Handley Page Halifax

Handley Page Halifax

infobox Aircraft
name =Halifax
type =Heavy bomber
manufacturer =Handley Page

caption = Handley Page Halifax B.III
designer =
first flight =24 September, 1939
introduced =November 1940
retired =1961 (Pakistani Air Force)
status =
primary user =Royal Air Force
more users =Royal Canadian Air Force Royal New Zealand Air Force Royal Australian Air Force Polish Air Force
produced =1940-1946
number built =6,176
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =

The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engine heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing. The Halifax was also operated by squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Polish Air Force.

Design and development

Handley Page produced the H.P.56 design to meet Air Ministry Specification P.13/36 for a twin-engine medium bomber for "world-wide use". Other candidates for the specification were the Avro Manchester and a Vickers Warwick development; all used twin Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. The introduction of the successful P.13/36 candidates were delayed by the necessity of ordering more Whitley and Wellington bombers first.

Performance with the Vulture was found to be lacking. Modifications resulted in the definitive H.P.57 which upon acceptance gained the name "Halifax" following the practice of naming heavy bombers after major towns; in this case Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The H.P.57 was enlarged and powered by four convert|1280|hp|abbr=on Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines. Such was the promise of the new model that the RAF had placed their first order for 100 Mk I Halifaxes "off the drawing board" before the first prototype even flew. The maiden flight of the Halifax took place on 24 September 1939 from RAF Bicester, 21 days after the UK declared war on Germany.

The Halifax production subsequently began at English Electric's site at Samlesbury, Lancashire with over 2,000 bombers being built at the factory during the war.

The Mk I had a 22 ft long bomb bay as well as six bomb cells in the wings, enabling it to carry 13,000 lb (5,897 kg) of bombs. Defensive armament consisted of two .303-in Browning machine guns in a Boulton Paul Type C nose turret, and four in BP Type E tail turret and, in some aircraft, two Vickers K guns in beam positions. The Merlins drove constant speed wooden screw Rotol propellers. Subtle modifications distinguished the Mk I aircraft. The first batch (of 50) Mk I Halifaxes were designated Mk I Series I. The Halifax Mk I series had a serious flaw in the design of its tail units that caused it to go into a steep, uncontrollable spin if the aeroplane lost engine power from two engines on the same wing [Barnes 1987] or it was flung about vigorously. This fault undoubtedly caused a number of fatal crashes. Fact|date=May 2007

These were followed by 25 of the Mk I Series II with increased gross weight (from convert|58000|lb|abbr=on to 60,000 lb) but with maximum landing weight unchanged at convert|50000|lb|abbr=on. The Mk I Series III had increased fuel capacity (1,882 gallons), and larger oil coolers to accept the Merlin XX. A two-gun BP Type C turret mounted dorsally replaced the beam guns.

Introduction of convert|1390|hp|abbr=on Merlin XX engines and a twin .303-in dorsal turret instead of waist guns resulted in the B Mk II Series I Halifax. The Mk II Series I (Special) achieved improved performance by removing the nose and dorsal turrets. The Mk II Series IA had a moulded Perspex nose (the standard for future Halifax variants), a four-gun Defiant-type dorsal turret, Merlin 22 engines and larger vertical tail surfaces which solved control deficiencies (rudder-stall) in the early Marks. Halifax IIs were built by English Electric and Handley Page; 200 and 100 aircraft respectively.

Due to a shortage in Messier-built landing gear and hydraulics Dowty landing gear were used. Being incompatible with the Messier equipment these gave Halifaxes with new designations. A Mark II built with Dowty gear was the Mark V. The use of castings rather than forgings in the Dowty undercarriage speeded production but resulted in a reduced landing weight of convert|40000|lb|abbr=on. The Mark V were built by Rootes at Speke and Fairey at Stockport and were generally used by Coastal Command and for training. Some 904 were built by the time Mark V production ended at the start of 1944, [Barnes 1987] compared to 1,966 Mk II.

The most numerous Halifax variant was the B Mk III of which 2,091 were built. First appearing in 1943, the Mk III featured the Perspex nose and modified tail of the Mk II Series IA but replaced the Merlin with the more powerful convert|1650|hp|abbr=on Bristol Hercules XVI radial engine. Other changes included de Havilland Hydromatic propellers and rounded wing tips. The Mk IV was a non-production design using a turbocharged Hercules powerplant.

The definitive version of the Halifax was the B Mk VI, powered by the convert|1800|hp|abbr=on Hercules 100. The final bomber version, the Mk VII, reverted to the less powerful Hercules XVI. However, these variants were produced in relatively small quantities.

The remaining variants were the C Mk VIII unarmed transport (8,000 lb cargo pannier instead of a bomb bay, space for 11 passengers) and the Mk A IX paratroop transport (space for 16 paratroopers and gear). A transport/cargo version of the Halifax was also produced, known as the Handley Page Halton.

Total Halifax production was 6,176 with the last aircraft delivered in November 1946. In addition to Handley Page, Halifaxes were built by English Electric, Fairey Aviation, Rootes Motors (Rootes Securities Ltd.) and the London Aircraft Production Group. Peak production resulted in one Halifax being completed every hour.

Operational service

The Halifax entered service with No. 35 Squadron RAF at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in November 1940 and its first operational raid was against Le Havre on the night of 11-12 March 1941.

In service with RAF Bomber Command, Halifaxes flew 82,773 operations, dropped 224,207 tons of bombs and lost 1,833 aircraft. ["Wings Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Orbis Publishing, 1979.] In addition to bombing missions, the Halifax served as a glider tug, electronic warfare aircraft for No. 100 Group RAF and special operations such as parachuting agents and arms into occupied Europe. Halifaxes were also operated by RAF Coastal Command for anti submarine warfare, reconnaissance and meteorological roles.

Postwar, Halifaxes remained in service with the RAF Coastal Command and RAF Transport Command and the Armée de l'Air until early 1952. The Pakistan Air Force which inherited the planes from the RAF continued to use the type until 1961.

A number of former RAF Halifax C8s were sold from 1945 and used as freighters by a number of mainly British airlines. In 1948 the air freight market was in decline but 41 civil aircraft were used in the Berlin Air Lift operating a total of 4,653 freight sorties and 3,509 sorties carrying bulk diesel fuel. Nine aircraft were lost during the airlift but as the aircraft returned to England most civil Halifaxes were scrapped.


Pre-Halifax designs

;H.P.55:Proposed twin-engine bomber aircraft, never built.;H.P.56:Proposed twin-engine bomber aircraft, fitted with two Rolls-Royce Vulture engines, never built.


;H.P.57:The first Halifax prototype;Halifax Mk. I:The second prototype.;;Halifax B.I Series I::Four-engined long-range heavy-bomber aircraft; the first production version.;;Halifax B.I Series II::Stressed for operating at a higher gross weight.;;Halifax B.I Series III::Re-engined with Merlin XX engines, introduced new upper turret in place of beam guns, with revised undercarriage and additional centre-section fuel tanks.


;Halifax Mk II:Projected variant with revised armament including 20 mm cannons and no tail turret. Due to problems with the new armament the project was cancelled and the Mk II designation given to H.P.59.


;Halifax Mk II:New variant with increased takeoff weight, fuel and weapons carriage.;Halifax B.II Series I:First series of the bomber variant; from March 1942 onwards, these were fitted with TR1335 navigation aids.;Hailfax B.II Series I (Special), SOE:Special version for Special Operations Executive (SOE) used to drop supplies over Europe. Nose armament and dorsal turret removed, the nose being faired over, as well as changes to the fuel went pipes and exhaust shrouds.;Hailfax B.II Series I (Special):Generally similar to the aircraft used by the SOE, these were employed in the bombing role. These aircraft were more varied in appearance, especially concerning the fitting of dorsal armament with some aircraft retaining the standard Boulton Paul "Type C" turret in different mounts with others mounting a "Type A" -turret. There were also examples with no dorsal turret, similar to the SOE-aircraft.;Halifax B.II Series IA:Modified with new glazed nose section, new radiators and new "D" fin and rudder. The dorsal turret was changed to a four-gun Boulton Paul Type A Mk VIII, and there were improvements to the bomb bay door sealing. Some aircraft were fitted with the H2S radar.;Halifax B.II Series I, Freighter:A few Mk IIs were employed in the transport role in Great Britain (unmodified SOE-aircraft) and in the Middle East (simple modifications to allow carriage of engines or Spitfire fuselages).;Halifax B.II Series II:Single aircraft (HR756) modified with three-blade Rotol propellers and Merlin 22 engines. Rejected in favour of Mk III.;Halifax A.II:According to some sources, a handful of the airborne forces Halifaxes were converted into B.IIs. If this is true they might have been designated A.II or may have retained their bomber designations.Lake 1997, p. 131.] ;Halifax GR.II:Coastal Command variant of the Halifax B.II.;;Halifax GR.II Series I::A handful of aircraft converted from Series I or Special to GR.II standard, having differences in dorsal armament. The main difference was the fitting of a ASV.Mk 3 radar in an H2S type fairing. Sometimes, a .50 calibre machine gun was fitted in the faired nose.;;Halifax GR.II Series IA::Definitive Coastal Command variant of the GR.II with glazed nose mounting .50 calibre machine gun, Merlin XX or 22 engines, B-P A-type dorsal turret and extra long-range fuel tanks in fuselage. A ventral turret holding a single .50 machine gun was mounted on most aircraft although some employed the ASV.Mk 3 radar in its place.;Halifax Met. II:Some sources suggest that there were a meteorological variant of the B.II, designated Met. II, but this is unlikely.Lake 1997, p. 132.]


;Halifax B.III:Main production variant, fitted with Bristol Hercules engines.;Halifax A.III:Halifax B.III bombers converted into glider tug and paratroop transport aircraft.;Halifax C.III:Halifax B.III bombers converted into military transport aircraft.


;Halifax B.V Series I (Special);Halifax A.V:Halifax B.V bombers converted into glider tugs and paratroop transport aircraft.;Halifax GR.V:Coastal Command variant. Halifax B.V bombers converted into maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

;Halifax B.VI;Halifax C.VI:Halifax B.VI bombers converted into military transport aircraft.;Halifax GR.VI:Coastal Command variant. Halifax B.VI bombers converted into maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

;Halifax B.VII:Four-engined long-range heavy-bomber, powered by four 1,615-hp (1204-kW) Bristol Hercules XVI radial engines.;Halifax A.VII:Halifax B.VIIs converted into paratroop transport and glider tug aircraft.;Hailfax C.VII:Halifax B.VIIs bombers converted into military transport aircraft.


;Halifax C.VIII:Cargo and passenger transport aircraft.


;Halifax A.IX:Paratroop transport, glider tug aircraft.

H.P.70 Halton

;Halton I:Interim civil transport version; postwar, a number of Hailfax bombers were converted into civilian transport aircraft.;Halton II:VIP transport aircraft for the Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda.


Halifax military operators

*Royal Australian Air Force
**No. 460 Squadron RAAF
**No. 462 Squadron RAAF
**No. 466 Squadron RAAF

*Royal Canadian Air Force
**No. 405 Squadron RCAF
**No. 408 Squadron RCAF
**No. 415 Squadron RCAF
**No. 419 squadron RCAF
**No. 420 Squadron RCAF
**No. 424 Squadron RCAF
**No. 425 Squadron RCAF
**No. 426 Squadron RCAF
**No. 427 Squadron RCAF
**No. 428 Squadron RCAF
**No. 429 Squadron RCAF
**No. 431 Squadron RCAF
**No. 432 Squadron RCAF
**No. 433 Squadron RCAF
**No. 434 Squadron RCAF

*Royal Egyptian Air Force

*Armee de l'Air
**No. 346 Squadron RAF
**No. 347 Squadron RAF

*Royal New Zealand Air Force

*Pakistan Air Force

*Polish Air Forces on exile in Great Britain
**No. 301 Polish Bomber Squadron "Ziemi Pomorskiej"
**Flight "C" of No. 138 Squadron RAF
**No. 301 Polish Special Duty Flight
**No. 1586 Polish Special Duty Flight
**No. 304 Polish Bomber Squadron

*Royal Air Force
**No. 10 Squadron RAF
**No. 35 Squadron RAF
**No. 47 Squadron RAF
**No. 51 Squadron RAF
**No. 58 Squadron RAF
**No. 76 Squadron RAF
**No. 77 Squadron RAF
**No. 78 Squadron RAF
**No. 96 Squadron RAF
**No. 102 Squadron RAF
**No. 103 Squadron RAF
**No. 108 Squadron RAF
**No. 113 Squadron RAF
**No. 138 Squadron RAF
**No. 148 Squadron RAF
**No. 158 Squadron RAF
**No. 161 Squadron RAF
**No. 171 Squadron RAF
**No. 178 Squadron RAF
**No. 187 Squadron RAF
**No. 190 Squadron RAF
**No. 192 Squadron RAF
**No. 199 Squadron RAF
**No. 202 Squadron RAF
**No. 224 Squadron RAF
**No. 246 Squadron RAF
**No. 295 Squadron RAF
**No. 296 Squadron RAF
**No. 297 Squadron RAF
**No. 298 Squadron RAF
**No. 502 Squadron RAF
**No. 517 Squadron RAF
**No. 518 Squadron RAF
**No. 519 Squadron RAF
**No. 520 Squadron RAF
**No. 521 Squadron RAF
**No. 546 Squadron RAF
**No. 547 Squadron RAF
**No. 578 Squadron RAF
**No. 614 Squadron RAF
**No. 620 Squadron RAF
**No. 624 Squadron RAF
**No. 640 Squadron RAF
**No. 644 Squadron RAF

Halifax civil operators

*Aircarrier (Former Wikner aircraft)
*Geoffrey Wikner (B3 converted with a 15-passenger interior);FRA
*Aero Cargo
* Societe Anonyme de Navigation Aeriennes;NOR
* Peteair
* Vingtor Airways;PAK
* Pakistan Airways; flag|South Africa|1928
* Alpha Airways
* LAMS (South Africa);SUI
*Air Globe ;UK
* Air Freight
* Airtech
* Bond Air Services
* British American Air Services
* British Overseas Airways Corporation
* Chartair
* C.L. Air Surveys
* Eagle Aviation
* Lancashire Aircraft Corporation
* London Aero and Motor Services (LAMS)
* Payloads
* Skyflight
* Union Air Services
* World Air Freight

Halton Operators

;flagicon|India|British India
* Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda;FRA
* Louis Breguet;flag|South Africa|1928
* Alpha Airways;UK
* Bond Air Services
* British American Air Services
* British Overseas Airways Corporation
* Westminster Airways
* Worldair Carrier


There are only two fully restored Halifax bombers in the world. One is a composite aircraft located at the Yorkshire Air Museum, on the site of the Second World War airfield, RAF Elvington.

The other Halifax, "NA337" of No. 644 Squadron RAF at Tarrant Rushton, was retrieved from the bottom of Lake Mjøsa in Norway in 1995 after being shot down in April 1945. It was brought back to Canada and restoration was completed in 2005. "NA337" is a Halifax A Mk VII Special Duties aircraft built by Rootes Motors, Liverpool and resides at RCAF Memorial Museum at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ontario, near Kingston, Ontario.

A third Halifax, was recovered from Lake Hoklingen in Norway by a "sub aqua" team from the RAF in 1973. This Mk II, Serial Number "W 1048", was part of 35 Squadron and had crashed after being damaged in an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. It is displayed in its "as recovered" condition in the Bomber Command display at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon in London, apart from the nose turret which had already been restored prior to the decision.

On 26 November 2006, archaeologists from the Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland, unearthed remains of another Halifax ("JP276" "A") from No. 148 RAF Squadron, which was found in southern Poland, near the city of Dąbrowa Tarnowska. It was shot down on the night 4-5 August 1944 while returning from the "air-drop-action" during the Warsaw Uprising.

Specifications (Mk III)

Aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop

length main=71 ft 7 in
length alt=21.82 m
span main=104 ft 2 in [ early MKs had span of less than convert|100|ft|m|abbr=on to fit through standard hangar doors]
span alt=31.75 m
height main=20 ft 9 in
height alt=6.32 m
area main=1,190 ft²
area alt=110.6 m²
empty weight main=
empty weight alt=
loaded weight main=54,400 lb
loaded weight alt=24,675 kg
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
more general=
engine (prop)=Bristol Hercules XVI
type of prop=radial engines
power main=1,615 hp
power alt=1,205 kW
max speed main=282 mph
max speed alt=454 km/h
max speed more=at 13,500 ft (4,115 m)
range main=1,860 mi
range alt=3,000 km
range more=combat
ceiling main=24,000 ft
ceiling alt=7,315 m
climb rate main=750 ft/min
climb rate alt=3.8 m/s
loading main=45.7 lb/ft²
loading alt=223.1 kg/m²
power/mass main=0.12 hp/lb
power/mass alt=195 W/kg
more performance=
*8 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns (4 in dorsal turret, 4 in tail turret), 1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in nose
*13,000 lb (5,897 kg) of bombs

ee also

similar aircraft=
*Avro Lancaster
*Short Stirling
*B-17 Flying Fortress
*B-24 Liberator
*List of aircraft of the RAF




* Barnes, C.H. "Handley Page Aircraft since 1907". London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-803-8.
* Bingham, Victor F. "Halifax, Second to None: The Handley Page Halifax". Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 1986. ISBN 0-90639-366-3.
* Clarke, R.M., ed. "Handley Page Halifax Portfolio". Cobham, Surrey, UK: Brooklands Books, No year cited. ISBN 0-948-207-892.
* Clayton, Donald C. "Handley Page: An Aircraft Album". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1970. ISBN 0-7110-0094-8.
* Jones, Geoffrey Patrick. "Night Flight : Halifax squadrons at War". London: William Kimber, 1981. ISBN 0-71830-338-5.
* Lake, Jon. "Halifax Squadrons of World War 2". Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-85532-892-5.
* ________. "Halifax Variants". "Wings of Fame, vol. 8". London: Aerospace Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-86184-009-8.
* Merrick, Keith A. "Halifax, an Illustrated History of a Classic World War II Bomber". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-7110-0767-5.
* ____________. "The Handley Page Halifax". Bourne Ends, Buckinhamshire, UK: Aston Publications Ltd., 1990. ISBN 0-946627-60-8.
* Moyes, Philip J.R. "Handley Page Halifax: Merlin-Engined Variants (Aerodata International No 7)". Kidlington. Oxford, UK: Vintage Aviation Publications Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-905469-50-X.
* _____________. "The Handley Page Halifax B.III, VI, VII". Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1966.
* Rapier, Brian J. "Halifax at War". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-7110-1554-6
* Roberts, R.N. "The Halifax File". Tonbridge, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-85130-098-7.
* Robertson, Bruce. "Halifax Special". Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1990. ISBN 0-7110-1920-7.
* Scutts, Jerry. "Halifax in Action" (Aircraft in Action series, No. 66. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-89747-158-X.
* Stachiw, Anthony L. and Andrew Tattersall. "Handley Page Halifax: In Canadian Service" St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2005. ISBN 1-55125-085-3.;Videography
* "Halifax at War: The Story of a Bomber (76 min. DVD)." Toronto: Nightfighters Productions Inc., 2005. ISBN 1-55259-571-4.

External links

* [http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.co.uk/collections/aircraft/wwII_aircraft_info.asp?id=11 Handley Page Halifax]
* [http://www.britishaircraft.co.uk/aircraftpage.php?ID=130 British Aircraft Directory entry]
* [http://www.bombercrew.com/ Halifax Bomber Crews and Their Experiences]
* [http://www.rcafmuseum.on.ca/reconstructing337.htm The Story of Halifax NA337]
* [http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/hphalifax/main.htm The Handley Page Halifax website]

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