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Great Britain's standard heavy bomber during 1918, the last year of the First World War, was the Handley Page 0/ 400, a huge aircraft by the standards of its day.
The 0/ 400 was constructed of wood and fabric, measured a little under 63 feet in length and had a wing span of 100 feet. The large biplane was powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines which developed 360 horsepower each, giving the fully loaded 13,000-pound aircraft a top speed of about 100 miles per hour. Its service ceiling was 8,500 feet, and it had an operational range of approximately 650 miles. A unique feature of the 0/ 400 was its folding wings, which could be swung flat along the fuselage for hangar storage.
The Handley Page 0/ 400 usually carried a crew of three in two open cockpits. The pilot and copilot shared the main cockpit, while the gunner-observer occupied an open cockpit in the very nose of the aircraft.The plane was armed with twin 0.303 caliber Lewis guns in the forward cockpit, with another pair of Lewis gun mounted on top of the fuselage behind the wings. An additional single Lewis gun was positioned on the underside of the aircraft to fire downward and to rear.
In addition to its defensive armament, the 0/ 400, in comparison to other World War I bombers, carried an exceptionally heavy bomb load. Normally, the airplanes was loaded with sixteen 112-pound or eight 250-pound bombs inside the fuselage, with two additional bombs carried on external racks. On occasion, however, the heavy bomber was armed with a single 1,650-pound bomb--the largest ever employed by Royal Air Force (RAF) in World War I.
This blockbuster was used effectively on the night of September 13-14, 1918, when a single 0/ 400 of the 207th bomber squadron dropped one on the railway yards at Le Cateau, France.
Despite its brief time in service, some 400 Handley Page
0/ 400s were delivered to the RAF before the Armistice. An even larger Handley Page
bomber, the V/ 1500, was planned to replace the 0/ 400. With a range enabling it to
reach Berlin from England, the V/ 1500 was great Britain's first true strategic bomber,
but the war ended before the massive new Handley Page saw service.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004