighter for his private use; there was great enthusiasm in the running shed to get the W.8 ready after various small modifications had been done, and, as soon as work on the port engine was finished, Knight started it while the starboard engine installation was still in progress, to save time. Unfortunately a panel-beater, in replacing a nacelle cowling panel, had had to disconnect the port throttle linkage and had inadvertently reversed it in reconnecting it, so that when Knight tried to slow the engine down its speed increased and the aircraft, still trestled on the starboard side, tilted on to its nose with the rudder rising into the roof girders; apart from a broken airscrew, little damage was done, but the W.8’s visit to Brussels had to be postponed.
   At the beginning of the year, the Air Ministry had announced a competition to promote comfort and safety in the design of civil aircraft, offering prizes totalling ?64,000 for the best entries in three classes: large aeroplanes, small aeroplanes and amphibians. The competition was originally scheduled to begin on 1 June, 1920, but on receiving complaints from the SBAC that this would prejudice the Aero Show being held at Olympia in July, the Air Ministry agreed to postpone the starting dates to 1 August for the landplane classes and 1 September for seaplanes. A week before the Olympia show opened on 9 July, the W.8 once more made a road journey on its own wheels, with wings folded, this time from Cricklewood down Edgware Road and Park Lane to Hyde Park Corner and thence along Knightsbridge and Kensington High Street to Olympia, which was reached without incident before the morning rush-hour began. Again the W.8 occupied a dominating central position, on Stand 49, but had to share the honours for size with the Bristol Pullman triplane and the slightly smaller Vickers Vimy Commercial. The W.8 had been refinished in glossy white, with black nacelles and black lining along the edges of the fuselage, and its registration marks painted out, which greatly enhanced its appearance; the only external embellishment was the company badge on the nose and on each side of the fin. Its furnishings were acclaimed by a large number of visitors and on its return to Cricklewood after the show closed on the 20th it needed further refurbishing, but it was found that the brilliant gloss had to be stripped off ruthlessly to save a serious weight increase and only a light finishing coat could be permitted for the competition flying. So it emerged from the shops for its next test flight on 1 August finished in a light pea-green colour, the result of mixing Nivo dope with a minimum of gloss white; it retained this colour for the remainder of its life.
   G-EAPJ’s pilot for the Air Ministry competition was Major Herbert Brackley, who had been appointed chief pilot of Handley Page Transport Ltd in March 1920, soon after returning from Egypt. He found it handled well, with remarkable climb and speed, and flew it to Martlesham Heath on 3 August, but next day one of the airscrews was found to be defective and could not be rectified until Friday the 13th. Next morning, Brackley began the prescribed reliability and economy test, but after 2 3/4 hours the fabric at the port hinged trailing edge of the upper wing began to strip and vibrate in the slipstream, and when three of the tail-ribs broke he had to land. All through Sunday and Monday work continued to repair the ribs and renew the fabric, but just as the job was finished, in the afternoon, one of the riggers fell off a trestle and through the trailing edge of the lower wing, breaking two of the hinge ribs on this wing also, so they had to work throughout the night to complete this repair. On Tuesday the 17th the W.8 was ready for flight again and Brackley completed the high speed test at 118 mph, and next day the economy and reliability test with two flights of 3 1/2 hr each. Bad weather and low cloud then interrupted flying till Saturday the 21st, when Brackley began the single-engined test, but had to give up after half an hour; on Monday he flew for 35 min with the starboard engine switched off losing 150 ft of height and then for half an hour with the port engine off without loss of height. Next day he completed the short take-off and slow flying tests satisfactorily, but failed to demonstrate uncontrolled flight for 5 min as required, in spite of repeated attempts at several different altitudes, his best time being 3 min. On the 27th, having achieved half an hour with starboard engine off without losing height, he completed the landing tests over a 50 ft barrier of balloons, and on the 28th made a final attempt to improve on his slow speed, which he got down to 55-2 mph; after this he flew the W.8 back to Cricklewood with eleven passengers, including the competition judges and rival competitors. The results were announced a month later, when the judges withheld the first prize of ?20,000 in the large aeroplane class, but awarded the second prize of ?8,000 to Handley Page and the third prize of ?4,000 to Vickers for their Vimy Commercial; their reasons for not giving the W.8 the first prize were that it had failed to demonstrate sufficient stability in uncontrolled flight and that none of the competitors offered the radical advance in design that the Air Ministry had wished to elicit.
   Handley Page had hoped to put the W.8 into immediate revenue earning service, and a C of A was granted on 7 August, 1920, but the Napier Lions were still on loan and there were none available for sale, so the machine could only be used for such flying as was authorised by the Air Ministry. The next opportunity of showing its paces occurred on 13 October, when the International Air Conference visited Croydon aerodrome for a display of the latest types of civil aircraft. The W.8 and an O/400 arrived from Cricklewood in formation, the O/400 being already at maximum speed, but over the aerodrome the W.8 accelerated to its own maximum speed with spectacular effect, leaving the O/400 standing. But by this time all British air services were losing revenue to subsidised French operators, who could afford to charge only half the true economic fare needed to show a profit; consequently, even when Napier Lions became available for sale, Handley Page Transport Ltd could not find the purchase money for a pair for the W.8; the possibility of hiring Jupiters from the Bristol Aeroplane Company had led to the registration of a second W.8 as G-EAVJ on 6 September, but construction never began of this machine (W.8a), which was to have had slotted wings. With the withdrawal of the Cricklewood Amsterdam service at the end of October and total cessation of British civil air traffic four months later, the government was forced to act and a new phase began on 19 March, when subsidies recommended by the Londonderry committee enabled the Cricklewood Le Bourget service to be restarted at the same fares as the French airlines. After further unsuccessful attempts to replace the Napier Lions in G-EAPJ, which the Air Ministry had handed back to the makers after removing its engines, S. T. A. Richards proposed a version, W.8b, with Eagle VIII engines which, though of lower power, could carry nearly the same payload at a slightly reduced cruising speed; this nevertheless gave a useful margin against the worst headwinds and enabled flights to be completed within the maximum time limit permitted for payment of the subsidy, which the O/400s could not always achieve. Meanwhile, both Brackley and Volkert had joined Colonel The Master of Sempill’s naval aviation mission to Japan, and had been succeeded by R. H. McIntosh as chief pilot of Handley Page Transport Ltd, and S. T. A. Richards as chief designer.
   At last two Napier Lion IBs were obtained for G-EAPJ, which was overhauled and flight-tested again on 29 August, 1921, by H. H. Perry. On the same day he ferried it across to Croydon, now the Customs terminal for Handley Page Transport Ltd as for other British operators, and for the remainder of the week it was flown by the other pilots, who all expressed enthusiasm for its handling and performance. Another month elapsed while the Civil Aviation department of the Air Ministry deliberated its approval for public transport, and there was disappointment when its C of A was endorsed for a maximum load of only twelve passengers, but on Wednesday 20 October Perry was ready to fly the first service to Paris, only to be grounded by the fog which, as already related, ‘All-weather Mac’ alone succeeded in penetrating with his famous blind arrival that day. Next day at 2.25 p.m. Perry took off from Croydon on a 125-minute maiden flight to Paris with all seats occupied and G-EAPJ, now named Newcastle, was thereafter flown in regular service. On 15 November seven passengers were booked for the morning flight to Paris, including Sir Henry White-Smith and J. D. North, who had been invited to join Handley Page en route to the Paris Salon. Their pilot was the Cockney W. L. Rogers, who insisted on leaving punctually at 11.10 a.m. although Handley Page had been delayed and in fact arrived in time to see the W.8 receding over Purley. Three weeks later Arthur Wilcockson brought off an emergency landing near Beauvais after one airscrew and reduction gear had broken adrift; fortunately, spares were ready to hand and the W.8 was flown back to Croydon without passengers next day. An order for three W.8bs, to specification 16/21, was agreed in November and G-EAPJ, having been overhauled at Cricklewood, was retained there for flight trials with its Lions restricted to Eagle VIII power ratings, to provide performance data for the W.8b, so was not available for demonstration at the second Air Conference display at Croydon on 5 February, 1922.
   Meanwhile, the three new W.8bs were making quick progress through the works, but when the first emerged it looked too sombre in a new livery of silver-doped wings and tail, with a black fuselage relieved only by gold lining along the edges. Before sending it to Croydon, Handley Page had the colour scheme changed to silver, with black lining and lettering, although the first W.8b, G-EBBG, retained its gold lining at first and G-EAPJ remained pea-green even after its wing and tail fabric had been renewed. The main differences between W.8b and W.8, apart from the change of engines, were the continuous rectangular windows along each side of the saloon, instead of separate round port-holes, and the removal of the fuel tanks from the nacelles to the top of the upper wings, which reduced the risk of fire and provided a simple and reliable gravity feed to the engines without using pumps; the wing-folding facility was also deleted to save weight and improve the wing root strength. Although ICAN had standardised a cockpit layout with the pilot on the port side and the engineer or radio operator on the starboard side as early as November 1919, this rule had not been enforced on the O/400 civil variants or the original W.8, which had inherited the opposite layout from the O/400 bomber; in spite of its having been designed three years after promulgation of the ICAN standard, the W.8b retained the pilot in the right-hand seat, apparently because Handley Page Transport pilots were accustomed to it and resisted any change. Since the number of passengers was still limited to twelve, the front bay of the saloon was partitioned off as a cargo compartment in addition to the main hold aft of the entrance door, and this permitted easier adjustment of the centre of gravity during loading.
   After its first flight by Wilcockson at Cricklewood on 21 April, 1922, G-EBBG was flown to Croydon and thence to Martlesham Heath for official C of A trials, in which it took off easily with 300 lb overload; it was flown back to Croydon on 3 May by Harold Payn. Although the full C of A was not issued till June, G-EBBG went into immediate service, its maiden flight to Paris being made by Wilcockson with eight passengers on 4 May; returning next day, he made a precautionary landing at Lympne because of bad weather and broke the tailskid, but managed to repair it temporarily so as to fly direct to Cricklewood after sending his passengers on by train. On the 5th he also flew G-EBBH, the second W.8b, for the first time and delivered it to Croydon on the 9th. During their first short period of service, these two W.8bs were named Bombay and Melbourne respectively but on 16 May they were unveiled as Princess Mary and Prince George by the new Director of Civil Aviation, Sir Sefton Brancker, performing his first official duty at Croydon. In a well-attended ceremony, Sir Sefton confessed to being a purist who thought that transport should be dissociated from manufacture, but hoped that Handley Page Transport Ltd might be the exception to this rule. In reply, Handley Page felt he was addressing a Salvation Army meeting and although he did not intend to lead those present in praise and prayer, he thought they should praise Sir Sefton for his past and pray for his future; during the subsequent joy-riding by the guests, one flight was made in G-EBBG with 25 passengers on board. Although the W.8bs came out 150 lb below their estimated weight, it was found necessary to strengthen the landing gear to avoid damage from taxying on rough grass and this absorbed some of the weight saving. The third W.8b, G-EBBI, named Prince Henry, was delivered from Cricklewood to Croydon on 2 June and entered service on the 7th, being flown to Paris that day and back the next day by McIntosh, followed by out and return flights by Olley on the 9th and 10th. G-EBBI incorporated further weight-saving modifications and had an appreciably better performance than the other two, so it was chosen to compete in an international aviation meeting at Evere, Brussels, held by the Belgian Aero Club on 23-26 June; this event included a competition to select a commercial airliner to be operated the next year by the newly formed Societe Anonyme Beige pour l’Exploitation de la Navigation Aerienne (SABENA). Flown to Brussels on the 24th by R. H. McIntosh and Leslie Foot, with Handley Page and Cogni among the twelve passengers, G-EBBI scored a runaway win in all its classes on 26 June, well ahead of the French ace, Sadi Lecointe, in a single-engined Nieuport-Delage. King Albert and his sons, Prince Leopold and Prince Charles, watched the events and took a keen interest in G-EBBI’s performance. As a result of this demonstration, SABENA ordered two modified W.8s from Cricklewood and its associated manufacturing company SABCA acquired a licence to manufacture others of the same type, to equip the SABENA fleets in Europe and the Belgian Congo.
   On 30 June W. L. Rogers flew G-EAPJ back from Cricklewood after an extensive overhaul and demonstrated its ability to fly and manoeuvre on either one of its Napier Lions alone; with all four W.8s in service, traffic increased substantially and ’PJ, being the fastest, was frequently chartered for additional flights to carry full loads; only one O/10, G-EATH, was still held in reserve by Handley Page Transport and the borrowed Bristol Ten-seater G-EAWY and D.H.18 G-EAWX were returned to the Air Ministry at the end of June. On 19 July Leslie Foot flew ’PJ from Croydon to Le Bourget in 102 minutes, thus improving on Bager’s maiden flight for the first time; a month later it was withdrawn for further modifications including installation of overwing gravity fuel tanks of W.8b type and removal of the long nacelle cowling panels; at this stage it was renamed Duchess of York.
   Meanwhile, Sir Sefton Brancker had sought to rationalise the British airlines, to prevent waste of subsidy through competition on the same routes, and from 1 October Handley Page Transport Ltd was given the sole responsibility for the London-Paris route, with a future extension to Basle and Zurich, and withdrawn from the Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne routes. As a result, the Instone Air Line, on the advice of Colonel Bristow, proposed to adopt an improved W.8c carrying sixteen passengers and powered by 390 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IXs; this was similar to the W.8b as supplied to SABENA with gravity fuel tanks slung under the top wing to reduce drag. Taking advantage of this development, W. P. Savage, chief engineer of Handley Page Transport, next year converted ’BG, ’BH and ’BI to carry fourteen passengers by removing the baggage locker at the front of the saloon and putting in an extra pair of seats, although the side windows were not correspondingly extended. At the end of October, Larry Carter had a double engine failure in ’PJ near Tonbridge, but with adequate height in hand he managed to reach Penshurst for a safe landing; after this it was decided to convert ’PJ to Eagle VIIIs; this proved to be a long job, from which it did not return to service till the end of April 1923, an attempt to use direct-drive Eagles (to avoid the frequent reduction gear failures) having proved unsuccessful. With Eagle VIIIs, ’PJ’s performance was equal to the standard W.8b’s, but its payload was slightly lower because its empty weight was higher; only six months later, on 22 November, 1923, flying towards Paris near Poix, Wilcockson ran short of fuel on one engine, probably from a leak in the tank, and in trying to reach Le Bourget on the other engine, its radiator boiled dry and it seized up; Wilcockson made a perfect landing in an apparently suitable field, but failed to notice a sunken road, into which ’PJ dropped its nose and wheels, to be wrecked beyond repair. The three W.8bs all had longer lives, the only casualty being G-EBBG, which was destroyed in a precautionary landing in very rough weather near Abbeville on 15 February, 1928, after nearly four years’ service with Imperial Airways. G-EBBH was honourably retired three years later and G-EBBI lasted till October 1932, having, in its ten years’ service, flown half a million miles in 5,473 hours. All three were repainted in the Instone-style royal blue and silver livery adopted by Imperial Airways on its formation in April 1924, but reverted to a silver lined with dark blue scheme in 1927 when the livery was changed again. After ’BH had been withdrawn from use in 1931, ’BI was leased to Aviation Tours Ltd for joy-riding and display work, in the course of which it visited Croydon several times in 1932.

W/400 (Two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII)
   Span 85 ft (26 m); length 63 ft (19-2 m); wing area 1,650 sq ft (153 m2). Maximum weight 9,770 lb (4,430 kg). Speed 94 mph (151 km/h). Crew two.

W.8 (Two Napier Lion IB)
   Span 75 ft (22-9 m); length 60 ft 3 in (18-4 m); wing area 1,456 sq ft (135 m2). Empty weight 8,000 lb (3,630 kg); maximum weight 12,250 lb (5,610 kg). Speed 115 mph (185 km/h); range 500 miles (805 km); ceiling 18,000 ft (5,560 m). Crew two. Passengers twelve (later fourteen).

W.8b (Two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII)
   Span 75 ft (22-9 m); length 60 ft 1 in (18-35 m); wing area 1,456 sq ft (135 m2). Empty weight 7,700 lb (3,490 kg); maximum weight 12,000 lb (5,450 kg). Speed 104 mph (167 km/h); range 500 miles (805 km); ceiling 10,600 ft (3,280 m). Crew two. Passengers 12-14. The figures for the W.8c (two Rolls-Royce Eagle IX) were the same as for the W.8b except that it had accommodation for sixteen passengers and had a maximum weight of 13,000 lb (5,900 kg).
The W.8's original tall fin and rudder was later reduced in height.
C9713 at Cricklewood in March 1919 with new landing gear and balanced hornless ailerons, before installation of equal-span wings and single tail.
G-EAPJ at Martlesham Heath in August 1920.
G-EAPJ with overwing fuel tanks at Plough Lane, Croydon, in July 1922.
W.8 in the Paris Salon in December 1919
The W.8 at Olympia in July 1920, showing revised fin and rudder.
W.8 G-EAPJ nearing completion at Cricklewood in November 1919.
G-EBBH flew as Melbourne for only a week before being unveiled as Prince George at Croydon on 16 May, 1922; G-EATH survived as the last O/10 till 1924.
G-EBBG entered service with Handley Page Transport Ltd on 4 May, 1922, as Bombay, but became Princess Mary twelve days later.
G-EBBI Prince Henry taking off from Croydon in 1922.
The fourth W.8b, O-BAHK, built at Cricklewood for SABENA.
G-EBBG in the blue livery of Imperial Airways in 1924.
Interior of W.8b passenger saloon.
Wind-tunnel model of projected W.8a with Cosmos Jupiters, full-span slots and flaps.
Sonoda biplane at Hendon in August 1912.
Weiss monoplane launcher at Fambridge in December 1908
Gallopin' Goose at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1921, compared with a Martin MB-1.