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Thread: Ever heard of the Halifax Conversion Unit?

  1. #1
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    Default Ever heard of the Halifax Conversion Unit?

    In reading through an older book (1986), Halifax: Second to None, by Victor Bingham, I came across his reference to what I gather was the original HCU, which was No. 28 Halifax Conversion Unit formed in late-1941 with aircraft from Nos. 35 and 76 Sqns. He says this unit gave rise to the later ones, which were named Heavy Conversion Units.

    I see by Ross's database that No. 28 Conversion Unit was at Leconfield 1-10-41 and moved to Marston Moor in Dec, later becoming part of 1652 HCU.

    Has anyone heard of this before? I thought there would have been earlier HCUs for the Stirling but apparently it (1651) was only formed in Jan 42.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 15th April 2009 at 17:06. Reason: spelling mistake
    David

  2. #2
    Eddie Fell Guest

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    Hi Dave

    No. 28 was actually a Conversion Flight rather than Unit and was formed at Leconfield on 4/11/41

    It had its origins in an experimental (Heavy) Conversion Flight formed on 29/8/41 within No. 4 Group at Linton on Ouse

    Cheers

    Eddie

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    Thanks Eddy (and for the correction on Leconfield spelling). The author quite specifically uses the name "No. 28 Halifax Conversion Unit" in his story, so I am guessing he saw it in some papers he was researching. He deliberately differentiates between the two names Halifax/Heavy and seems to be suggesting that this was the genesis of the term HCU. His research is quite meticulous and he trolled through a lot of production memos and correspondence, so I am inclined to think he saw it somewhere among them.

    Might it be a case of early days and no settled style for the naming of a new training entity? The HCUs followed in a matter of months. Or perhaps it's a usage unique to the Handley Page staff?
    David

  4. #4
    Eddie Fell Guest

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    Hi Dave

    There were a lot of Conversion Flights not just restricted to No. 4 Group. No. 28 happens to have been the first (as Sturtivant points out in Flying Training and Support Units this Unit appears to have been numbered in the OTU sequence)
    The 4 Group Sqns (10, 35, 76, 78, 102, and 158 ) each had one to convert crews from the twins to 4 engined bombers. The flights then 'created' the three No. 4 Group CU's/HCU's viz 1658, 1652 and 1663

    Cheers

    Eddie

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    Hi David et al,

    Halifax Conversion Unit rang a bell with me. I knew I had seen it before in some ORB's so I dug out some of the copies I have for 35 Squadron and found the following remarks on the 540 for 11th August 1941 when 35 Squadron were based at Linton-on-Ouse.

    "A Halifax Conversion Flight was formed at LINTON, under command of S/L J B Tait DSO DFC, personnel and aircraft being drawn from this squadron and No.76 Squadron. The following pilots were detached to this Flight for flying instructional duties:-
    A/F/Lt E G Franklin
    A/F/O R F Owen DFC
    A/F/O P S James
    P/O G W Holden DFC
    P/O T R Nixon DFM (Air Observor)

    Form 540 for September and October 1941 shows men as 'Detached to Halifax Conversion Flight' then an entry on 12th November 1941 says that the Gunnery Officer was posted to Halifax Conversion Flight Leconfield and the following day on 13th November the men who previously were shown as being detached to Halifax Conversion Flight at Linton are shown as being posted to Halifax Conversion Flight at Leconfield.

    On 1st December 1941 it shows men being posted to No.28 Conversion Flight.

    In January 1942 35 Squadron were still using 28 Conversion Flight but there are also references to postings to 1652 Conversion UNIT, notably F/Lt (A/S/Ldr) G L Cheshire DSO DFC who it stated was postd to 1652 but is temporarily attached to this squadron.

    In February 1942 a comment at the end of the monthly summary on 540 reads "No 35 Halifax Conversion Flight was formed during the month, under the Command of F/lt R G Franklin DFC. Personnel and aircraft being drawn from this Squadron. The following Pilots were detached to this Flight for instructional duties: F/Lt R G Franklin DFC and F/O P S James DFC."

    I only have the ORB's to May 1942 and the 35 Squadron Halifax Conversion Flight was still operating then and going on ops from time to time as well.

    Regards
    Linzee

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    That's fantastic Linzee, thanks. What a great load of detail. So, it seems reasonable, given that No. 28 was the first conversion flight, that the term HCU might have had its genesis here, although the author might have been getting ahead of himself by calling it a unit instead of a flight.
    David

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    hello,

    I can confirm No. 35 Squadron Conversion Flight was still in service in August 1942. It even had its own page in the ORB of the Squadron, after the form 540 of the Bomber Squadron.

    Joss

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