A Royal Canadian Air Force heavy bomber, Halifax HR871 served with No. 405 Pathfinder Squadron. Piloted by F/S John Philips, the Halifax was returning from a raid to Hamburg on Aug. 3 1943 when it was struck by lightning, and lost two engines and vital flight controls. The crew diverted to neutral Sweden and bailed out of the aircraft. They survived and returned to the UK after being interned for several months.
WHERE IS HALIFAX HR871 NOW?
The bomber continued flying until it crashed into the Baltic Sea fifteen kilometres off the Swedish coast and sank into twenty metres of brackish (slightly salty) water. Since that time it has been inundated and covered by sand although three engines and small portions of the aircraft remain above the sand on the seafloor.
THE RECOVERY TEAM
The site was discovered by a diving group from “Havsresan-Sea Journey” of Lund University. Halifax 57 Rescue and the Bomber Command Museum of Canada are working together with the goal of excavating the bomber, raising this iconic Canadian aircraft to the surface, and transporting it to Canada for restoration and display at the museum.
PROGRESS TO DATE
During 2015, the Swedish dive team returned to the site together with a representative of Halifax 57 Rescue and the Bomber Command Museum of Canada. Much information regarding the status of HR871 was determined and the feasibility of a recovery was established.
At the request of Canada’s Department of National Defence, the Swedish government has granted permission for the recovery to take place and for this Canadian aircraft to be brought home to Canada.
Additional dives have been made during summer of 2016. The location of major components of the aircraft have been mapped out and some very preliminary sand removal has been completed. It is clear that the aircraft did hit the water hard but we are encouraged by the fact that the metal is in remarkable good condition.
BOMBER COMMAND MUSEUM OF CANADA’S HALIFAX PROJECT
The hoped-for recovery is being planned in conjunction with work already well underway at the museum to have a Halifax on display. This involves the building of the centre-section of a Halifax wing which is currently proceeding, the restoration to operational of a Bristol Hercules Halifax engine with three others awaiting restoration, and the collection of numerous other Halifax components.
The next phase will be the actual excavation of many cubic metres of sand all around the Halifax. The third phase will be the exciting lifting of the aircraft components, hopefully later this summer if enough funding can be raised for the project. This will not be a cheap nor an instantaneous recovery.
This project urgently needs your personal donations. We are actively seeking provincial and federal government support. Much logistic and services-in-kind support has been raised already.
So help us save our Canadian Bomber Command history -this Halifax, from the sands of time.
Donate now to our Halifax recovery fund at: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/417498
All Sweden Project UPDATES can be viewed at this link: Sweeden Project Updates
To watch a video regarding the project please visit: https://youtu.be/R826cyt3xds
Further reading… This article from Dave O’Malley titled “RESURRECTION”: “Resurrection” Story