The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force serving in the Second World War. With the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-plane raid on Cologne. The newest of the three medium bombers, the Hampden, known as the "Flying Suitcase" because of its cramped crew conditions, was still unsuited to the modern air war and, after operating mainly at night, it was retired from Bomber Command service in late 1942.
Handley Page designed the Hampden to the same specification as the Wellington (Air Ministry Specification B.9/32) and the first prototype flew on 21 June 1936. The first production batch of 180 Mk I Hampdens was built to specification 30/36.
The Mk I had a crew of four: pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator and rear gunner. Conceived as a fast, manoeuvrable, "fighting bomber", the Hampden had a fixed .303 inVickers K machine gun in the forward fuselage. To avoid the weight penalties of powered-turrets, the Hampden had a curved Perspex nose fitted with a manual .303 inch Vickers K gun and two more single Vickers K installations in the rear upper and lower positions. The guns were thoroughly inadequate for defence, consequently, by 1940, the single guns had been replaced by twin Vickers K guns.
A total of 1,430 Hampdens were built: 500 by Handley Page, 770 by English Electric at Samlesbury in Lancashire; and in 1940–41, 160 in Canada by the Canadian Associated Aircraft consortium (although some were retained in Canada, 84 were shipped by sea to the United Kingdom).
In addition to Commonwealth nations, the Hampden was operated in the Soviet Union and a single example was purchased by Sweden when they were considering license production.