The cockpit from the Handley Page Halifax recently discovered off the Norwegian coast. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

The cockpit from the Handley Page Halifax recently discovered off the Norwegian coast. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

A research team from the Marine Technology Center at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway has discovered the sunken wreck of an RAF Handley Page Halifax under roughly 180m of water on the bottom of a nearby fjord. Six engineering students were involved in the project, which involved studying historical details and a great deal of planning from how to conduct the search. As with almost all undersea search projects, there is usually a lot of failure before a successful conclusion. When the students guided their small remote submersible down to the wreck, they let out a huge cheer when she appeared in view. They have conducted a thorough survey of the remains, which they captured on video.

The Halifax's forward fuselage torn from the aircraft, lies on its left side beside the cockpit. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

The Halifax’s forward fuselage torn from the aircraft, lies on its left side beside the cockpit. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

While the aircraft appears to be remarkably straight, it’s clear that the saltwater in the fjord has eaten away at the skin. That being said, there is still a lot of potential for a future recovery project. The university will pass along their findings to the Norwegian Air Force Museum in Bodø, who are said to be very excited by the discovery.

The Halifax's cockpit from the left hand side (note the astrodome is still intact).(screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

The Halifax’s cockpit from the left hand side (note the astrodome is still intact).(screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

The Halifax, one of the primary four-engined heavy bombers in the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, is extraordinarily rare today, with just two more or less complete survivors, and another reconstructed around the rear fuselage of a crashed example and the wings from a Handley Page Hastings. Two of the three survivors also came from underwater crash sites in Norwegian waters. Judging by the fact that recently discovered aircraft has Merlin engines with wooden propellers, it is almost certainly a Halifax Mk.II, and therefore very likely W7656 of 35 Squadron, lost on April 26th, 1942 while on a mission to attack the German battleship Bismarck. Sadly two crewmen, Sgt.A.B.Columbine (navigator) and Sgt.A.W.S.Evans (W/Op & Gunner), perished in the crash. It was the crew’s third attack against the Tirpitz. More details on the raid can be found HERE.

One of the Halifax's Rolls Royce Merlin engines, still mounted on the wing. Note the snapped wooden blades. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

One of the Halifax’s Rolls Royce Merlin engines, still mounted on the wing. Note the snapped wooden blades. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

 

The Halifax's largely fragmented rear gun turret. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

The Halifax’s largely fragmented rear gun turret. (screen capture of video fromNTNU AUR-LAB)

 

9 Comments

  1. marc witten says:

    well done to finding this as ex RAF i hope this will be recovered,and the best of luck,i was involved in restoring to flying condition the only T7 Meteor.
    all the best with thisregards Marc Witten

  2. David Columbine says:

    My father Sgt AB Columbine was the navigator/observer on this air craft and together with the radio operator Sgt A Evans RNZAF were the two crew embers who died. The remaining 4 members of the crew survived.
    We are aware of this discovery and we are in the process of carrying out enquiries with the team that discovered it.
    At the present time we consider it to be a war grave and are not convinced at this stage as to wether it should be raised or not.

  3. Great to hear from you David and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. My uncle was the other crew member who died in W.7656 on the night of 28-29 April 1942 – NZ402989 Sgt Arthur William Smith Evans RNZAF. He was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. While I am a huge fan of historic aircraft, I have mixed feelings about whether W.7656 should be raised or not. I will stay in touch with David.

  5. Pingback: Handley-Page Halifax discovered in Norwegian fjord » World Warbird News

  6. Pingback: Un Handley-Page Halifax découvert dans un fjord norvégien » L'Echarpe Blanche

  7. Rick Kilminster says:

    My Father, Sgt Roy Kilminster was a R/O in a Mk1 Halifax of 35
    Sqn, when his aircraft was shot down by a Messerschmit 110 night fighter over Holland in Nov 1941, while returning from a German mission. If any human remains are discovered in this wreck, I believe they should be properly laid to rest as war heroes, with due ceremony, I’m sure the deceased and their surviving families would approve of this. The aircraft could then be recovered and displayed as a lasting memorial to the brave men that lost their lives. This would allow many thousands in future to pay tribute to the lost volunteers of RAF Bomber Command.

    This would enable the aircraft

  8. Pingback: Handley Page Halifax descubierto en Noruega.

  9. Nick Ratnieks says:

    The Halifax would have most likely been on a mission to attack the battleship Tirpitz or other German naval targets as Bismarck was sunk in 1941. I wonder if the Norwegian fjords have a Stirling waiting to be discovered!

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