Handley Page HP 42


In early 1928 Imperial Airways issued specifications of aircraft required to inaugurate new routes to link the British Empire by air, and Handley Page was delighted to receive contracts for four Handley Page H.P.42E (Eastern) and four H.P.42W (Western) airliners for use on Imperial Airways' long-range routes and European destinations respectively. It was some years before it was discovered that the real Handley Page designation for the H. P.42W was H.P.45.

Large unequal-span biplanes of all-metal construction except for fabric covering of aerofoil surfaces and the rear fuselage, these aircraft had wings braced by massive Warren girder struts, a biplane tail unit incorporating three fins and rudders, substantial tailwheel landing gear, and a powerplant of four Bristol Jupiter radial engines. These comprised four 490 h.p. (365 kW) Jupiter XIFs for the H.P.42Es and four supercharged Jupiter XFBMs for the H.P.42Ws, mounted two on the upper wing and one on each side of the fuselage on the lower wing. New ground was broken by the flight crew being accommodated in an enclosed flight deck, high in the fuselage nose. Passenger accommodation was in two cabins, forward and aft of the wing, but varied according to intended use. The H.P.42Es, for use on the Indian and South African routes, each seated six (later 12) forward and 12 aft; the H.P.42Ws for European routes each had seats for 18 forward and 20 aft, but reduced baggage capacity.

Although a number of short hops had been made during taxiing trials, the first true flight was recorded on 14th November 1930 by an H.P.42E, named subsequently Hannibal. The first for European routes, named Heracles, was delivered in September 1931, and the names of the remainder of this family of large airliners were Horsa, Hanno and Hadrian (H.P.42Es) and Horatius, Hengist and Helena (H.P.42Ws). Many people still living have nostalgic memories of these fine aircraft; slow they may have been, once described by Anthony Fokker as incorporating built-in headwinds, but they had an unmistakable aura of grace and safety. The latter characteristic was supreme, for when the H.P.42s were finally withdrawn from service on 1st September 1939 they had recorded almost a decade of service without causing a single fatal accident.


Handley Page H.P.42W (H.P.45)
Type: Civil transport aircraft
Powerplant: Four 555 h.p. (414 kW) Bristol Jupiter XFBM 9-cylinder supercharged piston engines
Performance: Maximum speed 125 mph (204 km/h)
Cruising speed: 95 to 105 mph (153 to 169 km/h)
Range: 500 miles (805 km)
Weights: Empty: 17,740 lb (8047 kg)
Maximum take-off: 28,000 lb (12701 kg
Dimensions: Span: 130 ft 0 in (39.62 m)
Length: 92 ft 2 in (28.09m)

Wing area: 2,989.0 sq ft (277.68 mē)