Handley Page O/400

 In The Aircraft

The Handley Page Type O was an early biplane bomber used by Britain during the First World War, eventually launching an improved O/400 in April, 1918 when the Royal Air Force came into existence to combine the RFC and the RNAS. The O/400 was the largest aircraft built in the U.K. at the time, and was employed as a strategic bomber; a night bomber at 100 Squadron.

The bombers were used in France for tactical night attacks on targets in German-occupied France and Belgium and for strategic bombing of industrial and transport targets in the Rhineland. While the O/400s could carry a new 1,650-pound bomb, 100 Squadron mainly carried multiple 112 and 230-pounders as well as small 25-pound Coopers. Armament consisted of five Lewis-type machine gun systems mounted at various defensive positions about the fuselage; two up front for the observer and three for the rear gunner.

The O/400 carried a 100 foot wingspan with a length of nearly 63 feet. The aircraft was crewed by a compliment of three personnel and fitted with two landing gear systems mounting two wheels a piece. The two engines  were 360hp Rolls-Royce brand Eagle VIII V-12s on either side of the fuselage. Wing design was of the typical heavy bomber biplane type, with struts spanning the structures.

For excellent data on the O/400 see the Windsock website for Handley Page O/400 Vol One and Handley Page O/400 Vol Two.

On the right, the actual Handley page O/400 bearing serial D8302 which force landed just after midnight on September 17, 1918 due to a shot up engine. Since officers Johnson, Chainey and Pitman had no time to burn the aircraft in accordance with RAF regulations, civilian spectators literally had an observation field day at daybreak.

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