Rare Second World War bomber set for RAF Cosford exhibition

A rare Second World War bomber is being brought back to life, undergoing a restoration at RAF Cosford.

The Second World War bomber's forward fuselage
The Second World War bomber's forward fuselage

The ongoing restoration of the Handley Page Hampden is one of the museum’s longest running conservation projects, with the aircraft undergoing a major transformation.

Following weeks of dedicated work the aircraft now has all four fuselage components fully assembled, attached and painted in its original 144 Squadron colour scheme and serial number.

It’s been a labour of love for one of the museum’s skilled aircraft technicians who has built a large section of the aircraft from scratch using original Handley Page pre-production drawings from the late 1930s and where possible, measurements taken from the partial wreckage remaining from the original aircraft.

Darren Priday, RAF Museum conservation centre manager, said: “We’re delighted with the Hampden, a lesser known aircraft of the RAF inventory.

The Hampden will be revealed to the public in November

He added: "Everything is finally coming together after all these years.

"We are currently trying to source an original rear undercarriage and tail wheel, but if one can’t be found it will be replicated and made in the centre.

"The aircraft has been populated internally with items from the museum’s reserve collection and the next 12 months will see work commence on manufacturing flying control wires to enable the elevator and rudder to move as well as fabricating new bomb bay doors."

The museum’s Hampden, serial number P1344, is one of only three examples of the type remaining and was recovered from a crash site in northern Russia in 1991 and acquired by the RAF Museum.

According to records, the aircraft was shot down on the night of September 5, 1942.

The Hampden bomber side view

It won’t be long before aviation fans can catch a glimpse of the Hampden, as it goes on show during the museum’s conservation centre open week which taking place between November 12 and 18.

Mr Priday added: "Hampden’s played a vital role in the RAF and our nation’s history and I’m confident this rare example will be warmly received by visitors at our Open Week next month.”

The Hampden was a twin-engine medium bomber. It was part of the trio of large twin-engine bombers procured for the RAF, joining the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and Vickers Wellington.

The newest of the three medium bombers, the Hampden was often referred to by aircrews as the "Flying Suitcase" because of its cramped crew conditions.

Hampden cockpit

The Hampden was powered by Bristol Pegasus radial engines but a variant known as the Handley Page Hereford had in-line Napier Daggers.

The Hampden served in the early stages of the Second World War, bearing the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne.

The centre will be open between 10.15am and 1pm each day and admission is £5 per person.

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