|Location:||National Cold War Exhibition|
The Handley Page Hastings replaced the Avro York as the Royal Air Force’s standard long-range transport from 1948. Two squadrons of the new aircraft served alongside the York throughout the Berlin Airlift (Operation ‘Plainfare’), flying vital supplies into the city during the Soviet blockade.
The Hastings first flew in May 1946 entering service with No.47 Squadron, Transport Command in September 1948. The type was intensively used during ‘Plainfare’; a Hastings made the last sortie of the Airlift on 6 October 1949. 145 aircraft were delivered and flew on Transport Command’s long-range routes, based in the Far East and Middle East, until the arrival of the Bristol Britannia in 1959. Four special Hastings flew worldwide with the VIP Flight of No.24 (Commonwealth) Squadron.
From 1950, nineteen aircraft were converted for weather reconnaissance and flew in this role until the mid-1960s. Of these, eight became Hastings T5s, providing radar training for bomb-aimers at the Bomber Command Bombing School from 1959. By 1967 the Hastings had left first-line service, with the delivery of Hercules and Argosy transports. The last four served with the Radar Flight of No.230 Operational Conversion Unit (unofficially known as ‘1066 Squadron’) until 30 June 1977.
Four Hastings were also delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.