Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Major James Cordes 1895-1980



Handley Page Hampden

Major Cordes was born on 6th July, 1895 at Shaldon,Devonshire.He served in WW1 and saw service as a Company Commander in th 2nd Battalion Gloucester Regiment. He wounded at Salonica and whilst in hospital in Malta developed an interest in flying. He was attached to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and undertook his flying course in Egypt where he flew Maurice Farman Shorthorns. He returned to Englad in 1917 to train on the Bristol F2B and then joined 48Sqn in France where he shot down 2 enemy aircraft and one other which was not confirmed.

After the war he continued flying.He joined the RAF in 1921 and took an instructor's course at the Central Flying School. He served until 1928 when he joined Handly Page as a Test Pilot. His first testing involved him with the Hyderabad. In 1930 Major Cordes took over the Handley Page 42 test programme,a famous airliner which set the standards right up to the outbreak of WW2. At the same time he beacme involved with the Heyford,the RAF's last large biplane.He made the maiden flight of the Heyford in 1930 and demonstarted the aircraft several times at the air pageants at Hendon.

Cordes became Chief Test Pilot of Handley Page in 1933,he developed the Harrow (First flight 1933) and the Hampden (First flight 1936). The pinnacle of his career must be the development of the Halifax, which he made the First flight of in 1939.The Halifax along with the Lancaster became the mainstay of Bomber Command from 1942 until the end of the war. He rtired from active test flyoing in 1945.