RAF Orders a Future Dud and a Future Workhorse

Wednesday 16th September 1936




The RAF announced large orders for two new types of medium bombers as part of its programme of re-equipment with up-to-date models of aircraft. In striking proof of the unpredictability of advances in military technology, one was destined to become a mainstay of the RAF’s bomber force into the middle of the war, whilst the other proved a severe disappointment.


The Vickers Wellington was designed by Barnes Wallis and used a novel geodetic structure that gave a robust structure without adding excess weight. Its dependability kept it in service well after newer types far surpassed it in performance. The Handley-Page Hampden was christened the “flying suitcase” because of its odd appearance. It proved cramped and uncomfortable with no compensating strengths in performance. It soon disappeared from front-line service.the kindest thing that might be said of it was that it did not earn Sir Frederick Handley-Page the same venomous hatred that its successor, the Halifax, drew from "Bomber" Harris, chief of RAF Bomber Command.

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