Canadian Wings :: The History & Heritage of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Handley-Page HALIFAX

Although it was overshadowed by the Avro Lancaster, the Halifax played a vital role in Bomber Command operations. The Halifax unlike the Lancaster was called upon to serve in a variety of roles including glider towing, maritime patrol and casualty evacuation. The Halifax design stemmed from the same ministry request that produced the Avro Manchester. Both bombers were designed to replace the Wellington, Hampden and Whitley in the medium bomber role. When no twin engine layout was able to produce the needed power Handley-Page proposed the installation of four Rolls Royce Merlin engines, which resulted in taking the aircraft into the heavy bomber role.

Altogether 6176 Halifaxs were built for the RAF, in many versions. Later bombers had more powerful engines, including the 1615 - 1800 Bristol Hercules radial on the Marks III, VI, and VII. The design was improved, with a streamlined nose instead of a turret, to improve her performance and so reduce losses. Some Halifax bombers operated against the Afrika Korps, from Egypt; others flew as special duties squadron, dropping agents and arms by parachute to help the Resistance movement in Europe. In other forms, Halifaxs served with distinction with Coastal Command and as paratroop transports and glider tugs.

Names painted on the sides of RCAF Halifax bombers, like "Willy the Wolf", "The Champ", "Big Chief Wa-Hoo", and "Vicky the Vicious Virgin", reflected the affection that Canadian wartime crews felt for the big four engine bomber type. It could absorb tremendous punishment and still fly home. One Halifax aircraft, named "Friday The Thirteenth", survived 128 sorties. The Halifax was perhaps overshadowed by its larger cousin in Bomber Command, the Avro Lancaster, but many Canadian crews were more than satisfied with the aircraft type and the type was perhaps Canada's most important bomber in World War II.

Designation: Mk I,II,III,IV,V,VI,VII
Model No.: HP 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63
Role: Bomber, ASW, Transport & Glider Tug
Quantity in Service:
84 Mk I, 1,977 Mk II, 2,091 Mk III 904 Mk V, 467 Mk VI, 35 Mk VII
Service: RCAF / RAF
Taken on Strength: 1940
Struck off Strength: 1945
aircraft specifications
CDN Reg:
US/NATO Reg.:
Manufacturer: Handley-Page, English Electric
Crew / Passengers: seven seat heavy bomber
Power Plant(s): four 1615hp (1204kW) Bristol Hercules VI or XVI 14-cylinder two-row radial engines.
Performance: maximum speed 454km/h (282mph); climb to 6095m (20,000ft) in 37 min 30 seconds; service ceiling 7315m (24,000ft); range 3194km (1985 miles) with a 3175kg (7000lb) bomb load
Weights: empty 19,278kg (42,500lb); maximum take-off 29,484kg (65,000lb)
Dimensions: span 30.07m (98ft 8in) or in later aircraft 31.59m (103ft 8in); length 21.74m (71ft 4in); height 6.12m (20ft 1in)
Armament: one 0.303in trainable forward-firing maching gun in the nose position, four 0.303in trainable machine guns in the dorsal turret, and four 0.303in trainable machine guns in the tail turret, plus and internal bomb load of 6577kg (14,5000lb)
Handley-Page Halifax, RCAF



Handley-Page Halifax

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