A tour inside Halifax bomber LV907 ‘Friday 13th’ at Yorkshire Air Museum

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Photos of crew positions in Halifax LV907

Note I have uploaded full sized images which are better for detail but may take a while to load.

Cutaway diagram showing crew positions of a Halifax bomber. Numbers relate to images detailed here.

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1. Bomb Aimer and Front Air Gunner positions and Bomb Aimer’s control panel.

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2. Navigator’s table and instruments looking towards Bomb Aimer / Front Gunner. The black bench is what the Bomb Aimer would lie on and rest his elbows on the two grey coloured pads.

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3. Wireless Operator position.

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4. Pilot and Navigator’s positions.

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5. Flight Engineer / Second Pilot. The Flight Engineer’s position was behind the pilot and faced towards the rear of the aircraft when at the instrument panel. During take off the Flight Engineer sat in a jump seat beside the Pilot. Photo below shows the Engineer’s instrument panel and the one below that shows our guide, Grant Sparks with (inset) a period photo from wikipedia commons showing Pilot, Flight Engineer and Wireless Op positions. The third photo is the view of the starboard wing from the Flight Engineer’s position. See also 10 below – Astrodome.

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6. Escape Hatch which is actually much smaller than it looks in this view through a wide angle lens and it should be borne in mind the Halifax was a lot more spacious than the Lancaster… The black object with the yellow stripes is the Mid Upper Gunner position; the crewman would sit in the turret with his feet on the stirrups. The rectangular object just to the right of that are the rear gunner’s magazines and the bullets were fed along rails from here to his position. Close to this spot (behind my position) on the port side and just the other side of the Flight Engineer’s bulkhead, was a small basket used for carrier pigeons in the event the bomber ditched at sea.

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7. Mid Upper Gunner. Without climbing into the turret properly (which I probably wasn’t supposed to do but it was such a tight jam it would have been extremely difficult with a camera and flash gun anyway) this was about as good a photo as I could get. If you look closely you will just make out the two lowered guns.

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8. Rear Gunner’s position. It is not possible for visitors to access the turret from inside so Grant turned it round from outside. The crewman sat on the curved plinth. There was clearly no room for a crewman to sit here and wear or have his parachute to hand.

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9. Entry Hatch which is at the bottom of the roundel. Once inside, and just to the left, are the magazines feeding the rear guns.

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10. Astrodome for Navigator to use with a sextant during night operations to supplement other means of Navigation. Also visible is the flare gun. This is at the Flight Engineer’s position. Al is beside the pilot’s position.

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Below; Crew Positions on a Halifax Bomber from an RAF recruitment poster.

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33 comments on “A tour inside Halifax bomber LV907 ‘Friday 13th’ at Yorkshire Air Museum
  1. Al says:

    Lovely stuff Ian, this sequence gives a great feel for the layout and space inside. I’m still very surprised by the amount of space in there after seeing Lanc interiors, and wondering why Harris didn’t request a larger bomb bay to be fitted.

    A grand day out for sure and an excellent record of it!

  2. Nick Norcott says:

    Curious to know why the WAG is facing forward in the first cutaway but is facing backward in the last one. Which is correct?

  3. aidan robertson says:

    this is actually my granddads plane. he flew as the rear gunner. his initials are n.p.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Aidan, thanks for your comment.

      Which was the Halifax your grandfather flew on? This is a reconstruction of HALIFAX LV907 ‘Friday the 13th’ which flew an incredible 128 operations. Tail gunner was a lonely position!

      The starboard side of the aircraft bears the markings of Halifax NP763.

      The fuselage is mostly from Halifax HR792 which crash landed on the Isle of Lewis in 1945 and for decades was a chicken coop on the island before being used to create this museum piece. The cockpit and undercarriage have been recreated though I believe the instruments are genuine.

      The prop hubs are from LW687 which was shot down during the infamous Nuremberg raid of March 30th 1944 in which nearly 12% of the RAF attacking force was lost.

      The wings are from freight and troop carrier Handley Page Hastings TG536.

      Apparently other parts are from Halifax JP158 and I think the tail section is new and built for the project, possibly with some bits from Halifax LL505 which crashed in the Lake District. I understand the Bristol Hercules engines are from France.

      Ian

  4. Norm Lampman says:

    On May 8 I had the distinct privilege to tour Friday The 13th both Ian and Grant were very helpful and courteous as my uncle Norm Tilston D.F.C. flew the original “13th” on Oct. 9,1944 and Jan. 14,1945. Sadly he was killed while working on his car in 1954 in Hamilton Ontario ,Canada when I was 11 years old .I was able to come to the UK this year which became a very emotional and time of closure for me for a man I loved very much. I wish to thank Grant for understanding the emotional impact the tour had on me. This photo tour inside ” 13 ” as seen on my computer has enhanced my visit. I don’t know if or when I will be in the UK but I will never forget this trip. Thanks for this opportunity!

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Norm, glad to have been able to provide a souvenir of sorts for you. I never met Ian but Grant was a sterling guide, very patient with us taking endless photos. A very different experience for you because of your Uncle (after whom you were named, I presume?). I can sort of imagine how you felt – I visited HMS Belfast and couldn’t help but think of my late father who served in the Royal Navy 1938 – 1945 and just wished he had been with me to show me around himself.

      Ian

  5. Norm Lampman says:

    Ian : your assumption of where I got my name is correct. As a matter of interest to you may be the fact that I left a colour photo copy which I had laminated of Uncle Norm’s base pass with Grant . I hope he will place it with or near the plaque which has the names of the pilots of “13” .If this should happen people will be able to connect a name with a face. Uncle Norm flew the 74th and 98th flights of Friday The 13th.Your tour photos certainly are a great souvenir for me and definetly compliment those which I took.Norm L.

  6. These are, without shadow of a doubt, the best photographs of a Halifax that I’ve seen on the web. I’m trawling through the web looking for good photos to help with the current model I’m working on but I need to look no further! Congratulations on a very informative site, I’ve now saved it my favourites folder.

    • Ian D B says:

      Many thanks for your comment Phil, I wondered if they might be useful to modellers. As it happens, I often find myself on modeller’s websites trying to identify bits of wreckage I find at crash sites!

      You should be able to download the Halifax images in their full size but let me know if you can’t and I will email them to you.

      Ian

  7. I can only download the top image in it’s full size; to be able to see the others in their full size would be fantastic!

    • Ian D B says:

      Ok, I can see your email address, will get them to you.
      Ian

      • Thanks Ian, I appreciate that.

        I have had a look through this site and those of your wreck hunting colleagues, Military Aircraft Crash Sites, Peak Wreck Hunters and Wreck Site UK but you don’t seem to come down here to the West Country much. Are there any crash sites around here worth looking for?

        You will find that many modellers are avid historians too and our spheres of interest overlap greatly. If you like I would happily put an advert for aircrashsites.co.uk on my site, Scale World (www.scaleworld.info)?

        • Ian D B says:

          Yeah will do the same and add a link on the about page. Cheers Phil.

          I don’t get down south west very often though oddly in the past week I’ve had info requests from people in Somerset and Devon. There are a few crash sites on Dartmoor with wreckage remaining. I have only visited one that way, an Albemarle bomber which crashed in Wiltshire. No debris remaining though there is a memorial to the crew.

          Honeystreet crash site

  8. Michael J. Carroll DFC says:

    Interesting to read about Norman (Snowy) TIlson and Friday 13th Halifax,I was Flight Engineer to Snowy throuout our tour,I am in my 91st year but still remember the letter informing me of of Snowiy’s tragic death after all we went through..

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Michael.
      A sad memory indeed. Thank you very much for your visit and for commenting. It’s good to remember and have details like this recorded somewhere on the internet.
      best wishes,
      Ian

  9. Gillian Robson says:

    Hello. Just surfing the net regarding Friday 13th -my dad,Alfred B Robson was a wireless operator on Friday, in the last few missions under the Flight Captain Harold
    Wheeler, I think round March 1945. It’s fascinating to see the photograph of the position in the plane that he would have occupied. I have a few photographs of Friday and Dad, who passed away in 2009, attended the squadron reunions. She holds a very special place in our heart and Friday 13th never holds any superstitions for us, we call it
    Dads day. Thank you for the superb photos.

    • Ian D B says:

      My pleasure, thank you for your visit and comment Gillian. You could add a photo of your Dad with the Halifax here if you wished.
      Ian

  10. julia says:

    My grandfather Ernie Pyle was an Armourer who was a member of the ground crew for Friday 23th.

  11. David Hilling says:

    Wow just researching the Halifax and am amazed with the info. My father was a navigator during WW2 and his brother was killed in a crash early in the war. Unfortunately my father has passed away and spoke little during our time about his activities. I do know he serves in Africa and they had the role to fly over Germany dropping silver foil to try and find the radar system thought to play a part in the V1 and V2 bombers but apart from that I know little about his war history.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi David,

      The silver foil decoy was called Window for some reason.

      Do you know anything about the air crash which killed your uncle? Date or location perhaps?

      Ian

  12. Michael J Carroll DFC says:

    I was a Flight Engineer with 158 Sqdn at my time Friday 13th was a spare kite.I did two operations in her Oct 9th 1944to Bochum and was diverted to Horsham St Faith a USAF Liberator squadron,January 14th 1945 to Saarbrucken.our aircraft was LV 917.both were displayed on a bomb site in Oxford Steet London then sent to the scrap yard in Scotland I visited Ellington some 20years ago during a 158 re-union the video now shows the remarkable job that has been done and in particular the Flight Engineer’s position.

  13. Jon Horridge says:

    Hi,
    I’ve just seen your spectacular website showing LV907 “Friday 13th”. My Dad was bomb aimer in Halifaxes. I was looking for details of the camera used. He used to stress how important his other job was which was taking stereo pairs (two shots of the target a few seconds apart) one pair on approach and the second pair on the reciproocal path after the bombs had done their worst and looking after the camera to and from the photography lab. Without this photographic record the crew could have no idea how successful the sorties had been. Do you still have a camera? I still have some of Dad’s stereo photos taken during training exercises over Hamilton Ontario.
    I must get myself up to York and visit Friday 13th someday.
    http://www.462squadron.com/pages/other_personnel/horridge.html

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Jon, thank you for your comment. If you want to email across (address on contact page) some photos from your Dad’s training exercises in Canada, I could add them here. I am not sure of the details about the cameras bomber crews used. But yes, everything about the operation depended on men like your Dad getting it right. Great page by the way, thanks for the link.
      Ian.

  14. Thank you so much for this website. My father was an RCAF Halifax navigator for the entire war, flew more than 40 missions over France and Germany. He was 420 Squadron, or Snowy Owl Squadron in Group 6, the plane was called the Daisy Mae. There are photos online that break my heart now. But he and all the crew survived the war. He could have gone home but renewed. He used to tell me the scariest time for him was the take off, because they had the very heavily loaded planes take off into the turbulence of the plane in front. He used to spin his compass to pass the time and calm his nerves on the long night journeys, and that was one well spun compass. He eventually died of a rare blood/bone cancer, myelofibrosis, that the specialist said could have been caused by radiation exposure during the war, as it was statistically too high among long time WW II airmen. So perhaps the war got him in the end. He also said he was grateful to be in a Halifax and not a Lancaster. They did land once in England with much of one wing gone, and he said the Lanc wouldn’t have made it back.

    Thank you so much for allowing me to see a bit of his experience so clearly. If you have emails of the photos I would love if you could send them so I could make some high quality prints.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thank you Clare for sharing your Dad’s experiences with us. They were a unique generation. Every young man signing up to join a bomber crew knew the odds of him surviving were stacked against him but still joined anyway.

      As for these photos, I have uploaded full sized images so you should be able to right click, view images and save to your computer or phone? Please let me know if you can’t, am happy to email them but you should be able to download them.

  15. Tony Eaton says:

    Hello, Phil Churchill, are you related to the Churchill who FTR from Nuremberg 1944 flying with 51 Squadron of snaith? I had three friends who flew with 51.

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