Handley Page Herald – A “lost Marathon”

Derived from the Miles Aircraft Marathon project, acquired with the Company in 1947, Handley Page Herald was the UK feeder reply to Douglas DC-3.

Born in mid-1940s and designed to meet one of the may standards outlined by the Brabazon Committee, the Handley Page Herald was re-designed to meet DC-3 operators expectations following extensive consultation.


A Handley Page Herald HPR.3 with 4 reciprocating engines as per initial design. Photo (c) Handley Page Aircraft Company.

During the early-1950s small operators, such the one the Herald was aimed to, were scared by long-term reliability and cost effectiveness of the relative new and untried turboprops. Hence, Handley Page, oriented the design on 4 conventional piston engines, naming the model HPR.3.

The market was impressed by the performances and before even being first-flown 29 firm orders were received.

In the meantime Fokker was developing a same category aircraft, fairly bigger and powered by two turboprop engines.

By the time the Herald first flown in 1955, the fears about the turboprops were dissipated by the outstanding proof of the Rolls-Royce Dart engines installed on the Vickers Viscounts.

By the end of 1955, all of the orders all of the orders for the Herald were “converted” into Friendship’s.


A BEA Dart Herald HPR.7 at Glasgow in February 1965. (c) Ken Fielding via Flickr

Lagging behind the competition and with the intention of saving as much as possible, the project Handley Page decided to redesign the Herald by reducing the engines from 4 to 2 and converting them to turboprop.
The natural choice was for the Dart.

The new variant, designated HPR.7 Dart Herald, first flew in 1958 and attracted some interest because of its astonishing performances, however the Fokker F.27 and Avro 748 were capable of flying larger payload and superior performances proved to be long-term preferred by the operators.

HPR.7 in Italian’s carrier ITAVIA at Bologna airport in the late 1970s. Photo (c) Alberto Storti.

In the end, only 35 Heralds have been sold compared to more than 200 F.27s.


According Aviation Safety Network a total of 17 occurrences involved Heralds with a total of 17 hull-losses.