Ham­p­den marches ahead

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Re­port: Paul Fid­dian

Han­d­ley Page Ham­p­den I P1344’s as­sem­bled fuse­lage was the main draw of RAFM Cos­ford’s Michael Beetham Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre (MBCC) Open Week, 12-18 Novem­ber. Each of the Cen­tre’s an­nual ‘be­hind-the-scenes’ events has seen the early WWII RAF medium bomber ap­pear in an in­creas­ingly ad­vanced state of restora­tion. With all 53ft 7in of its fuse­lage, from nose frame­work to twin tails, as­sem­bled and its for­mer No 144 Squadron mark­ings ap­plied, P1344 is steadily ap­proach­ing com­ple­tion

In­clud­ing the HP52 pro­to­type that was first flown from Radlett Aero­drome on 21 June 1936, 1,430 Ham­p­dens were built. Just three now ex­ist in any sig­nif­i­cant form, in­clud­ing the Cana­dian Mu­seum of Flight’s fully re­con­structed P5436, the Lin­colnshire Avi­a­tion Her­itage Cen­tre’s AE436 re­build project, and P1344, the re­mains of which were re­cov­ered in Rus­sia in 1989 and ar­rived in the UK two years later. They were ini­tially stored at Card­ing­ton−the RAFM Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre’s pre­vi­ous home−mov­ing to Cos­ford in 2001.

P1344’s fuse­lage com­bines mainly orig­i­nal com­po­nents with a newly-built front sec­tion, rear boom, and other parts based on pre-war Han­d­ley Page draw­ings and study of sur­viv­ing ma­te­ri­als.

The next task for the Ham­p­den restora­tion team will be man­u­fac­tur­ing bomb bay doors and el­e­va­tor and rud­der con­trol wires, ac­cord­ing to MBBC Man­ager Dar­ren Pri­day. The search is on for an orig­i­nal tail­wheel and unit but if these are un­ob­tain­able, they too will be made in-house.

The MBCC Open Week also en­abled close-up in­spec­tion of Lysander R9125’s new fab­ric, Welling­ton X MF628’S geodetic fuse­lage, and the Dornier Do17z’s laid-out parts.

Whole again: Ham­p­den P1344's as­sem­bled fuse­lage

ABOVE: Ham­p­den and Do17 – two WWII bombers in very dif­fer­ent states of restora­tion

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