This is the sole surviving example of the Hermes.
The Hermes was the first large passenger aircraft to be built in Britain after the end of WW2, and the first to be pressurised. The original Hermes was similar in design to the company’s Hastings military transport, but it was later redesigned with a tricycle undercarriage replacing the original tailwheel. 25 were built for BOAC for use on its West African and South African routes, but in the event only 19 went to BOAC and the others were taken by independent charter-flight operators. The Hermes was a pleasant aircraft to fly on and quite popular with passengers, but it suffered from severe engine problems, mainly because BOAC uprated its Hercules piston engines for operations to high altitude South African airports, and this put additional strains on them, and there were also several incidents where propellers came off in flight. Eventually BOAC replaced the Hermes with the more reliable Canadair Argonaut. They were stored awaiting disposal, but some were later brought back into service when two of BOAC’s new Comet 1 Jetliners suffered fatal accidents in similar circumstances and all Comets were grounded.
‘DG was delivered to BOAC in 1950, who operated it until 1953. The following year it was sold to Airwork, then to Falcon Airways, and then to Silver City, who all used it on holiday charter and trooping flights until 1962, when it was retired at Gatwick to be scrapped. The fuselage survived, and was used by British Caledonian for cabin crew training, before being passed to the Gatwick Fire Service who used it for smoke evacuation training. When they had no further use for it they appealed for an aircraft preservation group to rescue it, as it was the only surviving part of a Hermes, and eventually the DAS and the Handley Page Association jointly arranged for it to be moved by road to Duxford. This took place in January 1981 and restoration of the interior of the fuselage began. This took until 2006 to finally complete, and the Hermes is now on display in AirSpace.
Part of the interior is an exhibition devoted to the aircraft and its manufacturers, Handley Page. A small section of the cabin has also been fitted with replica seating to show what it would have been like to travel on board this aircraft.