Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes 3: Handley Page Hampden

Handley Page Hampden

Data current to 27 Dec 2020.

Handley Page HP 52 Hampden in flight.  (RAF Photo)

The Handley Page Hampden was a British twin engined bomber flown by the RCAF during the Second World War in Canada and overseas.  The Hampden served in the early stages of the war, bearing the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and in the first 1000-bomber raid on Cologne.

The Hampden in RCAF service included the 160 examples manufactured in Canada by the Victory Aircraft consortium.  Of the total built, 84 were shipped by sea to Great Britain, while the remainder came to Patricia Bay (Victoria Airport) BC, to set up No. 32 OTU (RAF) used for bombing and gunnery training.  Typical exercises at 32 OTU consisted of patrolling up the West Coast of Vancouver Island at night or flying out into the Pacific to a navigational map co-ordinate, often in adverse and un-forecast inclement weather.  Due to attrition from accidents, about 200 "war weary" Hampdens were later flown from the UK to Pat Bay as replacements.  The following RCAF units flew the Hampden:

No. 408 (Goose) Squadron, RCAF, with RAF Bomber Command between July 1941 and September 1942, Codeletters EQ.

No. 415 (Swordfish) Squadron, RCAF, as a torpedo bomber with RAF Coastal Command between February 1942 and November 1943, Codeletters GX.

No. 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron, RCAF, with RAF Bomber Command between December 1941 and August 1942, Codeletters PT.

No. 32 Operational Training Unit RAF/RCAF, in Canada between May 1942 and February 1944, Codeletters DK, LB, OP and RO.

Handley Page HP 52 Hampden Mk. I (96), (Serial Nos. L4142, 45, 57, L6069, P1167, P1200, 30, P1311, P2067, P2133, P5298, P5336, 37, 99, P5400, 21-36, X3137, 49, AD751, 54, 67, AD961, AE258, 95, AE363, AJ988-99, AN100-22, 28-36, 38-47, 50, AT147).

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5029693)

Handley Page Hampden, No. 408 Squadron, RCAF, with Sgt. A.W. Wood, Sgt. H.D. Murray, Sgt. D.L. Henderson and Sgt. W.M. Fraser.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650859)

Handley-Page Hampden Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. P5336), at Canadian Fairchild Ltd, ca 1942.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650859)

Handley-Page Hampden aircraft navigators aft position layout.  RCAF Station Sidney, BC.

 (RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

Sgt. W.E. Bill Norquay wireless operator air gunner of a RCAF Squadron Hampden torpedo bomber which brought a German U-boat to a standstill while on an anti-submarine patrol over the Bay of Biscay.  The U-boat was subsequently destroyed by a Liberator of RAF Coastal Command sent out in response to the Hampden's signals.  He is manning a Vickers K machine gun.

 (RAF Photo)

Handley Page Hampdens of No. 408 Squadron, RCAF, being loaded with mines, 1942. 


(RAF Photos)

Handley Page HP 52 Hampden Mk. I bombers.  

Handley Page Hampden Mk. I with groundcrew loading a torpedo into the bomb bay of a aircraft of No. 32 Operational Training Unit (Royal Canadian Air Force Schools and Training Units), Patricia Bay, British Columbia, 2 October 1942.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3202993)

Handley Page HP 52 Hampden being bombed up.  (RAF Photo)

Handley Page Hampdens of No. 408 Squadron, RCAF, being loaded with mines, 1942.  (IWM Photo, HU 107822)

Hampden of No 408 (Goose) Squadron, RCAF, as aircrew return from a flight, Balderton in Nottinghamshire on 20 January 1942.  (IWM Photo, CH 4742)


 (Author Photos, 2003)

 (Author Photos, 26 Jan 2019)

Handley Page (Victory) HP 52 Hampden Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. P5436), HL-B, powered by a pair of 1000 hp Bristol Pegasus XVIII engines.  P5436 is a Canadian-built Hampden.  It was only flown for 100 hours before it crashed near Patricia Bay on 15 Nov 1942, during a torpedo dropping practice run.  Although the aircraft sank in 600 feet of water, the 4-man crew survived and was picked up by a Stranraer flying boat shortly after the crash.  The aircraft was fairly complete when it was recovered but badely corroded and fragile.  Recovery was achieved with the aid of a remotely controlled submarine aided by a video camera.  Restoration of P5436 was achived using components from other Hampden crash sites in the rebuild.  It is currenly on display with the Canadian Museum of Flight, Langley, British Columbia.