While the Lancaster Heavy Bomber will always be more identifiable in terms of the British night bombing campaigns of World War Two, the Handley Page Halifax series of bombers should be remembered as being just as equally important in that role as well as others.
The Halifax began as the prototype order H.P.56 and originally featured a setup of just two Vulture piston engines. With lingering performance issues readily apparent, the Handley Page company designed another prototype featuring four Rolls-Royce powerplants with the new design designated as the H.P.57. Two H.P.57 prototypes were orders and put through the paces of real flight-testing.
In 1940, the first official production version of the Halifax entered service designated as the Halifax B.Mk I of which 84 total aircraft of this type were produced. The B.Mk I featured 4 x Merlin X's (or "tens") that could generate 1,280 horsepower each. This initial batch of 84 were split into three series in production known as the Series I, Series II and Series III - each featuring minor modifications. The Series II featured an increased maximum take-off weight while the Series III was engineering with greater fuel capacity.
The Halifax B.Mk II introduced the identifiable two-gun dorsal powered turret to compliment the four-gun turret assembly in the tail. Further variations were introduced with a dizzying array of powerplant setups and revised landing gear systems.
The Halifax saw action in other roles during and after the war as well. The transport variants were nothing more than based on original models but placed into the transport role (sans weaponry). Maritime and airborne support models followed this suit as well. Post-war models included the "Halton" civilian transport (these used in the Berlin Airlift operation of post-World War 2) and the C.Mk 8 and A.Mk 9 variants.
In total, production of the Halifax series of aircraft was reported to be 6,177. The bombers were credited with dropping 227,610 tons of bombs through more than 75,530 sorties. In the end, the Halifax bomber proved to be an efficient heavy night bomber capable of fulfilling the other not-so-glorious roles of wartime.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
Production 6,177 Units
Handley Page - UK
Australia; Canada; Egypt; France; India; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; South Africa; Switzerland; United Kingdom
- Ground Attack
71.59 ft (21.82 m)
104.17 ft (31.75 m)
20.73 ft (6.32 m)
39,000 lb (17,690 kg)
68,002 lb (30,845 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Handley Page Halifax B.Mk VI production model)
23,999 feet (7,315 m; 4.55 miles)
1,260 miles (2,028 km; 1,095 nm)
400 ft/min (122 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Handley Page Halifax B.Mk VI production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 7.7mm machine gun in nose
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in dorsal turret
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in tail turret
Internal bomb load of up to 13,000 lb (5,897 kg).
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Handley Page Halifax B.Mk VI production model)
H.P.56 - Initial Prototype Design Designation; 2 x Vulture inline engines.
H.P.57 - Alternative Prototype Design Designation featuring 4 x Rolls-Royce Merlin inline engines of which two were ordered.
Halifax B.Mk I Series I - Initial Production and Service Model featuring 4 x Merlin X's generating 1,280hp each of which 84 were produced.
Halifax B.Mk I Series II - Increased MTOW
Halifax B.Mk I Series III - Increased Fuel Capacity.
Halifax B.Mk II - Featuring engines of the Merlin XX (or "22") variety; Dorsal gun turret introduced; 1,977 produced.
Halifax B.Mk III - Bristol Hercules VI (sometimes XVI) radial engines generating 1,615hp each.
Halifax B.Mk V - Based on Mk II model; Revised landing gear assembly; 904 produced.
Halifax B.Mk VI - Based on Mk III model; Featured Hercules 100 engines generating 1,800hp each.
Halifax B.Mk VII - Featuring Hercules XVI engines.
Halifax C.Mk II - Transport Variant based on Mk II model.
Halifax C.Mk VI - Transport Variant based on Mk VI model.
Halifax C.Mk VII - Transport Variant based on Mk VII model.
Halifax GR.Mk II - Maritime Variant based on Mk II model.
Halifax GR.Mk V - Maritime Variant based on Mk V model.
Halifax GR.Mk VI - Maritime Variant based on Mk VI model.
Halifax A.Mk II - Airborne Support Variant based on Mk II model.
Halifax A.Mk V - Airborne Support Variant based on Mk V model.
Halifax A.Mk VII - Airborne Support Variant based on Mk VII model.
Halifax C.Mk 8
Halifax A.Mk 9
Halton - Civil Transport Variant
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (312mph).
Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Handley Page Halifax B.Mk VI operational range when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
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