Aviation – Prototypes

Apart from de Havilland, Hawker Siddeley and British Aerospace, a number of prototype aircraft from other manufacturers have taken part in displays and air shows at Hatfield airfield. Some of these aircraft became legends, some were forerunners of legendary aircraft, others were later versions of legendary aircraft, the rest became footnotes in aviation history.


Please note: this is not a complete list of prototypes that have visited Hatfield. Information on de Havilland, Hawker Siddeley and British Aerospace prototypes making their maiden flights from Hatfield can be found elsewhere in Claims to Fame.

Aviation – Aircraft


Airbus A300B – the first flying example of the now famous family of passenger jets, F-WUAB, made its first flight from Toulouse on 28 October 1972. Its first flight outside of France was a flight over the Hawker Siddeley factory at Hatfield on 16 January 1973 (for the benefit of a visiting Chinese trade delegation).


Airspeed AS.10 Oxford, L4534 – having made its first flight on 19 June 1937, its first public appearance was in the New Types Park at the 18th RAF Display at Hendon on 26 June 1937. Its second appearance was at the 6th SBAC (Society of British Aircraft Constructors – later, Society of British Aerospace Companies) Show at Hatfield (28-29 June 1937), where it is clear that it was part of the flying display.


Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley, K4586 – made its first public appearance at the 1936 RAF Display at Hendon. Its second was the SBAC Show at Hatfield.


Bristol Bombay, Type 130, K3583 – first flown on 23 June 1935. Displayed at the 1936 SBAC show at Hatfield.


Bristol Type 142, 'Britain First', K7557 / G-ADCZ – designed by Frank Barnwell and Roy Fedden. First flew on 12 April 1935 at Filton. Originally developed as a civilian aircraft, the military version (Type 142M) entered RAF service as the Bristol Blenheim. Displayed at the 1936 SBAC show at Hatfield – thought to be its first public appearance.


Chilton Aircraft DW1 (G-AESZ) – first flown at Witney on 16 April 1937 by R L Porteous (a former de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School student, who also learnt to fly at Hatfield). It was designed by two technical school colleagues (conflicting reports as to whether or not they designed the aircraft during their time at Hatfield). G-AESZ was entered in the 1951 Festival of Britain Air Races – scheduled to be held at Hatfield but cancelled on the day due to bad weather. Its pilot at the time, Dr William Leonard James OBE, was twice mentioned in the despatches (there is an unverified report that he was medical officer to 617 Squadron – 'The Dambusters'). Tragically, he was killed, along with his wife, in fatal plane crash in 1966. The pilot, Air Commodore Charles Edward Stuart Lockett, was a former WW2 Colditz prisoner.


Comper Mouse, G-ACIX – three-seater, low wing monoplane built at Heston in 1933. Powered by a de Havilland Gipsy Major engine, only one was built. Owned by Sir Norman J Watson, it took part in the 1934 King's Cup Air Race at Hatfield, piloted by F/Lt E H Newman.


Fairey Battle, K4303 – hailed in 1936 as the 'world's fastest bomber', it was displayed at the SBAC show at Hatfield that year.


Gloster E.28/39, W4046 – the second prototype of Britain's first jet aircraft. On 7 April 1943, piloted by John Grierson, it flew from Edgehill to Hatfield – making Britain's first cross-country jet flight – to take part in a forthcoming private display for Sir Winston Churchill.


Handley Page HP.52 Hampden, K4240 – this twin-engine bomber prototype was another aircraft that had made its public debut at the RAF Display at Hendon two days before the SBAC show at Hatfield in 1936.


Handley Page HP.137 Jetstream, G-ATXH – this twin-engine turboprop business liner was the last aircraft design built by Handley Page. G-ATXH made its first flight on Friday, 18 August 1967. Piloted by John Allam, Harry Rayner (co-pilot) and John Colleer (flight test engineer), it performed an informal flypast at Hatfield before landing at Radlett. G-ATXI, the third (possibly the second to fly) Jetstream prototype had an unintentionally longer stay at Hatfield. On 4 September 1968, while carrying out measured short-field performance trials on the Hatfield runway, its main undercarriage collapsed causing serious damage to the aircraft. Sadly, less than a year later, Handley Page Limited went out of business.


Hawker Henley, K5115 – this 2-seater was developed alongside the more famous Hurricane. It first flew on 10 March 1937 at Brooklands (another source gives the date as 24 March). It served in the RAF as a target tug for gunnery practice. Displayed at the 1936 SBAC show.


Hawker Hurricane, K5083 – together with the Spitfire, the Hurricane was the mainstay of the RAF during the Battle of Britain, and throughout WWII. It first flew on 6 November 1935, piloted by P W S 'George' Bulman, who also flew it at the SBAC show at Hatfield in 1936 – its second public appearance. K5083 also starred in the 1937 SBAC show at Hatfield.


Miles M.11A Whitney Straight – Whitney Straight operated a number of flying clubs in southern England and had arranged the design of light aircraft with designer F G Miles. First flown in Spring 1936, G-AECT made its second public appearance at the 1936 SBAC show (the first was at the Royal Aeronautical Society's Garden Party at Heathrow on 28 June).


Miles M.13 Hobby – single-seat, low wing monoplane with retractable undercarriage. Specially designed to take part in the 1937 King's Cup Air Race at Hatfield, U2 (later G-AFAW) made its first flight piloted by F G Miles on 4 September 1937 – less than a week before the race. Unfortunately, on race day problems with the retractable undercarriage led to its withdrawal. However, it did make its first public appearance at Hatfield. Only one M.13 Hobby was built and in 1938 G-AFAW was transferred to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough (where it became L9706) for wind tunnel tests. It was scrapped in 1945.


Supermarine Spitfire, K5054 – made its maiden flight on 5 March 1936. It was piloted by Vickers Company Chief Test Pilot Captain J 'Mutt' Summers, who also flew it at the SBAC show at Hatfield later that year on its second public outing. Among the guests were a number of high-ranking Luftwaffe officers.

Click here for Claims to Fame – Luftwaffe


Westland Lysander, K6127 – this Army Cooperation aircraft prototype made its first flight on 15 June 1935, piloted by Harald Penrose, at Boscombe Downs, Hampshire. Yet another 1936 Hendon debutant making a second public appearance at Hatfield.


Hatfield also played an important part in the successful development of France's first passenger jet the Sud-Est SE.210 Caravelle.

Click here for Claims to Fame – Aviation – Aircraft



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