A twin-engined monoplane bomber, the Harrow was built in small numbers and entered Royal Air Force service in January 1937. Although quickly replaced in the bomber role the Handley Page Harrow
would be used as a transport and medical evacuation aircraft with some remaining in service until May 1945.
With the Royal Air Force looking to replace their Handley Page Heyford and Vickers Virginia bombers currently in service the Air Ministry issued Specification B.3/34 for a new twin-engined bomber.
Of the designs considered by the Air Ministry the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley would be ordered into
production alongside Handley Page's design.
The design Handley Page submitted was known as the H.P.54, before being named the Harrow, and was based on the Handley Page H.P.51. The 10th October 1936 saw the first flight of the Handley Page
Harrow prototype, preceding this an order for one hundred aircraft meeting Specification B.28/35, which had been specifically written for this order, was placed.
The Harrow Mk I was powered by a pair of 850-hp Bristol Pegasus X engines giving the aircraft a top speed of 190 mph. This was quickly followed by the 925-hp Bristol Pegasus XX powered Harrow
Mk II. This had a top speed of 200 mph, range of 880 miles with a service ceiling of 22,800 ft. Armament consisted of four 0.303-in machine-guns, one in the nose turret and one in the dorsal
turret with the other two in the tail turret. Bomb load was 3,000lb.
January 1937 saw No. 214 Squadron, RAF Scampton receive the first Harrows to enter service with the Royal Air Force, to replace their Vickers Virginia. A further four squadrons would replace
their aircraft with the Harrow before the year was out. By the outbreak of the Second World War (1939 – 1945) the Handley Page Harrow's time as a bomber with the RAF was already coming to an end.
It would still be used as a transport aircraft, serving with No. 271 Squadron which had been reformed on the 1st May 1940 at RAF Doncaster, and medical evacuation. The Harrow would remain in
service in very small numbers until May 1945 when replaced by the Douglas Dakota.
In total only the original order of 100 Harrows would be built.