Cockpit of the Handley Page HP42E airliner 'Hannibal', 9 June 1931.
© NMeM / Daily Herald Archive / Science & Society Picture Library
'Hannibal' was the HP42E prototype, and flew for the first time from Radlett aerodrome in Hertfordshire on 17 November 1930. It had a capacity for eighteen passengers, and could cruise at 100mph. 'Hannibal' was one of eight HP42Es operated by Imperial Airways, the main pre-World War II British airline. The four-engined HP42 biplane was operated by Imperial Airways between 1931 and 1939, flying to Europe, the Middle East and India. When introduced it was the largest airliner in regular use. Although slow, it was extremely safe. The eight aircraft in the fleet flew ten million miles in the 1930s without a fatality. 'Hannibal' was eventually lost without trace however, together with four crew and four passengers, over the Persian Gulf on 1 March 1940.