In search of… Giants

Ken Ellis contrasts the legacy of two famous aircraft manufacturers, Handley Page and de Havilland

HP Harrow I K6947 bomber-transport was flight tested at Radlett in March 1937 and issued to 37 Squadron at Feltwell, Norfolk, during the following month. HANDLEY PAGE-KEC

Not all airfields owe their heritage to frontline squadrons, conversion and training units or experimental flying. A significant number were adjacent to factories and were the bases for the maiden flights of types that changed the course of aeronautical history and the debuts of tens of thousands of aircraft fresh off the production line.

Today, only a handful of Britain’s airfields function as assembly lines and flight test centres. The most prolific is Warton in Lancashire, home to BAE Systems and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Nearby is Samlesbury, no longer a venue for flying, but a massive factory heavily involved in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme.


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