Canadian Halifax Bomber Believed Intact Off Ireland
Karl Kjarsgaard wants
to raise a Halifax bomber located nearly a mile (1.6 km) below the
surface of the North Atlantic and put it on display at the Nanton
Air Museum in Alberta. It's not an idle fantasy.
In 1995, Kjarsgaard, an Air Canada pilot who lives in the Ottawa
region, led the successful effort to raise a Halifax bomber from
230 meters (754 ft) below the surface of a Norwegian lake. More
than 6,000 Halifaxes were built but no complete original specimen
The plane brought up in two pieces from the bottom of the
Norwegian lake is being reconstructed at the RCAF Memorial Museum
in Trenton, Ont., and is regarded as the most authentic and
complete Halifax in existence. The Yorkshire Air Museum has a
Halifax on display but it's a composite of several planes. Two
other British museums display pieces of wrecked Halifaxes.
Kjarsgaard believes the
plane in the Atlantic -- Halifax LW170 -- is intact. What's more
important, he said, is its historical significance -- it was an
RCAF plane and flew 28 combat operations over Germany and France
from May to August 1944.
He notes that of the 39,000 bombing missions flown by Canadian
squadrons during the war, 28,000 were flown in Halifaxes. He said
he also wants the plane to be a memorial to nearly 800 Americans
who died while flying for Canada, almost 10 percent of those who
enlisted with the RCAF when the war started.
"That airplane is a symbol of our contribution to the war
effort," he said. "That's the Canadian experience -- flying a
Halifax in combat. This is a national symbol. One that should be a
tribute to the young men who flew to hell and back in the cause of
"The American connection has been totally forgotten," the
53-year-old said. "I feel badly for them and their families. They
were not really remembered in the States because they weren't part
of the American air force and, in Canada, they were grouped with
the Canadians. They end up sliding through the cracks, and have
never been given proper credit."
Kjarsgaard said the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum is the
ideal home for Halifax LW170 because it is the only museum in
Canada dedicated to the Second World War bomber command.
"I can't think of a better bomber command memorial than the
Nanton museum," he said. "Their main concern is that these young
men shouldn't be forgotten."
Bob Evans, volunteer curator at the Nanton Museum, welcomes the
"We are prepared to accept it and to eventually restore it,"
"The addition of a Halifax bomber, especially one used by 6
Group, the RCAF Bomber Group that was commanded and crewed
primarily by Canadians, will be a prestigious acquisition. To have
examples of the two most famous World War II British four-engine
bombers under the same roof here will be unequaled on this
The first of the more than 6,000 Halifax bombers built during
the war started flying in late 1940. Although later overshadowed by
the Lancaster, which could carry a heavier bomb load, some aviation
historians believe the Halifax was a better multi-purpose plane.
Besides dropping bombs, it was used to haul freight, drop agents
and supplies behind enemy lines, patrol sea-lanes and tow heavy