Halifax, Further Reading

Halifax doomed and about to start its final dive, of the seven men, only John Lobban got out alive.

Halifax, Handley Page
Halifax, the loss of DK 170

50 x 76 cm (20” x 30“)

John Lobban when commissioning this remarkable painting said their rear gunne saw and fired at the Me 110 G 4 but not before the night fighter had hit a wing and set the Halifax on fire.

The Halifax was one of the most successful British bomber aircraft, this Halifax DK 170 was unlucky.

The DK 170 Halifax wreck was identified near Bladel in Holland in 2017.

This painting was produced many years astern so if commissioned I’d be willing to create another similar with the advantage of all I’ve learned about painting in the intervening years.

Many distinguished people and renowned companies have chosen Frickers paintings as you can discover by reading my illustrated résumée.

Working with me you could own or give as a gift something equally impressive as this memorable painting.

Halifax DK 170 and a remarkable story.

Halifax heavy bomber DK 170 is a painting commissioned by the late Mr. John Lobban, formerly Flight Sergeant and navigator of this aircraft.

I was privileged at his request, to interview Mr. Lobban and have access to his researched materials which included books about the Handley Page Halifax and the German combat reports.

He and my parents were neighbour’s during their retirement, liked each and it probably helped that my Father who had served for 7 adventurous, dangerous years including in the 21 Group British Army Normandy invasion then in the push through your part of the world and then in Germany.

We together we composed this painting to John Lobban’s entire satisfaction.

Historical inaccuracy abounds; my paintings are as one of my followers put it, “you get an intimate front row seat to history” and is in most instances, as near truth and as near ‘documentary’, as meticulous, diligent research and real artistry can get.

John was the navigator on board DK 170.

He told me that he and his seven man crew became firm friends while they trained in Canada for 2 years before this tragic flight.

John said this was their first active mission.

In general, the fabulous D H Mosquito being one of the few exceptions, RAF bombers had only a 50/50 chance of surviving their first mission; and yet their crews knowing this still flew.

John said their rear gunner saw and fired at the Me 110 but not before the night fighter had hit a wing and set the Halifax on fire.

At that period the Me110 G4 had a heavier armament with longer range guns than those weapons in the Halifax which added to ground radar directions and its own radar gave the Me110 a distinct advantage.

Although he was unable to bail out before he was killed by the crash, knew he’d driven off the attacker.

He was never to know that his alert and brave action had hit and damaged the ME110 G4.

Many years later John Lobban discovered this when he obtained copied of the German combat reports, copies of which I still have in my dossier.

The out bound Halifax was heavy with fuel so once afire was going to lose it’s wing controls and probably half the wing.

At that period the German night fighters had more powerful weapons than the bombers so could hit the bombers while out of effective range of the bombers guns.

The rear gunner did not live to learn he actually hit the Me 110, he only saw the Me 110 sheer off.

John Lobban blamed the Royal Air Force orders for this Halifax loss which were to take no evasive action if attacked, to stay in the bomber stream.

These orders were intended to avoid bombers colliding with each other which in the streams was know to happen.

Later in the war the orders were changed to permit evasive action and eventually the RAF bombers were fitted with more powerful rear guns and a radar that warned of enemy aircraft appraoching from astern or below.

An Aviation Painting’s Authenticity.

I first met John in part because he used to be one of my parents neighbours during their retirement to Edinburgh Close, Saint Austell, Cornwall.

John seemed to me to be a quiet, modest man, likeable, still very sensitive about that dreadful night and although a retired bank manager still had that special RAF ‘air’ about his personality.

John was proud to be able to say as many veterans I met used to say, “done my bit” during that war against one of the most evil regimes in history.

At his request (he approached me via my parents) and starting with information he already had, we researched extensively together.

As the sole survivor from this Halifax he felt his story should be recorded with a painting for his family and for posterity. 

Consequently this painting was created with the full co-operation of John Lobban who among other things presented the me the artist, with the German radar and pilots reports which are so detailed they even included how many rounds the Me 110 G4 fired, copies of which I still have on file.

I researched further, I still have a dossier with my notes and sketches and I built two scale models of both aircraft as aides to perspective.

Alas and regrettably the models had to be abandoned when I had no choice but to sell the family home and my studio following an unfortunate divorce demanded by a wife who was ill,  unstable and at times violent.

John Lobban commissioned this painting of his aircraft but did not wish this picture to be exhibited during his life time.

I, Gordon Frickers always respect requests for confidentiality.

Adrian van Zantvoort is currently (19.09.2023) writting a book about Allied aircraft lost over Holland and Belgium. He wrote to me with “The Halifax wreck was pointed out by a good friend of us, as father in law witnessed the crash and helped to put the dead bodies in a coffin, by the force of the German guards“.

Typical behaviour of the arrogant Germans of that period, they would make a disaster then demanded others be responsible and sort it out.

To acquire this or commission a similar painting, a pleasure to own, a sound investment, you can purchase in easy stages.

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As for this painting, it was created many years astern so if commissioned I’d be willing to create another similar with the advantage of all I’ve learned about painting in the intervening years.

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Royal Air Force Bomber Command

The RAF were rightly concerned about mid air collisions which as the numbers of bombers being sent on missions steadily increased to over 1000 for some raids, were known to happen between weaving bombers in the bomber stream.

The result of not weaving made bombers into sitting ducks for radar directed night fighters and flack.

The RAF command was if attacked while in the main bomber stream do not take evasive action”. The RAF feared mid air night collisions between bombers.

Later in the campaign this order was rescinded.

The order was rescinded to late for John Lobban, his crew who he considered friends, and many other fine young men.

RAF Bomber Command’s aircraft.

At the beginning of World War 2 RAF bombers were inadequate, some types like the Blenheim were hopelessly out of date, others worse like the Hampden, a death trap for the crew.

Only the twin engine Vickers sturdily built Wellington and could be described as modern.

The Wellington with upgrades was used until the end of the war for a wide range of functions, thus the Wellington was one of the few aircraft to see service from the commencement in 1939 to the end of hostilities in 1945.

The cause was a dithering and general lack of political will from people who mistakenly thought the Germans could be appeased.

A very expensive error.

History repeatedly warns us, at best appeasement is a short term solution.

This political inadequacy was due mostly to politicians and media who simply would not believe there were people bent on world dominance and thought they could achieve that by force and subterfuge.

This situation resonates in the press again today as we face a growing threat from the East from the Iranian regime in particular who are Muslim extremists bent on the insane dream of world domination.

British engineers had foreseen the problem although most of the politicians had not.

Once the funds were released, British bombers rapidly improved.


The Halifax was the RAF’s second 4 engine heavy bomber.

The Halifax was one of the most successful British bomber aircraft being beside the more famous Lancaster the unsung hero rather as the hard worked and successful Hurricane is to the illustrious, legendary Spitfire.

The Halifax heavy bomber proved itself to be Britain’s No 2 heavy bomber, eclipsed only by the now legendary Avro Lancaster.

Royal Air Force heavy Bomber with a crew of six to eight.

Maximum speed of 280mph (with MK.VI top speed of 312mph) service ceiling of 22,800 feet maximum range of 3,000 miles.

The first versions of the Halifax carried four .303 browning machine guns in the tail turret, two .303 browning machines in the nose turret.

In the MK III there were four .303 browning machine guns in the dorsal turret and other upgrades followed including radar capable of identifying enemy night fighters.

The Handley Page Halifax, first joined the Royal Air Force in March 1941 with 35 squadron.

The Halifax saw service in Europe and the Middle east with a variety of variants for use with Coastal Command, in anti Submarine warfare, special duties, glider-tugs, and troop transportation roles.

A total of 6177 Halifax’s were built and stayed in service with the Royal Air Force until 1952

Relentless bombing by Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command mostly at night and by day by the USAF, provided German fighters with a wealth of targets however the bombing did much to cripple the NAZI German war effort.

Messerschmidt Me 110

was designed as a long range fighter, a bomber escort and initially considered a success.

The Me 110 met it’s nemesis during the battle of Britain where it was found incapable of effectively combating the British Hurricane and Spitfire fighters so was withdrawn after heavy losses.

In a new role as a radar directed night fighter the Me 110 excelled.

There is a fine example of an Me 110 at the excellent Royal Air Force Museum  situated on the historic site of Hendon’s London Aerodrome in Colindale, North London.

Entrance is free and that helps make for a memorable day out.

Messerschmidt Me 110 G4

Obtt. P. Barte-uffz flying his Me 110 G4 was ground radar directed to his victim.

Mr Lobban presented me with impressive research in which he included the names of all the people involved in that brief, savage and fatal fight.

Even down to how many rounds the Me 110 night fighter expended.

The doomed Halifax started its final dive, only John Lobban got out alive.

He told me that upon landing he buried his parachute then fell asleep in a ditch.

This he said was quite a common reaction to the shock of being shot down.

Later he was helped by local patriots but unfortunately the Germans were looking for him and the courageous Dutch had little option but to give him up.

The DK 170 Halifax wreck was identified in Holland in 2017.

Historical inaccuracy abounds; paintings here are as one of my followers put it, “you get an intimate front row seat to history” and is in most instances, as near truth and as near ‘documentary’, as meticulous, diligent research and real artistry can get.

RAF men

Of the crew of Halifax DK 170 I have only two names.

John Lobban, Flight Sargent and navigator and Cyril Burton, rank unknown, Flight engineer.

RAF crews paid a very high price for thier contribution to reducing the NAZI regime.

Bomber crews suffering 60 % casualties which is more than any other branch of the RAF.

Only 10 % of RAF Bomber Command crews, that is one man in ten who flew at the start of the war, lived to see the war’s end.

Knowing the odds against them those brave fellows day after day boarded their aircraft and took their chances knowing well the terrible price.

The young bomber crews of the RAF and USAF who survived and those who perished undoubtedly helped save many lives and shorten World War Two by diverting substantial NAZI resources away from front lines for defence and the RAF and USAF seriously damaged and disrupted German infrastructure thus the NAZI war effort.

Those remarkably brave young men were willing to pay the price.

Here now, you can commission from a recognised, dedicated, experienced artist, from a reputable, established artist direct from his studio.

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Research sources

The eye witness account from Mr. John Lobban.

Aircraft Movements card DK170

Combat Report; Obtt. P.Barte-uffz, night fighter squadron 1

“Halifax, An Illustrated history of a Classic World”.

“To See The dawn Breaking”, W.R. Chorley (76 Squadron Operations).

Ariel photographs of Belgium (artists own collection)

Royal Air Force Museum (thank you Mr. Bush)

Janes’ “All The World Aircraft 1943/4

“Flight” July 1943

War II Bomber”, K.A. Merrick

Met Offices Dept, 07 H.Q. Bracknell

Scale models I built of the Halifax B and Messerschmidt Me 110 G4.

Mr. A. Frickers (Captain, retired), a British Army trained firearms and an explosives expert and my Father.

Adrian van Zantvoort.

As for this painting, given I still have my dossier and that this painting was produced many years astern, if commissioned I’d be willing to create another similar painting with the added  advantage of all I’ve learned about painting in the intervening years.

Gordon Frickers by invitation created a one man show of 35 paintings (May 2011) at the European Parliament, Brussels, an impressive addition to his list of exhibitions in other prestigious venues in Britain and Europe.

Contact Frickers marine paintings and prints

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Landline : + 33 (0) 9 79 01 93 20

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Gordon Frickers © 13 06.2020 updated 19.09.2023

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