Handley-Page "Halifax" Heavy Bomber
A Halifax Mk. II Bomber
The Halifax heavy bomber proved itself to be Britain's second best heavy bomber, eclipsed only by the superb AVRO Lancaster. It was first flown only three months after the Short Stirling, but proved to be far superior to that aircraft in most ways. The Halifax's overall performance classed it as one of the best combat planes of the war, something that is rarely recognised today. The Halifax was made in numerous versions, the most numerous being the Mk. I and II with 2,050 produced. Unfortunately, the Halifax Mk. I had a serious flaw in the design of it's tail structure that caused it to go into a rapid, uncontrollable spin if it was flung about the air too much. This undoubtedly caused a number of fatal crashes. The design of the tail structure was changed in the Mk. II and III versions. These proved to be far superior to the Mk. I. A total of 2,060 Mk. IIIs were produced from Feb. 1944 to the war's end. Mk. VI and VII versions were completed at the war's end with more powerful engines and longer range. The Halifax was primarily a night heavy bomber, but it was also used in Coastal Command to hunt U-boats as the Mk. V and for dropping paratroops. It was also used to ferry troops, as an air ambulance and a glider-tug. In the night bomber role Halifaxes flew a total of 75,532 missions, dropping more than 227,000 tons of bombs. Only four Halifaxes made it to 100 missions. Today there are no complete Halifax bombers on display. One is being reconstructed from a plane that crashed in Norway. Several wrecks are on display and the most complete aircraft is at the Trenton Museum, Trenton, Ontario. Check out the 57 Rescue homepage, a bunch of guys working in their spare time to preserve Halifax bombers.
A Halifax Mk. III Bomber
The Mk. I Halifax heavy bomber carried a crew of seven, these being pilot, engineer, bomb aimer/observer, navigator, wireless operator, mid-upper gunner and tail-gunner. It was powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines each generating 1,280 hp using three-bladed, variable pitch, metal propellers. It had a maximum speed of 265 mph (426 km/h) at 17,500 ft (5,300 m), with a ceiling of 22,800 ft (6,950 m) and a range of 1,860 miles (3,000 km). It carried six 0.303 in. machine guns, two in the mid-upper position and four in the tail turret. It was capable of hauling 13,000 lbs (5,890 kg) of bombs or mines.
The Mk. II had more powerful Merlin engines, a single Vickers K machine gun for the bomb aimer and a redesigned tail structure that improved handling characteristics considerably.
The Mk. III was the second major production varient. It had a radical change in engine, with the Merlin being replaced by the Bristol Hercules XVI air-cooled engines each developing 1,615 hp. At the time Merlin engines were in great demand and the AVRO Lancaster with Bristol engines proved to be underpowered, so it got the Merlins and the Halifaxes got the Bristols.
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