The W8 (also known as the H.P.18) was the company's first civil transport aircraft. It housed two crew in an open cockpit and a cabin for 15 passengers. Powered by two 450 hp (336 kW) Napier Lion engines the prototype first flew on 4 December 1919, shortly after is was displayed at the 1919 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. It has the doubtful distinction of being the world's first airliner to be designed with an on-board lavatory. The W8 was subsequently revised to give the W8b, W8e (H.P.26), W9 (H.P.27) and W10 (H.P.30)
To meet an Air Ministry ruling the capacity was reduced to 12 passengers and the fuel tanks were moved. In 1921 the Air Ministry ordered three aircraft for use by Handley Page Transport. These were built as the W8b and powered by the Rolls Royce Eagle IX and operated by Imperial Airways on services to Paris and Brussels. One other aircraft was delivered to SABENA in 1924 and three others were licensed built by SABCA in Belgium.
To reduce the risks involved with engine failure, the W8e was developed with one 360 hp (270 kW) Rolls Royce Eagle IX in the nose and two 240 hp (180 kW) Siddeley Pumas in the normal position. The first W8e was sold to SABENA who had ten others built in Belgium by SABCA.
W8f and W8g Hamilton
One three-engine W8f was built with cabin heating (using air from the engine exhausts).
The W8f was modified in 1929 as the W8g with improved tail and rudder design from the W10 and the third engine was removed and the other two replaced with the Rolls Royce Eagle IX.
Was a three-engined version with more powerful 385 hp (290 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IV radial engines. It was operated by Imperial Airways and created a record on the London-Paris route of 86 minutes. In 1926, the engines were replaced by three 420 hp (310 kW) Bristol Jupiters. The aircraft moved to Australia but was destroyed by an accident after nine months.
A twin-engined variant with the 450 hp (340 kW) Napier Lion for Imperial Airways (four built).
When Imperial Airways introduced the Handley Page HP.42 in 1931, the W series aircraft were retired. Aircraft were used by private operators for display and joy riding, but the most important development concerned the two surviving W10s which were converted to tanker aircraft by Sir Alan Cobham.
Data from British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 2
Published - July 2009
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