Handley Page Halifax Mk I (HP 57)

Handley Page Halifax Mk I (HP 57)

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Handley Page Halifax Mk I (HP 57)

B Mk I Series 1

The first production Halifaxes were powered by the 1,075 hp Merlin X engine. They carried 1,552 gallons of fuel in six tanks located between the two engines on each wing, with the capacity to add fuselage tanks to bring the maximum capacity up to 2,242 gallons, although this would massively reduce the bomb load.

The normal bomb load was 13,000 lbs. This remained constant throughout the Halifax's career. The bombs were split between one main bomb bay in the fuselage, capable of carrying 10,000 lbs of bombs and six mini bomb bays between the inner engine and the fuselage, each capable of carrying 500 lbs of bombs. This would later make the Halifax suitable for anti-submarine warfare, with depth charges in the wings and fuel in the main bomb bay.

Defensive firepower was provided by two Boulton Paul turrets – a two gun Type C in the nose and a four gun Type E in the rear, both armed with .303in Browning machine guns. In addition the Mk I could carry two Vickers gas-operated guns on each side, in staggered positions, which allowed both sets of guns to be operated at the same time. However, these guns were fired through open windows, which forced the gunners to wear heated flight suits if they were not to freeze!

Fifty Mk I Series Is were produced. The first production aircraft flew on 11 October 1940. No. 35 Squadron was the first unit to carry out a raid with the Halifax – a raid on Le Havre that saw one aircraft shot down by friendly fire while returning to base.

B Mk I Series 2

The main change made to the Mk I Series 2 was increased strength, which allowed an increase in total weight from 55,000 lbs on the Series 1 to 60,000 lbs. Twenty five Series 2 aircraft were produced.

B Mk I Series 3

Nine Series 3 aircraft were made, with relatively minor changes from Series 2. Fuel capacity was increased to 1,882 gallons by adding a fifth 122 gallon tank beyond the outer engine. Fuel jettison pipes were also added, to allow the pilot to jettison fuel before making an emergency landing. Series 3 aircraft used an engine cowling designed for the Merlin XX engines used in the Mk II. In total 84 Mk I Halifaxes were produced.

Handley Page

Handley Page Limited was a British aerospace manufacturer. Founded by Frederick Handley Page (later Sir Frederick) in 1909, it was the United Kingdom's first publicly traded aircraft manufacturing company. It went into voluntary liquidation and ceased to exist in 1970. 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.

Handley Page Halifax Mk I (HP 57) - History

The Handley Page Halifax was a Royal Air Force (RAF) four-engined heavy bomber of the Second World War.

Handley Page H.P.57 Halifax

The Handley Page Halifax was a British four-engined heavy bomber. The aircraft was a mostly orthodox design, a mid-wing monoplane with a tail unit featuring twin fins and rudders. The Halifax featured all-metal construction with a smooth, stressed skin covering the majority of the exterior surfaces the flight control surfaces were an exception, being fabric-covered instead The slab-sided fuselage contained a 22-foot bomb bay, which contained the majority of the Halifax's payload, while the cockpit was flush with the upper fuselage.

The Halifax was powered by four engines, two spaced evenly on each wing. Early production Halifax bombers were powered by models of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine later aircraft were commonly powered by the larger Bristol Hercules radial engine. To contain and attach the engines to the airframe, Handley Page developed their own design for the power egg instead of using the typical, slimmer Rolls-Royce counterpart despite generating increased drag, this in-house design was readily adaptable to the alternative Hercules engine on later aircraft.

Each engine drove a Rotol-built compressed wood constant-speed propeller, enabling the Halifax B.I to attain a maximum speed of 265 MPH at 17,500 feet. With a typical payload of 5,800lbs of bombs and 2,242 Imp gal of fuel, it had a range of 1,860 miles. The defensive armaments included power-assisted gun turrets in various positions located across the aircraft. Different models of the Halifax used different numbers and combinations of turrets, effectively trading speed for firepower and vice versa

Handley Page Halifax Mk III

The Handley Page Halifax was a four-engined heavy bomber model operated by the British Royal Air Force during World War II. The Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing. It was a contemporary of the Avro Lancaster.

The Halifax I and II aircraft were powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and the Halifax III was powered by Bristol Hercules engines. Apart from the role as a heavy bomber, the Halifax III and later versions also served in Coastal Command and in paratrooping and glider towing roles with the Airborne Forces. Halifax production totalled 6,178, the bomber versions flying a total of 75,532 sorties in the Second World War.

Handley Page produced the H.P.56 design to meet Air Ministry Specification P.13/36 for a twin-engine medium bomber for "world-wide use". Other candidates for the specification included the Avro 679, and designs from Fairey, Boulton Paul and Shorts all were designed around a two-engine installation, using the Rolls-Royce Vulture, Napier Sabre, Fairey P.24 or Bristol Hercules. Most of these engines were under development. While four-engined bombers were considered for specification B.12/36 for a heavy bomber, wings mounting two engines were still in the experimental stage requiring testing at the RAE and the resulting increase in overall weight of stronger wing meant further strengthening of the whole aircraft structure.

Following consideration of the designs by the Air Ministry in February 1937, the Avro design was selected with the Handley Page as "second string" and two prototypes of each were ordered. The introduction of the successful P.13/36 candidates was delayed by the necessity of ordering more Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley and Vickers Wellington bombers first. For quicker delivery Avro and HP.56 designs were ordered "off the drawing board" in mid-1937. At the end of July, Handley Page was told to redesign the HP.56 for four engines rather than two, as the Vulture was already suffering technical problems. The Avro Manchester was built with Vultures and entered RAF service, but also suffered from engine problems.

HANDLEY PAGE HALIFAX HO-57/B-VI – Pakistan Air Force

Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four engine heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing. The Halifax was also operated by squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Pakistan Air Force and Polish Air Force.

First two Halifax were delivered in 1948, used the aircraft was used during 1948 Kashmir War for night-time supply drop missions at Skardu and other northern areas of Pakistan. 6 ex-RAF Halifax B-VI were delivered in 1949, equipping No.12 Heavy Bomber Squadron raised in March 1950. Squadron converted to a composite squadron of four flights, including one flight of Halifax bombers, in September 1953.

Eventually all Halifax aircraft were transferred to long-term storage in 1954 and then disposed of as salvage.


Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada) is an aircraft recovery and restoration group that operates world-wide and is international in its scope and mandate to save the Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers that flew with the RAF and RCAF in World War Two.

From the early days of our group, when we set a world’s record for a heavy bomber underwater recovery with a lift of RAF Halifax NA337 from 240 meters depth in Lake Mjosa, Norway to the “impossible” but successfully completed deep swamp recovery of RCAF Halifax LW682 in Belgium, with her missing crew still on board, Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada) has done its duty to bring the legend and important history of the Halifax bomber back to the people of Canada and the world.

Our mission is to bring home Halifax's to Canada and the historic aviation world for these Halifax's are the unknown and hidden symbol, thanks to the media and press, of the great effort and sacrifice of our RCAF and RAF bomber crews who gave all of us our Freedom and peace that we enjoy today.

In the years to come, as we search out our holy grail of RCAF Halifax LW170 laying in the deep off of Ireland as well as all the other Halifax's we can find, we will not rest for we know the following to be a fact.

On every street, in every town of our nation, are families whose fathers, grandfathers, and uncles flew in bombers. The majority of these crew (in Canada over 60%) flew their beloved Halifax's, above all others, to Victory in World War Two.

People all over the world long for a true symbol of the excellence and honour of their heroes in a just cause. There was and still is no better symbol to Canada, and the world, of a mighty Sword of Freedom wielded by young warriors who defeated tyranny and it is the HANDLEY PAGE HALIFAX.

General info

Flight performance

Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 4,115 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 436 420 7620 35.0 35.8 3.8 3.8 750
Upgraded 478 454 33.2 34.0 9.9 6.5


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
541 260 491 454 260

Survivability and armour

  • 6.35 mm steel in front and floor of the cockpit
  • 8 mm steel behind the pilot and in rear fuselage bulkhead

Modifications and economy


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Permitted use for these purposes:


Use this image under Non-Commercial licence.

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Handley Page Halifax Mk I (HP 57) - History

Originally designed to meet the Air Ministry's specification B.13/36 requesting designs for a twin-engine bomber. The Handley Page twin-engine design designated the HP-56, called for the use of two Rolls-Royce 24 Cylinder Vulture engines. These newly designed engines, which also power the Avro Manchester, were soon to prove unreliable, difficult to service and more importantly were only available in limited production quantities. Upon realising the drawbacks of the Vulture, Handley-Page redesigned the HP-56 to accept four of the proven and widely used Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and it would be under this new design, designated HP-57 or Halifax Mk.I, that the aircraft would enter service with the Royal Air Force.

In October 1938, the Air Ministry placed an order for 100 production aircraft straight off of the drawing board. But due to development and other unforeseen problems it would not be until October 25, 1939 that the first prototype aircraft (L7244) would make its first flight. Almost another twelve months would past before No. 35 Squadron, RAF stationed at Leeming began to trade in their Blenheim Mk. IV's for their new Halifax Mk.I's. However, it would not be until the night of March 11/12, 1941 with an attack against Le Havre, that the aircraft finally flew operationally and in doing so became the RAF's second four-engine heavy bomber to fully enter service.

The Halifax however, suffered through several initial teething problems. The most serious of which was that the rudders had a tendency when exposed to violent maneuvers, to overload, jam and therefore become ineffective. When this happened the pilot usually was unable to free the rudder from its locked position and several crashes initially determined to be caused by "unknown circumstances" were eventually traced to this problem. This design flaw along with other minor problems, were to lead to the Halifax squadron's suffering higher than expected losses in the aircraft's early months of service. Various modifications were made to the initial rudder design, including limiting the amount the rudder could be moved, but the problem was not completely eliminated until the introduction of the Mk.III, which had a rectangular, rather than a triangular shaped rudder.

In addition to the revised rudder, the Mk.III also took on a totally new appearance. Where as the Mk.I's had a front turret, a bomb aimers' nose blister, similar in configuration to the Avro Manchester and later the Lancaster, the Mk.III's nose section eliminated both the turret and bomb aimer blister. Replacing these with a streamlined plexiglas nose fairing, which allowed the bomb aimer adequate downward visibility and also included a single 0.303" machine gun on a pivot mount. This also slightly improved the overall performance of the aircraft, although this was probably due more to the replacement of the in-line Merlin X engines with 1,615 hp Bristol Hercules VI radial engines.

Regardless of the aircrafts' early shot comings, the Halifax was to prove itself as a study and reliable aircraft and played a major role in Bomber Commands' offensive against Germany. It was generally liked by the aircrews who flew it and when the time came, very few are said to have had any desire to swap it for the so called "superior" Avro Lancaster.

Although, the Mk.III was by far the most numerous of the variants built, a total of six different variants were to roll off of the production lines. The major differences between each being mainly visual, but also included different engine types, the shape of the nose and the presence or absence of a mid-upper turret.

In addition to its designed roll as a heavy bomber. The Halifax also performed sea mining operations, resupply drops to the resistance groups, performed as a gilder tug and also severed with Coastal Command. During the post war years, Halifaxes were also converted for use as civilian passenger and transport aircraft.

Watch the video: Halifax Aircraft


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