HP Halifax fitted with London bus seats

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by StooBroo, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. StooBroo

    StooBroo Member

    I am looking into an anecdote I read about, many years ago, possibly in a Martin Middlebrook book (I have them all), regarding the Halifax's built at the Aldenham Bus Works near Elstree in Hertfordshire. Apparently the crews knew if they were flying in a Aldenham built aircraft because the seats they sat on were covered in the same material use on the London buses of the time.
    I wonder if anyone else has heard this story, obviously there are very few Halifax crew members left to ask sadly.
    Many thanks if you can help
  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    For goodness sake don't let the head of Ryan Air see this.
    StooBroo likes this.
  3. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Hi, not one I've come across in anything I've read. I like obscure anecdotes like that, so update the thread if you can find the source! I think Middlebrook has written about half the books that exist on the bomber war, so you may have a task leafing through them though!
    StooBroo likes this.
  4. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

    From ‘London Transport at War 1939-1945’ by Charles Graves. 1947

    (London Transport) was already hard at work on war production which bore no parallel to its peacetime activities. Thus, though the modern heavy bomber like the Halifax is possibly the most highly developed piece of engineering yet produced, the Board undertook - without previous experience – to manufacture the centre section, to install engine units and the front fuselage, and finally, the complete erection and test-flying of Halifaxes, the other sections being undertaken by Chryslers, Duple, Express Motor & Body Works Limited and Park Royal Coachworks. London Transport, as the co-ordinating centre of the group, received all drawings, modifications and improvements, broke them down and segregated them.

    The nucleus of the organisation was established at Chiswick, but the programme required additional space, and it was decided to complete and occupy buildings then in process of construction at Aldenham on the extension of the Northern Line. London Transport was later invited to take over a new factory at Leavesden and assume responsibility for the final erection, test-flying and delivery of complete aircraft.

    The staff was largely drawn from the various engineering departments, though very few of them had any previous experience of aircraft construction. Arrangements were therefore made for visits to be made to Handley Page and a number of workers were given the chance to work for some months there. This was all the tuition available before the first machines were assembled. A large number of workers were completely inexperienced and unskilled women.

    The provision and manufacture of assembly jigs, tools and equipment was in itself a major production problem. Skilled tool makers were unobtainable and so large numbers of body makers, carpenters and pattern makers had to be trained for this highly specialised work. Standard high-precision, special engineering tools were unobtainable from the usual sources. Scarcity of machine tools made it necessary to spread the machining work over no fewer than five hundred different sub-contractors. Members of the staff had to be sent all over the country to search for and machinery capable of doing the job. It was under these conditions that the first two hundred aircraft were produced. Ultimately over seven hundred were completed.”

    No mention of using LT upholstery alas. The term used is Moquette and for those of the anorak persuasion the LT Museum website has a whole project about the hundreds of patterns used on buses and trains over the years The Moquette Project.

    Halifaxes under construction at Aldenham


  5. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Perhaps someone should update that last poster and pin it up in the Boeing factories given some of the stories about objects found in brand new KC-46 and 737 aircraft.
    StooBroo, Blutto and Markyboy like this.
  6. StooBroo

    StooBroo Member

    If only we had some Halifax crew members to ask, I will keep hunting through all his books I have and let the group know what I find, it will be fun to read them all again.
  7. StooBroo

    StooBroo Member

    Oh wow fantastic research, I saw the Aldenham pictures in Occasional Paper 2nd series no 342 by Brian AL Jones, attached (too big to attach so posted link below), I particularly love the picture of the Halifax Convoy arriving from Aldenham up the Watford bypass for final assembly and flight testing before delivering to the squadrons
    canuck likes this.
  8. StooBroo

    StooBroo Member

    Though the picture titled 'Leavesden - the fruits of the groups labour are brought together in final assembly' looks more like a Lancaster to me, thoughts?
  9. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

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  10. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    No, definitely a Halifax. The shape of the bomb aimer’s glazing is different on the two aircraft.

    The Halifax B.I and II carried a nose turret as in the photo. LAP built B.II. Later production moved on to the B.II Series I (Special) and B.II Series 1A that eliminated the turret in the interests of saving weight in an effort to improve performance.

    LAP built 450 Merlin engined Mk.II of various versions before moving onto build 260 Bristol Hercules engined B.III.
    StooBroo likes this.
  11. StooBroo

    StooBroo Member

    Once I zoomed in I could see what you meant :)

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