Handley Page V/1500
|Handley Page V/1500|
|Designer||George Rudolph Volkert|
|First flight||22 May 1918|
|Primary user||Royal Air Force|
The Handley Page V/1500 was a British night-flying heavy bomber built by Handley Page towards the end of the First World War. It was a large four-engined biplane, which resembled a larger version of Handley Page's earlier O/100 and O/400 bombers, intended to bomb Berlin from East Anglian airfields. The end of the war stopped the V/1500 being used against Germany, but a single aircraft was used to carry out the first flight from England to India, and later carried out a bombing raid on Kabul during the Third Anglo-Afghan War. It was colloquially known within the fledgling Royal Air Force as the "Super Handley". The V/1500 which was shipped to Canada to attempt a transatlantic flight was flown in the USA beyond its flight to New York. In 1919 it crash-landed in a field at Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania. Photos appeared in the 20 February 1969 issue of the Bradford Journal newspaper.
Development and design
The V/1500 was produced to meet a 1917 British Air Board requirement for a large night bomber capable of reaching deeper into Germany than the Handley Page O/100 which had recently entered service, carrying a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) bombload. This implied the ability to bomb Berlin from bases in East Anglia.
While the V/1500 had a similar fuselage to that of the O/400, it had longer-span, four-bay biplane wings and was powered by four 375 hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines mounted in two nacelles, with two engines pulling in the conventional manner and two pushing, rather than the two Eagle engines of the smaller bomber. Construction was of wood and fabric materials. A relatively novel design feature was the gunner's position at the extreme rear of the fuselage, between the four fins.
Owing to pressure of work at Handley Page's Cricklewood factory and to ensure security, the first prototype was constructed by Harland and Wolff at Belfast, Northern Ireland, being assembled at Cricklewood and first flying on 22 May 1918. Orders were placed with a number of companies (including Harland and Wolff, Beardmore, Handley Page, Grahame-White and Alliance Aircraft for a total of 210 V/1500s at £12,500 apiece, although only 40 aircraft were completed, with a further 22 produced as spares.
Three aircraft were delivered to No. 166 Squadron at RAF Bircham Newton (Norfolk) during October 1918. The squadron commander did not receive clear orders for his mission until 8 November, due to debate at high level. A mission was scheduled for that night (to bomb Berlin, fly on to Prague as the Austro-Hungarian forces had surrendered by then, refuel, re-arm, and bomb Düsseldorf on the way back). No mission was flown - a technical expert insisted that all the engines on one aircraft be changed. The same happened the following day (but with a different aircraft). The three aircraft were about to taxi out after the second set of engine changes when an excited ground crew member ran out to stop them — the armistice had just been declared.
One of the original batch of aircraft (J1936, Old Carthusian) went on to record two significant 'firsts'. On 13 December 1918, the bomber, flown by Major A.C.S. Maclaren and Captain Robert Halley, accompanied by Brigadier General N.D.K. MacEwen, made the first ever 'through-flight' from England to India. Taking off from Britain the aircraft flew via Rome, Malta, Cairo, and Baghdad, finally reaching Karachi on 15 January 1919.
The same aircraft played a pivotal role in ending the Third Anglo-Afghan War. On 25 May 1919, flying from Risalpur piloted by Captain Halley and with Lt E. Villiers as observer, the V/1500 reached Kabul in three hours. Of its payload of four 112 lb (51 kg) bombs on improvised bomb racks removed from B.E.2cs and 16 20 lb (10 kg) bombs carried in the fuselage and dropped by hand, four bombs hit the royal palace. Although the bombing did little physical damage, it had a great psychological impact on the citizens - the ladies of the royal harem rushed onto the streets in terror, causing great scandal. A few days later King Amanullah sued for peace, bringing an end to the war after less than one month of hostilities. J1936 ended its life being consumed by termites.
The Handley Page V/1500 aircraft Atlantic was shipped to Newfoundland in early 1919 to attempt the first non-stop Transatlantic flight. However, the prize was won by Alcock and Brown in a Vickers Vimy in June 1919. The crew departed for New York City but was forced to land in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia on 5 July 1919 where it was repaired over the course of the summer. The Atlantic continued to New York on 9 October 1919 carrying with it the first airmail from Canada to the United States.
Data from The British Bomber since 1914 
- Crew: eight or nine
- Length: 64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)
- Wingspan: 126 ft 0 in (38.41 m)
- Height: 23 ft 0 in (7.01 m)
- Wing area: 2,800 ft² (260 m²)
- Empty weight: 17,600 lb (8,000 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 30,000 lb (14,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII V-12 water-cooled piston engine, 375 hp (280 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 99 mph (159 km/h) at sea level
- Range: 1,300 mi (2,090 km)
- Endurance: 17 hours
- Climb to 10,000 ft (3,000 m): 41 min 25 sec
- Service ceiling: 11,000 ft (3,350 m)
- Guns: 3 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns, in nose, dorsal and tail positions
- Bombs: Up to 7,500 lb (3,400 kg) of bombs (30 × 250 lb/113 kg carried internally)
- Bowyer 1992, p.122.
- Mason 1994, p.108.
- Bowyer 1992, pp.122–123.
- Jones 2009b, p. 156.
- Mason 1994, p.111.
- Bowyer 1992, pp135, 138.
- Bowyer 1992, p.142.
- "Fabric and Postcard from the Parrsboro Nova Scotia Handley Page V/1500". Kaisersbunker.com. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
- "History: The Handley Page". Town of Parrsboro. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
- Handley Page V/1500 - What Do We Have? Royal Air Force Museum Cosford. Accessed 04 August 2017.
- Barnes, C. H. Handley Page Aircraft Since 1907. London: Putnam & Company, Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-85177-803-8.
- Bowyer, Chaz. Handley Page Bombers of the First World War. Bourne End, Bucks, UK:Aston Publications, 1992. ISBN 0-946627-68-1.
- Clayton, Donald C. Handley Page, an Aircraft Album. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1969. ISBN 0-7110-0094-8.
- Jones, H. A. (2009) . The War in the Air Being the Part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force: Appendices. VII (Imperial War Museum and Naval & Military Press, Uckfield ed.). London: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-411-6.
- Mason, Francis K. The British Bomber since 1914. London:Putnam, 1994. ISBN 0-85177-861-5.
- Kent, W. D. (1999). Biplanes and Bombsights: British Bombing in World War I (Report). Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University. OCLC 831693694. ADA366808. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
Media related to Handley Page V/1500 at Wikimedia Commons