Hampden marches ahead
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