THE Handley Page 42 type of air liner is one of the most remarkable in the world. Eight of these machines were ordered by Imperial Airways and in June 1931 the first began flying between London and Paris. These machines set a new standard of comfort and safety in air liners, a standard which has been reached by few aeroplanes of later design, though the speeds of the newer machines may be much greater. No fleet of air liners in the world can claim the record held by the Heracles, Horatius, Horsa and others of this fleet, of having flown well over 7,000,000 miles while carrying 300,000 passengers. Not one single paying passenger has been hurt while travelling in these machines.
The Heracles has flown over a million miles. She and her sister craft were built specially to fly on the England to India route. Two varieties were built. Machines of the first variety, known as the Western or Heracles type, were detailed for the section between England and Egypt; the others, known as the Eastern or Hannibal type, were designed for the section between Egypt and India. The main difference between the two types is in the passenger accommodation. The Western type normally carries thirty-eight passengers and a crew of four and the Eastern type sixteen passengers. In the Heracles type the freight compartment has a capacity of 250 cubic feet. For the Hannibal type the figure is 500 cubic feet.
All the machines have four engines, Bristol Jupiters, air-cooled and each developing 550 horse-power. The Heracles type has Jupiter X F.B.M. engines and the Hannibal type Jupiter XI engines.
The wings are of metal construction, covered with fabric. The light aluminium alloy known as duralumin is chiefly used. The wings are fitted with the famous Handley Page slots, which add so much to safety in flying. The body of the machine is of almost circular cross section in shape and is in two parts. The front portion, which is metal-covered, contains the passengers’ saloons, the pilots’ cockpit and the luggage compartment. The rear portion is fabric-covered and carries the tail unit. The biplane tail unit has three rudders of all-metal construction.
The main fuel tanks, holding some 500 gallons, are in the upper wing. The two pilots’ seats are right in the nose of the fuselage, with a small wireless room immediately behind. In the two passengers’ saloons seats are arranged four abreast in the Western type, with a gangway in between. Between the two saloons is the mail and luggage or freight compartment. The saloons have a double skin, which reduces the noise of the engines.
The span of the wings of these machines is 130 feet, the length 89 feet 9 inches and the height 27 feet. When fully loaded they weigh 30,000 lb and carry a payload of 9,000 lb. Both types cruise at 95-105 miles an hour.
The Heracles type has a maximum speed of 127 miles an hour, and a landing speed of 51½ miles an hour. Corresponding figures for the Hannibal type are 120 and 50 miles an hour. Both types are able to fly and climb with one engine out of action.
During the seven years that the Handley Page 42s have been flying they have created a record as being a fleet of the largest commercial aeroplanes in regular use in any part of the world.
THE FOUR ENGINES of the HP 42 are arranged so that only a small proportion of the noise they make reaches the passengers in the cabins. The wings are of metal construction and are covered with fabric. The front part of the fuselage in which the cabins are situated is metal-covered; the remainder is fabric-covered. The biplane tail unit has three rudders.