The Handley Page Herald was an airliner which showed a lot of potential, but never quite hit the mark in terms of commercial success.
Developed in the 1950s to tap into the potential market for thousands of Douglas DC-3 replacements that the many new airlines springing up were operating following the Second World War.
The original proposal was for a four-engine piston airliner with capacity for 44 passengers, a cargo door, range of 1,600 miles, and capabilities to operate from unpaved runways.
Although the prototype aircraft appeared in public and garnered some orders, it didn’t really set the world alight. At the same time Fokker was developing its modern F27 airliner using two Dart turboprop engines, which was also aimed at the DC-3 replacement market.
Handley Page reluctantly made a U-turn to redevelop its Herald airliner with the same Dart turboprop configuration. The reworked prototype appeared in 1958, but by now it was trailing the Dutch rival (and the Antonov An-24 in Russia).
Nevertheless, a number of airlines and military operators did order the Herald. It went on a number of sales tours, including one with Prince Philip as the pilot, and would eventually enter service in Brazil, Colombia, Malaysia, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Jordan, Israel, Taiwan, Austria and of course with variety of carriers in the UK.
In its later years the Herald proved a very capable cargo carrier, with many of the airframes being converted. It would carry on in service with airlines such as Channel Express until the final example was retired in 1995.
Today very few Heralds remain. However a few examples are restored and open to the public to visit:
G-APWA Museum of Berkshire Aviation, Woodley, Reading, UK
One of the prototype aircraft, and the one which Prince Philip took on a sales tour of South America. It is preserved in the colours of British European Airways (BEA), the first airline to fly the Herald. The Museum of Berkshire Aviation is situated on the site of now close Woodley Airfield, where Handley Page aircraft were built.
G-APWJ Duxford Museum, Cambridge, UK
This example is preserved at the Imperial War Museum Duxford as part of the outdoor heritage airliner collection. Preserved in the colours of Air UK. It has been undergoing a rebuild in recent years. You can keep up with progress at this link: das.org.uk
G-ASKK City of Norwich Aviation Museum, Norwich, UK
A second example of a preserved Air UK Herald. This one interestingly sits alongside an Air UK Fokker F27, allowing you to compare the two rivals, and is in excellent condition.
G-BEYF Bournemouth Aviation Museum, Bournemouth, UK
A preserved Herald in the colours of its final operator, Channel Express, is now on display at this museum after years in storage.
G-ASVO Highland Aviation Museum, Inverness, UK
The forward fuselage and cockpit of this Herald are open to the public at the Highland Aviation Museum in Scotland.
G-AVPN Yorkshire Air Museum, York, UK
Sadly this aircraft was complete until recently, but has now been scrapped due to its poor condition after years outside. The cockpit was stored at the museum on a recent visit, but may now have been removed from the site. It wears the colours of Channel Express.
G-CEXP London Gatwick Airport, UK
For many years this Herald had a prime position atop the viewing terraces at Gatwick Airport and was in great condition. A former Arkia and Channel Express machine, it was a regular at the airport in its later life. Sadly, when the viewing terraces closed in 2002 the aircraft was relocated to a forgotten corner of the airfield near the runway. It can not be visited, but is visible from aircraft taxiing out for departure, and is reportedly in a poor condition.
A new book by Matt Falcus has been released by Destinworld Publishing called Handley Page Herald Timelines. It charts the story of this underdog aircraft from the early concept stages to the present day, including many archive photographs from its production, testing, and the airlines that operated it.
You can find out more at this link https://destinworld.com/product/handley-page-herald-timelines/
It is also available on Amazon here.