Handley-Page was a British aircraft manufacturer. The company was named for its founder, Frederick Handley Page, who founded the firm in 1909 in a shed in Barking, Essex as the first publicly-traded British aircraft company. The firm was initially turning out experimental biplanes such as were the 'standard' prior to World War I; at the outset of that war, Frederick Handley Page offered his firm's services to the Government, and was commissioned to produce a bomber which could range on the Continent from British home bases. It came up initially with a twin-engine airplane named the 0/100, which was later in the war superseded by the 0/400 and the even larger V/1500 - the first bomber the firm would build, but not the last. The V/1500 was completed prior to the end of the War, but was not flown in anger before the Armistice.

During the interwar period, Handley-Page took its experience building large long-range airplanes and went after the nascent air travel market. Following the war, the infrastructure between London and Paris, two of Europe's largest cities, was in a shambles; the two, however, were within the straight-line range of the larger airplanes that had been produced near the end of the war. A modified version ofthe 0/400 was created, named the W.8, and Handley Page Transport (created in 1919 as one of the world's first airlines) merged with other firms to become Imperial Airways - Britain's first national airline and the predecessor to BOAC and British Airways.

During World War II, Handley-Page entered the fray producing a twin-engine monoplane bomber named the Hampden, which served in Britain's first bombing raid on Berlin and bought the RAF time to reorganize, as Hitler in retaliation concentrated Germany's air efforts on bombing London and other cities rather than RAF bases. Later in the war, Handley-Page produced the four-engine Halifax bomber, a competitor to the better-known Avro Lancaster.

Following that war, the firm was engaged to produce one of the three famous 'V-bombers' of the British offensive nuclear force, and built the Handley-Page Victor, a four-engine swept-wing bomber which served alongside the Avro Vulcan and the Vickers Valiant. First entering service in 1958, the Victor continued in service in various roles for over twenty years as bomber, reconnaissance aircraft and tanker.

Sir Frederick Handley-Page, knighted for his work, passed away in 1962. Around that time, the British Government began a deliberate policy of encouraging the conglomeration of defense aviation firms (see BAC TSR.2) and Handley-Page, used to working independently, was allowed to go under, although one of its last designs, the HP.137 Jetstream, a medium turbo-prop airliner, was purchased by the Scottish Aviation company at Prestwick and manufactured for many years following.

Handley-Page lives on in technology mostly for its contribution to the control surfaces of airplanes and their theory. Handley-Page was one of the first designers to implement slotted wings in order to reduce the tendency of aircraft to spin; the 'slotted wing' would lead to the introduction of flaps and flaperons, both critical to the improvement of handling aircraft safely at low speeds.

Sources:
Centennial of Flight Essay
Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Naval Institute Press: Annapolis, MD, 1993.
Wikipedia (gasp!)
Vectorsite on the Victor bomber

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