It outlasted the Second World War and survived 40 years on the bottom of the Pacific but a heavy snowfall has felled the last remaining Handley Page Hampden bomber. Volunteers at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, British Columbia, are appealing for help to put the little-known but historically significant aircraft back together again after snow broke the left wing off the twin-engine bomber. Like many small museums, the facility has to store some of its collection outside and that’s not normally a problem in the usually temperate coastal area of B.C. But this year the area has been slammed with half a dozen snowstorms and, while museum volunteers did their best to clear the snow, an especially big dump on Dec. 26 was too much for the Hampden.
Jack Meadows, a longtime volunteer at the museum, said the facility has little money and the repairs will be costly. But he also said it’s important to get the airplane back up on its gear because it’s the only complete example in the world. Hampdens were frontline bombers when the war started in 1939 and flew the first operational sorties on the day war was declared. They were underpowered and vulnerable to the superior German aircraft but their crews gamely helped keep the enemy at bay, winning three Victoria Crosses in the effort, until more modern replacements were available. The museum’s aircraft never saw conflict and was attached to a Royal Canadian Air Force training squadron on Vancouver Island before it went down in coastal waters in 1942. It was recovered in 1985 and restoration took almost 20 years.
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