Page updated 30/8/15
In the mid 1950s the Handley Page Aircraft Company developed a new fast short-range regional airliner, intended to replace the venerable Douglas DC-3, particularly in third-world countries. The design, originally known as the HPR-3 Herald, emanated from the drawing office at Handley Page (Reading) Limited - the former Miles Aircraft factory site, which had developed an earlier airliner design, the Miles Marathon. The Herald was an extensive re-development of the original concept of the Marathon, notable for its high mounted wing. The HP Reading division succeeded in producing a modern design with excellent flight and performance characteristics. However, the company made a serious misjudgement which was, in the end, to cost the company dearly, and the Herald missed its chance, like some other classic British aircraft of the time.
The HPR.3 Herald prototype with four Alvis Leonides engines,
demonstrating at the Farnborough Airshow in September 1955
60 years 25/8/2105
Herald Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/580682918715404/
A couple that never got off the drawing board:
The HPR-3 Herald originally had four piston engines, like the smaller Marathon. The Herald's engines were 870 hp (650 kW) Alvis Leonides Major 14-cylinder radial piston engines, driving three-bladed propellers. By now, however, the Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engine had shown proven success in the Vickers Viscount. HP failed to take early account of this in the Herald design phase; particularly the market desire for the new turboprops. This misjudgement and the ensuing delay was to prove a costly mistake for the company.
However, the Herald was advanced in many ways for the time. Its pressurised cabin up to 30,000 ft (9,140 m), could seat up to 47 passengers in the series 100 (up from 44 originally) and could easily exceed 300 mph (480 km/h) in level flight. Initial climb rate was over 1,800 ft/min. The first "Herald" prototype, G-AODE, first flew on 25 August 1955 and was demonstrated at the Farnborough Air Show two weeks later. Although Queensland Airlines, Australian National Airways, and Lloyd Aéreo Colombiano had initially placed 29 orders, these were later cancelled with only the first prototype completed. As a result Handley Page belatedly realised it had to make a major change to the engine configuration, if the Herald was to have any chance in the market.
There had already been a very substantial investment in the Herald project, such that the Management held a meeting to discuss continuation. Handley Page decided to press ahead with the Herald project, in an effort to recover the investment; announcing a new uprated version, reworking the wing to use Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops fitted with 12.5 ft (3.81 m) variable pitch four-blade Dowty Rotol props, and lengthening the fuselage by 20 in (51 cm). The first prototype series 100 first flew in 1958. Now designated the HPR.7 Dart Herald, the new aircraft entered production in 1959. The first order was placed by BEA.
The Herald attracted much early interest around the world because of its astonishing short field performance and excellent flight characteristics, but Handley Page failed to close many of the deals, as the F-27 and the HS.748 had become rival offerings, both of which were significantly cheaper. There has been some speculation about the origin of the F-27 design, which first flew earlier than the Herald in turboprop configuration. A key design feature of the Herald was the high mounted wing but notably with an upswept dihedral. In addition, the Herald's vertical fin is covered in miniature aerofoils, adding further to the Herald's excellent stability.
Pilots reported the Herald flew like a dream; very stable in the air, yet highly manoeuvrable even at slow speed. Ground handling was said to be the Herald's only vice due to an overlarge tail fin. Credit for the Herald's useful wing and aerofoil features was due to the company's wing design office, which had garnered an unrivalled reputation for advanced wing design, including the crescent wing of the Victor bomber. Handley Page invented the Slot, later referred to as the Handley Page Slot, without which most modern aircraft would not be nearly so easy to manage at slow speeds.Despite the rework, that transformed the HPR.3 to the HPR.7 Herald, only four of the original 47 seat Series 100 HPR.7s were built. Believing a yet larger version was needed, HP turned to Series 200 production, which featured a further 3 ft 4 in (1.07 m) stretch of the fuselage, seating up from 47 to 56 and corresponding increased weights. Series 200 production began in 1961. The first production model was delivered to Jersey Airlines in January 1962. However, by this point all sales momentum had been lost, and only 36 examples of this major production model were eventually built during the six years of production.
The Herald Series 400 was specially developed in 1964 as a "tactical transport" built for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, with a strengthened cabin floor. HP suspected that the Herald was still too small and so a 60-seater Series 700, powered by Dart 532s and having increased fuel and weights was designed.
A late attempt was made to revive sales when speculative production commenced on eight Series 700 airframes. The project was cancelled as several of the airframes were approaching completion. The partially completed airframes were scrapped. The 50th, and last, Herald (a series 200 for Israel's Arkia) was flown and delivered in August 1968, after which Herald production ceased and attention turned to the HP.137 Jetstream.
The Herald's last ever passenger flight was operated by British Air Ferries in 1987 doing subcharters for Ryanair on the Waterford-Luton route. A durable and reliable aircraft, capable of being heavily worked, many continued on as freighters, plying the night sky across Britain and the near continent, for several operators including Royal Mail, BAF, Channel Express, DHL, Elan, Securicor and others; transporting papers, milk, parcels, post, tomatoes, flowers, and other goods round the clock. Some aircraft were in a specially convertible configuration, flying passengers by day and goods all night, but by 1999 the only one remaining in service, was a series 400 G-BEYF with Channel Express; it was retired at the end of March that year.
It is widely thought that the misjudgements made during the Herald project, necessitating major design changes so late in the design cycle, was to prove the company's fatal mistake. Moreover, HP had been doggedly independent throughout its history. The UK Government favoured placing orders for military and civilian aircraft with the newly merged aircraft constructors, British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) and Hawker Siddeley (HS). Sir Frederick Handley Page was very much against consolidation. Even after his death in 1962, the company continued to plough on as an independent constructor. But this policy saw HP lose out to BAC and HS in military and civilian orders by Government, with the notable exception of the HP Victor, which sold on its undoubted merit.
The demise of Handley Page was unfortunate. The company made a series of catastrophic errors, not least of which was failing to judge the changing needs of the airlines that expressed early interest in the Herald. The company did not have the stomach to press ahead in a difficult economic climate effectively competing with a much larger company. Development of the Herald had proven to be an extremely expensive project. Despite much hope over the Jetstream 137, and possible new variants of the Herald, with eight speculative builds at various stages of completion, Management made the difficult but brave decision to wind the company up.
Handley Page went into voluntary liquidation on the close of its books on 31 March 1970. The profitable HP.137 Jetstream operation and drawing and design staff were the only useful parts of Handley Page left, but it was not enough for the company to survive as Handley Page. The Jetstream operation was sold and transferred to Scottish Aviation, later to become a subsidiary called Jetstream Aviation. This company was later acquired by and absorbed into British Aerospace. The Jetstream went on to be a successful commuter airliner.
A belated attempt to revive the Herald design as a pure jet-powered development was shown in model form at the Farnborough Airshow in 1962. The basic Herald components were incorporated along with a stretched fuselage, with two Rolls-Royce Spey turbo-fan engines slung in pods under the wings. Other modifications included a shorter wingspan and revised tailplane mounted midway up the vertical tail. No interest was evoked in the "Jet Herald" with the project being stillborn.
HPR-3 Herald - Prototype with four piston engines - seating capacity 44
HPR-7 Dart Herald
Series 100 Initial Dart turboprop production version. 4 built.
Series 200 Fuselage length increased from 71 ft 11 in to 75 ft 6 in and maximum accommodation rose from 47 to 56 seats. 36 built.
Series 300 Proposed version with modifications to meet United States Airworthiness requirements.
Series 400 Side-loading military transport derivative of the Series 200 incorporating a strengthened floor for carrying freight, 50 troops or 24 casualty stretchers and medical attendants. 8 built for the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Series 500 Proposed more powerful version of the 400.
Series 600 Proposed version with 5 ft (1.5 m) increase in fuselage length and more powerful Dart turboprops. High-density accommodation for 64-68 passengers.
Series 700 Longer range version similar to the Series 600 but without fuselage lengthening. Ten ordered by VASP
but production not initiated.
but production not initiated.
General characteristics (srs 400)
Capacity: 56 passengers 
Length: 75 ft 6 in (23.01 m)
Wingspan: 94 ft 9½ in (28.90 m)
Height: 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m)
Wing area: 886 ft² (82.3 m²)
Empty weight: 24,960 lb (11,345 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 43,700 lb (19,818 kg)
Powerplant: 2× Rolls-Royce Dart Mk.527 turboprop, 1,910 hp (1,425 kW) each
Cruise speed: 275 mph (235 kn, 435 km/h)