Handley Page O-400

The Handley Page Type O was a biplane bomber used by Britain during the First World War. When built, the Type O was the largest aircraft that had been built in the UK and one of the largest in the world. There were two main variants, the Handley Page O/100 (H.P.11) and the Handley Page O/400 (H.P.12).

The aircraft 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. Some aircraft were temporarily diverted to anti-submarine reconnaissance and bombing in the Tees estuary in 1917 and two aircraft operated in the eastern Mediterranean. The Type O made such an impression that for many years after the war any large aircraft in Britain was referred to as a "Handley Page", even getting a dictionary entry. The first twenty O/100s deployed to France were received by 7 Squadron and 7A Squadron of the 5th Wing RNAS at Dunkirk in late 1916. At first the O/100s were used for daylight attacks over the North Sea, damaging a German destroyer on 23 April 1917, but the loss of an aircraft to fighter attack two days later resulted in a switch to night operations, usually by single aircraft against German-occupied Belgian ports, railway targets and airfields. After the war, O/400s remained in squadron service until replaced by the Vickers Vimy toward the end of 1919. War-surplus aircraft were converted for civilian use in the UK and nine were used by Handley Page Transport. Eight O/400s were fitted to carry passengers and operated by 86 (Communication) Wing from Hendon, to provide transport between London and Paris for the officials negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. Two were fitted as VIP transports and finished in silver dope, named Great Britain and Silver Star and the others, seating eight, retained their dark green finish.