Saturday, October 29, 2011

Handley Page H.P. 42 over Croydon airport, London

A painting by Frank Sturges of G-AAXC Heracles, a Handley Page H.P.42. Along with the H.P.45 this was a British four-engine long-range biplane airliner designed to a 1928 Imperial Airways specification by Handley Page of Radlett in Hertfordshire.

The H.P.42/45 were the land-based airliners of Imperial Airways in contrast to the airline's later flying boats (see earlier post). Eight of these aircraft were built, four of each type; all were named with names beginning with the letter "H". One was destroyed in an airship hangar fire in 1937 and the others were impressed into Royal Air Force service at the outbreak of WW2, but all had been destroyed by the end of 1940.

G-AAXC was named Heracles (also known as Hercules), the son of Zeus and Alcmene in Greek mythology and noted for his extraordinary strength. Heracles first flew on 8 August 1931 and was requistioned by the RAF on 3 March 1940. The aircraft was destroyed in a gale 16 days later at  Whitchurch Airport, Bristol, when it was blown together with Hanno and damaged beyond repair.

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