Halifax Mk II

The Handley Page Halifax played second fiddle to the Lancaster much as the B-24 did to the B-17. Four out of every ten four engine bombers built in England during the Second World War were Halifaxes. Although not considered as shapely as its Avro contemporary, its deeper, slab sided fuselage rendered it suitable for a wider variety of roles and unlike the Lancaster, which was used almost exclusively as a bomber during the war years, the Halifax achieved an enviable reputation as a freighter, personnel transport, ambulance, glider tug and maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Its initial design was based on the same specification that would also eventually produce the Lancaster. Failure of the Rolls-Royce Vulture engines to reach production status required Handley Page to redesign to a four engine layout much the same as was done with the Manchester design at Avro. The prototype flew in the fall of 1939. By the time the second prototype had flown the bomber had already been ordered into production. The first production Halifax flew in October of 1940. The initial production batch was designated Mk.I Series I and they were followed by Series II  which had increases in fuel capacity and were stressed to be operated at higher loads and the Series III which had higher horsepower rated Merlin engines. The Halifax had the distinction of being the first RAF four engine bombers to drop bombs on German soil.
Operational experience had indicated the desirability of a power operated dorsal turret which led to the Mk.II with a bulbous Boulton Paul turret similar to the one  used on the Lockheed Hudson. The prototype of this version flew in July of 1941 and by September the first production Mk.II was flown. Entry into service use however was not without difficulties as the Halifax had always been slightly under powered and the increased weight and drag of the turrets seriously affected performance. Fully loaded aircraft developed a tendency to spin uncontrollably and losses mounted. To address this issue a program was mounted to reduce weight and drag and this resulted in the Mk.II Series IA, which saw the deletion of the nose turret, this being replaced by a streamlined glazed nose, removal of the dorsal turret, the tail wheel was made semi-retractable, use of a shallower astrodome, the removal of the under wing fuel dumping pipes, removal of the asbestos shrouds on the exhausts, removal of the antenna mast and more powerful engines were installed. All of these changes resulted in a ten percent increase in maximum and cruising speed. At this period in its development the aircraft began suffering a series of unexplained crashes where the aircraft got into an inverted dive. This was eventually traced to rudder stalling in the triangular shaped fin. New rectangular fins were designed to rectify the problem and these were introduced as a retrospective modification during 1943.

The Kit

The Revell Halifax comes in a large end flap opening box and in spite of the size of the box is pretty well stuffed with sprues. That said, not all of the parts will be used depending on what version you choose to build. Inside the box there are five large bags, four of which contain multiple sprues and the fifth which has only the clear parts in it. The kit is molded in a very light grayish green color similar to other Revell kits. Surface detail consists of recessed panel lines which size wise are about the norm for kits in this scale these days. They are a bit smaller than some of the recent kits by Airfix and Italere. I think they will look fine under a coat of paint. Mold alignment is good and mold separation lines should be easy to clean up. Fabric surfaces are done showing rib locations and no sagging fabric. There is some fine fastener detail on access panels. The surfaces have a semi gloss finish and the only surface anomalies I could find were some slight sink marks on the outside of the port fuselage half opposite of where there is molded detail on the inside. These are very slight and would not justify filling in my opinion. Some of the sprue attachment points are a bit heavy so so care will be needed when removing parts from the sprues.
The control surfaces except for the flaps are separate and position able. There is some structure detail provided on the inside of the fuselage in the nose area and around the tail wheel area. There are also a few ejector pin marks in the nose and cockpit area. If you are doing the turret nose version none of these will be very visible  and even with the all glass nose with the interior painted black you would be hard pressed to see them.
Options are the name of the game on this kit so take your time and determine which version you are going to build and pay attention to the instructions !

The cockpit and forward fuselage is well detailed for the scale. A long floor, the bottom of which is the top of the bomb bay, is molded with two spars which will provide a solid mount for the wing. To this is added a lower floor for the nose area and there are several bulkheads that will close things in and add strength to the fuselage. The landing gear bays are first built up from five parts and then inserted into the wings. They are quite well detailed for the scale. The forward part of the bay is the firewall for the inboard engines. Depending on the version you are build there are holes that need to be drilled out in the lower wing for the fuel dumping pipes. Once you get to the engines there are a lot of choices to be made, the kit supplies three different lower radiator assemblies and there are four different sets of exhausts from which to choose. Your choice of version will also determine whether you use the triangular or square tail planes. The landing gear is quite well detailed and you have the option of retracted gear if you so desire. A set of molded closed doors are supplied and they need to be cut apart for display in the open position. The wheel tire assemblies are molded in halves and are not weighted. The bomb bay can be displayed open but you must cut the door apart. In the open position there are separate hinge and actuators that must be installed. Bombs are supplied.
The bottom of the fuselage features a choice between the H2S ray dome or a blanking plate. The nose can either house the front turret or the all glass nose. The instructions here will trip you up if you are not careful as they have you installing an extension that is used only with the glass nose version shortly after assembling the fuselage halves but this is not used for the turret nose version and you won't notice this until many steps later. The mid upper turret is also supplied as the early bulbous turret with two guns or the later style low profile turret with four guns. The turrets all have very basic interiors.
Both three and four bladed propellers are supplied again depending on version. The kit supplied three bladed props appear to have a metal paddle blade more like the ones used on the later radial engine versions. The early versions used a more pointy style wooden propeller. More on this in the after market section.
OK, lets take a look at the sprues. The first one is sprue A. Note the sprues are identified by a letter but the letters are not called out on the parts map. Sprue A has the starboard fuselage half, ailerons, bomb bay doors, wingtips and a part marked as not used.

Next up is sprue C with the port fuselage half, the fuselage floor with spars and various interior parts and bulkheads and the nose extension for the all glass nose.

Here is a close up of the molded on detail in the port fuselage half. Opposite the molded on detail is where the previously mentioned sink marks are located.

Next is sprue B. It contains the horizontal tail planes, ray dome, some turret parts, tail wheel strut and tail wheel bay, RDF football, and a few parts marked as not used.

Next is sprue D with the outboard engine nacelles and the squared fin and rudders.

The next photo show the fabric surfaces of the rudders.

The next sprue of which there are two contains mostly main landing gear parts and the gear bay parts as well as the bombs and bomb racks, the elevators and the guns for the four gun turret.

Another sprue of which there are two and this one contains the four bladed props, spinners, firewalls and two of the different type of radiators and a couple of the exhaust options.

And the last of the sprues of which two are supplied contains the three bladed props an spinners, more exhaust options the third type of radiator and a couple turret parts.


The next one just has one upper and lower wing half.

Next up are the other two wing halves plus the triangular fins and rudders.

The clear parts are OK, some a bit clearer than others, fair amount of distortion on the curved parts and all are a bit thicker than I would like to see but in this scale they are pretty much par for the course. There are a lot of turret parts as there are several options.

The decals are matte, in register (although it's left up to you to register the red center on the fuselage roundels) and appear to be opaque. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and flight engineers panel. Markings are provided for two aircraft, one is listed as a MkII series I from No. 405 Squadron RCAF from July 1942, the other is listed as MkII series II from No. 58 squadron (GR.MkII) RAF early 1945. The sheet says printed in Italy for Revell, whether that means cartograf or someone else I don't know.

The instructions are printed in an portrait format consisting of 18 pages in a booklet form which is not stapled. The front page has a brief history in English and German. The next two pages have all the usual safety warnings and assembly icon charts in 18 different languages. Page four lists paints by names, again in 18 languages but only calling out Revell paint numbers. Page five is a parts map. The sprue trees have identifying letters on them but these aren't call out on the map. The next eleven pages are assembly diagrams and the last two have painting and marking diagrams. The diagrams are all reasonably clear, have paint call outs and are generally easy to follow but some pages seem over loaded and a lot of steps are repeated over for left and right sides which I guess is OK for beginners but it just seemed to bloat things to me. There are a lot of options, in some cases the diagrams will indicate which of the two marking options they are to be used on by referencing the step number showing the paint and markings for that version. In other places they give you no clue as to which ones to use for a specific version so it will be important to have some good references for the aircraft version you want to build.

After Market Goodies
The kit has a number of anomalies mostly dealing with the engine cowlings and propellers. This set from Frightdog Models attempts to fix some of these with a minimal amount of cutting and fitting. The set includes new radiator fronts that are more correct than the kit supplied ones for the MkII series I. Note that the entire engine cowling is a bit oversized in the kit so these new fronts were made to fit the kit cowl and thus are the correct shape but oversized. The set also includes new main wheels and tail wheel with a bay insert. There are replacement air scoops and propellers. The air scoops have recessed openings and the propellers have the correct shape for the early versions wooden props. The parts are nicely molded with only a light amount of flash to be removed and only the remnants of a pour stub to be removed from a couple parts. No pin holes or other deformities were found on my set. The set comes with a single A4 sized sheet of instructions printed on both sides with two photos. The instructions go step by step along with the kit instructions tell you what parts to use and where. 

A close up to show the radiator detail.

This looks to be a very nice kit but not one I would recommend to beginners as it is fairly complex with a lot of parts. The instructions in my opinion could have been better especially in explaining which options should be used for what variant or marking scheme. While some purists will no doubt be appalled at the number of accuracy issues with this kit, I suspect most modelers will build it and be quite pleased with the outcome.

Links to kit build or reviews
Another in box review can be found here, the discussion following the review highlights many of the kits inaccuracies.

While there are others the best book available is "Handley Page Halifax, From Hell to Victory and Beyond" by K.A. Merrick.

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Updated  4-5-20