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Sir Frederick Handley Page

(1885—1962) aircraft designer and manufacturer


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British aeronautical engineer, founder of Handley Page Ltd. and builder of the Halifax bomber. He was knighted in 1942. Born in Cheltenham, Handley Page was educated at the City and Guilds Engineering College in London, where he studied electrical engineering. Fascinated by aviation, he turned down an offer from Westinghouse in the USA and in 1909 founded his own aircraft company, Handley Page Ltd. His first major triumph came in World War I with his 0/400 in 1918, a two-engined bomber capable of delivering a bomb load of 1800 lb. With the end of the war Handley Page formed a transport company, converting his military planes for use as airliners to be flown around Europe and the Empire. In 1924 he joined with several other airlines to form Imperial Airways. It was for Imperial Airways that Handley Page produced the Heracles in 1930, the first forty-seater airliner. With the start of World War II Handley Page Ltd. reverted to the production of military aircraft. Their most successful plane was the Halifax bomber, of which nearly seven thousand were built. In the postwar years Handley Page extended their range of military planes with the introduction in 1952 of the Victor, a jet bomber.

The days of Handley Page Ltd. were numbered, however. During the 1950s the policy of the various governments of the day was to urge aircraft manufacturers to amalgamate in order to meet the huge developmental costs of new models. Only Handley Page, of the large independent producers, refused to comply. Consequently, with government funds directed to the newly formed Hawker Siddeley group and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), Handley Page were unable to survive. The founder died in 1962 and in 1970 the firm went into liquidation.

From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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