Handley Page Marathon

The Handley Page (Reading) H.P.R.1 Marathon was a British civil 20-passenger light transport produced by Handley Page (Reading) Limited of Woodley Aerodrome, Reading, England. 

Handley Page Marathon
Class Aircraft
Type Transport
Manufacturer Handley Page Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1949
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Burma View
Germany View
Japan View
Jordan View
Nigeria View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1951 1960 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Handley Page Limited 43 View

The Marathon originated as a design to meet the requirements of the Brabazon Committee. It was designed by Miles Aircraft Limited as a high-wing cantilever monoplane with four engines and all-metal construction. It was capable of carrying two crew and up to 20 passengers. The aircraft was designated the Miles M.60 Marathon with the first of three prototypes (registered U-10) flying on 19 May 1946. A total of 25 aircraft were ordered by the Ministry of Supply and 25 by British European Airways, but Miles had financial problems and needed orders for over 100, not helped when the prototype aircraft crashed and the power shortages led to the loss of components already produced. When the Miles company went bankrupt, Handley Page bought the assets, including the factory at Woodley near Reading, Berkshire and design rights to the Marathon.

The new company, known as Handley Page (Reading) Limited, started producing the Marathon with 40 aircraft built over the next three years with the new designation Handley Page (Reading) H.P.R.1 Marathon 1. A twin-engine prototype turboprop-powered version (using the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba) was flown in 1949.


  • M.60 Marathon : Miles-built prototypes, two built.
  • Miles M.69 Marathon II :  Miles-built version powered by Mamba engines created for British European Airways, only one prototype built.
  • Marathon : Miles M.69 re-engined by Handley Page and used as an engine testbed.
  • Marathon I : Handley Page-built production aircraft, 40 built.
  • Marathon T.11 : Military navigation trainer version, 28 modified. 

The first production Marathon 1 aircraft (registered G-ALUB) left Woodley on 14 January 1950 for a sales tour of Australia and New Zealand. The aircraft was painted in BEA markings as "Rob Roy" in September 1951 and was demonstrated to the airline at Heathrow. During acceptance tests for British European Airways it was decided that the Marathon was not suitable to replace the de Havilland Dragon Rapide and the order was reduced to seven aircraft, none of which were accepted by BEA.

Six Marathons were delivered to the West African Airways Corporation in late 1952 for operation in and between the British colonies in that region. They were replaced in 1954 by de Havilland Herons. The last three production aircraft were given increased tankage and sold to Union of Burma Airways which operated them in the region for several years.

Most of the returned and unsold aircraft were then diverted for use by the Royal Air Force as navigation trainers with the designation Marathon T.11. After internal modifications, most of the 28 aircraft taken on charge from early 1953 were used by No. 2 Air Navigation School at RAF Thorney Island, Hants. A total of 16 aircraft were transferred to RAF Topcliffe, Yorks in June 1958 when No.1 Air Navigation School relocated there. By February 1969, only eight were airworthy. Apart from mechanical unreliability, the main problem was tail heavy trim, an absolute ceiling of 9,500 feet and a rate of climb of only 300 ft a minute. The navigational trainers were retired in April 1959 and most were quickly scrapped.[3] A few Marathons were operated by other UK military users including the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Three Marathons were acquired in 1955 by Derby Aviation, based at Burnaston airport near Derby and predecessor of British Midland Airways. The aircraft were used on scheduled services within the UK and to the Channel Islands until their withdrawal in December 1960. One aircraft was delivered to Jordan in September 1954 for the personal use of King Hussein.

The Mamba-powered Marathon testbed was later fitted with the Alvis Leonides Major radial engines and used as a testbed for the projected Herald.

No surviving airframes are known to exist but the upper fuselage section of Marathon M.60 G-AMGW was stored at Woodley, United Kingdom as part of the Miles Collection c. 2000

Role light transport
Manufacturer Handley Page
First flight 19 May 1946
Introduction 1951
Retired 1960
Primary users Royal Air Force
West African Airways Corporation
Produced 1946–1951
Number built 43

General characteristics

  • Length: 52 ft 3 in (15.93 m)
  • Wingspan: 65 ft 0 in (19.81 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m)
  • Wing area: 500 ft (46.45 m)
  • Empty weight: 11,460 lb (5198 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 16,500 lb (7484 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 x de Havilland Gipsy Queen 71 inline piston, 330 hp (246 kw) each


  • Maximum speed: 200 mph (322 km/h)
  • Range: 850 miles (1368 km)
  • Service ceiling 16,500 ft (5030 m)

End notes