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Handley Page Halifax

Heavy Bomber / Night Bomber Aircraft

The Handley Page Halifax bomber shined in both night-bombing and airborne support roles during World War 2.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 10/16/2018
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Year: 1940
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Manufacturer(s): Handley Page - UK
Production: 6,177
Capabilities: Ground Attack;
Crew: 7
Length: 71.59 ft (21.82 m)
Width: 104.17 ft (31.75 m)
Height: 20.73 ft (6.32 m)
Weight (Empty): 39,000 lb (17,690 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 68,002 lb (30,845 kg)
Power: 4 x Bristol Hercules 100 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,800 horsepower each.
Speed: 312 mph (502 kph; 271 kts)
Ceiling: 23,999 feet (7,315 m; 4.55 miles)
Range: 1,260 miles (2,028 km; 1,095 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 400 ft/min (122 m/min)
Operators: Australia; Canada; Egypt; France; India; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; South Africa; Switzerland; United Kingdom
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.


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).

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Variants / Models

• 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
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