75 Years On – The Story Behind Hampden P1344’s Final Flight

Photo by Peter R Arnold
Photo by Peter R Arnold
Photo by Peter R Arnold

The Handley Page Hampden Bomber P1344 (PL-K), currently undergoing conservation at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be subject of a lecture taking place on Tuesday 5 September 2017.  The lecture will be presented by the Museum’s Conservation Center Manager who has personal experience working to restore the aircraft and with former crew and family members.  The evening lecture will include details of the dramatic story behind its final flight, which took place exactly 75 years earlier, plus a behind the scenes look at how the aircraft looks today.

P1344 as she looked when laid out by Jeet Mahal for inspection by the RAF Museum in 1992. (photo by Peter R Arnold via RAF Museum)
P1344 as she looked when laid out by Jeet Mahal for inspection by the RAF Museum in 1992. (photo by Peter R Arnold via RAF Museum)

 

The RAF Museum Cosford will be holding a lecture examining the aircraft’s known history, its final flight and what happened to the crew who survived the crash landing.  The talk will be held in the Museum’s National Cold War Exhibition lecture theater, commencing at 7.00pm and tickets are limited to just 200 visitors.  Special guests will include relatives of the Hampden crew members, who, over the years have visited the Museum to view progress and to share information.  Following the lecture, attendees will be invited to the Conservation Center to get up close to the aircraft, currently being restored. This exclusive after-hours access to the aircraft, in an area which is not usually open to the public, will give those attending the lecture the chance to speak directly with the team working on it.

 (photo by Peter R Arnold via RAF Museum)
(photo by Peter R Arnold via RAF Museum)

RAF Museum Conservation Centre Manager, Darren Priday said:“The Hampden was my first project when I started with the Museum back in 2005 and that’s where my interest started in the aircraft.  Compared to other Bomber Command aircraft it is not a very well-known one but it certainly played an important role during the Second World War.  My talk is a chance for the audience to learn more about the type and the brave young men who flew them followed by a visit to view the restoration at the Conservation Center, on the 75th anniversary of its last flight”.

The Hampden’s tail boom. Interestingly, when museum staff looked closely at this component, they found the serial number L6012 painted on the side, which actually belongs to a Handley Page Hereford (a Napier Dagger-engined version of the Hampden). Presumably P1344’s original tail boom needed replacing at some point, and received the unit from the Hereford prior to the crash. (photo by Geoff Jones)
The Hampden’s tail boom. Interestingly, when museum staff looked closely at this component, they found the serial number L6012 painted on the side, which actually belongs to a Handley Page Hereford (a Napier Dagger-engined version of the Hampden). Presumably P1344’s original tail boom needed replacing at some point, and received the unit from the Hereford prior to the crash. (photo by Geoff Jones)

The Hampden is one of the Museum’s longest running conservation projects, which has progressed considerably over the last year.  As one of only three examples of the type remaining, the significance of this project is huge.  Work carried out onsite at Cosford has included manufacturing a forward fuselage and the aircraft tail plane, incorporating some existing fixtures and fittings from the original aircraft which suffered severe damage during its crash landing. Over the coming months work will progress on restoring and re-building the tailboom and once that work is complete, there will be a complete fuselage.

P1344’s rear fuselage section in its jig and almost structurally complete. Notice the tail boom in the background. You can clearly read the serial number L6012 on its side. (photo by Geoff Jones)
P1344’s rear fuselage section in its jig and almost structurally complete. Notice the tail boom in the background. You can clearly read the serial number L6012 on its side. (photo by Geoff Jones)

Places at the lecture cost £7.50 per person and parking on the night is free of charge. Tickets for the lecture are now on sale via the Museum’s website www.rafmuseum.org/cosford.

 

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