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The Halifax bomber

Heroes Remember

That's what the squadron were using when we arrived. And there were two main Halifaxes. There were the first one with the Merlin engines, and it was called the Mark II. It was rather badly under-powered, and just at this time as we were arriving, they were getting the new Halifaxes with the radial engines, which added, I think, about 340 horse power to each of four motors. So, at this time, the CO, who was Joe Lacombe from Quebec, I flew with him one day. He was bouncing his brand new Hali and, which you didn't do, you didn't bounce the old one, the same as you didn't bounce the Wellington. Anyway, he was having great fun bouncing it. So it had loads of power, very, very fine bomber. Now, I, I know the people that flew Lancasters would be all worried about me praising the Hali, but the Hali 4 was just as powerful as a Lancaster. It had some, a couple of small, inferior ceiling. It flew at 19,000 feet, where the Lanc would fly at 22. And I think the Lanc also did slightly faster, maybe 15 or 20 mph faster than the Hali. But it didn't take a bigger load. We had big loads. In fact, my log book shows in great many cases the load that we actually

Video of Veteran showing his bombing log book.

carried. Well, by today's standards, it was pretty small. The wingspan of 103 feet, the length of about 72, and four motors of course. And our craft normally would carry 8,000 pounds of, of bombs. Of course, now, this varied depending on where you were going. If you’re going on long missions, you had to cut your bombs down seriously to add petrol tanks. And we had, our plane had petrol tanks in the wing, and there were, there were drop tanks too, and, which carried extra load, and you dropped the whole thing as, as it was emptied. But normally we carried about, about four ton, about 8,000 pounds.

Mr. West now serving aboard a Halifax bomber describes the different models of the Halifax, the specifications of the aircraft and some of the differences between it and the Lancaster bomber.

James West

Mr. West was born in June 1924, in the town of Hopewell, New Brunswick. He is he youngest of three children, one brother and one sister. Mr. West grew up on the family farm and attended school completing grade 11. In June 1942, he decided to leave school and enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Mr. West took his basic training in Lachine, Quebec. After basic training he spent the winter in Mont Joli, Quebec, where they had a bombing and gunnery school. Mr. West got his first taste of flying near Trois Rivieres, getting 8-12 hours of instruction before getting a chance to solo in a Tiger Moth, and a Finch Fleet. Unfortunately Mr. West washed out of flying school and was transferred back to Lachine, Quebec, for the purpose of being retrained as a bomb aimer. He then was transferred to Fingal, Ontario, to take up training as a bomber/gunner.

Mr. West left Canada for England, via Halifax, on board the vessel the Empress of Scotland, taking nearly six days to cross the Atlantic, arriving in Bournemouth, England. Not long after he was transfered near Stratford on Avon where he underwent updated training to the Wellington aircraft.

Mr. West completed his training and was assigned to serve with the 420 Squadron in the Yorkshire Valley. From December 1944 until May 1945 Mr. West took part in 31 missions. He completed his tour of service just before the end of the war in Europe. He signed up to serve in Japan but the war there ended while he was on route back in Canada.

After the war Mr. West married his girlfriend within a year of his discharge from the Air Force and attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. After graduation he got work in Scarborough, Ontario, with an Engineering firm as a technician and designer. Later he was able to transfer to Moncton where he retired next door to the farm that he grew up on.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James West
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
420 Squadron
Bomb Aimer/ Assistant Navigator
Bomb aimer/ Assistant Navigator

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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