Were Photos Taken Of All Halifaxes?

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9 years 7 months

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I was wondering if anybody might know if photos were taken of all Halifax's during the war time? I can only presume that no, there weren't any as there were more pressing issues at the time! My Grandad (Jack 'Johnnie' Walker) flew Halifax's on 10 squadron from around Sept '43 until he and his crew were shot down on a raid on Leipzig on 19-20th Feb '44 and I would like to know what his Halifax (LW324) would have looked like. I am led to believe it was an English Electric built B MKII Series 1A (possibly Special) but everywhere I look photos are different.......would this be simply down to what could be brought to hand at the time of manufacture??? I guess the only way to find out what it would have looked like is to find a photo!? And I can't seem to do that!
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Profile picture for user Beermat

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Not 'bought to hand' - even high-speed wartime manufacture wasn't quite that disorganised (quite the opposite in most cases). This was, after all, a production line not a cottage industry. However, minor modifications would take place all the time during a production run - this might account for the differences you refer to. Consequently, if you can 'bracket' LW324 between other aircraft of which you do have photos, that might be a good guide. There are doubtless Halibag experts on here know much more. Where have you looked? Have you attempted to cross-reference the serial with an aircraft code via RAF records? This might be your best bet, as codes are often discernable where serials are not.
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Quick google search gives ZA-J as the letters to look for! Also 10 sqdn association is very active and can probably help..
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Thanks, What is the serial of the aircraft? What was the purpose of the ZA-J....I understand that ZA would have been on all of 10's halifaxes..... And where are the RAF records held? Thanks again!
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No problem! ZA-J (the code) is, according to www.lostbombers.co.uk, the code allocated to the aircraft with the serial number LW324. To clarify, codes were allocated by the squadron, serials were (and still are) allocated at the point of manufacture. If you look around this forum, you'll find a lot of examples of people trying to match serials to codes! The third letter - the 'J' in this case - is the 'individual aircraft letter', applied to distinguish an individual aircraft within a squadron, written large on the airframe just like the squadron letters (the first two characters) so that it can be easily and quickly identified. Often it would be used as an ident - even a radio 'callsign' - where fighters often used their 'positon' in a section (The classic 'Red Three' kind of thing), bombers would ident themselves 'J for Johnnie', 'C - Charlie' etc. The RAF records, and probably the source of information for 'Lost Bombers', are at the National Archives at Kew. Websites at www.raf.mod.uk/ahb/opensource/ and www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Good luck! Edit - actually, not sure how much further forward this will get you - you already know the Code and the aircraft's fate. They don't really do photo's at these places - at least not in any 'searchable' way. I strongly recommend emailing the 10 Squadron Association.

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Not only that but photography was prohibited on base. Some did take pics anyway and the best choice would be personal photoalbums. You would be very lucky if an official photograph of the aircraft involved would turn up. Chances are very slim however. Good luck with the search. Cees

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halifax lw324 'Halifax File' states this a/c flew firstly with 78 Sq (Breighton) . no photograph(s) i'm afraid but i have met up with a 78 Sq pilot whose log book stated that he set out for Leipzig in LW324 but had to turn back . jettisoning
Profile picture for user ajw

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Aah fantastic stuff! Plenty of places to look! Jettisoning.....I don't suppose that pilot would recall the details of 324 would he?? In particular whether the tail fin was the earlier triangular ones, or the later rectangular? Or any other details of mid upper turret it had etc?? Long shot I know, but worth a try! Many thanks to all who have replied!
Profile picture for user peppermint_jam

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I had the same thing when I was researching a Lancaster crash a while back. I contacted the Avro heritage people to ask if every Lanc was photographed as it left the production line. The answer was sadly no. Sadly the anc I was researching had a mere 5 flying hours on her when she was picked off by a night fighter over France, all on board were lost sadly, so there was not really going to be much chance of me finding a photo of her in service, i did search the Sqn archives, to no avil though. Avro also lost alot of their records to a fire at chadderton in the late 50's also. As has been stated, your best bet is to contact 10 Sqn, or their association. There is a chance that they could have photos in their Sqn history archives. Also, try emiling the records department at the RAF Museum, and the IWM at Duxford. Be aware though, a good percentage of the stuff they hold is not catalogued, you might get lucky though! You can also apply for copies of his service records through the RAF disclosures website, you'll need to supply copies of his death certificate though.

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lw324 still no photographs ! my contact with 78 Sq pilot of this a/c was in 1987 . ironic coincidence that he turned back on this leipzig operation on 03 december 1943 and the a/c was lost on the same target in feb 44 . his log book showed that he flew LW324 a total of 3.05 hrs on this op marked as DNCO 03 12 43 which included 2.30hrs cloud/instruments . failure of P/I (feathered prop) was reason given for DNCO in log book . his route map clearly showed the route straight in across holland and germany as though to attack berlin and turning south 80 miles from berlin itself . 6 route changes were to be made in total . known concentrations of flak were marked . speed changes on different parts of route also indicated . approach to leipzig was to be from the NE and then continue over and through TA before turning NW to osnabruck . jettisoning
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Fascinating stuff jettisoning, thank-you very much! Dad and I are both members of the 10 Squadron Association and we have had conversations with various other members, and they seem to think his plane had the later square fins, merlin engines, the plexiglass front nose and more streamlined mid upper, but I have seen many photos of B MKII Series 1A's that are different! Very frustrating! I will email those places that have been suggested to me. Dad has also told me that he has a copy of service records, but they are in a very safe place.....too safe if would seem as we can't find them! Just out of interest, is 'Halifax File' a book? Sounds like it could be quite useful! Thanks again ajw
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Merlin engines, definitely - or it wouldn't be a MkII. Square fins and plexiglass nose - if you can find an EE one with an earlier serial with these developments then yep, you can be fairly certain that yours did too. Turret - I'm not sure of the sequence here - but I'm sure that's easy to research from looking at serials and 'bracketing' yours.. To reiterate, this was series production, and not a series of 'one offs' with varying features. Think of it like modern car manufacture. All Ford Focusses look largely the same until a new Mark is introduced (Mk II, then Mk III etc). However, if Ford source a new and better ashtray, they may well introduce it on, say, the 3,542nd Focus MkII off the line and every one subsequent to that. So if Focus 4,111 from a particular factory has the improved ashtray, you can be pretty certain that Focus 5,245 does as well. Halifax file is a book, a list of all Halifax's produced by serial, in batches, and their fate. Usually lots of indicative photographs which might help the 'bracketing' exercise. Published by Air Britain in the eighties, I'm not sure how you'd get hold of a copy now.

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HALIFAX FILE THE HALIFAX FILE - Compiled by RN Roberts ISBN 0 85130 098 7 got mine back in 1982 tho ! jettisoning

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Sorry for hijacking this thread but it seems the best place to ask the question. How quickly would a bomber squadron apply the code letter ? If aircraft "B" failed to return from a mission or was sent to another unit when would letter "B" be reused, and would aircraft within the squadron ever be recoded to fill gaps. I ask the question because a friend has a copy of a log book but it only shows aircraft code letters. A quick search of www.lostbombers.co.uk shows that 76 sqn Halifax MP-H was lost on twelve occasions.
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Adding to that question, would there only ever be one plane at any one time coded ZA-A, ZA-B etc......surely then any squadron can only have 26 planes (assuming all the letters were used, and they only had one squadron code!) Oh and I am now awaiting my copy of Halifax File.....Don't think I did too badly for £20!?
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Adding to that question, would there only ever be one plane at any one time coded ZA-A, ZA-B etc......surely then any squadron can only have 26 planes (assuming all the letters were used, and they only had one squadron code!)
` No, there were frequent examples of both British & American Bombers sharing the 'same' individual a/c code-letter (as well as obv's the Sqdn's unique twin-letter code). Obvious example is ED.888 'Mike-Squared', so named as there were TWO Lancasters on strength coded as 'PM-M'.......(except the eventual 140 mission 'Mike-Squared' was marked as 'PM-M' with a small '2' on the upper-right-side of it's 'M' individual code-letter, in the same manner as you'd write a number 2 to represent a character as 'squared' in a maths equation). Also, they'd have (say on a USAAF 9th Air-Force B.26 Marauder) a 'bar' featured above or below an individual a/c's 'I.D' letter, to show & signify that there were TWO a/c in the same Sqdn sharing an individual code-letter. -

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Is this thread still active? Did you find any further info on LW324? One book (that is now out of print) you might consult is "Melbourne 10" (1982) by Brian J Rapier. This is a history of 10 Sqn whilst stationed at Melbourne , Yorks and certainly covers the time frame you are researching. There are many photographs of aircraft and their crews in the book and many (most?) have no descriptions. You might be lucky and find a pic of either your Grandad or LW324 in there. Thee is also a list of operations flown and for some individual participants are noted. I see that a P.O. Walker took ZA-J (HX191) to Leipzig on 3/4 December 1943. Would that be your Grandad as well? The route map for that op is printed in the book. Good luck!
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It is active (well I get emails when there is a reply at least!). Sorry for my delay in replying - I've finally got round to digging out my Grandfathers log books and unfortunately that wasn't him. He flew 4th December 1943 in HX170 ZA-O with F/Lt O'Toule and Sgts McArthur, Hopkinson, Stewart, Lampen, Thorpe and Croal on 'S.E. Training; Base-Bath-Cardiff-Leicester'Base. Total flying time was 2.3 hours. I haven't got that book. Sounds like I need to find me a copy!! Any idea where any are for sale? I am just about to start scanning his flying log books on to my laptop so hope to have a digital copy soon and will gladly send copied to anyone interested (although I don't expect to be finished any time soon - they are about 5 inches thick!)

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Just one point: the glass nose was a factory mod but the square fins were retrofitted to all Halifaxes. The engine and radiators were also changed at about this time - it is this that makes the aircraft a series 1A not the nose. For a brief period there could be quite a selection of differently-shaped aircraft with the same unit.

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I've had another look at Melbourne 10. There is no specific reference at all toLW324, as far as I can see. However it is alluded to in a description of the activities for the night of 19/20 Feb, 1944. The book merely states that two a/c failed to return from Leipzig. As you will now have the Halifax File, you will note that LW324 was in a batch of 32 aircraft delivered between 4 Oct and 21 Oct 1943. Eight of these aircraft went to 78 Sqn. One of the was LW324. By the end of 1943 six a/c had been lost. The two remaining ones were transferred to 10 Sqn. These were LW324 and LW342. So it may well have been that LW324 was only on 10 Sqn for a matter of weeks. LW342 survived the war. Three other a/c from this batch served with 10 Sqn LW322, 332 and 336. They were allocated directly to 10 Sqn. However, whilst there is no specific reference to LW324 in Melbourne 10, there is a reference to an aircraft from the same batch, namely LW332. There is a picture of that aircraft in the book and it states that it was an Halifax B Mk 2 series 1a.. The chances therefore are that if LW332 was an Halifax B Mk2 series 1a. then it is likely that LW324 was also. As Graham says, the engine and radiators were changed about that time. Try and get hold of a copy of LW324's Form 78 from the RAF Museum. That will (should) tell you what engines were fitted. It will also tell you the dates it was taken on charge by 78 Sqn and then 10 Sqn. For a small number of Form 78's the museum has been kind enough to waive the copying charge, and pated them to me for free. BTW. Is your grandad Sgt. B/D.R.G. Walker, MU gunner? If so I have him posted to 10 Sqn wef 19 Aug 1943 from 1658 CU. He would be part of Sgt T. Wilson's crew, if so.