View Full Version : Halifax/Halton

30th Dec 2007, 22:41
UK to East Africa 1948 to 1950.I know that Yorks, Lancastrians, Hermes and Solents did the route.Anyone know if if a Pax Hastings or Halton did the route? Be most grateful . Thanks

31st Dec 2007, 08:34
In summer 1947 Haltons are shown as operating London/Malta/Cairo 3 per week.
In 1948 they were operating to West Africa but had been sold by early 1949.

31st Dec 2007, 10:13
Many thanks,so an aircraft change down to Nairobi,will follow that up.

31st Dec 2007, 10:48
Again in the summer 1947 timetable BOAC had 4 Lodestar fights a week from Cairo down to Nairobi.
They must have been replace by Dakotas shortly afterwards and then by a York service through from the UK.

31st Dec 2007, 11:38
Whilst pregnant with me my Mother,Aunt and two cousins flew on one of the last Solent flights to Lake Navasha. My Aunt and the elder cousin did the trip a year or so before.they say in a Halifax,just trying to tie it down, too much time off this time of year!

31st Dec 2007, 12:45
I found this -"From 24 September 1950 the Solents from Southampton to Lake Naivasha were replaced by a London/Rome/Cairo/Khartoum/Nairobi Hermes service"

eagle 86
2nd Jan 2008, 00:30
Considering the time of year that was one miracle of a pregnancy!!

2nd Jan 2008, 12:49
Jesus was a Capricorn too you know.

4th Jan 2008, 10:50
The Hastings (a Hermes but with tailwheel undercarriage) was only used by the RAF, not commercially. I have seen a couple of photos on the web of one actually at Nairobi so it seems to have been a standard point for them.

The Halton (a civilianised version of the Halifax, of course) was a pretty uneconomic aircraft to operate. BOAC used them only as long as they had to, they were all withdrawn by 1948. They were then all sold to a youthful Freddie Laker, as dealer, who moved them on to operators such as Bond Aviation Services for the duration of the Berlin airlift (1948-9). They appear to have operated latterly almost entirely as freighter only. There were some unmodified Halifaxes also used on the airlift which commercial operators took as a type of last resort.

Operating to East Africa by 1949 were several operators. BOAC initially went back to flying boats, there are 4 Solents per week from Southampton to Nairobi in the 1949 BOAC timetable, in addition to a weekly BOAC DC3 from Aden to Nairobi. Two independents, Airwork (from Blackbushe) and Hunting (from Bovingdon), operated Vickers Vikings on charter-come-scheduled operations to Entebbe/Nairobi, with lots of fuel stops and indeed nightstops (the Viking being a short-range aircraft) a couple of times a week; the main passengers were colonial expat civil servants and their families, and employees of the abortive "Ground Nuts" plantation scheme in East Africa.

South African offered the best service by 1949 to East Africa, 4 times a week DC4s to Nairobi.

Just in case it looks like I am being harsh on the qualities of the Halifax, above, my father was a navigator on the in WW2 and always held them in high regard.

6th Jan 2008, 18:52
Most impressed by what you guys out there know.
Very many thanks,

9th Jan 2008, 07:52
My Father was on 202 Sqn at Aldergrove in the late 40s. This was a meteorological reconnaissance squadron that used to fly over the Atlantic collecting weather data for the forecasters. I believe it was the last Halifax unit in the UK only being outlasted for another squadron in Gibraltar. His claim to fame was that in 1944 he flew the met trip on 518(?) Sqn that led to the postponement of D Day by 24 hours.

I lived in what was half of the WRAF officers’ quarters that had been converted to a married quarter so I used to have a grandstand view of theirs and the Spit 22s of the RAuxAF prangs.

In 1949 the squadron got two white ones to make up the numbers and one of them [email protected] was written off when it undershot an approach and the BABS van took out the port mainwheel.

Another one cocked up an asymmetric landing and charged between ATC and the Belfast hangers and spread itself all over the coal dump. One of its Messier undercarriage assemblies nearly made it to the front door of the Officers Mess.

On one occasion he put me in the nose position whilst he did a brake check up and down Aldergrove’s runways, just the two of us. On the final northerly run the brakes failed and he had to gun No 4 so that it ground-looped though 202’s dispersals, fortunately empty at the time. It was also very fortunate that it didn’t hit anything and plug the nose in, with me in it.

Spares were always a problem but my father had spent some time at the end of the war ferrying brand new Halifaxs up to Edzell in Scotland which was the Stirling and Halifax disposal unit. Landing on a runway lined with aircraft awaiting the axe with hydraulic and other problems that had not been sorted after building was something else. Armed with this knowledge he would take a dozen fitters from Aldergrove to Aberdeen who would then go down to Edzell to cannibalise the spares they needed.

He also had a great regard for the aircraft having flown it in both Europe and Palestine.

9th Jan 2008, 11:07
Fascinateing,my Father flew Lancasters in Palestine.

10th Jan 2008, 10:02
He may have been in the same job. Not bombing but dropping paratroopers.

10th Jan 2008, 12:00
Now here's a funny thing - my father (sadly here no more) also flew Halifaxes in Palestine. I'm trying to get hold of his flying records to see exactly where he was and when. Also as mentioned on another thread, my late Dad spent some time in the National Library of Scotland (during the 80's after the thirty year rule expired) trying to discover why he survived and colleagues flying the earlier Halifax did not. It was down to the original vertical stab(s) configuration which was just scaled up from traditional HP design at the time - and faulty when the counterbalance jammed the rudders. But after many accidents modified amidst much security. Hence I am here :}

Footless Halls
11th Jan 2008, 09:20
I thought I read that the problem with the square-profile Halifax rudders was an irrecoverable rudder-stall?

11th Jan 2008, 09:45
Footless Halls it was the Halifax I and early IIs with the triangular vertical fin that had the rudder overbalance problem. This was cured by fitting the rectangular fins to the B II Mk V. This configuration was carried on through the rest of the Halifax & Halton production run. Apparently this was only done when Butcher Harris personally called Fred Handley-Page and said something on the lines of "please stop your aeroplanes killing my aircrew".

11th Jan 2008, 09:51
LowNSlow Correct - but they decided to keep the details of the decision secret for another thirty years after the war...:suspect:

11th Jan 2008, 09:59
A good round-up here:


12th Jan 2008, 02:22
Trying to remember my father talking about flying Halifaxs all those years ago.

He said it was very important to lead with an outer engine when opening up in the air, IIRC it was No 4 with Hercules and No1 with Merlins. This was because even with square rudders there was not really sufficient yaw stabilisation to cope with the wrong outer delivering full power before the rest.

A feature of the engines was that the props were in line with the cockpit so engine syncronisation was carried out by ‘ghosting’ the props. The inners were balanced by reference to the radio operators eyeballs and by looking through an inner prop disc one would adjust the outer so that the stroboscopic effect would render the prop apparently stationary.

When flying on three with any outer feathered, quite common with the Hercules oil gulping habits, any increase in power to correct, say on the approach, the inners were ALWAYS brought up before the remaining outer.

An additional problem was carried over to the Meteor. Undercarriage lowering was a hit or miss affair as to which mainwheel went down first. The Messier undercarriage had loads of built in headwinds and could slew the aircraft quite effectively when one led all the way.

The fins where all built the same way to the end. The square ones merely had fairings riveted to the original triangular fins. De Haviland continued with the Vampire T11, the long fin fairings were again riveted over the original fins.

12th Jan 2008, 07:58
I suppose several of us here spent our childhood hearing about experiences on the Halifax.

My father :) may have been the navigator ("now then, you worked at the bank, you'll be good with mathematics, nav position for you ...") but the descriptions of issues along the way mainly concerned others.

Failure of the guns became an issue as winter advanced, which on subsequent testing turned out to be fine, although a lot of engineering time was wasted trying to sort it out. Finally traced during an air test where he stood behind the gunner, to the chaps wearing new issue thick gloves, the air freezing, the trigger being a bit small and fiddly .... you can guess the rest.

Although the base (RAF Topcliffe, Yorkshire) was not a training base they did circuits there and some of the chaps from conversion were really not ready yet, so there were several low speed crack-ups. This was appreciated (though not by the CO) as spares were in short supply and an aircraft that could be robbed was valuable and soon stripped.

Speaking of the CO, King George VI came to visit the base. Everything polished to the nth degree. All Halifaxes in straight lines with props perfectly balanced. King is walked around, comments on everything being perfectly tidy. CO is chuffed. King continues "... how do you have time for this, don't you have a f...ing war to fight" (yes, quite literally apparently). CO goes scarlet and says nothing for the rest of the visit.

Must have been cold up there in the winter, especially on the way home with flak holes in the fuselage. On one occasion his moustache froze and broke off - a story he loved to tell in later years.

I still have his RAF issue hammer, which was used to whack many fuses into bombs in its time. It is going to be used to do some repairs on my garden fence later today. Apart from a little split at the end of the wooden handle still in perfect condition.

12th Jan 2008, 10:02
Just on the off-chance, the Halifax Dad flew in the Middle East was named 'Minnie the Moocher'. Any memories/connections please?

13th Jan 2008, 01:52
I'll put an oar in for my Dad as he spent a long time on Halifaxs. Flying one of the Bismuth (met trips) in the Atlantic he lost one and then a second engine, luckily not on the same side. The Met Halifaxs were very heavy with extra tanks and suchlike and it was only by throwing overboard everything that was moveable that he managed to nurse it some 600 miles to Shannon. The weather being so bad that ditching would have been suicidal.

The RAF were pretty pleased about it because they awarded him the Air Force Cross.

We missed out on the Buck House shindig because KG VI was indisposed so he got his from the station commander.

A few months later, tragically, another crew dissappeared whilst on a Bismuth trip. Ther was an extensive sea and air search that lasted a week but they couldn't find any trace of them.