Aviation of World War II

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HP 54 Harrow

Medium Bomber

Handley Page

HP 54 Harrow

HP 54 Harrow - British bomber of the 1930s, used by the RAF during WWII mainly as a transport aircraft. Built as a twin-engined high-wing aircraft with fixed landing gear, the Harrow was originally powered by two 830 hp Bristol Pegasus X engines. (620 kW), which allowed a maximum speed of 306 km / h, the first flight took place on October 10, 1936.

Starting from the 40th aircraft, Bristol Pegasus XX engines with a capacity of 925 hp were installed on the aircraft, the aircraft received the designation Mk.II, while the maximum speed increased to 322 km / h.

Despite the fact that the aircraft was equipped with steam batteries that used the heat of the exhaust gases, the Harrow earned a reputation as a cold aircraft, mainly due to the design of the turrets.

Handley Page proposed a new way of manufacturing the Harrow aircraft that allowed small firms to subcontract individual units. On January 13, 1937, the first HP 54 Harrow was delivered to RAF 214 Squadron, and by the end of the year, all 100 bombers were delivered to five RAF squadrons.

Harrow B.Mk.II Specification
Crew 4-5
Wing span, m 26.95
Wing area, m² 101.26
Length, m 25.04
2 × PE Bristol Pegasus XX, power, h. p. 2 × 925
Weight, kg:
Empty 6169
Loaded weight 10433
Maximum speed, km/h 322
Cruising speed, km/h 262
Service ceiling, m 6,950
Service range, km 2,012

Armament. Four 7.7 mm machine guns, one each in the nose and dorsal turrets and 2 in the tail turret; up to 1361 kg bomb load.

Combat use. In October 1940, six Harrow bombers were equipped with the LAM (Long Aerial Mine) system as air minelayers, consisting of many small explosive charges suspended from parachutes on a long tow rope at 610 m. It was assumed that the charges would explode on contact with enemy bombers. The use of such unusual tactics for 3 months was attributed to the destruction of 4-6 German bombers, but in general the experiment was considered unsuccessful, and the planned deployment of the HP 54 in the LAM role was canceled.

Harrow was used to support the allied forces in northwestern Europe, these aircraft were used for various purposes until May 1945. As more modern bombers arrived, they were transferred to transport units from September 1939. In March 1940, the 271st Transport Squadron was formed and operated various types of aircraft, including the Harrow. In February 1944, the Harrow crews supported the allied forces in North-Western Europe, and a month later a medical evacuation unit was formed, two of which in September 1944 participated in the evacuation of wounded soldiers from near Arnhem. Seven of the unit's planes were lost in 1945 during the Luftwaffe's New Year's attack on the airbases of the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Europe. In May 1945, the unit was re-equipped with American Douglas Dakota.


  • "Military transport aircraft 1939-1945" /V.R. Kotelnikov./
  • "Encyclopedia of Military Equipment" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "British military aircraft of the Second World War" /ed. Daniel March/