Handley Page Halifax: Part 1



The following are answers and explanations to the trivia quiz in your Halifax kit. These explanations are taken from various sources and summarized to the best of our knowledge. We hope you had fun with our 50 question trivia challenge!

Ans 1: (A)   Short Sterling

The Short Sterling was the first heavy bomber to enter RAF service, 3 months before the Handley Page Halifax which entered service in November 1940. The Avro Lancaster joined soon afterwards, whereas the Supermarine B.12/36 only reached the prototype stage. The Short Sterling was the first bomber to go into combat during the night of 10/11th February 1941 where three Stirling bombers bombed fuel depot facilities at Vlaardingen Rotterdam.

Ans 2: (A)    17th June 1909

Handley Page Limited was founded by Frederick Handley Page on 17th June 1909 as the

UK’s first publicly traded aircraft manufacturing company. The company, based at Radlett

Aerodrome in Hertfordshire, was noted for its pioneering role in aviation history and for

producing heavy bombers and large airliners such as: Handley, Halifax, Halton, Hastings,

Hermes, Victor, Jetstream.

Frederick Handley Page started building planes at Woolwich, Fambridge and Barking Creek. In 1912, Handley Page moved from Barking to Cricklewood and established an aircraft assembly plant. Planes were built then flown from the company's adjacent airfield known as Cricklewood Aerodrome. This airfield was later used by Handley Page Transport. The aircraft factory at Cricklewood was later sold off to Oswald Stoll and converted into Britain's largest film studios, Cricklewood Studios. By the late 1960s, the British aviation industry was dominated by just two companies; Hawker Siddeley and the British Aircraft Corporation. In 1970 Handley Page Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation and was closed down.

Ans 3: (B)      George Rudolph Volkert

The Halifax heavy bomber was created by a design team led by George Rudolph Volkert.

* Barnes Wallis was the chief designer of the Vickers Wellington.

* Roy Chadwick was the chief designer for the Avro Lancaster.

* Claude Lipscomb was the chief designer of the Short Sterling.

The Short Sterling was the first heavy bomber to enter RAF service, 3 months before the Handley Page Halifax which entered service in November 1940. The Avro Lancaster joined soon afterwards, whereas the Supermarine B.12/36 only reached the prototype stage. The Short Sterling was the first bomber to go into combat during the night of 10/11th February 1941 where three Stirling bombers bombed fuel depot facilities at Vlaardingen Rotterdam.

Ans 4: (C)    Air Ministry

Upon its service acceptance, the HP57 (L7244) was given the service name Halifax in keeping with the Air Ministry’s naming convention for bomber aircrafts. This name followed the standard practice of naming heavy bombers after major towns – in this case, Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In September 1941, a production Halifax Mk.I participated in an official naming ceremony, officiated by Lord Halifax and Lady Halifax.

Reginald Spencer Stafford  was the designer of the Handley Page Victor aircraft.

Ans 5: (A)     25th October 1939 

The first Halifax, (L7244) HP57 flew at RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire, on 25th October 1939.


In 1935 a pre-prototype H.P.55 reached its final design stage. It was in response to a Royal Air Force Specification B.l/35 requirement for a bomber powered by two 24-cylinder Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. The design needed further development and the HP.55 was never built.

In 1936, Handley Page, Ltd., prototyped the Halifax in response to a Royal Air Force (RAF) requirement order Specification P.13/36, designated H.P.56, for a bomber powered by two 24-cylinder Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. However, the Vulture encountered problems in development and was never built.

Ans 6: (B)    11th October 1940

After the initial prototype flight on 25 October 1939, a second prototype (L 7245) flew on 17th August 1940.Once the initial testing was completed, the Halifax went into production. The first Halifax from the production line (L 9485) flew on 11th October 1940. The first production Halifax was powered by four 1,280hp Merlin X engines and had a top speed of 265 mph. L9485 was used to trial different turrets and as is shown in the photograph below, it was very well armed but heavy.


Ans 7: (A)     13th November 1940   

The Handley Page Halifax entered RAF service on13th November 1940. It quickly became a major component of Bomber Command, performing routine strategic bombing missions, many of which were performed at night.

The Halifax made up to 40% of Britain's heavy bombers in World War II.

Ans 8: (B)     RAF Leeming   

The first Halifax squadron, No.35, was formed at RAF Leeming in November 1940. It was soon being supplied by production aircraft, and on 5th December, 1940, No.35 Squadron moved to RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

Ans 9: (D)     Tail rudders   

The twin tail rudder fin design of the early Halifax bombers had a distinctive pointed (slightly triangular) appearance. Although this design was adequate during most flight conditions, they had a tendency to lock if overloaded whilst undertaking violent manoeuvres.

This design flaw rendered the pilot unable to control his Halifax causing a number of aircraft to crash due to what was described as ‘unknown circumstances’. Furthermore, flight operations were relatively done at low altitudes leaving little time for crews to escape. This resulted in a heavy loss rate and poor initial reputation. 

The rudder control issue was rectified with modifications as soon as it was identified. However, it was not until the introduction of the much improved Halifax Mk.II version, with a total re-designed rectangular tail fin unit, that the problem was finally eradicated.

Ans 10: (C)     11/12th March 1941   

The first Halifax operational flight was on the night of 11/12th March 1941. Six Halifaxes from No.35 Squadron, L9486, L9488, L9489, L9490, L9493 and L9496, attacked Le Havre. However, the build-up of Halifax production was initially slow due to a number of teething troubles that needed resolving.

The first daylight raid, on 30th June 1940, was an attack on Kiel, northern Germany. July 1941 saw a successful attack on the German battleship Scharnhorst at La Pallice, France and the German battleship Gneisena.

At the end of 1941, Halifaxes were finally withdrawn from daylight bombing operations as a result of intensifying fighter opposition having increased the casualty rates resulting from such raids.

Ans 11: (B)   6,178

Halifax production totalled 6,178, including 4,751 bombers. At the time of its peak strength, Bomber Command operated a total of 76 squadrons that were equipped with the Halifax.

During their service with Bomber Command, Halifaxes flew a total of 82,773 operations and dropped 224,207 tons of bombs, while a total of 1,833 Halifaxes were lost in all operations.

Ans 12: (D)    Per Hour

At the peak of production, there were no less than 41 separate factories and dispersed units, along with 600 subcontractors. Over 51,000 employees were involved in the Halifax manufacturing programme; as a result, one Halifax was being produced every hour.

Ans 13: (A)      Erks 

Crews who had survived several "Ops" (operations) would often have a particular aircraft assigned to them whenever possible. That aircraft would have its own ground crew (known as "Erks") assigned to it. The term “erks” originated from Cockney English pronunciation for aircraftsman.

During the day, ground crews would briefly "air test" their assigned aircraft to ensure that it was working properly. This would involve crewmen personal equipment, oxygen supply, heated flight suits and machine guns were all ready. Erks would be on standby ready to correct any problems identified once the bomber returned and landed. They would often be very protective of their plane often referred to as, "old girl". If an aircraft became unserviceable or lost, the “erks” would be assigned to take a spare aircraft.

M.U: Maintenance Unit: An airfield where aircraft were taken to be repaired when the work could not be done on the squadron base.

Rigger: ground crew responsible for airframe (special areas might include "instrument basher" and "sparks" to look after instruments and electrical systems).

Ans 14: (C)    Handley Page Halifax 

The Handley Page Halifax was the first and only RAF bomber to serve in the Middle East. The first Halifax presence in the Mediterranean theatre was established in 1942. It operated there with No.462 Squadron, which was made up of detachments from No.10 and No.76 Squadrons, stationed at Aqir in Palestine, forming 249 Wing. Their first raid was on Tobruk on the night of 1/2 July.

It was the only British four-engined bomber in the Middle East to bomb the Afrika Korps or German Africa Corps, an expeditionary force lead by Erwin Rommel, during the North African Campaign from Egypt. In September, 249 Wing became No. 462 Squadron (RAAF Royal Australian Air Force). No. 178 Squadron also received a number of Halifaxes in May 1943.

In January 1944, No. 462 Squadron eventually became the pathfinder squadron for the bomber forces in the Mediterranean campaign. They also took part in the invasion of Sicily, and then Italy. On 3rd March 1944, having moved to Italy, the squadron was renumbered as No. 614 squadron. It was intended to reequip it with Liberators, but it retained the Halifax almost to the end of the war.

The Halifax also saw limited service in the Far East in 1945. No. 1341 flight operated a small number of Halifax B Mk IIIs with radar jamming equipment from Digri, India, from May 1945. In July 1945, No 298 squadron, equipped with 24 Halifax A Mk VIIs moved to Raipur as part of the force being gathered for the invasion of Japan.

Ans 15: (C)     7 Crewmen



Bomb Aimer

Wireless Operator

Flt. Engineer

Mid-Upper Gunner

Rear Gunner

Ans 16: (A)    Halifax

The Halifax was mostly recognised as a night-time bomber over Europe. However the Halifax took on many other duties and roles.

Nine squadrons of Halifax operated in the RAF's Coastal Command for anti-submarine, meteorological, and shipping patrols.

The 614 squadron used the Halifax on various Pathfinder roles. Pathfinders are target-marking squadrons that located and marked targets with flares, which the main bomber force could aim at, increasing the accuracy of their bombing). In this role they were equipped with blind bombing navigation aids such as Gee, Oboe and H2S radar.

RAF Transport Command used the Halifax as an ambulance, casualty, freight, paratroop deployment and for personnel transport.

They were also used by ‘Special Duties’ Flights and Squadron units which were involved in dropping secret agents and supplies to Resistance cells behind enemy lines.

It was the only aircraft capable of towing the large Hamilcar glider. It also towed other glider types at the invasion of Sicily and Normandy as well as at Arnhem and the final crossing of the Rhine.

Ans 17: (D)     All of the above   

The Handley Page Halifax filled a vital role by the Airborne Forces who named it ‘Hali’ or ‘Hallie’. It was the only aircraft capable of towing the large Hamilcar glider in various invasion operations.

In addition to dropping bombs, it transported paratroops, special operations teams, reconnaissance and supplies. The Halifax also became known as the ‘Halibag’ (used by the RAF and RCAF) due to its versatility of its cargo or personnel that can be dropped or landed from its so called carry-‘bag’. 

The Halifax was also nicknamed the ‘Halibasher’ due to its reputation of its ruggedness and to strike a crushing blow in its bombing raids. It was responsible for dropping more than a third of all RAF’s bombs on Germany.

Ans 18: (D)     All of the above   

Rolls-Royce Vulture

The pre-prototyped Halifax P.H.55 was powered by two 24-cylinder Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. However, the Vulture encountered problems in development, and the bomber design was reworked.

Rolls-Royce Merlin

The result was the first official prototype, the H.P.57. A four-engined, Rolls-Royce Merlin, heavy bomber of mid-wing design with a twin tail that first flew in October 1939. It entered production in the following year, and began active service with Bomber Command in March 1941.

Bristol Hercules

The shortage of Merlin engines led to the production of several hundred Halifaxes powered by more-powerful Bristol Hercules air-cooled radial engines. These entered service in early 1944 and were an improvement over Merlin-engined Halifaxes.

Ans 19: (B)     C. J. Barton   

The only Victoria Cross awarded to any Halifax pilot was given to Pilot Officer Cyril J. Barton of No. 578 Squadron. Barton displayed great gallantry in bringing home his heavily damaged Halifax III (LK 797) after a raid on Nuremberg on the night of 30/31 March 1944. Barton continued to fly the Halifax while other crew members bailed out. He crash-landed at Ryton Colliery, Northumberland and lost his life while saving all his crew members. Memorials to P/O C.J. Barton can be seen on the site of Ryton Colliery and also in Selby Cathedral.

Ans 20: (D)     All of the above   

The Mk.II with the more powerful 1280hp Merlin XXII engines, appeared in early 1942, and during its production run various modifications was made. One of those changes was to reduce drag. The Halifax Mk II Series IA upper nose turret was replaced by the smooth "Z-fairing".

This was because:

- the initial upper front powered gun turret added a lot of weight onto the airframe. 

- it affected flight stability, control and drag when it moved from side to side.

- the threat of a frontal attack was deemed low, especially during night operations.

The nose was further developed and replaced with a longer streamlined moulded Perspex bubble with a single machine gun. This became the standard upon future Halifax variants.

Ans 21: (B)     29th August 1943   

In 1943, the most numerous variant of the Halifax design, B Mk III, was introduced; 2,091 of this variant were eventually built.

Halifax B. Mk.III was the definitive version of the Halifax and was the main production variant of this important aircraft.

It was considered equal to the celebrated and highly successful Avro Lancaster. With more powerful Bristol Hercules engines, better defensive armament and longer, more rounded wing tips. The Mk.III was similar to B Mk.II but with 1,615hp Bristol Hercules VI radial engines and a gross weight increase to 64,000lb (29,056kg). Its prototype converted from the B Mk.II Series 1 (Special), flew on 12 October 1942. The first production of the Mk.III was on 29 August 1943.

Production Mk.Ills (HP.61) had retractable tailwheel, D-type enlarged fins, Hercules VI or XVI engines, Mk.II Series 1A type nose with single gun plus four-gun mid-dorsal and tail turrets and in some cases. It also increased its fuel capacity and all but a first few had a longer wing span.

The total production of the Halifax III was made from

HP at Radlett (326),

English Electric at Samlesbury (900),

LAPG at Leavesden (260),

Rootes Securities at Speke (280) and

Fairey Aviation at Stockport (325);

The first deliveries were made on November 1943 to No. 433 Sqn. RCAF (Canadian) and No. 466 Sqn. RAAF (Australian), and used by 41 operational squadrons in 1944/45, principally in No.4 and No.6 Groups.

Ans 22: (B)     11   

Eleven countries used the Halifax in their military and Halton’s in their civilian operations.









South Africa;


United Kingdom


During WW2 the Halifax was operated by squadrons of the RAF,

RCAF Royal Canadian Air Force,

RAAF Royal Australian Air Force,

FFAF Free French Air Force, and Polish forces.


After WW2 the Halifax served in the

Royal Egyptian Air Force,

Armée de l'Air

and Royal Pakistan Air Force.



Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda


Louis Breguet

South Africa

Alpha Airways

United Kingdom

Bond Air Services, British American Air Services, British Overseas Airways Corporation, Westminster Airways, Worldair Carrier

Ans 23: (C)     2nd May 1945   

On April 25th, 1945, the Halifax flew its last bombing operation of the war in an attack on coastal gun batteries on Wangerooge in the Frisian Islands of the North Sea.

The 'last' wartime operation by a Halifax was on a 'Special Duties Operation' from North Creake to Kiel Germany, undertaken by No. 171 Squadron on 2nd May 1945. After the war Bomber Command quickly disbanded the majority of its Halifax-equipped squadrons and the aircraft themselves were transferred to Transport Command.

Ans 24: (B)     1961   

After the war, the majority of Halifax bombers were deemed to be surplus to requirement and scrapped by 1947.  However, the Halifax remained in widespread service with Coastal Command and RAF Transport Command, Royal Egyptian Air Force and the Armée de l'Air until early 1952. The last operational service flight, (G.R. VI) with the RAF Coastal Command No.224 Squadron, was in 17th March 1952 while operating from Gibraltar.

The Pakistan Air Force, which had inherited a number of Halifax bombers from the RAF, also continued to operate them and became the last military user of the Halifax, retiring the last aircraft in 1961.

Ans 25: (C)     37   

Pre-Halifax Designs

H.P. 55

1: Proposed twin-engine bomber aircraft: never built.

H.P. 56

2: Proposed twin-engine bomber aircraft, fitted with two Rolls-Royce Vulture engines: never built.

H.P. 57

3: H.P.57 - The first Halifax prototype.

4: Halifax Mk. I - The second prototype.

5: Halifax B.I Series I

Four-engined long-range heavy bomber aircraft: first production version.

Armament consisted of nose turret with two guns, tail turret with four guns and two beam guns.

6: Halifax B.I Series II

Stressed for operating at a higher gross weight.

7: Halifax B.I Series III

Re-engined aircraft: with Merlin XX engines, new upper turret replacing beam guns, revised undercarriage and additional centre-section fuel tanks.

H.P. 58

8: Halifax Mk II

Projected prototyped variant with revised armament: including 20mm cannon and no tail turret. The Mk.II project was cancelled due to problems with the new armament. The design was given to H.P.59 variant.

H.P. 59

9: Halifax Mk II

New variant series: with increased take-off weight, fuel and weapons carriage.

10: Halifax B.II Series I

First series of the bomber variant fitted with TR1335 navigation aids.

10: Halifax B.II Series I (Special Operations Executive, SOE)

Used for dropping supplies over Europe. Nose armament and dorsal turret removed, the nose being faired over, as well as changes to the fuel vent pipes and exhaust shrouds.

12: Halifax B.II Series I (Special)

Similar to the SOE, these were employed in bombing roles. This version was more varied in appearance, especially the fitting of dorsal armament. Some retained the standard Boulton Paul "Type C" turret in different mounts with others mounting a "Type A" turret and some with no dorsal turret, similar to the SOE-aircraft.

13: Halifax B.II Series IA

Modified with new glazed Perspex nose section; new radiators and a new "D" fin shaped rudder. The dorsal turret was enhanced to a four-gun Boulton Paul Type A Mk VIII. The Bombay door seal was improved and some were fitted with H2S radar.

14: Halifax B.II Series I, Freighter

Used in the transport role across the UK (unmodified SOE-aircraft) and in the Middle East (simple modifications to allow carriage of engines or Spitfire fuselages).

15: Halifax B.II Series II

Only one was made (HR756): modified with three-blade ‘Dowty Rotol’ propellers and Merlin 22 engines.

It was rejected and replaced by the Mk III version.

16: Halifax A.II

A few Halifaxes from the airborne forces were converted into B.IIs. They might have been designated A.II or may have retained their bomber designations.

17: Halifax GR.II

Halifax B.II. Coastal Command variant.

18: Halifax GR.II Series I

A few Halifaxes were converted from Series I or Special to GR.II standard to having differences in dorsal armaments. The main difference was the fitting of a ASV.Mk 3 radar in an H2S type fairing. Sometimes, a (12.7 mm) machine gun was fitted in the faired nose.

19: Halifax GR.II Series IA

The definitive Coastal Command variant of the GR.II with glazed Perspex nose mounting (12.7 mm) machine gun, Merlin XX or 22 engines, B-P A-type dorsal turret and extra long-range fuel tanks in fuselage. A ventral turret holding a single (12.7 mm) machine gun was mounted on most aircraft although some employed the ASV.Mk 3 radar in its place.

20: Halifax Met.II

A meteorological variant of the B.II, designated Met.II.

H.P. 61

21: Halifax B.III

The Halifax main production variant: fitted with Bristol Hercules engines. B.III bombers were fitted with transparent nose dome with single machine gun, Boulton Paul dorsal turret with four guns and tail turret with four guns. Some B.IIIs had extended round wingtips.

22: Halifax A.III

Halifax B.III bombers converted into glider tug and paratroop transport aircraft.

23: Halifax C.III

Halifax B.III bombers converted into military transport aircraft.

H.P. 63

24: Halifax B.V

Four-engined long-range heavy-bomber: powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engines with same armament as B.III.

25: Halifax B.V Series I (Special)

26: Halifax A.V

Halifax B.V bombers converted into glider tugs and paratroop transport aircraft.

27: Halifax GR.V

Coastal Command variant: Halifax B.V bombers converted into maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

28: Halifax B.VI

Four-engined long-range heavy-bomber: powered by four 1,615 hp (1,204 kW) Bristol Hercules XVI radial engines with H2S radar and no dorsal turret.

29: Halifax C.VI

Halifax B.VI bombers converted into military transport aircraft.

30: Halifax GR.VI

Coastal Command variant: Halifax B.VI bombers converted into maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

31: Halifax B.VII

Four-engined long-range heavy-bomber: powered by four 1,615 hp (1,204 kW) Bristol Hercules XVI radial engines, round wing tips and same armament as B.III.

32: Halifax A.VII

Halifax B.VIIs converted into paratroop transport and glider tug aircraft.

33: Halifax C.VII

Halifax B.VIIs bombers converted into military transport aircraft.

H.P. 70

34: Halifax C.VIII

Cargo and passenger transport aircraft.

H.P. 71

35: Halifax A.IX

Paratroop transport and glider tug aircraft.


36: Halton I

Post war interim civil transport version: converted Halifax bombers into civilian transport aircraft.

37: Halton II

VIP transport aircraft for the Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda.

                                                                     Halifax L7244, (H.P. 57) 1940 

                              Halifax L7245, circa 1941                                                              Halifax L9485; the first production Halifax

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