А.Шепс Самолеты Первой мировой войны. Страны Антанты
К концу Первой мировой войны опыт конструирования крупных самолетов позволил фирме "Хендли Пейдж" построить первый английский стратегический бомбардировщик. Машина могла использоваться и для целей дальней разведки. Свой первый полет машина совершила в мае 1918 года. До 11 сентября 1918 года в 274 дивизион Royal Air Force поступило только 3 самолета. Поэтому планировавшиеся на конец 1918 года налеты на военные заводы в Руре и мосты через Рейн не состоялись.
Хотя машина могла донести 500 кг бомб до Берлина и вернуться на свой аэродром, стратегические налеты авиации остались пока только в разработках теоретиков.
В декабре 1918 - январе 1919 года HP. 15 совершил дальний перелет из Англии в Индию с посадками и дозаправками топливом в Риме, на Мальте, в Каире, Багдаде и Карачи. В 1919 году HP. 15 совершил перелет на Ньюфаундленд.
Н.Р.15 - четырехстоечный многоместный четырехмоторный биплан. Фюзеляж прямоугольного сечения, цельнодеревянной конструкции, с растяжками из стальной профилированной ленты. Обшивка фюзеляжа выполнялась в носовой части фанерными листами. Хвостовая часть за центропланом обтягивалась полотном. Размещение вооружения, экипажа и топлива аналогично машинам Н.Р.12. Только в хвостовой части фюзеляжа за оперением устанавливалась дополнительная турельная установка пулемета "Льюис".
Крыло трехлонжеронное. Конструкции лонжеронов, нервюр и стоек бипланной коробки изготавливались из деревянного профилированного бруса, фанеры с растяжками из стальных лент. Обтяжка крыльев осуществлялась полотном и покрывалась аэролаком. На верхних и нижних крыльях устанавливались элероны. Между плоскостями на металлических стойках, подкосах и раскосах устанавливались попарно в тандем четыре двигателя Роллс-Ройс "Игл VIII". Это были 12-цилиндровые, жидкостного охлаждения, рядные, V-образные двигатели мощностью 363 л. с. На тянущем двигателе устанавливался двухлопастный винт, а на толкающем - четырехлопастный.
Горизонтальное оперение бипланного типа, цельнодеревянной конструкции. Четырехкилевое вертикальное оперение устанавливалось между плоскостями горизонтального оперения.
Управление тросовое, от ручек управления и педалей первого и второго пилота.
Шасси двухтележечное. На каждой тележке на одной оси устанавливались два колеса большего диаметра. Амортизация резиновая шнуровая. Подкосы и стойки шасси изготавливались из металлических труб.
На самолете устанавливались 3-4 пулемета 7,62-мм "Льюис" на двух турелях и двух шкворневых установках.
Самолет мог нести до 3300 кг бомб на подвеске в центроплане и под ним. Специально для него были изготовлены 747-кг бомбы.
Всего фирмой были построены 32 машины HP. 15. После снятия с вооружения эти самолеты некоторое время летали на грузопассажирских линиях в Европе и Северной Америке.
Следует отметить, что на конструкцию первых бомбардировщиков фирмы "Хендли Пейдж" заметно повлиял самолет И. Сикорского "Илья Муромец". Причем многие идеи использовались с опозданием в 1,5-2 года.
размах крыльев 38,30
Площадь крыла, м2 279,0
максимальный взлетный 13500
Двигатель: Роллс-Ройс "Игл VIII"
число х мощность, л. с. 4x360
Скорость, км/ч 160
Дальность полета, км 2028
Потолок практический, м 3300
Экипаж, чел. 4-5
Вооружение 3-5 пулеметов, 3300 кг бомб
C.Barnes Handley Page Aircraft since 1907 (Putnam)
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.
F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Handley Page H.P.15 V/1500
Last of the very heavy bombers to enter production during the First World War, the Handley Page V/1500 was a further result of the German air attacks on England in 1917 and their influence on changing British strategic bombing policy. In this instance, implicit in the Air Board requirement was an ability to reach and bomb the German capital.
Drawing on the company's unmatched experience in building very large landplane bombers, Handley Page had already been engaged in the preliminary design of an aeroplane twice the weight of the O/400, to be powered by either two 600hp Rolls-Royce Condor or Siddeley-Deasy Tiger engines.
Known initially as the Type V, three prototypes (B9463-B9465) of the Handley Page aircraft were ordered under the Air Board's Specification A.3(b), but it soon became obvious that the provisions of the Specification would be greatly exceeded, and it was to be completely rewritten in April 1918 as RAF Type VII. By then, however, Henry Royce had informed Handley Page that the Condor was unlikely to be available until 1919, and advised him to consider redesigning the aircraft to feature four 375hp Eagle VIIIs, and the official designation, V/1500, referred to the total engine power.
Owing to a lack of space immediately available at Cricklcwood, design and manufacture of the prototype was transferred to Harland & Wolff Ltd at Belfast under the leadership of George Volkert, who took with him Francis Arcier and S T A ('Star') Richards; stressing was to be undertaken by Capt T M Wilson RN of the Admiralty.
Construction of the V/1500, a four-bay biplane spanning 126 feet, was entirely of wood, the fuselage being built in three sections. The nose, principally of silver spruce longerons and frames, was covered with ply; the centre section, containing the bomb bay (beneath a 1,000-gallon fuel tank), was entirely of spruce except for two massive ash crossbeams which supported the bomb load; the rear fuselage was built to form a box-girder of rolled-up laminated spruce sections and longerons, and incorporated a catwalk to the tail gunner's position in the extreme rear.
The wings, which folded immediately outboard of the engines, were rigged without stagger and were constructed about two silver spruce box main spars, the compression struts being either box-type or rolled-up laminated spruce structures. Ribs and ailerons were all of spruce. The upper wing was constructed in five sections, the centresection accommodating two gravity fuel tanks and four cooling water tanks. The lower wings were built in six sections.
The four Eagle engines were arranged in tandem pairs, mounted at mid-gap by steel tube V-struts attached to front and rear wing main spars. A single massive radiator, serving all four engines, was located on top of the centre fuselage, forward of the centresection wing struts. The two front engines drove two-blade propellers, and the rear pair four-blade propellers of smaller diameter; though all four engines were right-handed, the front and rear propellers were of course counter-rotating.
The biplane tail unit, with narrow gap, incorporated four balanced rudders, without fixed fins but with hinge rods attached to the front tailplane main spar.
The maximum bomb load of the V/1500 comprised thirty 250 lb HE RL bombs or combinations of 550 lb and 250 lb bombs. The aircraft was also intended to be able to carry a single 3,360 lb SN Major bomb, which was being developed specially for the V/1500 but was not ready for flight trials before the Armistice.
Manufacture of the first prototype, B9463, was an extraordinary feat of dedicated application and ingenuity and, as early as 27 January 1918, Harland & Wolff received an order for 20 production examples (E4304-E4323). Moreover, as an insurance against possible labour disputes - always a consideration in wartime conditions of food and coal shortages another production contract for 20 V/1500s (E8287-E8306) was signed with William Beardmore & Co Ltd at Dalmuir.
The first flight by B9463 had been intended to take place in March at Crumlin (later named Aldergrove) but, owing to disputes and bad weather, it was decided to move the entire aircraft to Cricklewood, a feat completed by sea, road and rail by 12 April. Final assembly was achieved in nine days and on 22 May, flown by Capt Vernon E G Busby RAF, the prototype made a short straight hop over the grass at the new Clutterhouse Farm aerodrome.
On 8 June, however, on its thirteenth flight, B9463 crashed and was destroyed by fire, Busby and four passengers being killed; one other, Col Alec Ogilvie, survived, having been occupying the tail gunner's position. The total loss of the aircraft, and the impossibility of determining its cause, severely delayed further production. During its short life a number of modifications had been found necessary and had been introduced in B9463; engine cowlings had been fitted, and then removed; frontal radiators had replaced the large central unit; and a lack of directional stability had resulted in increased tailplane gap and the introduction of fixed fins, the rudders being unbalanced.
The V/1500 had consituted a major element in the plans to enlarge the Independent Force and, had the second and third prototypes joined in the flight programme as planned, in July, production machines would have probably fully equipped two, or even three squadrons before the end of the War. As it was, work on the remaining two prototypes was delayed and they were eventually completed as J1935 and J1936, the former being flown on 3 August and the latter in October. Both these aircraft carried the full gun armament, with Scarff rings in nose and tail, as well as pillar mountings amidships a possible total of six Lewis guns. J1936 also underwent trials at Orfordness with a three-inch mortar in the midships gunner's position, launching bombs aft over the tail.
Meanwhile, No 86 Wing, No 27 Group, of the Independent Force had been formed in great secrecy at Bircham Newton under Wg Cdr Redford Henry Mulock dso* (later Air Cdre, CBE, dso*, RCAI) with Nos 166 and 167 Squadrons, these being the units intended to fly bombing raids over the heart of Germany. The two Squadrons received their first V/1500s in October and November 1918 respectively.
By the date o f the Armistice, a total of seven V/1500s had been delivered to the RAF, comprising the first two built by Harland & Wolff, but assembled by Handley Page, three Handley Page aircraft and two Beardmore aircraft. The first of the latter had originally been delivered with 500hp Galloway Atlantic engines, but these were removed in favour of Eagle VIIIs following the Air Ministry's decision to abandon the Atlantic.
Two aircraft of No 166 Squadron were each bombed-up with four 250 lb bombs on 9 November, ready to attack targets in Germany (the primary objective being Berlin), their pilots under orders to fly on to Czechoslovakia if they considered insufficient fuel remained for a safe return flight. Bad weather caused these sorties to be cancelled, but the engines were ready for starting two days later when the Armistice was announced.
No records appear to have survived to indicate whether the bomb rack, designed to mount the heavy SN Major bomb, was ever completed, and it is believed that this weapon was never carried aloft. Nos 166 and 167 Squadrons were disbanded in March 1919, their aircraft and some of their crews being absorbed into No 274 Squadron at Bircham Newton (hitherto a coastal patrol unit flying Airco D.H.6s).
A total of 213 V/1500s had been ordered from five manufacturers, but post-Armistice cancellations caused the number completed to be reduced to 41, plus a further 22 unassembled aircraft delivered into storage as spares. One of the latter was eventually assembled and flown as J6573 with Napier Lion engines, although an entire Handley Page order for 50 Lion IB-powered aircraft was cancelled, as were 40 ordered from Grahame-White Aviation Ltd.
In the postwar months V/1500s made a number of notable flights. Following its weapon trials at Orfordness, J1936 - named HMA Old Carthusian - was prepared for a flight to India by way of Egypt during December 1918. Flown by Maj A S C MacLaren and Capt Robert Halley (later Gp Capt, DFC, AFC), with three sergeant crew members, and Brig-Gen Norman Duckworth Kerr MacEwen (later AVM, CMG, DSO, RAF) as passenger, the aircraft set out from Martlesham Heath on the 13th, and eventually force landed 35 miles from Karachi on 16 January 1919 with only the front two engines in operation. During its period in India J1936, having been repaired, was ordered north to Risalpur and, flown by Halley, carried out a daring raid on Kabul on 24 May, crossing and re-crossing the Pathan mountains.
Another V/1500, F7140 built by Alliance Aircraft Co Ltd, was shipped to Newfoundland in May 1919 for an attempt to become the first aeroplane to fly the Atlantic non-stop, to be flown by Sqn Ldr Herbert George Brackley DSO, DSC, and the 55-year-old Vice-Admiral Mark Edward Frederick Kerr CB, MVO, with Major Geoffrey Ingram Taylor and Major Tryggve Gran (a Norwegian who had been the first to fly the North Sea in 1914, crossing from Scotland to Norway in a Bleriot). To accomplish the Atlantic crossing, Volkert had made provision for the V/1500 to carry a 2,000-gallon fuel tank - sufficient for well over 30 hours' endurance. However, owing to delays in assembling the Handley Page in Newfoundland, the Vickers Vimy of Alcock and Brown achieved the first successful Atlantic crossing, and the Handley Page's attempt was abandoned.
Instead, Frederick Handley Page instructed Brackley and Kerr to fly on to New York, a flight which began on 5 July and presaged a veritable odyssey in the New World that ended with a crash landing at Cleveland on 16 November.
Many of the postwar flights by V/1500s had been motivated by Frederick Handley Page's confidence in the future of large commercial airliners, and were intended to demonstrate his aircraft's considerable long-range potential. Ironically, they only served to show that the design of aircraft, considered adequate for wartime operations, left much to be desired - in particular with regard to reliability when it came to persuading a fare-paying public that danger and discomfort were acceptable penalties. Much remained to be accomplished before commercial operators would find suitable airliners that were truly profitable, without recourse to government subsidy.
Type: Four-engine (two tractor, two pusher), eight- or nine-crew, four-bay biplane heavy bomber.
Air Board Specification: A.3(b)
Manufacturers: Handley Page Ltd, Cricklewood, London; William Beardmore & Co Ltd, Dalmuir, Dunbartonshire; Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast; Alliance Aircraft Ltd, Acton, London.
Powerplant: Four 375hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII twelve-cylinder, water-cooled, in-line engines (with two tractor and two pusher propellers); four 500hp Galloway Atlantic; four 450hp Napier Lion I.
Structure: Forward fuselage of ply-clad spruce construction; centre fuselage structure, with bomb-bay, built of spruce with cross members of ash; rear fuselage, incorporating catwalk to rear gun position, of spruce, cross-braced box girder construction. Twin silver spruce box-spars in wings, the top wing being built in five sections, the lower in six. The wings folded aft at the attachment points for the engine support struts.
Dimensions: Span, 126ft 0in; length, 64ft 0in; height, 23ft 0in; wing area, 2,800 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 17,602 lb; all-up (max), 30,000 lb.
Performance: Max speed, 99 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 41 min 25 sec; service ceiling, 11,000ft; range, 1,300 miles; max endurance, 17 hrs.
Armament: Normal armament comprised twin 0.303in Lewis machine guns with Scarff ring on nose gunner's position, two Lewis guns on beam pillar mountings in the dorsal position, and a single Lewis gun on Scarff ring in the extreme tail. Maximum bomb load of thirty 250 lb bombs, carried internally.
Prototypes: One, B9463, first flown by Capt Vernon E G Busby (accompanied by Jack Hathaway) on 22 May 1918 at Clutterhouse Farm aerodrome, Cricklewood, London. Aircraft manufactured by Harland & Wolff and assembled by Handley Page. Two other aircraft, B9464 and B9465, intended as prototypes, extensively modified and delivered later as J1935 and J1936 (see under Production below).
Production: Two aircraft, B9464 and B9465, manufactured by Harland & Wolff, assembled and delivered by Handley Page as J1935 and J1936. 20 aircraft ordered from Harland & Wolff (E4304-E4323; three aircraft, E4304-E4306, assembled and delivered by Handley Page; five aircraft, E4307-E4311, built and delivered by Harland & Wolff; twelve aircraft, E4312-E4323, delivered by Harland & Wolff as spares, one of which was later assembled and delivered as J6573). 50 aircraft ordered from Beardmore (E8287-E8306 and F8201-F8230; nine aircraft, E8287-E8295, assembled and delivered; eleven aircraft, E8296-E8306, delivered as spares; F8201-F8230 cancelled). 10 aircraft ordered from Alliance Aircraft Co, F7134-F7143, and all completed and delivered by Handley Page Ltd. 90 aircraft ordered from Handley Page, F8281-F8320 and J6523-J6572 (ten assembled and delivered, F8281-F8290; the remaining 80 aircraft cancelled). 40 aircraft ordered from Grahame-White Aviation Ltd (H4825-H4864), but all cancelled. A further order for 50 aircraft, F8231-F8280, was placed with an unknown contractor possibly Handley Page - but cancelled. Summary, 210 aircraft ordered (excluding prototypes), 38 completed (excluding prototypes), assembled and delivered, 22 delivered in storage as spares (unassembled).
Summary of Service: Handley Page V/1500s served with No 166 Squadron, RAF, at Bircham Newton (between October 1918 and March 1919), with No 167 Squadron, RAF at Bircham Newton (between November 1918 and May 1919), and with No. 274 Squadron, RAF, at Bircham Newton (between June 1919 and January 1920). One aircraft, J1936, carried out bombing attack on Kabul, Afghanistan, operating independently, on 24 May 1919.
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
Another bomber which would, like the Amiens, have acquitted itself well had hostilities lasted a little longer, was G. R. Volkert’s massive Handley Page H.P.15 V/1500 which was ordered and designed in 1917 and completed during 1918. The first prototype, B9463, was constructed by Harland and Wolff at Belfast and was fitted with four 375 h.p. Eagle VIIIs mounted in tandem pairs between the 126 ft. span wings. The intended power plants were Rolls-Royce Condors, but delays in development led to the use of the Eagles. Two-blade tractor and four-blade pusher propellers were installed. B9463 was assembled at Cricklewood and made its first flight there during May, 1918, in the hands of Flt. Lt. V. Busby. Modifications were made as a result of early test flights, but the first V/1500 crashed later in June, 1918.
The intention was that the gargantuan V/1500 should serve in squadrons based in England and be able to make the return flight to bomb Germany. In the event, by the Armistice, only three V/1500s were in service - with No. 166 Squadron at Bircham Newton - and the machine was never able to demonstrate its power against Germany. The V/1500’s maximum load consisted of thirty 250 lb. bombs, and its armament comprised Lewis guns in the nose, amidships and in the tail.
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
Handley Page V/1500
IT has already been told, in the history of the Handley Page O/400, how the V/1500 was ordered as an experimental bomber after the meeting of the Air Board which was held on July 30th, 1917. A factor which influenced the design was the expectation that hostilities would continue until well into 1919 at least, and the machine had to be capable of taking a worthwhile bomb-load from bases in England to Berlin and other enemy industrial centres.
The V/1500 was therefore necessarily a large aeroplane, larger, in fact, than any which had been built in Britain up to that time. It was not quite so large as some of the contemporary German Riesenflugzeuge (Giant aeroplanes), but was a much more workmanlike aircraft and a good deal simpler structurally than any of the enemy types.
The huge airframe embodied all the experience gained in the construction of the O/100 and O/400. The fuselage of the V/1500 was made in three sections. The front section was built mainly of silver spruce, and was covered with plywood for a distance of seven feet from the nose. The centre portion contained the bomb-bay, and was built wholly of spruce apart from two cross beams in the bomb-bay, which were of ash. The upper half of the centre portion was occupied by the main fuel tank; below it the bomb-racks were fitted. The rear portion of the fuselage was constructed of McGruer circular spruce sections, and there was a cat-walk which extended to the gunner’s cockpit in the extreme tail of the aircraft. The whole fuselage was a cross-braced box girder.
The upper mainplanes were built in five sections, the lower in six; despite their great size the wings could be folded. Silver spruce box spars were used, and the compression struts were either box-type structures or of the McGruer tubular type; the ribs were of silver spruce, and cross-bracing was by tie-rods. The ailerons had solid spars; they and the aileron ribs were made of silver spruce. The upper centresection contained four water tanks and two gravity tanks for petrol; the latter were each divided into two compartments. The interplane struts were built up of wood, whilst the struts supporting the engine-bearers were of steel tube, as were the bearers themselves.
Late in 1917, the Rolls-Royce company began work on the design of a new engine which was intended to be the power-unit of the V/1500. This was the Condor, which was virtually a considerably enlarged Eagle: the bigger engine had a modified cylinder head design, four valves per cylinder instead of the Eagle’s two, and correspondingly revised valve gear. The first experimental Condors delivered 600 h.p. and would have been ideal for the V/1500. However, they were not ready until early 1919, and it was necessary to instal other engines in the aircraft. Four Rolls-Royce Eagles were fitted, mounted midway between the wings in two tandem pairs. The tractor engine on each side drove a two-bladed airscrew, and the pusher drove a four-blader of smaller diameter. There was one oil feed tank to each pair of engines, situated above the forward power-unit.
The tail-unit was a biplane structure with four vertical surfaces. The tailplane leading edges and spars were solid spruce, as were the elevator spars; the elevator trailing edges were of steel tube.
The undercarriage was necessarily substantial yet structurally simple: there were two twin-wheel units, and the front leg of each vee incorporated an oleo shock absorber. Each wheel was 5 feet in diameter. The massive tail-skid was made of solid ash, and was sprung by rubber shock-absorber cord.
The components of the prototype V/1500 were made in great secrecy by Messrs Harland & Wolff at Belfast. This firm’s first contract for twenty V/1500s was dated January 27th, 1918, and it appears that the aircraft was more or less ordered off the drawing-board, for the prototype did not fly until May, 1918. If this were so, it was a remarkable act of faith on the part of the Air Board.
The prototype V/1500 had several features which were not perpetuated in production machines. The most obvious of these was the large single radiator, mounted on top of the fuselage in front of the forward centre-section struts: this radiator served all four motors. At this time the engines had no cowlings of any kind.
The ailerons had triangular inset horn balances. The tailplanes had a rather narrow gap; there were no fixed fins; and all four rudders were balanced surfaces pivoted on the front spars of the tailplanes. Inter-tailplane struts were fitted between the rear spars.
The first flight of the V/1500 took place in May, 1918, when the prototype was flown by Captain Busby, R.F.C. His crew consisted of F. A. Kappey and Mr Hathaway. The flight was made from Cricklewood, and was followed by several further test flights during the next few weeks.
Control response was not completely satisfactory, and various modifications were made during the course of these flights. The original horn-balanced ailerons were replaced by surfaces with set-back hinges; and a little later the balance areas of the rudders were reduced by removing an area of fabric from each.
Directional control was still unsatisfactory, and the fin area was increased by fitting a single rectangular surface above the upper tailplane and by adding a long pointed fairing to the extreme tail of the fuselage. Ultimately, a drastically revised tail-unit was fitted: it had a greatly increased gap to enable enlarged vertical surfaces to be fitted. Inter-tailplane struts were fitted between the front spars of the tailplanes, and immediately behind these struts were four substantial fins; each fin carried a plain unbalanced rudder.
Modifications to other parts of the machine were also made concurrently. When the ailerons were changed, the large central radiator was replaced by two tall upright radiators, one at the front of each pair of engines; by this time the engines had been enclosed in rather bulky nacelles. The foremost portion of fuselage-decking was removed and the nose gun position was made.
By the time the final form of tail-unit was fitted, the engine cowlings had been discarded and only their framework remained.
The prototype V/1500 made its last flight in June, 1918. Captain Busby and Hathaway took four passengers, one of whom (Colonel Ogilvie) occupied the gunner’s cockpit in the extreme tail. On this flight the machine crashed and was completely burnt out. Colonel Ogilvie alone survived because of his remote position.
Development was delayed until a second machine - almost certainly the first production V/1500 - became available in October, 1918.
In the production aircraft the engine cowlings were completely discarded. It was found that 500 lb of weight was saved, and performance suffered very little. Hexagonal radiators were fitted in place of the tall rectangular radiators of the prototype. Scarff ring-mountings were fitted to the cockpits in the extreme nose and tail of the fuselage; the latter defensive position was pioneered by the V/1500. There was a third gunner’s position on top of the fuselage just behind the wings.
The Air Ministry’s first provisional expansion programme for the Independent Force was forwarded to the Admiralty and War Office on June 20th, 1918. This envisaged a total of 340 Service squadrons by the end of September, 1918. Of that total, sixty squadrons were to be with the Independent Force, forty in France and twenty night bomber squadrons based in England. Thus was born a new conception of bombing technique, made possible by the potentialities of the Handley Page V/1500.
The expansion programme underwent several changes, until by the end of October the English-based squadrons of the Independent Force had been reduced to eight.
The English-based bombing force was to operate under the command of Major-General Trenchard, and No. 27 Group began to organise early in September, 1918, under Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Mulock at Bircham Newton, Norfolk. It was to consist of the 86th and 87th Wings, and it was intended that the former should operate from England and that the latter should go to France after formation.
The first squadron of No. 27 Group to be mobilised was No. 166. The crews for the squadron’s V/1500s were carefully selected, many of them seasoned pilots and observers from the night-bombing F.E.2b squadrons. To them, their aircraft were known as super-Handley Pages or super-Handleys.
But of the total of 255 super-Handleys which had been ordered, only three were ready for use at the time of the Armistice, and the V/1500’s capabilities remained untested, its ability to carry the war to the enemy’s capital unexploited. Had it gone into large-scale service both in France and in England it would have been a weapon to reckon with, for on shorter raids it could carry no fewer than thirty 250-lb bombs or their equivalent weight. The bomb load for a Norfolk-Berlin raid could hardly have exceeded 1,000 lb, but by late 1918 Britain had a 3,300-lb bomb which was intended for use with the V/1500.
For the V/1500s ordered from the Beardmore Company, four of the 500 h.p. Galloway Atlantic engines were specified. The Napier Lion.was another alternative power unit for the aircraft, and four Liberty engines were to have been tried.
After the Armistice the big Handley Page saw little service. The immediate economies of the postwar world favoured the smaller and less complicated Vickers Vimy.
Before the end of 1918 a V/1500 named H.M.A. Carthusian took off from Martlesham to commence the first through flight from England to India. The flight began on December 13th, 1918, and ended, after many vicissitudes, on December 30th, when the V/1500 landed at Karachi after flying the last 35 miles just above stalling speed with only two engines functioning. The V/1500 was flown by Major A. S. C. Maclaren, M.C., and Captain Robert Halley, D.F.C., accompanied by Brigadier-General N. D. K. McEwen and three mechanics.
This V/1500 was probably the only aeroplane of its type to drop bombs with lethal intent. The Afghan war had broken out, and it was desired to attack Kabul. It was originally intended that the raid should be made by the Handley Page O/400 which had been attached to No. 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps, for it was thought that the fully loaded V/1500 might not be able to climb high enough to clear the Pathan Hills. When the O/400 was wrecked in a cyclone, however, the V/1500 had to be used, and Captain Halley successfully took it to Kabul, dropped his bombs, and returned safely.
Another V/1500 was shipped to Newfoundland in 1919 to attempt the trans-Atlantic flight, but was forestalled by Alcock and Brown’s crossing in a Vimy.
At home, the V/1500 demonstrated its weight-lifting capabilities and its long range on several occasions. On November 15th, 1918, one took its pilot and forty passengers to nearly 6,500 feet over London with enough fuel on board for a six-hour flight. Several notable long-distance flights were made by the V/1500; the pilot on these occasions was Clifford B. Prodger. However, the type was too expensive an aircraft for the nascent air transport industry, and it found no lasting commercial application.
As an aeroplane, the V/1500 must be recognised as one of the finest achievements of the British aircraft industry during the war, and it initiated a bombing plan which, a quarter of a century later, was translated into action by its lineal descendant, the Halifax.
Manufacturers: Handley Page, Ltd., Cricklewood, London.
Other Contractors: William Beardmore & Co., Ltd., Dalmuir, Dunbartonshire; Harland & Wolff, Ltd., Belfast.
Power: Four 375 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII; four 500 h.p. Galloway Atlantic; four 450 h.p. Napier Lion; four 400 h.p. Liberty 12.
Dimensions: Span: 126ft. Length: 62 ft. Height: 23 ft. Chord: 12 ft. Gap: maximum 15 ft, minimum 12ft. Stagger: nil at centre-section, 2-5 in. at outer struts. Dihedral: upper, nil; lower 40 05'. Incidence: 40. Airscrew diameter: tractor 13 ft 5 in., pusher 10 ft 4 in.
Areas: Wings: 3,000 ft.
Weights (lb) and Performance:
No. of Trial Report M.228 M.256
Date of Trial Report September, 1918 May, 1919
Types of airscrew used on trial - A.B.8420, A.B.8501
Weight empty 16,210 17,602
Military load 3,120 80
Crew 1,080 1,080
Fuel and oil 4.290 5.3i8
Weight loaded 24,700 24,080
Maximum speed (m.p.h.) at
6,500 ft - 90-5
8,750 ft 97 -
10,000 ft - 855
m. s. m. s.
6,500 ft 18 30 21 05
10,000 ft - - 41 25
Service ceiling (feet) 10,000 11,000
Endurance with quoted fuel load - 6 hours
Maximum endurance - 14 hours
Tankage: Petrol: 1,000 gallons.
Armament: One Lewis machine-gun, or double-yoked pair, on Scarff ring-mounting on nose cockpit; one Lewis gun on central socket and pillar mounting, or two Lewis guns on beam socket and pillar mountings in dorsal gunner’s position; one Lewis gun on Scarff ring-mounting on tail cockpit. The bomb load could consist of up to thirty 250-lb bombs.
Service Use: No. 166 Squadron, R.A.F., Bircham Newton. Production: A total of 255 Handley Page V/1500s were ordered, but only six had been delivered by the end of 1918. On October 31st, 1918, only two were on charge with the R.A.F.; both were at an experimental station.
Serial Nos. Contractor Contract No. Specified Engines
B.9463-B.9465 Handley Page A.S.22690 Eagles
E.4304-E.4323 Harland & Wolff 35A/I85/C.74 Eagles
E.8287-E.8306 Beardmore 35A/315/C.200 Atlantics
F.7134-F.7143 Handley Page 35A/1455/C.1528 -
F.8201-F.8230 Handley Page - -
F.8281-F.8320 Handley Page - -
H.4825-H.4864 Handley Page - -
J.6523-J.6572 Handley Page - -
Airframe without engines, instruments and guns £12,500 0s.
Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine (each) £1,622 10s.
O.Thetford Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918 (Putnam)
Handley Page V/1500
The Handley Page V/1500, the largest British bomber of the First World War and the first with four engines, was designed to bring Berlin within range of RAF bases in East Anglia, but hostilities ended before the first squadron became operational. Although it saw no action against Germany and remained in service only a short time after the war, the V/1500 has an important place in RAF history, as it was the first practical example of a bomber designed to strike strategic targets from home bases. The three V/1500s (E8287, F7134 and F7135) which were standing by at Bircham Newton to raid Berlin when the Armistice was signed belonged to No 166 Squadron, commanded by Lt-Col R H Mulock.
The V/1500 was designed in 1917 and the prototype, B9463, made its first flight in May 1918. A total of 210 was ordered for the RAF, to be built by Harland & Wolff of Belfast and Beardmore of Dalmuir, but most of these were cancelled with the ending of the war.
On 31 December 1919 there were fifty-five V/1500s officially ‘on charge’ with the RAF, but most of these were in storage, or even unassembled. Forty-one had certainly been completed and flown, including the second and third prototypes (B9464 and B9465), later to become J1935 and J1936, and there were nine from Harland & Wolff at Belfast, nineteen from Beardmore at Dalmuir (E8287-E8295 and F8281-F8290), ten from Handley Page at Cricklewood, and a final J6573 from Belfast which had flown on 3 September 1919 with Lion engines, being the only survivor of a cancelled plan to equip the RAF with fifty Lion-powered V/1500s.
No 274 Squadron was the only post-war unit to take V/1500s into service, in June 1919, with E8293 and F8281-F8290 but, with the Versailles Peace Treaty concluded, economy was the watchword and no place was contemplated for such a large and expensive bomber as the V/1500. As a result, attention was focussed on the more economical (and much less capable) twin-engine Vimy, and No 274 Squadron was disbanded in January 1920.
To the V/1500 goes the credit of making the first through flight from England to India. On 13 December 1918 the V/1500 HMA Old Carthusian, J1936, took off from Martlesham and arrived at Karachi early in January 1919, having flown via Rome, Malta, Cairo and Baghdad. Maj A S MacLaren mc, and Capt Robert Halley were the pilots, and they were accompanied by Brig-Gen N D K MacEwen CB, and three mechanics. The flight was not without its hazards, the final landing at Karachi being made on only two engines. On 24 May 1919 the V/1500 was used in a bombing attack on Kabul during the troubles in Afghanistan.
In 1919 the V/1500 F7140, named Atlantic, was shipped to Newfoundland to attempt the Atlantic crossing, but the project was abandoned when Alcock and Brown made their successful flight in a Vickers Vimy. Instead, F7140 made a series of demonstration flights in the USA and Canada.
The V/1500’s last appearance in public was at the RAF Tournament at Hendon on 3 July 1920, when three demonstrated a formation take-off with such brio over the Royal Enclosure that it caused the displeasure of King George V. Leading the formation was Sholto Douglas (later Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Douglas of Kirtleside), who earned a severe rebuke from ‘Boom’ Trenchard personally.
TECHNICAL DATA (V/1500)
Description: Long-range heavy bomber with a crew of five to seven. Wooden structure, plywood and fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Handley Page Ltd, Cricklewood, London. Sub-contracted by William Beardmore & Co Ltd, Dalmuir, and Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast.
Powerplant: Four 375hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII. (In development stages, four 500hp Galloway Atlantic or four 450hp Napier Lion)
Dimensions: Span, 126ft; length 64ft; height, 23ft. Wing area, 2,800sq ft.
Weights: Empty, 17,602lb; loaded (max), 30,000ft.
Performance: Max speed, 99mph at 6,500ft; cruising speed, 80mph; climb, 41 min to 10,000ft; endurance, 17hr; range, 1,300 miles; service ceiling, 11,000ft.
Armament: Single or twin-yoked Lewis guns in nose, midships and tail positions. Bomb load (normal), 7,500lb (thirty 250lb bombs). Under development in 1919 was a bomb, the 3,360lb SN Major, intended for delivery by the V/1500, but it is believed that this was never carried.
Squadron Allocations: Home Bomber: Nos 166 and 167 of the 86th Wing (Bircham Newton) and 274 (Bircham Newton). Overseas: Planned to equip 87th Wing, based on Prague, but this was forestalled by the Armistice.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
V/1500. At the end of 1917 it was considered to be worth attempting to bomb Berlin from a base in England. For those days this was indeed a long-range project, entailing, it was reckoned, a point-to-point sortie of some 450 miles and a minimum endurance equivalent to 1,100 miles. Operation in daylight, as well as by night, was therefore necessary, and a heavy defensive armament was a corollary. This demanded a crew of seven. Their stations were once enumerated by Mr Frederick Handley Page, who prefaced his remarks with this most typical reflection: 'If this aeroplane did not bomb Berlin we may find consolation in the fact that perhaps the Germans knew it was coming and saw it was time to give up.' He explained:
'As in the O/400, the bomber sits in the front, and also has a gun; behind him is the pilot and the captain of the vessel, and behind them again is the mechanic, who looks after all the engine equipment. On another platform at the back there are two gunners, one who fires upwards against hostile attack and another who fires downwards. Right at the tail of the machine there is another gun position, in which a man sits and fires back to beat off attacks from the rear.'
Thus 'H.P.', speaking in 1919, the year after his V/1500 four-engined bomber had been built and flown; and Gen Trenchard, describing Independent Force operations at about the same time:
'The 27th Group was established in England under the command of Col. R. H. Mulock, DSO, for the purpose of bombing Berlin and other centres. This group only received the machines capable of carrying out this work at the end of October, and though all ranks worked day and night in order to get the machines ready for the attack on Berlin, they were only completed three days before the signing of the Armistice.'
Respecting armament, the two most remarkable features of the 'Super Handley' were the tail gun position, with a catwalk giving access, and the very heavy bomb load. Neither the tail gun nor the fuselage access were the first of their kind, for in 1916 Igor Sikorsky had applied such armament to giant aircraft of the Mouromets class. He has said:
'Finally the officers of the Squadron worked out a scheme for mounting a machine gun at the rear of the fuselage and I was given the problem of designing it. I increased the stabiliser so as to take care of the weight of a man with a machine gun and ammunition. At the end of the fuselage a cockpit was arranged for the gunner, with a sort of windshield as protection from the stream of air. It was difficult to provide means of reaching the rear gunner's nest in flight, because inside the fuselage were wire crosses... A device was invented which the flying crews called the 'trolley car'. It consisted of a pair of tight rails running along the whole fuselage and of a low couch mounted on rollers. When necessary a man could lie down on the couch and move easily below the wire crosses...'
The present writer makes a particular point of the V/1500's tail gun position, of which Handley Page were justifiably proud, because he will later be recording their arguments for not adopting such a position for the Hampden. The V/1500 tail position, it may be mentioned, proved the means of saving the life of the British flying pioneer Alec Ogilvie. He was occupying this station when one of the great bombers crashed near Golders Green and caught fire. The rest of the crew were killed.
The tail gunner in the V/1500 had a Scarff ring-mounting for a Lewis gun. There was a similar installation in the nose and on top of the fuselage aft of the wings. Alternatively, this last position had a central socket-and-pillar mounting or two such mountings, one on each side. The whole of the centre portion of the fuselage formed the bomb bay. Twenty-four 230-lb bombs was a load quoted by Handley Page, but up to thirty 250-lb bombs could be taken for short ranges.
The new 3.300-lb bomb, designed especially for the V/1500, was about 15 ft long, and one or two of these were to be carried beneath the fuselage. The bombsight was of Wimperis course-setting type.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
HANDLEY-PAGE FOUR-ENGINED BIPLANE, V/1500.
The four-engined Handley-Page was a development of the smaller two-engined machine. It was designed principally for night bombing, its most spectacular " engagement" being the bombing of Berlin, which was only forestalled by the signing of the Armistice.
The fuselage remains the same in all its essentials and internal arrangements. The four engines are carried, two tandemwise, on either side of the fuselage, and are not enclosed in any cowling. The upper and lower main planes are of equal span, the upper main plane being flat and the lower plane having a dihedral, and both planes have a decided sweepback. The under-carriage consists of two pairs of Vees under each power unit; the front legs of the Vees carries shock-absorbers enclosed in streamline fairing, the rear members being hinged.
Both the O 400 and V 1500 types can be converted to commercial vehicles by the mere elimination of the military apparatus - bomb gear and guns - and the refitting of the ulterior of the fuselage for the accommodation of passengers or goods. In the event of passengers, mails and goods all being carried by the same machine, each would be conveyed in a separate compartment.
In addition to the necessary crew of three men and petrol, oil and water for a non stop flight of 400-500 miles, the nett useful load of each machine would be;-
Type O/400 - 2,700 lbs. of goods or 18 passengers.
Type V/1500 - 10,000 lbs. of goods or 45 passengers.
The external ranges of these machines as commercial vehicles can be regarded as :-
Type O/400 - 800 miles non-stop with useful load of a half ton.
Type V/1500 - 1.300 miles non-stop with useful load of one ton
Type of machine Biplane.
Name or type No. of machine V 1500.
Purpose for which intended Night bombing.
Span 126 ft.
Gap. maximum and minimum 15 ft.; 12 ft.
Overall length 62 ft.
Maximum height 23 ft.
Chord 12 ft.
Total surface of wings 3,000 sq. ft.
Maximum cross section of body 8 ft. x 6 ft. 2 in.
Engine type and h.p. 4 R.R. Eagle VIII.
Airscrew, diam. and revs. 13 ft. 5 in. (tractors);
10 ft. 4 In. (pushers). 1.080; 1,080.
Weight of machine empty 15,000 lbs.
Load per sq. ft. fully loaded 10 lbs.
Weight per h.p. 21 lbs.
Tank capacity in hours 14 hours.
Tank capacity in gallons 1,000 gallons.
Speed low down 103 m.p.h. fully loaded.
Speed at 6.500 feet 99 m.p.h.
Speed at 10.000 feet 95 m.p.h.
Landing speed 50 m.p.h.
To 5.000 feet 8 minutes.
To 10.000 feet 21 minutes.
Disposable load apart from fuel 7.000 lbs.
Total weight of machine loaded 30,000 lbs.
Alternative Engines 4 b.h.p, "Atlantic's," each 500 h.p..
or 4 Napier '"Lion's." etc.
C.Owers Beardmore Aircraft of WW1 (A Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes 69)
The Handley-Page V/1500
Beardmore were given a contract for 20 of these large four-engined bombers. The Beardmore facilities at Dalmuir could build 15 of these bombers at a time. These were to be powered by the 500-hp Galloway Atlantic engine in lieu of the Rolls-Royce Eagles that were the standard engine. It is thought that the decision was made in case there were problems and delays in the Eagle production program. In the event, the Beardmore machines were to be equipped with Rolls-Royce engines.
The end of fighting with the Armistice saw production of the giant bombers continuing as hostilities may have recommenced. The type saw limited service post-war.
Handley-Page V/1500 Manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co Ltd
Contract No. Serials Notes
35A/315/C.200 E8287-E8306 Engines were to be 500-hp Galloway Atlantics. E8287-E8795 known delivered, rest probably to stores.
Flight, April 10, 1919.
THE TRANSATLANTIC RACE
THE preparations for the great race to be first to cross the Atlantic by air are progressing apace. By way of summary, the Sopwith machine, to be piloted by Mr. H. Hawker, who will have with him as navigator and assistant pilot Capt. Grieve, is already at the starting point in Newfoundland, and is only awaiting favourable weather conditions before making a start. The Martinsyde biplane, with its pilot, Mr. F. P. Raynham, and his navigator, Capt. Morgan, is on its way across, and may, by the time these lines appear in print, have arrived at St. John's. The Fairey machine, up till now the only seaplane entered from this side, is rapidly nearing completion, being, in fact, a standard Fairey 3C type especially adapted for the race. The pilot, as already announced, will be Mr. Sydney Pickles, so well knows to all readers of FLIGHT. The name of the navigator who will accompany him has not yet been disclosed, but will, we understand, be announced shortly. The Short machine entered, and which will be piloted by Major Wood, who will have with him as navigator Capt. Wyllie, has the distinction of being the only entrant which, so far, it is proposed to start from this side, the starting point chosen being Bawnmore, near Limerick, in Ireland. This machine, which has been undergoing severe tests during the last couple of weeks, is to be flown first to Ireland, whence the final start will be made.
As to the probability of one or all of the competitors succeeding in getting across, there is of course, a certain element of luck involved, but arrangements, as announced elsewhere, are being made., by the Air Ministry and Admiralty, to take all possible precautions, and to ensure that, even in cases of engine failure, the occupants should have a very good chance of being picked up by passing vessels.
As interest centres more and more in this race, a few words dealing with the British machines entered will, we feel sure be welcomed by readers of FLIGHT.
The Handley-Page Machine
Just as we are going to press, news is received that Mr. Handley-Page has entered a machine for the race. The machine is one of the standard type four-engined bombers, slightly altered in details, and fitted with a very large petrol tank in the fuselage. As readers of FLIGHT will already be aware, the four engines in this case Rolls-Royce "Eagles" - are placed between the planes, one behind the other. The front engine of each pair drives a tractor screw, while the engine behind it drives a propeller. As the pusher screw has to deal with air ahead}- set in motion by the tractor, its pitch is made slightly greater than that of the tractor.
The amount of petrol carried will be about 2,000 gallons. Assuming that each engine develops 365 h.p., and that the petrol consumption is .5 lb./h.p./hour, this amount of fuel should last for 21 hours at open throttle. The speed at full power may be expected to be in the neighbourhood of 100 m.p.h., which would give a range of about 2,100 miles. Since, however, the machine will fly at a somewhat lower power for the sake of fuel economy, and the prevailing winds are westerly at this time of the year, it is reasonable to suppose that this speed of 100 m.p.h. may be maintained with the engines partly throttled down, thus further increasing the margin in hand. After a few hours' flight two of the four engines will probably be sufficient to keep the machine going, although at a reduced speed, and this would give the engineers a chance to put right any little defect that one or more of the engines might develop. The number and names of the crew have not yet been announced, but one of them will be a Marconi operator, who will attend to the directional wireless set, which will have a range of about 250 miles. An installation of smaller radius will also be carried to facilitate communication with ships. To provide for emergencies, a small wireless set is installed in the tail of the machine. The reason for placing it here is that in case of a descent in the sea, the tail will probably stick up out of the water, thus enabling S.O.S. messages to be sent. In view of the fact that four engines are fitted, it is improbable that complete engine failure will be encountered.
The following brief particulars of the Handley-Page machine should be of interest :- Span, 130 ft.; length, 75 ft.; height, 23 ft.; weight, empty, 14,000 lbs.; weight, fully loaded, 32,000 lbs.
Flight, August 21, 1919.
THE E.L.T.A. SHOW
THE AIRCRAFT EXHIBITION
The British Section
HANDLEY PAGE, LTD.
This firm is represented, at the actual exhibition, by one machine only, but what the exhibit lacks in numbers it makes up for in size. The machine is one of the V 1500 types, with four Rolls-Royce Eagle engines. The starboard wings are folded back, but even so, the machine towers over the adjoining stands and passages. The V 1500, as so many other machines, was flown across via Brussels, the various stages being covered in the following times :- London to Brussels, 2 hours 40 minutes; Brussels to Soesterberg, 1 hour 25 minutes; Soesterberg to Amsterdam, 25 minutes, giving a total flying time of 4 1/2 hours, as against the 20 hours or so taken by the train-and-steamer mode of travel. Considering the load which the H.P. can carry, this speaks well for the future of commercial aerial transport.
On landing, the Handley Page proceeded to sink into the soft ground of the aerodrome, but luckily no damage was done. There still, however, remained the question of how to get the machine into the exhibition building. In order to do this, it was necessary to take down a portion of the board fence surrounding the aerodrome, to take down the ticket offices in front of the forecourt of the exhibition and other office buildings, and, finally, a portion of the front of the exhibition building itself. All this was done, and the buildings erected again behind the machine. There is certainly this advantage in its size, that there is no fear of anybody coming along after dark and purloining the Handley Page.
Naturally, this huge machine attracts great attention, and there is always a big crowd around it, clamouring to be permitted to look through the trap door in the floor of the fuselage. Mr. Cogni, who is in charge of the H.P. exhibit, is kept busy answering questions, which he does with unfailing good nature, in spite of the fact that some of the queries are not exactly calculated to improve his temper. One bright youth quite seriously expressed the opinion that the machine would fly very lop-sided with one pair of wings sticking back alongside the fuselage. Mr. Cogni agreed that probably it would. Generally speaking, however, the public is showing a very intelligent interest in the various machines exhibited, and the publicity value of the aero show is indubitable.