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Halifax bomber still impresses after 70 years
: Ian Richardson in front of the reconstructed Halifax with an image of the original aircraft on display in Oxford Street, London, for the Victory in Europe celebrations.
THE four-engined heavy bomber known as Friday the 13th is one of the big attractions of the Yorkshire Air Museum, where it stands proud in its wartime livery.
Painstakingly reconstructed by a dedicated team of museum volunteers at Elvington, near York, Halifax bomber LV907 F for Freddy is a stirring reminder of bravery and sacrifice.
And this week marks a major milestone in the original’s history – exactly 70 years since she rolled down the runway on her first operational mission.
She hurled herself into the air from RAF Lissett in East Yorkshire, at 10.03pm on March 30, 1944, for a notorious raid on Nuremburg in which Bomber Command lost 100 aircraft.
But F for Freddy returned to base at 5.34am on March 31, successfully landing after the first of a phenomenal 128 operational sorties, more than any other Halifax.
She became the stuff of legend and was christened Friday the 13th in a black-humoured attempt to break the jinx of seven successive Halifaxes bearing the F registration that 158 Squadron had already lost.
And, in keeping with her name, she was adorned with the skull and crossbones, upside-down horseshoe and Grim Reaper scythe that she would carry for the rest of her operational life.
As her impressive tally of operations mounted, bomb symbols - yellow for night ops and white for daylight raids - were added.
A key was added to the symbols to denote her 21st mission while a cannon firing marks the eve of the D-Day landings when the aircraft attacked the huge German gun Battery at Grand Camp Maisy, incurring some flak damage.
At the end of the war the original Friday the 13th was displayed in Oxford Street, London, as part of the Victory in Europe celebrations but then, surplus to requirements, she was taken to the old Clifton airfield at York where she was unceremoniously scrapped.
Museum spokesman Ian Richardson said: “The project to recreate this legendary aircraft was started in 1986, soon after the museum’s formation, and work is still going on.
“However, standing as a tribute to all air and ground crews of Bomber Command, it draws visitors from all over the world.”
*The museum is intending to post Twitter notifications of all 128 operations that Friday the 13 flew.
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