Personal links to a Second World War bomber crash have been the inspiration behind the new Handley Page Halifax Manual from Somerset publisher Haynes.
As an aircraft-mad schoolboy, author Jonathan Falconer grew up captivated by tales of a wartime Handley Page Halifax bomber belonging to Canadian 425 (Alouette) Squadron, which crashed on a hillside above his adopted town of Bradford-on-Avon. After years of research, and drawing on personal links with air and groundcrews, Jonathan has explored the design, construction and operation of the Second World War Halifax bomber.
Holding an important place in British and Commonwealth aviation history, the RAF’s Halifax flew on most of the main bombing raids over Germany during the Second World War, as well as in operations from Italy, in North Africa and the Far East, and after the war on the Berlin Air Lift. The Handley Page Halifax Manual charts the aircraft’s operational career, including its top secret ‘cloak and dagger’ sorties, maritime patrol and meteorological reconnaissance duties.
As well as offering insights into what the Halifax was like to fly and maintain, the manual also reviews the salvage and restoration of a number of airframes over the past 40 years. This includes the RAF Museum’s celebrated Mk II (W1048) from Lake Hoklingen in Norway in 1973, and the superb renovation of Mk VII, NA337, at the National Air Force Museum of Canada.
Jonathan Falconer, said: “As a boy I heard stories about the Halifax that had crashed onto the hillside above Bradford-on-Avon, and I have been fascinated with the four-engined bomber ever since. V for Victor was the call-sign of the Halifax that crashed, and it was thanks to either luck or judgement that the pilot put the bomber down where he did. A hundred yards more on one side or the other and it would have killed a great many townspeople.
“I was also inspired by my mother’s cousin who was a Halifax flight engineer. His life was cut short at just 20 years old when his 429 (Bison) Squadron Halifax collided over Holland in November 1944 with another Halifax from 578 Squadron, killing both crews. He kept a personal diary of his time on the squadron during the summer and autumn of 1944, which opened a window into his world, enabling me to read about what life was like on a Halifax squadron in Bomber Command.”
The manual is a partner volume to the Haynes Avro Lancaster and Short Stirling Manuals, completing the Haynes trio of the RAF’s wartime four-engine heavy bombers.
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