Halifax JD150 Rolls Royce Merlin Engine Run Days 2019
"Meet the Bomber Boys" RAF Veteran signing event: Saturday 12th Oct 2019 from 10.15am
We deeply regret that due to serviceability issues the Merlin engine will not be running on Saturday the 12th October.
The Wings Aviatoin Museum is very proud to announce that a very special run up of a 1943 Halifax Rolls Royce Merlin engine from Halifax JD150 which was recovered from a bog in Germany in 2010, will run at the Wings Museum on Special Engine Run Days throughout 2019. This will be a unique oportunity to hear the sound of a Halifax Merlin engine complete with it's "Saxophone" style exhausts since the war!

First Engine Run at approximately 11.45am

Second Engine Run at appoximately 2.30pm

The names of the crew will be read aloud by WW2 Halifax Pilot George Dunn DFC prior to the engine roaring into life – providing an emotional nostalgic glimpse into our aviation heritage. Join us on the 3rd of August 2019 to meet other vetrans of Bomber Command including some previously unsigned veterans!


The story of Halifax JD150 & her young crew:

On the night of 27th/28th July 1943 Halifax II JD150 DY-A (a veteran of 14 bombing operations) took off from RAF Pocklington in Yorkshire at 22.32 for the last time to bomb Hamburg in Germany. While on route to the target tragically the aircraft was met by a hail of cannon fire from the guns of a German Night Fighter Pilot Fw Hans Meissner and Funker Josef Krinner of II.NJG3 in an Me110 night fighter based at Schleswig in Germany.

The pilot Gordon Brown aged just 19 battled with the crippled bomber but tragically it was a battle he would ultimately loose when the aircraft struck the ground in a swampy area at Hobek near Rendsburg in Germany & exploded. It was the crew’s third and final bombing operation becoming yet another set of statistics of RAF Bomber Command losses.

The crew of Halifax JD150:

Pilot - Sgt Gordon Harry Brown - Aged 19

Flight Engineer – Sgt John Alfred Tyler

Navigator - P/O William Joseph  Hitchcock (‘Jack’) - Aged 32

Air Bomber – P/O Robert  William Allison

Wireless Operator – Sgt James Wesley Rooke - Aged 22

Air Gunner – Sgt Edward Gough

Air Gunner – Sgt William Alexander Sinclair


Discovery of the forgotten bomber:

In 2010 a German Historian named Nils Hempel was researching an air crash near to his home, with the use of a metal detector he discovered many fragments of a crashed British Halifax Bomber. Then one afternoon he discovered an unexploded 30lb incendiary bomb! he immediately contacted the Police and a German EOD unit was deployed to the crash sight. A full search of the area was conducted and many more bombs were removed from the crash site, during this work four Rolls Royce Merlin Mk XX engines were discovered still buried in the soft peat. These forgotten Merlin’s were once part of a mighty war machine - a reminder of a different time when a young aircrew fought for their lives in the skies above Germany in 1943. Nils Hempel conducted exhaustive research  into the identity of the aircraft and finally it was confirmed through German Night Fighter reports that this was the final resting place of Halifax JD150. German Night Fighter Pilot Fw Hans Meissner states in his combat report that he shot down a Halifax 1km SW of Hobek at 01.01am at a height of 5,500 meters. Meissner was later promoted to Oberleutnant and went on to score 20 victories becoming a Luftwaffe “ace”.Over the coming months the German EOD unit together with Nils Hempel tried to find a home for the engines, no one in Germany was interested. Eventually the Wings Museum in Sussex was contacted and needless to say were delighted to acquire the engines for display in the museum. In 2011 with the authority of the British Ministry of Defence a team from Wings travelled to Germany to bring the 4 Merlins home to England after 68 years!

Restoration to ground running condition:

Once the engines were safely back at the museum and preservation work was underway, several volunteers joked “the condition is amazing it looks like they could run again!” The museum curators began to contemplate this and it dawned on them that with the support of the museum volunteers and a few contacts it would be possible to return at least one of the engines into ground running condition! The engine was completely stripped, the oil inside was like new, the engine sustained some damage in the crash so a number of parts were sent up to Flight Engineering in Leeds where specialist repair was carried out. As the project gathered pace an obsession developed to save and reuse as much of the original engine as possible, this was after all what was coming to be known as the “Bomber Command Memorial Merlin”! it was necessary to replace a few items but at least 90% of the original engine was reused! The original engine bearers were restored and even the crumpled “Saxaphone” style exhausts were cut up reformed and reshaped by a skilled black smith. These exhausts once designed to hide the flame of the exhaust from sight of German Night Fighters would give the unique sound of the Halifax not heard since the war. A special custom trailer was made at Flight Engineering which would provide a stable running platform together with the vital oil and fuel needed to run the engine, even the instruments used on the control panel are original World War Two vintage!

The men of Bomber Command

The veterans of Bomber Command served as young men and most had an average age of just 22. The cost of human life was enormous, 55,573 Bomber Command air crew lost their lives in the Second World War.

These crews faced formidable odds, odds seldom appreciated outside the Command. At times in the great offensives of 1943 and 1944 the short-term statistics foretold that less than 25 out of each 100 crews would survive their first tour of 30 operations (many went on to complete two tours). On a single night Bomber Command lost more aircrew than Fighter Command lost during the Battle of Britain. Yet the crews buckled on their chutes and set out with unshakeable resolution night after night. They fell prey to the hazards of icing, lightning, storm and structural failure, and they perished amidst the bursting shells of the flak batteries. But by far the greater number died in desperately unequal combat under the overwhelming firepower of the tenacious German night fighter defenders."

Yet despite the chilling odds, the flow of volunteers never faltered. The price was known to be enormous, but it was a price which continued to be paid with unquestioning courage. If today it represents a debt which can never be repaid, it is at least a debt which must never be forgotten.

"All your operations were planned with great care and skill.
They were executed in the face of desperate opposition and appalling hazards, they made a decisive contribution to Germany's final defeat.

The conduct of the operations demonstrated the fiery gallant spirit which animated your aircrews, and the high sense of duty of all ranks under your command. I believe that the massive achievements of Bomber Command will long be remembered as an example of duty nobly done."

- Winston S. Churchill


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