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The Handley Page H.P. 67 Hastings was an anachronism. At a time when most other large four-engined transports were being designed with tricycle undercarriages, the Hastings betrayed its WW2 roots and stuck with the ‘taildragger’ conformation, which makes ground-handling trickier, and imposes stricter cross-wind limitations on landing. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the Hastings the step-child of the excellent WW2 heavy bomber, the Handley Page Halifax. Immediately post-war, some of these had been converted to freighters, and others were modified as Handley Page H.P. 70 Haltons, a civil version aimed at rebuilding the pre-war air routes. Indeed, the Hastings uses so much WW2-era technology that the only surviving complete Halifax in the U.K., at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington, used a set of Hastings wings in the rebuilding of  the composite aircraft (there is also a Halifax Mk.VII in Canada). The distance between inner and outer engines is slightly incorrect and there are other detail differences, but the composite Halifax still looks impressive. Also, there are so many smaller components which are common to aircraft of the Second World War, in that a main hydraulic manifold from a Hastings will fit straight into an Avro Lancaster (a situation that the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has exploited in the past!)

The Hastings was intended as a troop carrier and freighter, and the first flight of the prototype (TE580) took place on 7th May, 1946; its four Bristol Hercules 101 radials, each of 1,675 hp, producing a surprisingly high top speed of 342 mph. No. 47 Squadron, RAF, (motto, ‘Nili nomen roboris omen’ - ‘The name of the Nile is an omen of our strength’) was the first unit to operate the Hastings C. Mk 1 in September, 1948 and the squadron were immediately thrown into ‘Operation Plainfare’, the Berlin Airlift (June 1948 – May 1949). The not very glamorous, but absolutely vital, function of carrying coal into the beleaguered city was their main task, indeed, it was a Hastings that made the final flight into West Berlin on 6th October, 1949. Hastings aircraft were also used in combat, when No. 70 Squadron dropped paratroops on Port Said, Egypt, during the Suez Campaign of November 1956.

Inevitably, as newer transports started to come into service, examples of the Hastings were converted to specialist tasks. Sixteen converted C. Mk 1 became Hastings (Met) Mk 1 and were used for long-range weather reconnaissance by No. 202 Squadron from bases in Gibraltar and Northern Ireland. Even more interestingly, eight aircraft (seven C. Mk 1 and one (Met) Mk 1) were converted to Hastings T. Mk 5, by Airwork Ltd at Blackbushe Airport, Surrey. The T. Mk 5 was fitted with a very large under-fuselage radome, carrying an H2S Mk 9 radar and other components of the Navigation and Bombing System, a vital piece of equipment of the RAF’s new four-turbojet powered, atomic-capable, ’V’ bombers (Avro Vulcan, Handley Page Victor and the Vickers Valiant). Joining the Bomber Command Bombing School at RAF Lindholme (a satellite of RAF Finningley, which had Vulcans and Valiants based there), the T.5 could carry the bomb-aimers and navigators of three ‘V’ bomber crews at a time, during training sorties. With the amalgamation of Fighter Command and Bomber Command, this became Strike Command Bomber School in April, 1968. The T.5s were even used on reconnaissance sorties during the so-called Third ‘Cod War’ between Iceland and Great Britain from November 1975 to June 1976. The last Hastings were finally withdrawn from the Radar Flight of No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Scampton in June, 1977. Here we can see T.5, TG517, on display at Newark Air Museum, Nottinghamshire; strangely, no less than three of the four remaining Hastings are T.5s – out of a total of eight of this specialized variant, and a total production of 151 aircraft. A nose section (and several other major components) of one of four Hastings C. Mk 3 built for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, is preserved in the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Hastings suffered some unfortunate accidents, it is true, but its record was no worse than other transport aircraft of the period. In its long, 30 year, career, the Hastings covered the world and did everything from carrying bulk coal supplies to training ‘V’ Force navigators – a truly memorable aircraft.

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There are no really good videos of the Hastings (13+ / 0-)

    in flight.  However, it had one heck of an engine.  Here is one of the Hercules engines on a test stand.  You can see why they need somebody standing by with a fire extinguisher.  He appears to be tuning up the engine.  I don't understand the language, but I do speak engine.  That engine needs some atttention.

    This appears to be the same engine after he gets it tweaked.  This is a great sounding engine.  I have a bumper sticker that says, "Real airplane engines are ROUND."

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 04:07:11 PM PST

    •  The 'language' was English (sort of).. (8+ / 0-) spoken in either Essex or some suburb to the east and/or south of London (Not my favourite accent, I must admit).

      The reason that the engine sounds SO bad in the first video (other than timing) is that the exhaust collector ring has been removed; it is present in the second video. This will have severely dropped the back-pressure on the rotary sleeve-valves (making it easier to turn over, of course, but more difficult to run).

      You can generate more power out of a sleeve-valve engine than you can out of a poppet-valve engine of the same displacement (on LOW octane gasoline, c.87 oct. if necessary), but they are SO complex!

      Given the fact that the RAF desperately needed a powerful ground attack type, I have NEVER understood why the Hercules wasn't fitted to the Hurricane airframe. Faster, more powerful, better able to resist flak would have been like a '75% Typhoon', but two years earlier!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 05:05:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Separated by a common language" (10+ / 0-)

        Churchill's (or Shaw's, I believe) words regarding this English. Here's my example:

        In 1990, shortly after American Airlines started service to Britain, they were limited to flying into Edinburgh and Manchester. My parents were planning to go to my father's 457th Bomb Group reunion near Peterborough and convinced me I should join them, given the airfare for me of nil.

        We crafted an itinerary whereby they would fly into Heathrow (from Miami—BOAC, I believe), then take the train to York where we would rendezvous. After my Lindbergh imitation (cited earlier) and arriving in Manchester, I cleared customs, then walked out onto a mezzanine, where below were dozens of booths, it appeared, of assorted vendors. Just as I cleared the portal, I heard my name on the PA system, which, as you might imagine, was wholly unexpected and wholly unnerving.

        There was one of Sir Robert's finest standing nearby and I told him I'd heard my name paged but didn't catch the accompanying instruction. He directed me to one of the booths down on the main floor, to which I repaired.

        Once I explained my circumstance, they started to tell me something. It was the strangest feeling. I knew I was in England, I was quite certain they were speaking English, I speak English, and I couldn't understand a word he said. I apologized and explained I didn't understand what he had said, and he went over it again, probably slower and louder as is the custom for most people.

        It turned out my baggage had not been loaded back in Chicago (we flew standby as aircrew when on FAM trips, which seems to account for the shortfall). They told me American was going to load it on the next day's flight to Manchester and he asked me where I was going. I replied York, but I explained I'd only be there one night so it would be best to send it on to the Bull Hotel in Peterborough.

        Fast forward—nice train ride past Leeds (and the Vickers factory, if memory serves), into York, and I manage to get to the hotel. Continue fast forwarding through the beginnings of a cold, being cold in the late May North country, touring York, the Shambles, York Minster, and the Yorvik center, followed by next day's train down to Peterborough, where happily, my bags finally arrived.

        At some point, as we got together with the other vets and attendees, I was telling the story to some of the locals (FOTEs—Friends of the Eighth—I'm sure you're aware of them). They laughed at my plight but ameliorated my discomiture by asserting that they don't much understand Yorkshiremen (or whatever Manchester is), either.

        One of many highlights of the trip. Memorial Day ceremonies at Maddingly, the tour of Duxford, and later, a week in London are others.

      •  I did notice in the second video (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shortfinals, RiveroftheWest, ER Doc

        the engine has a LOT more plumbing.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 06:09:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Damn, OS, I thought I'd seen some backfires (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shortfinals, RiveroftheWest, ER Doc

      through six-pack carbs on old 440 Dodges ... but not anything like that!

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:25:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  At least the fellow is wearing hearing protection (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in the second clip. With that rig, it seems like "deafening" is not hyperbole!

  •  Memories (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, RiveroftheWest

    I have fond memories of these tail draggers working in and out of RNZAF Wigram when I was an 18 year old training as a Nav in 1963/4.

  •  This thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, JeffW, RiveroftheWest

    must have been a handful in a crosswind.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 06:39:43 PM PST

    •  Well...I can't speak for a Hastings.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ....but I think that the maximum crosswind component on the RAF's preserved Lancaster is 20 knots, and that has twin rudders well IN the airflow coming from the engines, whereas the single, albeit larger fin and rudder, are central on the Hastings. One thing that the Hastings had was SPEED, those incredible Hercules pushed it to 342mph.

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 06:52:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I heard that some of the Berlin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    airlift coal haulers had coal dust in their seams till the day they were scrapped.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:14:47 PM PST

  •  Cool plane (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, ER Doc

    Cool diary.

    Here's a basic question: since these "Viermots" have 1) to clear engine nacelles/propeller arcs, and 2) have to lift their cargo well above ground level just to load, why are passenger planes low-wing? Wouldn't a high-wing config simplify loading and make landing gear easier? Military transports are high wing, why not civilian transports?

    •  If you tag search 'Pembroke', you'll find (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, alefnot, PrahaPartizan

      a small military transport (in RAF markings) which will show you the advantages. However, when I was working at EGNX, we used to have a civilian registered Lockheed Hercules drop in on one of the long-haul freight routes at night.

      Talking with the crew one night, I asked why the aircraft was registered in Botswana? I was told that with the high wing, all the control runs were in the top of the fuselage, and the official UKCAA opinion was that, in event of fire they would become involved and the whole aircraft would be lost! (I thought this rather a long shot, but went along with it as an explanation of sorts!)

      You should also tag search 'BAE 146' as you will see from my diary that you can build a perfectly good high-wing civil jet transpot!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:52:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The 146 is what got me wondering (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Then I realized that all military transports are high wing. I'd never heard of the "controls involved in fire" reason, but I'm not close to the UKCAA, and in any case, the BAE is English!

        Maybe I'm not doing it right, but I couldn't find anything tagged Pembroke.

      •  Except For the Jet Noise (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Isn't the principal reason that more commercial jet liners don't sport a shoulder-mounted wing is that places the jet nacelles right next to the passengers.  That would have resulted in a very noisy flight in the old days of turbo-jets and low-bypass turbofans.  Back when the commercial jet liners were initially being developed, the airlines were interested in selling the idea that the planes would be quieter than the prop planes previously used and putting the engines under the wings or at the back of the plane was one of the quicker "fixes" available.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 03:19:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Also, putting the engines on a short, forward ... (0+ / 0-)

          ...sloping strut, ahead of and in front of the wing, has SOME 'payback' in terms of less disturbed airflow over the wing and therefore less drag!

          There is an argument that in the event of an engine fire (not unknown in early generation jets), or an uncontained explosion, leading to shedding of turbine blades or other components, that you would NOT immediately end up with damage to fuel tanks and/or catestrophic damage to vital wing structure and loss of the aircraft. You have a much better chance of survival if the engines are physically positioned away from the fuel tanks and the pressurised portion of the airliner.

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 06:30:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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