The first prototype of the heavy bomber Handley Page “Halifax” took off two years earlier than the legendary “Lancaster”, and its combat use began in March 1941. According to official data, until the end of the war, Halifax completed 82,773 sorties and dropped 224,000 tons of bombs. The total losses of Halifax bombers were 1,833 out of 6,178 built.
Work on the “HALIFAX MK.II. SERIES.I” (F.435) model kit began at the end of 1974, when “Rovex Models and Hobbies” company was not in the best economic situation (which could not be said about the FROG trademark, which was not unprofitable until liquidation in 1977). British specialists managed to prepare a complete set of working drawings, but the decision to release this model kit under the FROG trademark was never followed.
The history of one of the most famous aircraft of the Handley Page company began in 1936, when the P.13/36 specification was issued for the development of a twin-engine medium bomber, which was to replace the AW.41 “Whitley” and Vickers “Wellington” aircraft, recently adopted RAF. Four projects were submitted for the competition: Avro “Manchester”, Handley Page H.P.56, Hawker P.13/36 and Vickers “Warwick”. Regardless of the type, all aircraft were to be powered by Rolls-Royce “Vulture” inline engines.
Work on H.P.56 began in 1936, and a discussion in the ministry took place in February 1937. The aircraft was an all-metal monoplane with a two-fin tail. The landing gear was tricycle, completely retracted in flight: the main struts, together with the wheels, were retracted into the fairings of the engine nacelles, and the tail wheel was folded into the fuselage niche. The aircraft was supposed to be equipped with machine gun turrets.
Soon, improvements were made to the project – the bomber became four-engine, and the main landing gear was retracted into the fairings of the engines closest to the fuselage. This entailed an increase in the wingspan from 27 to 30 meters and an increase in mass by 5900 kg. In September 1937, the updated project received the designation H.P.57, but due to the higher priority of work on the Avro “Manchester”, the Handley Page aircraft was still considered a secondary one.
The initial contract provided for the construction of only one prototype of the H.P.56, but due to the changed situation, it was decided to build two H.P.57. The approval of the scale maquette took place in March 1938, after which Handley Page started making working drawings.
The first flight of the prototype took place on October 25, 1939, when World War II had already begun. Soon the second prototype was submitted for testing, but the “Vultutre” engines had defects and it was decided to replace them with the “Merlin” X.
The RAF headquarters, even before the start of the tests, ordered 100 serial bombers of the modification “Halifax” B.Mk.I. Differences from the prototype consisted in the increased length of the bomb bay to 6.7 meters and the presence of six compartments in the wing consoles for small-caliber bombs – this provided a maximum bomb load of up to 5900 kg. Defensive armament consisted of 6-8 Vickers K (7.71 mm) machine guns: two in the Type C nose turret, four in the Type E tail turret and one machine gun each in the sides (not on all aircraft).
Aircraft “Halifax” had many modifications and they mainly entered the Royal Air Force. At the same time, a number of modifications were developed for the Coastal Command, as well as for transport and special tasks. Since the Mk.II modification, the aircraft’s internal designation has changed several times.
After the end of World War II, “Halifax” bombers began to be massively withdrawn from parts of the first line. By the end of 1947, almost all of them had left the RAF and were dismantled. However, with the Coastal Command, RAF Transport Command, Royal Egyptian Air Force and Armée de l’Air, they continued to be used until 1952. The longest “Halifax” operated in the Pakistani Air Force, where the last aircraft of this type was decommissioned in 1961.Handley Page "Halifax" - второй прототип, 1940 г.
The Handley Page “Halifax” heavy bomber model kit may well have appeared under the FROG trademark twice, but by coincidence it happened only once – immediately after the end of World War II, “International Model Aircraft” company released first “Handley Page Halifax” model kit. By and large, it was a set of wood and paper blanks, which was part of the Penguin 9 series and had an internal index of 931.P9. Officially, the availability of this model was announced in January 1946, but it appeared on the shelves of British stores a little later.
The first and last attempt to create a model of a plastic bomber dates back to 1974, when the FROG trademark was owned by the “Rovex Models and Hobbies” company. This model kit was supposed to complement the series of heavy bombers, which later included the B-17E (F.213), B-24J (F.437), “Wellington” (F.214), “Lancaster” (F.215) and “Halifax” (F.435).
The chief engineer for the project with the index F.435 was N. Sutton. Most of the drawings were completed between October and the second half of December 1975. It was assumed that the design of the model kit will include two variants – a bomber and a Special (SOE) variant.
Despite the very high level of detail “Rovex Models and Hobbies” was unable to start production of “Halifax” model kit. The project remained at the “paper” stage – in 1976, the drawings were submitted to the archive.
Their further path is unknown, but in 2018, an almost complete package of documentation was bought by one of the British second-hand booksellers and resold it to administrators of Retromodels.ru website, which made it possible to put these historical values on the site in a scanned form.
Which British manufacturer was FROG’s worst competitor? Of course, “Airfix”! Therefore, we will start the review of analog models with it.
The release of this model in 1/72 scale, which had the box name “Handley Page Halifax B.Mk.III” and the index in the catalog is 584, took place in 1961 (according to other sources – in 1962), when FROG was focusing on airliners and unpopular models like the Airspeed “Oxford”. By modern standards, this model looks old-fashioned, but at the time there was no alternative to it.
Of the most significant shortcomings (again, based on modern value judgments), one can note the not very accurate geometry of the main parts, oversized imitation of rivets, empty landing gear niches, the absence of an interior for the cockpits and the disproportionately thick plastic of some glazing elements. In addition, the bonnets are molded together with the engine. However, this did not prevent experienced modelers from assembling a beautiful bomber model.
In total, the “Halifax” model had about ten releases (including two from American “Airfix” issues and one issues from “MPC”), and the last release in updated packaging took place in 2014.
In addition to this, various “detail sets” are periodically issued for the sets from “Airfix”, which allow not only to enrich the model with detailing, but also to correct the mistakes of the developers. In addition, there are a small number of conversion kits, where some of the most interesting are “Handley Page Halifax C8 / Halton” (7072) from the Spanish company “Magna Models” and “Handley Page Halifax VIII & Halton” (72:7) from the British company “Maintrack Models”.
After Airfix its model was released by the company “Lesney”, which was then better known under the trademark “Matchbox”. In 1979, a kit was released under the box name “Halifax GR.II Series IA / B.Mk.I / II” (PK-604) with Merlin engines. This model was made in three-color plastic (black, brown and dark green, not counting two sprues with transparent details) and contained a decal for three design options:
Handley Page “Halifax” B.Mk.I – No.76 Sqn.RAF, L9530/MP-L, Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, June 1941
Handley Page “Halifax” B.Mk.II – No.10 Sqn.RAF, L9619/ZA-E, Leeming, Yorkshire, February 1942
Handley Page “Halifax” GR.II Series IA – No.58 Sqn.RAF, HR792/G “A”, St.Davids, Wales, 1943
The Matchbox kit included parts for two types of vertical empennage and fuselage bows. The glazing was very rich, but in terms of interior detailing, no special improvements were observed in comparison with the model from “Airfix”. Again, it was the general geometry that “Matchbox” always had some problems with.
After the bankruptcy of Lesney in June 1982, the production of the “Halifax GR.II Series IA / B.Mk.I/II” model continued – three more editions were issued, and in 1992 the index was changed to 40604.
The tragic finale of Matchbox took place in 1995, when many molds for aircraft models were bought by “Revell” and partially re-launched into production.
During 2004-2006. the bomber model “Halifax” was produced both under the trademark of the main owner (“Handley Page Halifax B Mk.I/II, GR.II”, 04394), and under the brand of the Canadian company “Modelcraft” (“Handley Page Halifax BI / B. II / BV”, 72-060). It is worth noting that there were three decal options in the Canadian kit.
A new part of the history of the “Halifax” bomber model from the “Revell” company is associated with its own development, the release of which took place in 2011. The model with the box name “Handley Page Halifax B Mk.I/II-GRII” (04670) can rightfully be considered the best at the moment, not only in terms of high detail (there are only 12 sprues with colored plastic parts in this set!), but also copies.
Further, in 2015, the model “Handley Page Halifax B Mk.III” (04936) was released, which included new parts for glazing and radial engines Bristol “Hercules”, which almost completely removed the issue with the species diversity of modifications.
Despite all these advantages, the model from “Revell” did not gain much popularity among modelers (at least, they did not sing special praises in its honor), and on the other hand, it was produced in a relatively small series, so at the moment there is a little work to be done to find it for reasonable money. One of the reviews of the “Revell” kit can be found on the Scale Modelling Now.
For a long time, information on the FROG Handley Page “Halifax” prefab was only found in a book by Richard Lines and Leaf Hesström. According to the FROG registry, it was indexed F.435.
After 30 years, it seemed that the technical documentation for “Halifax” was irretrievably lost, but in 2019 the editorial board of the Retromodels.ru website managed to find a second-hand bookseller in the UK who, about a year earlier, had bought the remains of the “Frog” archive from the previous owner … who was going to dispose of “a few kilograms of waste paper” as unnecessary. In total, 92 sheets with drawings (approximate format from A4 to A0) and three sheets with specifications were purchased. However, the number of sheets themselves did not coincide with the accepted numbering system, and some of them generally had duplicate numbers. A more detailed “debriefing” led to very interesting conclusions …
Starting in 1974 to create a model called “HALIFAX MK.II. SERIES.I” engineers from “Rovex” company set a maximum task for themselves, which partly related to another project, which also remained only at the “paper” stage. As mentioned earlier, the book about FROG mentions the name of Dick Ward, but in fact the first part of the work was performed by engineers Dennis Parry and N.Sutton, who from October 1974 to November 1975 prepared at least 80 sheets with drawings. It remains unclear what was originally planned, but closer to the final, there were two variants of the model and two decals for the RAF in development:
“Halifax” Mk.II Srs.I – bomber with three Boulton-Paul turrets
“Halifax” Mk.II Srs.I (Special) – a special variant with a new nose section and without an upper turret
What the developers of the Rovex company tried to implement is a bit amazing. To begin with, the selected modification “Halifax” Mk.II Srs.I was not the most widespread and therefore even today it is difficult to find detailed documentation. Modifications with radial engines Bristol “Hercules” are much more popular – as an example, you can cite the B.Mk.III, the model of which was first released by the firm “Airfix”. Further, apart from the small parts of the chassis, antennas and interior, the project included separate parts for some pilot figures (!!!) and composite “glass” parts of the bow and stern turrets. But if the increased detailing of the glazing is perceived in our time more or less familiar, then the “combined” pilots look kind of strange. But only at first glance.
And here we have a reference to one of the “secret” projects FROG, dating back to the second half of 1975. This development did not receive its own name in the FROG registry, but the drawings have numbers from K.1158 to K.1164 and the name “W.W.II Crew” in the signatures. It was in them that separate elements of the “arm-torso” type were assumed, but already at a higher quality level. It is possible that the developers decided to no longer include pilot figures in the molds for new models, but instead to make one standardized set and release it for everyone separately. However, this is just a theory.
Despite the fact that as of November 1975 the set of working drawings was about 80-85% ready, numerous changes began to be made to the model. Based on the specification sheets dated December 12, the total number of drawings was 92, and the number of parts themselves was then estimated at 146 pieces. At the same time, from October to December 1975, some of the small parts were developed or completely redesigned by engineer J.E. Vincer with a change in their numbering. However, the December specification retained the old number ordering. So what has been redone?
The vertical tail washers were “reshaped” from large parts, each of which initially included two halves, but the drawing dated October 10, 1974 was rejected, and then completed in one piece. The wheels of the landing gear, the dipole antenna, the cockpit floor, the antenna mast, the RPK fairing and the lower part of the upper turret were also altered. Some of these improvements were fully justified from the point of view of increasing the copy number of the model, but otherwise the improvements made only delayed the development process.
Meanwhile, the Rovex company has already agreed to sell the molds to the Soviet Union and to stop work on the most expensive projects, which included the model with the F.435 index. The latest drawings date back to early January 1976, when it was already clear that FROG’s “Halifax” would never see the light of day as a plastic model …
Now you can talk about this project for a long time, but do not forget that the parent concern Dunbee-Combex-Marx began to experience great economic difficulties, for the solution of which there was no longer enough own funds. In addition, the FROG model, even the best, would compete with the Airfix model, which has been selling very successfully since 1963. Thus, in the short term, it was simply not necessary to rely on the recoupment of the cost of manufacturing the production tooling. “Matchbox” did not lag behind, preparing the release of its model for 1979.
In such a situation, the production of not only molds for “HALIFAX MK.II. SERIES.I ”, as well as the production of not the cheapest castings, would be too heavy a burden for the FROG trademark and would only hasten its liquidation. At the same time, now we have a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the surviving drawings in order to understand how grandiose for 1974-1976. Below is a list of blueprints currently listed as lost:
43501 – Niblett W.W.II Pilot
43513 – Seated W.W.II Crew Member
43516 – Mid Upper Turret Guns
43522 – Arm Left Hand
43544 – Exhaust R.H.
43571 – Fuselage Half Port
43572 – Fuselage Half Stbd
43593 – no data
43596 – no data
As of December 12, 1975, the Rovex specification for the “HALIFAX MK.II. SERIES.I” (F.435) indicated nine groups of drawings, divided according to the decimal scheme. In fact, there were more drawings, since since March of the same year, work has been carried out to improve the designed model kit with reworking the drawings and changing their numbering. Halifax Mk.II Series I. F.435 Specifications
22.12.1975 (Compiled by N.Sutton)
Links (model kit):
IPMS\USA Reviews – Halifax B III
HS Features – Handley Page Halifax B.III by Simon Wolff
Modelling Madness – Matchbox 1/72 Halifax by Scott Van Aken
Britmodeller.com – 1/72nd Matchbox Halifax- FINISHED
Flying Tigers – The Handley Page Halifax, Latest Hobbymaster Pre-Order Models & Easter Sale !
Canadian Warplanes 3: Handley Page Halifax
ADF-SERIALS – RAAF Handley Page Halifax Mk.II & Mk.III
В.Морозов “”Крепкий середнячок”: Английский бомбардировщик Хендли Пейдж “Галифакс”” (“Авиация и Космонавтика” 2018-04)
Н.Н.Околелов, С.Э.Шумилин, А.А.Чечин “Бриллианты британской короны” (“Моделист-конструктор” Спецвыпуск 2007-02)
Дениэл Дж.Марч “Английские военные самолёты Второй Мировой войны”. Москва. АСТ\Астрель. 2002
D.Nicolle “Fury over Palestine” (“Air Enthusiast” 2007-04)
Philip J.R.Moyes “The Handley Page Halifax B.III, VI, VII” (“Profile Aircraft” 11). Profile Publications. 1965
C.H.Barnes “Handley Page Aircraft Since 1907”. London. Putnam & Company, Ltd., ISBN:0-85177-803-8. 1987
Francis K.Mason “The British Bomber since 1914”. London. Putnam. ISBN:0-85177-861-5. 1994
Richard Lines, Lief Hellstrom “Frog Model Aircraft 1932-1976”. New Cavendish. 1989. ISBN-13:978-0904568639