On Christmas Eve the great new Handley Page bomber, type numbered H.P.80 and provisionally named Victor, made a successful first flight at Boscombe Down. At the controls was Handley Page's chief test pilot, S/L. H.G. Hazelden, and with him was Mr. I.K. Bennett, the company's chief flight test observer. S.L. Hazelden reported that the aircraft handled beautifully and did not give a moment's anxiety. A production order was placed some months ago for the new bomber, which is characterised by a crescent-shaped wing, and is described by Mr. R.S. Stafford, Handley Page's chief designer, as "the complete and only answer to the demands of a most exacting specification." This called not only for operation at high sub-sonic speed at very great heights over long ranges, but also good control over the whole speed range, particularly at approach and landing.
Gannets for Australia
The Fairey company's annual Christmas party in London on December 22nd was brighter even than usual, for it coincided with the announcement, synchronised in England and Australia, that the Royal Australian Navy had placed an order for 40 Gannets (Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba turboprop) at a cost of £3,200,000. Deliveries will be made in 1955.
Handley Page meeting
There was no doubt at all that everyone very much enjoyed the senior staff dinner at Handley Page, Ltd., which took place at the Cafe Royal, London, on December 23rd. A. Cdre A.V. Harvey, proposing "The Company", mentioned the earliest days of Handley Page at Barking, and said that it was the first limited-liability company to be devoted solely to aircraft construction. He went on to say that money expended wisely on aircraft was a good form of defence investment. With 300 or 400 jet bombers "and the right things inside them," there would be no more war.
Mme. Auriol's record
On December 21st, in a Mistral (French-built Vampire development, with Hispano Nene) Mme. Jacqueline Auriol broke her own unofficial 100 km world speed record of 508.392 m.p.h by flying at 855.920 km/hr (531.846 m.p.h.). The new record, which is subject to confirmation, was made over a course from Istres, outside Marseilles, to Avignon and back.