Handley Page Halifax Mk.III
Discover this iconic World War II RAF Heavy Bomber, first flown in 1939 and in operation throughout the War and beyond.
This package contains 6 variants, the main being the most produced Mk.III, but with further examples of the Mk.VII, Mk.C.8, Mk.IX and the specially modified Halton passenger version produced exclusively for BOAC to help illustrate the type.
The Handley Page Halifax first flew on the 25th of October 1939, and on the 13th of November 1940, entered into Royal Air Force service.
The Halifax was not without some problems in earlier models, with issues such as rudder stall and poor airflow over the wings due to the position of the Rolls Royce Merlin engines initially used. Later versions featured more powerful Bristol Hercules radial engines, revised defensive armament, improved vertical tail surfaces and rounded wingtip extensions, with a resultant increase in performance and the ability to carry heavier payloads. The aircraft was continuously improved and upgraded throughout its service career, to go on to become one of the most popular types with its crews.
The Halifax continued in service throughout WWII primarily as a bomber but also with the SOE (Special Operations Executive) on clandestine missions, as a troop transport, parachute drops, and as glider tugs during D-Day and subsequent operations.
With the high casualty rates of heavy bombing in WWII (1,833 Halifaxes were lost), that popularity with the crews was also helped by the Halifax being considered one of the easier RAF heavy bombers to bail out of, with 25 percent of downed aircrew bailing out successfully (compared to 15 percent with the Lancaster, for example).
During WWII Halifaxes flew some 82,773 sorties and dropped 224,207 tons of bombs.
In all, 6,178 Halifaxes were built, with the last delivered in April 1945. The most numerous Halifax type was the Mk. III, of which 2,091 were built.
Within the RAF, the Halifax was operated by several other Allied and Commonwealth nations, such as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Free French Air Force and Polish Air Force (PAF). During the post-war years, the Halifax remained in widespread service with Coastal Command and RAF Transport Command, and was also used by the Royal Egyptian Air Force, the French Armée de l'Air (until 1952) and the Royal Pakistan Air Force. The Royal Pakistan Air Force was last military user of the type, retiring the last aircraft in 1961.
The Halifax was used post war for several years by the civilian market as well, most notably with B.O.A.C. with a specially modified passenger version known as the Halton. A number of Mk.VIII were sold to other civilian users for freight operations. In 1948, 41 civil Halifax freighters were used during the Berlin Air Lift, operating a total of 4,653 sorties carrying freight and 3,509 carrying bulk diesel fuel.
Only three Halifaxes survive today. HR792 can be found at the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, North Yorkshire, UK; NA337 is at the National Air Force Museum of Canada, in Trenton, Ontario, Canada; and W1048, unrestored but preserved, at the RAF Museum, London, UK.