Handley Page Halifax

RAF and Coastal Command heavy bomber Handley Page Halifax.
History, development, service, specifications, pictures and 3D model.

Halifax Mk II Series 1

An early new Halifax Mk II Series 1 with Boulton-Paul two-gun dorsal turret, on factory test.

Handley Page Halifax
RAF and Coastal Command heavy bomber, patrol bomber, anti-submarine, cargo transport, paratroop carrier, glider tug.


Though the Handley Page Hailfax never attained the limelight and glamour of its partner, the Avro Lancaster, it made almost as great a contribution to Allied victory in World War II, and it did so in a far greater diversity of roles.

Planned as a twin-Vulture bomber to Specification P13/36 with a gross weight of 26,300 lb (11.93 t) it grew to weigh 68,000 lb (30.84 t) as a formidable weapon platform and transport that suffered from no vices once it had progressed through a succession of early changes. By far the biggest change, in the summer of 1937, was to switch from two Vultures to four Merlin engines. A godsend, as it turned out, so the Handley Page Halifax didn’t had the same troubles as the Avro Manchester.

Handley Page Halifax Mk I

This Handley Page Halifax Mk I was one of the first production batch in 1940. Serving with 76 Sqn it had manual beam guns and prominent fuel-jettison pipes passing beneath the flaps. The picture must have been taken from the right beam gun position of an accompanying Halifax, in mid-1941.

The first 100 Halifaxs’ were ordered on 3 September 1937. This version, the Mk I, had a 22ft (6.71 m) bomb bay and six bomb cells in the wing center-section. Engines were 1,280hp Merlin X and defensive armament comprised two 0.303in Brownings in the nose turret, four in the tail turret and, usually, two in manual beam positions.
The first squadron was No 35 at Linton on Ouse and the first mission Le Havre on the night of 11/12 March 1941.
The Mk I Srs 2 was stressed to 60,0001b and the Srs 3 had more fuel.

The Mk II had 1,390hp Merlin XX and Hudson-type twin-0.303in dorsal turret instead of beam guns. On the Mk II Srs 1 Special the front and dorsal turrets and engine flame dampers were all removed to improve performance. The Mk II Srs 1A introduced what became the standard nose, a clear Perspex molding with manually aimed 0.303in Vickers K, as well as the Defiant-type 4 x 0.303in dorsal turret and 1,390hp Merlin XXII engine. Later Srs 1 A introduced larger fins which improved bombing accuracy.
One of these, with radome under the rear fuselage, was the first aircraft to use H2S ground-mapping radar on active service.

In November 1942 the Mk GR.II Srs 1A entered service with Coastal Command, with 0.5in nose gun, marine equipment and often four-blade propellers.

The Mk III overcame all the performance problems with 1,650hp Hercules engine and DH Hydromatic propellers, later Mk IIIs having the wings extended to rounded tips giving better field length, climb, ceiling and range.
The Mk IV (turbocharged Hercules) was not built. The Mk V was a Mk II Srs 2A with Dowty landing gear and hydraulics (Messier on other marks), used as a bomber, Coastal Command patrol bomber, for anti-submarine warfare and meteorological aircraft.

The Mk VI was the definitive bomber, with 1,800hp Hercules 100 engine and extra tankage and full tropical equipment.
The Mk VII was a Mk VI using old Hercules XVI engines.

The Mk C.VIII was unarmed transport with large quick-change 8,000 lb (ca. 3,629 kg) cargo pannier in place of the bomb bay and 11 passenger seats; it led to the post-war Halton civil transport.
The Mk A.IX carried 16 paratroops and associated cargo.

The Mk III, V, VII and IX served throughout Europe towing gliders and in other special operations, including airdropping agents and arms to Resistance groups and carrying electronic countermeasures (ECM) with 100 Group.

Total production amounted to 6,176, by HP, English Electric, the London Aircraft Production Group (London Transport), Fairey and Rootes, at a peak rate of one per hour.

Final mission was by a GR.VI from Gibraltar in March 1952, the Army de l’Air phasing out its B.VI at about the same time.

Users: UK (RAF), Australia, Canada, Free-French, New Zealand.

Animated 3d model of Handley Page Halifax Mk II

Data for Handley Page Halifax Mk II


Handley Page Halifax Mk IIdata
Typeheavy strategic night bomber
Power plant four Rolls-Royce Merlin vee-12 liquid-cooled 14-cylinder two-row sleeve-valve radial engines with 1,390 hp each
Wing span 98 ft 10 in
Length overall 70 ft 1 in
Height overall 20 ft 9 in
Weight empty 35,270 lb
Weight loaded 60,000 lb
Maximum speed 270 mph
Initial climb 750 ft/min
Service ceiling 23,000 ft
Range 1,100 miles (with maximum bomb load); maximum range 1,850 miles


Handley Page Halifax Mk IISpecification
Power turrets2 (mid-upper and tail); each with 4 x 0.303in Browning machine guns
Manually in nose1 x 0.303in Vickers K machine gun
Total machine guns9
Bomb loadinternal fuselage bay bomb load up to 13,024 lb (ca. 5,908 kg)

Service statistics:

Handley Page Halifax Mk IIfigures
First flight (prototype)25 October 1939
Production delivery (Mk I)11 October 1940
Service delivery (Mk I)23 November 1940
First combat mission (Mk I)11 March 1941
First flight Mk IIIJuly 1943
Final delivery20 November 1946
Withdrawal from serviceMarch 1952
Total production figure Total: 6,176
Operations in WW2 82,773 (73,312 as bomber)
Losses 2.232 (37.08 ops per loss)
Bomb tonnage on targets 224,207 (3.06 tons per bomber op)
Survival rate for night bombing missions average of 20 night bombing-missions in c.6 weeks. The first five missions for a new crew were the most dangerous ones, where about 40 per cent of all planes were lost.

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