C.Barnes Handley Page Aircraft since 1907 (Putnam)
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).
M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
Handley Page F / H P. 6
The H.P.6 was a two-seat side-by-side tractor monoplane built for the 1912 Military Trials and flown in them as No. 28 by Edward Petre in place of his brother Henry A. Petre, who was scheduled originally as the pilot. The machine made only one official Trials flight, and later was forced to withdraw from the competition after landing downwind with engine trouble. It was rebuilt with new wings to replace the damaged pair and finally flew well, making a flight early in December, 1912, from Brooklands to Hendon.
The Admiralty was interested in placing an order for the type after receiving favourable reports of it from Lt. Wilfred Parke, R.N., but the aircraft crashed on a golf course at Wembley on 15th December, 1912, owing to a faulty engine after taking-off from Hendon for Oxford, and killed the crew of Lt. Parke and the Handley Page Manager Arkell A. Hardwick. The engine fitted was the 80 h.p. Gnome. Span, 43 ft. 6 ins. Length, 30 ft. 2 ins. Height, 10 ft. 6 ins. Weight empty, 850 lb. Weight loaded, 1,450 1b. Maximum speed, 55 m.p.h. Price, ?1,050.