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The Handley-Page Halifax

Discussion in 'Allied Bomber Planes' started by brianw, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. brianw

    brianw Member

    Sep 6, 2011
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    Bridgend, Mid Glam.
    via War44
    Much has been written about the Lancaster bomber, but during the war the RAF operated a number of other “heavies”, although none acquired the same kind of legendary status of the “Lanc”. I think that there might be a couple of reasons for that; the number of aircraft produced, the types of raids on which it was flown, such as the Dambuster raid, the versatility of the aircraft, particularly considering the type and weight of bombs it could deliver and not to mention maybe the inheritance from the Spitfire, they did use the same Merlin engine.

    Among the “also rans” although that’s a bit unfair was the Halifax, built by Handley-Page, initially as a twin engine bomber but almost immediately redesigned with four engines, which while not always used for incursions deep into Germany, they did fly many very hazardous operations, including mine-laying (codenamed “Gardening”) and some were operated by SOE for dropping supplies to the resistance and inserting agents into occupied France by parachute. The SOE special version had the nose gun and mid-upper gun turret removed and faired over, modifications were also made to the fuel venting and engine exhaust shrouding to reduce noise and the red glow which might have been seen and heard from the ground.

    Halifax bombers were also included in the numbers when the call from the Air Ministry was for “Maximum Effort”, or in other words a 1000 plus bomber raid, after all Bomber Command wasn’t able to put 1000 Lancasters over a target at any time, in fact for the first 1000 bomber raid aircraft and crews were also taken from Operational Conversion Units (OCUs).

    The first operation for the Halifax, listed by the Bomber-command website was on 10/11 March 1941 when 6 Halifax aircraft of 35 Squadron were sent to le Havre, one was lost. The last listed war-time operation for the aircraft was to Wangerooge on 25 April 1945. Of course, following the fall of the Third Reich on May 7 1945 and VE Day on the 8th, the Halifax was, as were other bomber types tasked with bomb disposal over the North Sea. Once the hostilities were over, many of the Halifax “B” aircraft were converted to Halifax “C” and transferred to RAF Transport Command along with their aircrews.

    A full list of operations undertaken by the Halifax between 1941 and 1945 can be found at:-

    Of the 6,178 Halifax aircraft built in numerous variants, the “B”MkIII (2,091 built) and the “B”MkVI became the mainstay variants of the Halifax versions between 1943 and 1945. The MkIII was fitted with the 1,650 hp Bristol Hercules XVI radial engine and was identifiable from the earlier types because of the large “barn-door” tail-fins instead of the smaller pointed profile fins.

    From the introduction of the “B”III onwards, the duties of the navigator and bomb aimer were combined and he occupied a position in the large Perspex streamlined nose dome. Other crew included the pilot, co-pilot, wireless operator, flight engineer, mid upper gunner and tail gunner; a crew of seven.

    The MkI Halifax did have a forward gun turret, but that was removed in the MkIII onwards, but the navigator was given a single machine gun to play with. Earlier versions of the mid-upper turret had two machine guns, but following modification, it was later fitted with the Boulton-Paul 4 gun turret. The rear gunner had four machine guns.

    The maximum bomb load was 14,500 lb, but because of the design of the bomb bays, the maximum bomb size was the 2,000 lb standard bomb.

    During war-time operations the Halifax flew some 82,773 operations and dropped 224,207 tons of bombs and remained in service with various air forces until 1961.
  2. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    Not bad for an also ran Brian ... :wtf:

    Thanks for posting it .... :thumb:

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