P 5 - Handley Page HP 53 Hampden/Suecia (1938-1947)
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When WWII broke out, the RAF had 226 HP 52 Hampden bombers at its disposal. The type was designed to a  specification similar to the more well-known Vickers-Wellington ”Wimpy” two-engine bomber. The Hampden was the result of designing a bomber that would be able to carry a heavy bomb-load and at the same time be fast and manoeuvrable. The aircraft also had a considerable range. The Hampden never became a success in active service. The narrow fuselage limited the field of fire of the machine guns and made the working conditions aboard the aircraft very cramped for a crew of four. The fuselage was not more than 1 meter at its widest point. No wonder the Hampden was nicknamed ”the flying panhandle”. The aircraft was armed with machine-guns in ventral, dorsal and nose positions and  also had a single fixed forward-firing gun. This armament showed itself far from adequate to defend the aircraft.  

The HP 52 Hampden was further developed. The most important was the change of engines to more powerful types. The first version had engines of 710 hp, which later was changed to 1000 hp. Despite these efforts, the Hampden was relegated to second-line duties in 1942. It finished its career as a minelayer and a trainer aircraft for two more years. 

One modified Handley Page Hampden, designated by the manufacturer as HP 53 Suecia, found its way to the Swedish Air Force. The purpose of the purchase was to evaluate the type against the German Junkers Ju 86 bomber. The contract of the HP 53 was signed in May, 1935, but the aircraft was not delivered until September, 1938. A second HP 53 was also purchased, but this contract was later cancelled. 

The Swedish variant got the Air Force designation P 5 (P = Provflyplan, ”Trial aircraft”). It was powered by two 9-cylinder radial Bristol Pegasus XXIV engines, each delivering 1010 hp.

 The purchase of the Hampden was a part of the political game. The Air Administration had already decided to choose the Junkers Ju 86 as the standard medium bomber, but this was at first resisted by the government, which hesitated to buy military equipment of German origin at that time. But when it was clear that a German Luftwaffe was founded, against the peace conditions of WWI, the government yielded. The Ju 86 (B 3) was chosen as the standard bomber and an agreement of licence production in Sweden was secured. 

The single P 5 saw some use during the WWII. It was transferred to the Reconnaissance Wing F 11 at Nyköping. When the war was over in 1945, it was sold to SAAB and got the civil registration SE-APD (photo). SAAB used the aircraft for testing radar equipment and other avionics. 

During its time in the RSw/AF the P 5 carried the registration number 810. The aircraft never carried any armaments.

Length: 16,25 m. Span: 21,12 m.  MTOW: 8500 kg. Maximum speed: 305 km/h.


This text is to be read at the bottom of the front page of the HP Bulletin. It is rewritten here, as it is originally printed in small

A Hampden aircraft left Heston Airport a few days ago on a direct flight to Malmslatt near Stockholm, piloted by the well-known Swedish Test Pilot O.F. Enderlein. The machine with a full load of petrol on board, and after an exceptional short take-of run, reached Sweden without a hitch and well within the predicted time. We extend our congratulations to Wing Commander Enderlein and members of his crew, Captain Westring and Eng. Lieut. Bengtsson, on this flight, which so successfully demonstrated the flying qualities of the Hampden fighter bomber.



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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-07-15