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Published by warthog84
Aeroplane Icons Series - Halifax, from front-line bomber to post-war transport.
Aeroplane Icons Series - Halifax, from front-line bomber to post-war transport.

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Published by: warthog84 on Jul 27, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Published by Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Printed at William Gibbons & Sons Ltd on behalf of Kelsey Publishing Ltd,Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry's Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG. Tel: 01959 541444. Fax: 01959 541400.Email: kelseybooks@kelsey.co.uk. Website: www.kelsey.co.uk. ©2013 ISBN: 978-1-907426-48-3
A rigger cleans the cockpit Perspex while an armourer rods the barrelsof the front turret guns of a recentlydelivered Halifax B.I of No 35 Sqn atLinton-on Ouse.
(Photo: IWM)
NE OF THE three British four-engine heavy bombers whichtook the night war to Hitler’s heartland, the Handley PageHalifax contributed in no small way to the destruction andultimate surrender of the Third Reich. Unlike its Short Stirlingand Avro Lancaster companions, the Halifax proved a more versatiledesign, taking on roles additional to its principle mission with RAFBomber Command. Yet its comparatively short period in service anda production run of 6,176 machines was not without problems.In its early years from service entry in March 1941, little good couldbe said about the Halifax. Its in-built faults found it underpowered, itsperformance was lamentable, it suffered from a vicious swing ontake-off causing inherent undercarriage collapses, and rudder stallproblems often gave fatal results. All round it was a poor design fromBritain’s most famous builder of big bombers! In fact, so bad was theaircraft that ‘Bomber’ Harris wanted it withdrawn from service andproduction switched in favour of the Lancaster. Indeed, his opinion of owner Frederick Handley Page bordered on the murderous!Given Britain’s emergency war production such a radical move wasunthinkable. Across the nation, hundreds of factories large and smallwere heavily committed to a massive programme supplying Halifaxparts to four huge construction plants laid down to produce thisheavyweight for the RAF. There was simply no time or money toswitch to building a new machine. Instead, Handley Page designersstruggled to improve their unfortunate offspring and it was a goodtwo years before they succeeded. To the public, the Halifax was the highly capable stablemate of theLancaster and together, the two four-engine machines were hailed asthe fearsome harbingers of doom aimed at laying waste all that wasevil within the Third Reich. But the day of the Halifax proved worthwaiting for.New engines, a strengthened structure and modifiedaerodynamics gave the aeroplane the performance that had beenpromised two years earlier. The Mk III proved faster than the Lancasterand could climb quicker; by late-1944, Halifax losses dropped belowthose of the Lancaster, even though the former often outnumberedthe latter on some of the big raids. Total figures for Bomber Commandwere 2,236 Halifax losses against 3,936 Lancasters. Those who flew and maintained the Halifax were largely loyal tothe type, particularly the Canadians who operated 15 squadrons. Itsearly diffi culties overcome, the design was found ideal for other tasks– towing gliders, carrying troops, stuffi ng the fuselage full of electronics to spook the enemy, anti-submarine patrollers, spydropping and in the post-war world, flying early civil air routes aroundEurope and helping to sustain Berlin against the Russians. This Aeroplane ICON reviews the lows and highs of the mightyHalifax – all 6,178 built including the prototypes- and recounts itscontribution to the Allied success in winning the Second World War.
Barry Charles Wheeler 
January 2013
Andy Hay (Artwork)Mike Hooks (Contributor)Philip Jarrett (Contributor)Sue Keily (Ad Sales Manager)Zoë Tabourajis (Art Editor)
For more than a century of aviation history and for further titles in this series, visit

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