Handley Page Halifax

The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engine heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force 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 and Polish Air Force. 

Handley Page Halifax
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Handley Page Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1939
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia View
Canada View
France View
Pakistan 1940 1961 View
United States of America 1940 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Handley Page Limited 6176 View
Total Halifax production was 6,176 with the last aircraft delivered in November 1946. In addition to Handley Page, Halifaxes were built by English Electric, Fairey Aviation, Rootes Motors (Rootes Securities Ltd.) and the London Aircraft Production Group. Peak production resulted in one Halifax being completed every hour.

The Halifax entered service with No. 35 Squadron RAF at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in November 1940 and its first operational raid was against Le Havre on the night of 11-12 March 1941.

In service with RAF Bomber Command, Halifaxes flew 82,773 operations, dropped 224,207 tons of bombs and lost 1,833 aircraft.[3] In addition to bombing missions, the Halifax served as a glider tug, electronic warfare aircraft for No. 100 Group RAF and special operations such as parachuting agents and arms into occupied Europe. Halifaxes were also operated by RAF Coastal Command for anti submarine warfare, reconnaissance and meteorological roles.

Postwar, Halifaxes remained in service with the RAF Coastal Command and RAF Transport Command and the Arme de l'Air until early 1952. The Pakistan Air Force which inherited the planes from the RAF continued to use the type until 1961.

A number of former RAF Halifax C8s were sold from 1945 and used as freighters by a number of mainly British airlines. In 1948 the air freight marked was in decline but 41 civil aircraft were used in the Berlin Air Lift operating a total of 4,653 freight sorties and 3,509 sorties carrying bulk diesel fuel. Nine aircraft were lost during the airlift but as the aircraft returned to England most civil Halifaxes were scrapped.

Role Heavy bomber
Manufacturer Handley Page
First flight 25 October 1939
Introduction 13 November 1940
Retired 1961 (Pakistani Air Force)
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Free French Air Force
Produced 1940–1945
Number built 6,176

General characteristics

  • Crew: 7
  • Length: 71 ft 7 in (21.82 m)
  • Wingspan: 104 ft 2 in (31.75 m)
  • Height: 20 ft 9 in (6.32 m)
  • Wing area: 1,190 ft (110.6 m)
  • Loaded weight: 54,400 lb (24,675 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Bristol Hercules XVI radial engines, 1,615 hp (1,205 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 282 mph (454 km/h) at 13,500 ft (4,115 m)
  • Range: 1,860 mi (3,000 km) combat
  • Service ceiling 24,000 ft (7,315 m)
  • Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 45.7 lb/ft (223.1 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.12 hp/lb (195 W/kg)


  • 8 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns (4 in dorsal turret, 4 in tail turret), 1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun in nose
  • 13,000 lb (5,897 kg) of bombs

End notes