Tag Archives: Harrow

Handley-Page Harrow
A bomber aircraft of the late 1930s, the immediate predecessor to the Whitley in front-line service, obsolete by 1939.

Sunday, 1 June 1941

The Air Ministry, London

Air Vice Marshal Norman Bottomley formally takes over as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS) from AVM Harris, who has already left for the USA as head of a mission to procure aircraft from a sympathetic but still-neutral country.

As DCAS, Air Marshal Harris had taken an unsympathetic view of the Special Duties Flight, mainly because the Whitley aircraft required for the Flight diverted front-line bomber aircraft from Bomber Command’s prime strategic purpose to carry the fight to the enemy, the bombing of German industry. The SD case has been poorly made by his opponents. Harris has done his best to foist the Handley Page Harrow, the Whitley’s predecessor as a bomber, on the SD Flight. If the Whitley is an imperfect vehicle for transporting agents, the Harrow makes the Whitley look good. The Harrow has a fixed undercarriage, it does not have self-sealing fuel tanks, and its defensive armament is rudimentary. It is even slower than the Whitley, and has a poor range.

Bottomley is less unsympathetic to SD operations than Harris, and is more attuned to the political nuances of the situation, especially regarding the Polish and Czechoslovak governments-in-exile. It is not long before the proposal to expand the SD Flight to a full squadron gathers momentum.

In theory two Harrows are being converted for SD operations at Tollerton, but with the departure of Harris the proposal is quietly shelved, and they are not heard of again.