Handley Page HP42 aircraft being refuelled, Croydon Airport, c 1930-1940.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
HP42 being refuelled with 'aeroshell' using timber gantries. The Handley Page HP 42 was the world´s first four-engined aircraft. It was also the largest. It made its first flight on 17 November 1930. A total of eight aircraft were built for the new Imperial Airways which was formed in 1924 by the merger of four British airlines – Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways and British Air Marine Navigation Company. The home base was the new airport at Croydon outside London. In the late 20s and 30s, Imperial Airways started routes to Paris, Brusels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich and intercontinental routes to Egypt, the Arabian Gulf, India, South Africa, Singapore and West Africa. In cooperation with Qantas, Australia´s international airline, the route to Australia via Singapore was opened in 1935.