Handley Page Hastings

The Handley Page H.P.67 Hastings was a British troop-carrier and freight transport aircraft designed and built by Handley Page for the Royal Air Force. At the time it was the largest transport plane ever designed for the RAF, and it replaced the Avro York as the standard long-range transport. 

Handley Page Hastings
Class Aircraft
Type Transport
Manufacturer Handley Page Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1946
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1948 1977 View
New Zealand View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Handley Page Limited 151 View

Handley Page's answer to meet Air Staff Specification C.3/44 for a long-range general purpose transport was the H.P.67. It was an all-metal low-wing cantilever monoplane with conventional tail unit. It had all-metal tapering dihedral wings, which had been designed for the abandoned HP.66 bomber development of the Handley Page Halifax and a circular fuselage suitable for pressurisation up to 5.5 psi (38 kPa). It had a retractable undercarriage and tailwheel. The Hastings was powered by four wing-mounted Bristol Hercules 101 sleeve valve radial engines. In service the aircraft was operated by a crew of five and could accommodate either 30 paratroopers, 32 stretchers and 28 sitting casualties, or 50 fully equipped troops.

A civilian version of the Hastings was developed as the Handley Page Hermes. The Hermes prototypes were given priority over the Hastings but that programme was put on hold after the prototype crashed on its first flight on 2 December 1945 and the company concentrated on the military Hastings variant. The first of two Hastings prototype (TE580) flew at RAF Wittering on 7 May 1946. Tests showed that the aircraft was laterally unstable and that it had poor stall warning capabilities. The prototypes and first few production aircraft were subject to a series of urgent modifications and testing to resolve these problems. A temporary solution was found by modifying the tailplane with 15° of dihedral, while being fitted with synthetic stall warning. This allowed the first production aircraft (Hastings C1) to enter service in October 1948.

The RAF initially ordered 100 Hastings C1s but the last six were built as weather reconnaissance versions as the Hastings Met. Mk 1, and seven other aircraft were converted to this standard. Eight C1 aircraft were later converted to Hastings T5 trainers which were used for training the V bomber crews; three at a time.

While tail modifications introduced to the C1 allowed it to enter service, a more definitive solution was the fitting of an extended-span tailplane, which was mounted lower on the fuselage. These changes, together with the fitting of additional fuel tanks in the outer wing, resulted in the C Mk 2, while a further modified VIP transport, fitted with yet more fuel to give a longer range became the C Mk 4.

A total of 147 aircraft were built for the Royal Air Force and four for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, a total of 151.

Variants

  • HP.67 Hastings : Prototype, two built.
  • HP.67 Hastings C1 : Production aircraft with four Bristol Hercules 101 engines, 94 built all later converted to C1A and T5.
  • HP. 67 Hastings C1A : C1 rebuilt to C2 standard
  • HP.67 Hastings Met.1 : Weather reconnaissance version for Coastal Command, six built.
  • HP.67 Hastings C2 : Improved version with larger-area tailplane mounted lower on fuselage, increased fuel capacity and powered by Bristol Hercules 106 engines, 43 built and C1s were modified to this standard as C1As.
  • HP.95 Hastings C3 : Transport aircraft for the RNZAF, similar to C2 but had Bristol Hercules 737 engines, 4 built.
  • HP.94 Hastings C4 : VIP transport version for four VIPs and staff, four built.
  • HP.67 Hastings T5 : Eight C1s converted for RAF Bomber Command with ventral radome to train V bomber crews on the Navigation Bombing System (NBS).


The Hastings was rushed into service because of the Berlin Airlift, with No. 47 Squadron replacing its Halifax A Mk 9s with Hastings in September–October 1948, flying its first sortie to Berlin on 11 November 1948. The Hastings fleet was mainly used to carry coal, with two further squadrons, 297 and 53 joining the airlift before its end. A Hastings made the last sortie of the airlift on 6 October 1949, the 32 Hastings deployed delivering 55,000 tons (49,900 tonnes) of supplies for the loss of two aircraft.

One hundred Hastings C.Mk 1 and 41 Hastings C.Mk 2 were built, and they served both on Transport Command's long-range routes and as a tactical transport until well after the arrival of the Bristol Britannia in 1959. An example of the latter use was during the Suez Crisis when Hastings of 70, 99 and 511 Squadrons dropped paratroopers on El Gamil airfield.

Hastings continued to provide transport support to British military operations around the globe through the 1950s and 60s, including dropping supplies to troops opposing Indonesian forces in Malaysia during the Indonesian Confrontation.

The Hastings was retired from Royal Air Force Transport Command in early 1968 when it was replaced by the Lockheed Hercules. The Met Mk.1 weather reconnaissance aircraft were used by No. 202 Squadron RAF at RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland from 1950 until the Squadron was disbanded on 31 July 1964, being made obsolete by weather satellites. The Hastings T.Mk 5 remained in service as radar trainers well into the 1970s, even being used for reconnaissance purposes during the Cod War in the winter of 1975—76, finally being retired on 30 June 1977.

Hastings were also operated in New Zealand, where the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 40 Squadron flew the type until replaced by C130 Hercules in 1965. Four Hastings C.Mk 3 transport aircraft were built and supplied to the RNZAF. One crashed at RAAF Base Darwin and caused considerable damage to the city's water main, its railway and the road into the city. The other three were broken up at RNZAF Base Ohakea. During the period that the engines were having problems with their sleeve valves (lubricating oil difficulties) RNZAF personnel joked that the Hastings was the best three-engined aircraft in the world.

Role Transport aircraft
Manufacturer Handley Page
First flight 7 May 1946
Introduction September 1948
Retired 1977 (RAF)
Primary users RAF
RNZAF
Produced 1947 – 1952
Number built 151
Variants Handley Page Hermes


General characteristics

  • Crew: 5-6
  • Capacity: 50 troops
  • Length: 81 ft 3 in (24.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 113 ft 0 in (34.5 m)
  • Height: 22 ft 6 in (6.9 m)
  • Wing area: 1,408 ft (130.8 m)
  • Empty weight: 41,689 lb (18,910 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 75,000 lb (34,010 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 x Bristol Hercules 101, 1,675 hp (1,250 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 343 mph (at 21,500 ft) (552 km/h (at 6,550 m))
  • Range: 2,850 miles (4,590 km)
  • Service ceiling 26,700 ft (8,140 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,010 ft/min (310 m/min)
  • Wing loading: 53.3 lb/ft (260 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.089 hp/lb (0.147 kW/kg)

End notes