Handley Page Halifax B Mk. I/II/GRII
The second of the RAF’s famous four-engined ‘heavies’ to enter service, the Halifax was originally designed to meet the same Air Ministry Specification as the Avro Manchester. In common with the Manchester, the H.P.56 design was developed from a twin-engined design into the four-engined bomber that we are all familiar with. Although overshadowed in popular culture by the Avro Lancaster, the Halifax was built in prodigious numbers and served with enormous distinction.
The type’s first operational raid was on the French city of Le Havre on 11 March 1941. By the end of the war it was reckoned that the Halifax had dropped 224,207 tons of ordnance on Hitler’s Fortress Europe, at the cost of nearly 2000 aircraft lost. The Halifax was a versatile design and it adapted for a wide range of roles including anti-submarine warfare, reconnaissance and electronic warfare. The Halifax continued to serve after the end of the Second World War and examples of the type were still in service with the Pakistan Air Force in the early 1960s.
It feels like a lifetime ago that Revell announced their Halifax, and despite rumours that the kit would actually be a re-release of the old Matchbox mould, we are finally able to hold a brand new Halifax in our hands. The kit arrives in the same deep, end-opening box as the Revell B-17G released back in March. Inside are 13 sprues holding an impressive 338 parts (not all of which are used – more of this later). A this is a brand new kit, it should come as no surprise that it is beautifully moulded with crisp, finely engraved panel lines – certainly finer than the aforementioned B-17.
In common with the B-17, it features a nicely detailed interior. Inside the front fuselage there is a full set of parts to represent the cockpit and the crew stations for the engineer, radio operator and navigator. The instrument panel, radio and other equipment feature nice, raised details, although a few decals are provided if you don’t fancy painting these parts by hand. The fuselage sidewalls are also detailed with raised ribbing at the front and rear ends. The roof of the bomb bay sports two large wing spars, which should give the finished model plenty of strength. This is the same method of construction used in the B-17 kit. It worked very well for that model, so it should work equally well here.
The main landing gear bays have to be assembled before the wings. They feature some fairly simple but reasonably delicate surface details and should look fine once in place. The wings themselves slide onto the aforementioned wing spars and hopefully will fit as well as the wings on the B-17. The doors for the wing bomb cells are heavily engraved on the inside, which should make them easy to open up. This tees things up nicely for the aftermarket producers, and I’d be amazed if we didn’t see some kind of detail set, photo etch or resin, for these areas within a matter of months. Turning to the engines, there are 4 different types of engine exhaust to choose from, so you will need to check references carefully for the particular aircraft you want to model. The shape problems that the three-bladed airscrews suffer from are already well-documented (not pointy enough) but this will be no trouble at all to put right with aftermarket alternatives. The wing tips are separate parts so it may well be that a B Mk. III with extended wing tips will appear at some point.
All of the control surfaces are moulded separately, so a number of different configurations can be depicted. Both pointed and squared vertical tails are provided. Two different types of main gear legs are provided as well. The bomb bay doors are moulded in a single piece scored down the middle. This part will need to be cut in order to depict the bomb bay in the open position. The doors will also need to be scribed lengthwise to represent a hinge line that Revell have missed. The bomb load is taken care of by ten bombs, and an H2S radar fairing is included for the GR.III version. Yet more options are catered for on the clear sprue, including a choice of noses and turrets.
Two marking options are included:
Halifax B. Mk. II Series I, 405 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, based at Topcliffe in July 1942; and
Halifax GR. Mk. II, 58 Squadron, Royal Air Force, based at Stornoway in Early 1945. The decals are the usual Revell fare: crisply printed, nice bold colours but slightly matt.
Those modellers that have spent the whole year nervously checking the latest newsletters from Revell in anticipation of this kit won’t be disappointed. A few minor niggles aside, this has all the components of an excellent kit and it should build up into a beautiful replica of an important and often overlooked aircraft. To paraphrase Harold MacMillan, fans of British aircraft have never had it so good. Now I wonder what treasures 2012 will bring?