The conservation team at RAF Museum Cosford has made significant progress on its restoration of Handley Page Hampden P1344.
All four of the bomber’s fuselage components have now been assembled, attached and painted in its original 144 Squadron colour scheme. A large section has been built from scratch using original Handley Page pre-production drawings from the late 1930s and measurements taken from the wreckage remaining from the original aircraft.
The museum’s Hampden was recovered from a crash site in northern Russia in 1991. It was one of nine aircraft lost on September 5, 1942, during a convoy protection sortie. Three crew members died, while two survived and become prisoners of war. The wreckage of P1344 lay on the Russian Kola Peninsula for almost half a century. Since it was last viewed by the public some 12 months ago, restoration on the airframe has progressed significantly and the unmistakable Hampden silhouette can now be seen. Damage to the tail meant that a new version had to be built – this has now been painted and attached to the original rear fuselage.
Conservation Centre Manager Darren Priday said: “We are currently trying to source an original rear undercarriage and tail wheel, but if one can’t be found it will be replicated and made here. The aircraft has been populated internally with items from the museum’s reserve collection, and the next year will see work commence on manufacturing flying control wires to enable the elevator and rudder to move, as well as fabricating new bomb bay doors.” www.rafmuseum.org.uk