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Heinkel He 111

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere

The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing",[1][2] it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium bomber.

It is perhaps the most famous symbol of the German bomber force (Kampfwaffe) due its distinctive "Greenhouse" nose.[2] The Heinkel became the most numerous and primary Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II. It fared well in all the early campaigns suffering modest losses until the Battle of Britain, when its weak defensive armament, speed and manoeuvrability left it exposed.[2] Nevertheless, as a combat aircraft it proved capable of sustaining heavy damage and remaining airborne. As the war progressed the He 111 took on the mantle of "workhorse", and was used in a variety of roles on every front in the European Theatre throughout the war. It was used in every conceivable role; as a strategic bomber during the Battle of Britain, a torpedo bomber during the Battle of the Atlantic and a medium bomber and a transport aircraft on the Western, Eastern, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African Fronts. Later in the war, with the German bomber force defunct, the He 111 was used as a transport aircraft in the logistics role.[2]

Despite being constantly upgraded, the Heinkel He 111 became obsolete during the latter part of the war. But the failure of the Luftwaffe to design and produce a worthy successor meant the He 111 continued to be produced until 1944, when piston-engine bomber production was largely halted, in favour of fighter aircraft.

The design of the Heinkel endured after the war in the CASA 2.111. Its airframe was produced in Spain under license by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA. The design differed significantly in powerplant only. The Heinkel's descendant continued in service until 1973, when it was retired. Template:TOClimit

Design and development

Design conception

In the early 1930s, Ernst Heinkel decided to build the world's fastest passenger plane, a lofty goal met by more than a little scepticism by the German aircraft industry and its newly evolving political leadership. Heinkel entrusted the development to Siegfried and Walter Günter, fairly new to the company and untested. In June 1933, Albert Kesselring visited Heinkel's offices.[3] At that point, Germany did not have any State Aviation Ministry, but only a Aviation Commissariat, the Luftfahrtkommissariat.[3] Kesselring was head of the Luftwaffe Administration Office.[3] Kesselring was hoping to build a new air force out of the Flying Corps being constructed in the Reichswehr.[3] Kesselring convinced Heinkel to move his factory from Warnemunde to Rostock and turn it over to military orientated mass production with a force of 3,000 employees.[3] The Heinkel company agreed. The Heinkel firm was to produce the first He 111 at the Rostock facility. To increase revenue, Heinkel began working to provide a new design for civilian use. This order was in response to new American types that were appearing.[3] The RLM ordered Heinkel to produce an aircraft capable of civilian and military service.[3]

The He 111 was to be a response to the fast Lockheed L-12, Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2. The first example of their soon-to-be-famous Heinkel He 70 Blitz ("Lightning") rolled off the line in 1932 and immediately started breaking records. In its normal four-passenger version, its speed reached 380 km/h (230 mph), even though it was powered by only a single 447 kW (600 hp) BMW VI engine.[4] The elliptical wing, which the Günther brothers had already used in the Bäumer Sausewind sports plane before they joined Heinkel, became a feature in many subsequent designs the brothers developed. The design immediately garnered the interest of the Luftwaffe, which was looking for an aircraft with dual bomber/transport capabilities for military service.[5]

The future Heinkel He 111 was a more powerful twin-engine version of the Blitz, producing an aircraft that had many of the BlitzTemplate:'s features, including its elliptical inverted gull wing, small rounded control surfaces, and BMW engines. With location of the engines the only notable change in appearance, the new He 111 design was often called the Doppel-Blitz ("Double Lightning"). The appearance of the Dornier Do 17 had raised the bar even higher, and now that it had displaced the He 70, Heinkel needed a twin-engine design to match their competitors.[4] The only difference besides the double power plant system was the fuselage length, which was extended to just over 17.4 m/57 ft (from 11.7 m/38ft 4½ in). The wingspan was also expanded to 22.6 m/74 ft (from 14.6 m/48 ft).[4]

First flight

Before the first flight of the He 111, Heinkel spent 200,000 hours developing it.[6] The first He 111 flew on 24 February 1935, and was piloted by Chief Test Pilot Gerhard Nitschke. Nitschke had been ordered not to land at the company's factory airfield at Rostock-Marienehe, but at Rechlin, as the runway at the factory was considered too small. He ignored these orders and landed back at Marienehe. He said that the He 111 performed slow manoeuvres well and that there was no danger of overshooting the runway.[7][8] Nitschke also praised its high speed "for the period" and had "very good-natured flight and landing characteristics".[9] However during the second test flight Nitschke revealed there was;

1. Longitudinal stability was insufficient during the climb and during flight at full power
2. The relatively strong aileron forces were unsatisfactory.[9]

However, there were some positives as well;

1. The stable flight behaviour when cruising and during gradual descents
2. An absence of any nose-heavy tendency on extending the landing flaps
3. An absence of problems during single-engine flight.[9]

By the end of 1935, prototypes V2 V4 had been produced under civilian registrations D-ALIX, D-ALES and D-AHAO. D-ALES became the first prototype of the He 111A-1. On 10 January 1936, and received recognition as the "fastest aircraft in the world", as its speed exceeded 402 km/h (250 mph).[10] However, this was incorrect; the fastest aircraft at that time was the Macchi M.C.72, which broke the record in 1934. The design would have achieved a greater total speed had the DB 600 engines of 746 kW (1,000 hp) been added.[5] However, German aviation industries lacked power plants with more than 447 kW (600 hp). Heinkel were forced to use the BMW VI glycol-cooled engine.[8]

During the war, test pilot Eric Brown evaluated many Luftwaffe aircraft. Among them was a He 111H-1 of Kampfgeschwader 26 which force landed at the Firth of Forth on 9 February 1940. Brown described his impression of the He 111s unique greenhouse nose:

The overall impression of space within the cockpit area and the great degree of visual sighting afforded by the Plexiglas panelling were regarded as positive factors, with one important provision in relation to weather conditions. Should either bright sunshine or rainstorms be encountered, the pilot's visibility could be dangerously compromised either by glare throwback or lack of good sighting.[11]

Taxiing was easy and was only complicated by rain, when the pilot had to slide back the window panel and look out to establish direction. On take off, Brown reported very little "swing" and the aircraft was well balanced. On landing, Brown noted that approach speed should be above 145 km/h (90 mph) and should be held until touch down. This was to avoid a tendency by the He 111 to drop a wing, especially on the port side.[11]

Basic design (based on the He 111 H-3)

The design of the He 111A-L initially had a conventional stepped cockpit. The introduction of the P variant meant that the He 111P and following production variants would be fitted with a fully glazed "bullet" or "fishbowl"-like nose. The stepped cockpit now merged into the glazed nose which housed the pilot, bombardier, and navigator.[12] The fuselage contained two major bulkheads. The cockpit was at the front of the first bulkhead. The nose was fitted with a rotating machine gun mount which was offset to allow the pilot a better field of forward vision. The cockpit was fully glazed, with the exception of the lower right section, which acted as a platform for the bombardier-gunner to be positioned. The bombsight penetrated through the cockpit floor into a protective housing on the external side of the cockpit area.[12] Between the forward and rear bulkhead was the bomb bay, which was constructed with a double-frame to strengthen it for carrying the bomb load. The space between the bomb bay and rear bulkhead was used up by Funkgerät radio equipment and contained the dorsal and ventral gunner positions. The rear bulkhead itself contained a hatch which led to the rest of the fuselage which was held together by a series of stringers.[12]

File:Heinkel He 111 interior.JPG
Inside Wk Nr 701152 He 111 H-20. Looking forward to the first bulkhead from the ventral gunner's position. The control column and cockpit glazing is visible in the central background

The wings' leading edges were swept back to a point inline with the engine nacelles, while the trailing edges were angled forward slightly. The wing contained two 700 L (190 US gal) fuel tanks between the inner wing main spars, while at the head of the main spar the oil coolers were fitted. Between the outer spars, a second pair of reserve fuel tanks were located carrying an individual capacity of 910 L (240 US gal) of fuel.[12] The outer trailing edges were formed by the ailerons and flaps, which were met by smooth wing tips which curved forward into the leading edge. The outer leading edge sections were installed in the shape of a curved "strip nosed" rib, which was positioned ahead of the main spar. Most of the interior ribs were not solid, with the exception of the ribs located between the rear main spar and the flaps and ailerons. This was of solid construction, though even they had lighting holes.[12]

The control systems also had some innovations. The control column was centrally placed and the pilot sat on the port side of the cockpit. The column had a extension arm fitted and had the ability to be swung over to the starboard side in case the pilot was incapacitated. The control instruments were located above the pilot's head in the ceiling which allowed viewing and did not block the pilot's vision.[13] The fuel instruments were electrified. The He 111 used the inner fuel tanks closest to the wing root. The outer tanks acted as reserve tanks. The pilot would be alerted to the fuel level when the tank had 100 L (26 US gal) left. A manual pump was available in case of electrical or power failure, but the delivery rate of just 4½ L (1.2 US gal) per minute demanded that the pilot fly at the lowest possible speed and just below 3,048 m (10,000 ft). Fortunately, the He 111 handled well at low speeds.[13]

The defensive machine gun positions were located in the glass nose, the ventral, dorsal and lateral positions in the fuselage and all offered a significant field of fire.[14] The design of the nose allowed the machine gun position to be moved 10° upwards from the horizontal and 15° downwards.[14] The gun can also traverse some 30° laterally.[14] Both the dorsal and ventral machine guns can move up and downwards by 65°.[14] The dorsal position can also move the 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun 40° laterally, but the ventral 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81Z machine gun could be moved 45° laterally.[14] Each MG 81 single machine gun mounted in the side of the fuselage could move laterally by 40°, and could move upwards from the horizontal by 30° and downwards by 40°.[14]


In the mid-1930s, Dornier Flugzeugwerke and Junkers competed with Heinkel for RLM contracts. The main competitor to the Heinkel was the Junkers Ju 86. In 1935, comparison trials were undertaken with the He 111. At this point, the Heinkel was equipped with two BMW V1 engines while Ju 86A was equipped with two Jumo 205Cs, both of which had 492 kW (660 hp). The He 111 had a slightly heavier takeoff weight of 8,220 kg (18,120 lb) compared to the Ju 86's 8,000 kg (17,640 lb) and the maximum speed of both aircraft was 311 km/h (193 mph).[9] However the Ju 86 had a higher cruising speed of 177 mph, 9 mph faster than the He 111.[9] This stalemate was altered drastically by the appearance of the DB 600C, which increased the He 111's power by 164 kW (220 hp).[9] The RLM awarded both contracts, and Junkers sped up development and production at a breathtaking pace, but the financial expenditure for the Junkers was huge. In 1934-1935, 3,800,000 RM (4½% of annual turnover) was spent.[9] The Ju 86 appeared at a large amount of flight displays all over the world which helped sales to the RLM and abroad. Dornier, also currently competing with their Do 17, and Heinkel were not as successful. However in production terms the He 111 dominated with 8,000 examples produced.[9] Just 846 Ju 86s were produced,[9] and the Ju 86's weak performance could not match that of the He 111.[6] Having dropped out of the race, Junkers concentrated on the Junkers Ju 88 design. It would be the He 111 that entered the Luftwaffe as the dominant numerical type at the beginning of the Second World War.[9] Template:Bquote

The sheep; Early civilian variants

He 111C in civilian service

The first prototype, He 111 V1 (W.Nr. 713, D-ADAP), first flew from Rostock-Marienehe on 24 February 1935.[15] It was followed by the civilian-equipped V2 and V4 in May 1935. The V2 (W.Nr. 715, D-ALIX) used the bomb bay as a four-seat "smoking compartment", with another six seats behind it in the rear fuselage. V2 entered service with Lufthansa in 1936, along with six other newly-built versions known as the He 111 C.[16] The He 111V4 was unveiled to the foreign press on 10 January 1936.[16] Nazi propaganda inflated the performance of the He 111C, announcing its maximum speed as 400 km/h (249mph), in reality its performance standing at 360 km/h (224mph).[17] The He 111C-0 was a commercial version and took the form of the V4 prototpye design. The first machine, designated D-AHAO "Dresden". It was powered by the BMW VI engine and could manage a range (depending on the fuel capacity) of 1,000 km (621mi) to 2,200 km (1,367mi)[17] and a maximum speed of 310 km/h (193mph).[18] The wing span on the C series was 22.6m (74ft 1¾in).[18] The fuselage dimesions stood at 17.1m (56ft 1¾in) in the He 111V1, but changed in the C to 17.5m (57ft 5in). The Jumo 205 diesel-type powerplant engine replaced the BMW VI. Nevertheless, the maximum speed remained in the 220-240 km/h (137-149mph) bracket. This was increased slightly when the BMW 132 engines were introduced.[18]

A general problem existed in powerplants. The He 111 was equipped with BMW VI glycol-cooled engines. The German aviation industry lacked powerplants that could give an output more than 600hp.[19] The engines that were of suitable quality were kept for military use, frustrating German airline Lufthansa and forcing it to rely on the BMW VI or 132s.[18]

He 111G

The He 111G was an upgraded variant and had a number of differences to its predecessors. To simplify production the leading edge of the wing was straightened, like the bomber version. Quite a few different engine types were used, among them the BMW 132, BMW VI, DB 600 and DB601A. Some C variants had been upgraded with the new wing modifications. A new BMW 132H engine was also used in a so-called Einheitstriebwerk (unitary powerplant). These radial engines were used in the Junkers Ju 90 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 200. The wing units and engines were packed together as complete operating systems, allowing quick for a quick change of engine.[20] The He 111G was the most powerful as well as the fastest commercial version.[20] The G-0 was given the BMW VI 6.0 ZU. Later variants had their powerplants vary. The G-3 for example was equipped with the BMW 132. The G-4 was powered by DB600G inline 950hp engine and the G-5 was given the DB601A with a top speed of 410 km/h (255mph). By early 1937, eight G variants were in Lufthansa service. The maximum number of He 111s in Lufthansa service was 12. The He 111 operated all over Europe and flew flights as far away as South Africa. Commercial development ended with the He 111G.[20]

Military variants

He 111 A - D

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-401-0244-27, Flugzeug Heinkel He 111.jpg
A He 111E in Luftwaffe service, 1940. The early variants had a conventional, stepped cockpit.

The initial reports from the test pilot, Gerhard Nitschke, were favourable. The plane's flight performance and handling were impressive although it dropped its wing in the stall. As a result, the passenger variants had their wings reduced from 25 m (82 ft) to 23 m (75 ft). The military aircraft - V1, V3 and V5 - spanned just 22.6 m (74.1 ft)[15]. The first prototypes were underpowered, as they were equipped with 431 kW (578 hp) BMW VI 6.0 six-cylinder in-line engines. This was eventually increased to 745 kW (999 hp) with the fitting of the DB (Daimler-Benz) 600 engines into the V5, which became the prototype of the "B" series.[15]

Only 10 He 111A-0 models based on the V3 were built, but they proved to be underpowered and were eventually sold to China. The type had been lengthened by 1.2 m (3.9 ft) due to the added 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun in the nose. Another gun position was installed on top of the fuselage, and another in a ventral position, which could retract. The bomb bay was divided into two compartments and could carry 680 kg (1,500 lb) of bombs. The problem with these additions was that the weight of the aircraft reached 8,200 kg (18,080 lb). The He 111's performance was seriously reduced; in particular, the BMW VI 6.0 Z engines were not now powerful enough. The increased length also altered the 111's aerodynamic strengths and reduced its excellent handling on takeoffs and landings.[21] The crews found the aircraft difficult to fly, and its top speed was reduced significantly. Production was shut down after the pilots reports reached the RLM. However, a Chinese delegation was visiting Germany and they considered the He 111 A-0 fit for their needs and purchased seven machines.[22]

The first He 111B made its maiden flight in the autumn of 1936. The first production batch rolled off the production lines that summer, at Rostock.[23] Seven B-0 pre-production aircraft were built, bearing the Werknummern (Works numbers) 1431 to 1437.[23] The B-0s were powered by DB 600C engines fitted with variable pitch airscrews.[23] The screws increased output by 149 kW (200 hp).[23] The B-0 had a MG 15 machine gun installed in the nose. The B-0 could also carry 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) in their vertical cells.[23] The B-1 had some minor improvements. The installation of the revolving gun-mount in the nose and a flexible Ikaria turret under the fuselage.[23] After improvements, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM- Reich Air Ministry) ordered 300 He 111B-1s; the first were delivered in January 1937. The B-2 variant had its engines upgraded to the supercharged 634 kW (850 hp) DB 600C, or in some cases, the water-cooled 690 kW (925 hp) 600G. The B-2 began to roll off the production lines at the Heinkel works in Oranienburg in 1937.[23][24] The He 11B-3 was a modified trainer. Some 255 B-1s were ordered.[23] However, the production orders were impossible to fulfill and only 28 B-1s were built.[23] Owing to the production of the new He 111E, only a handful of He 111B-3s were produced. Due to insufficient capacity, Dornier, Arado and Junkers built the He 111B series at their plants in Wismar, Brandenburg and Dessau.[23] The B series compared favourably with the capacity of the A series. The bomb load increased to 1,500 kg (3,300lb), while there was also an increase in maximum speed and altitude to 215mph (344 km/hr) and 22,000ft (6,700m)[22][25] The armament was settled at three machine gun positions. Save for the windshield, the dorsal gunner's position was exposed to the elements.[25]

In late 1937, the D-1 series entered production. However, the DB 600Ga engine with 781 kW (1,047 hp) planned for this variant was instead allocated to the Bf 109 and Bf 110 production lines. Heinkel then opted to use Jumo engines, and the He 111 V6 was tested with Jumo 210 G engines, but was vastly underpowered. However, the improved 745 kW (999 hp) Jumo 211 A-1 powerplant prompted the cancellation of the D series altogether and concentration on the design of the E series.[26]

He 111 E

The pre-production E-0 series were built in small numbers. Fitted with Jumo 211 A-1 engines loaded with retractable radiators and exhaust systems. The variant could carry 1,700 kg (3,748lb) of bombs giving it a take off weight og 10.300 kg (22,707lbs). The development team for the Jumo 211 A-1 engines managed to increase engine power to 930hp, subsequently the He 111 E-1s bomb load capacity increased to 2,000 kg (4,410lb) and a top speed of 242mph (390 km/hr).[27]

The E-1 variant with Jumo 211A-1 engines was developed in 1937, the He 111 V6 being the first production variant. The E-1 had its original powerplant, the DB 600 replaced with the Jumo 210 Ga inline engines.[28] The more powerful Jumo 211 A-1 engines desired by the RLM were not yet ready for installation. Another trial aircraft, He 111 V10 (D-ALEQ) was to be fitted with two oil coolers necessary for the Jumo 211 A-1 installation. The lubricant coolers being installed into the engine fairing in a streamline manner. [28]

The E-1s came off the production line in February 1938, in time for a number of these aircraft to serve in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War in March 1938.[29] In a way, the positive performance influenced later variants. The Luftwaffe believed that because the E variant could outrun enemy fighters, there was no need to upgrade the defensive weaponry, which would prove a mistake from the Battle of Britain onward. The defensive armament of the ten ton heavy aircraft corresponded to the He 111B-2 variant.[28] The fuselage bomb bay used four bomb racks, in later versions eight modular standard bomb racks designed to carry one SC 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, or four SC 50 kg (110 lb) bombs each in nose up orientation (which resulted in the bombs doing a flip as they were dropped out of the aircraft). These modular standard bomb racks were a common feature on the first generation of Luftwaffe bombers (including the Junkers Ju 52), but it turned out that they limited the ordnance selection to bombs of only two sizes. Since they had to be built strong enough to carry heavy bombs without contributing to the structural integrity of the aircraft, these racks were abandoned in later designs.

The E-2 series was not produced, and was dropped in favour of producing the E-3. with only a few modifications, such as external bomb racks.[27] Its design features were distinguished by improvements FuG radio systems, and the Jumo 211 A-3 installed in place of the A-1, albeit experimentally.[29] The E-3 series was equipped with the Jumo 211 A-3 for the duration of the series which packed 1,100hp.[29]

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-C0214-0007-013, Spanien, Flugzeug der Legion Condor.jpg
He 111E of the Legion Kondor. Note the early variants conventional "stepped" cockpit

The E-4 variant was fitted with external bomb racks also and the empty bomb bay space was filled with a 835 L (221 US gal) tank for aviation fuel and a further 115 L (30 US gal) oil tank. This increased the loaded weight to nearly 9.9 tonnes (11 tons), but increased its range to 1,800 km (1,130 mi). The modifications allowed the He 111 to perform both long and short range missions.[30] The E-4s eight internal vertically aligned bomb racks could each carry a 250 kg (550lb).[31] The last E Variant, the He 111E-5, was powered by the Jumo 211A-3, and retained the 835 L (221 US gal) fuel tank on the port side of the bomb bay. Only a few of the E-4 and E-5 were built.[29]

The RLM had acquired an interest in rocket boosters fitted for the sake of simplicity below the wings of a heavily loaded bomber to cut down the length of runway needed for take-off. Once in the air the booster canisters would be jettisoned by parachute for re-use. The firm of Hellmuth Walter, at Kiel, handled this development.[32] The first standing trials and tests flights of the boosters were held in 1937 at Neuhardenberg with test pilot Erich Warsitz at the controls of Heinkel He 111E AMUE.[33]

He 111 F

The He 111 design quickly ran though a series of minor design versions to fix one sort of problem or another. One of the more obvious changes started with the He 111 F models, which moved from the elliptical wing to one with straight leading and trailing edges, which could be manufactured more efficiently.[29] The dimensions of the new design had a wing span of 22.6m (74ft 1¾in) and an area of 87.60m² (942.90ft).[29] The industrial capacity of Heinkel was limited and production was delayed. 24 machines of the F-1 series, fitted with DB 600 engines, were exported to Turkey.[29] Another 20 of the F-2 variant were built.[34] The Turkish interest, prompted by the fact the tests of the next prototype, He 111 V8, was some way off, prompted the RLM to order 40 F-4s with Jumo 211 A-3 engines. These machines were built and entered service in early 1938.[26] This fleet was used as a transport group during the Demyansk Pocket and Battle of Stalingrad.[35] At this time, development began on the He 111 J. It was powered by the DB 600 and was intended as a torpedo bomber. As a result, it lacked an internal bomb bay and carried two external torpedo racks. The RLM gave an order for the bomb bay to be retrofitted; this variant became known as the J-1. In all but the powerplant, it was identical to the F-4.[26] The final variant of the F series was the F-5. The F-5 was designed as a bomber. Its bombsight and powerplant configuration equipment was identical to the E-5.[34] The F-5 was rejected as a production variants owing to the superior performance of the He 111P-1 which was being developed.[34]

He 111 J

The He 111's low-level performance attracted the interest of the Kriegsmarine. The navy believed the He 111 would make an excellent torpedo bomber, and as a result, the He 111 J was produced. The J was capable of carrying torpedoes and mines. The Kriegsmarine eventually dropped the program as they deemed the four man crew too expensive in terms of manpower. The RLM however, had progressed too far with the development, and continued to build the He 111 J-0. Some 90 (other sources claim 60[36]) were built in 1938 and were then sent to Küstenfliegergruppe 806.[37] The He 111J-0 was powered by the DB 600G without retractable radiators. It could carry a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload. Few of the pre-production J-0s were ever fitted with the DB 600G. Instead, the DB 600 was used and the performance of the powerplant left much to be desired. The torpedo bomber was not pursued. The J-1 was identical to the F which the exception of the powerplants. The J was used in training schools until 1944.[34] Some J-1s were used as test beds for Blohm & Voss L 10 radio-guided air-to-ground torpedo missiles.[38]

He 111 P

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-317-0043-17A, Flugzeug Heinkel He 111.jpg
He 111P dropping bombs over Poland, September 1939

The He 111 P incorporated the updated Daimler-Benz DB 601A-1 water cooled engine and featured a newly designed nose section, including an asymmetric Ikaria nose mounting for an MG 15 machine gun that replaced the 'stepped' cockpit with a roomier and aerodynamically favourable glazed "dome" over the front of the aircraft. These improvements allowed the aircraft to reach 475 km/h (295 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) and a cruise speed of 370 km/h (230 mph), although a full bombload reduced this figure to 300 km/h (190 mph).[26] The design was implemented in 1937 because pilot reports indicated problems with visibility. [26] The pilot's seat could actually be elevated, with the pilot's eyes above the level of the upper glazing, complete with a small pivoted windscreen panel, to get the pilot's head above the level of the top of the "glass tunnel" for a better forward view for take-offs and landings.

One of Heinkel's rivals, Junkers, built 40 He 111Ps at Dessau. On the 8 October 1938 the Junkers Central Administration commented:

Two aircraft were able to be inspected on 6th October in Bernburg. Apparent are the externally poor, less carefully designed components at various locations, especially at the junction between the empennage and the rear fuselage. All parts have an impression of being very weak; especially when one is used to taking a long look at Junkers' designs, one cannot dispel a feeling of uncertainty. The visible flexing in the wing must also be very high. The left and right powerplants are interchangeable. Each motor has an exhaust-gas heater on one side, but it is not connected to the fuselage since it is probable that as a result of incorrect air feed, the warm air in the fuselage is not free of carbon monoxide (CO). The fuselage is not subdivided into individual segments, but is attached over its entire length, after completion, to the wing centre section. Outboard of the powerplants, the wings are attached by universal joints. The latter can in no way be satisfactory and have been the cause of several failures.[39]

The new design was powered by the DB 601 Ba engine with 1,175 PS and reduced the length of the aircraft by 1.1 m (3.6 ft).[26] The He 111Ps DB601 powerplant exhaust pipes had a second outlet on the top of the engine which pumped hot air back into the aircraft to warm crews.[40] It was designated as P-0, and the first production lines reached their units in Fall 1938. In May 1939, the P-1 and P-2 went into service with improved radio equipment. The P-1 variant was produced with two DB 601Aa powerplants of 1,150hp. The fuel tanks had the added innovation of self sealing fuel tanks to protect them from enemy fire.[41] The Nose department itself was now fully glazed and the "stepped up" cockpit was dipensed with. The P-1 was powered by a DB 601Aa engine and given a semi-retractable tail wheel to decrease drag.[41] Armament consisted of a MG 15 mounted in the Ikaria A Stand mount in the nose, and a sliding hood for the fuselage's dorsal B-Stand position. Installation of upgraded FuG III radio communication devices were also made and a new ESAC-250/III vertical bomb magazine was added. The overall takeoff weight was now 13,300 kg (29,321 lb).[42]

The P-2, like the later P-4 was given stronger armour and two MG 15 machine guns on either side of the fuselage and two external bomb racks.[26] Radio communications consisted of FuG IIIaU radios and the DB601 A-1 replaced the 601Aa powerplants. The Lotfernrohr 7 bomb sight, which became the standard bombsight for German bombers were also fitted to the P-2. The P-2 was also given "field equipment sets", to upgrade the weak defensive armament to four or five MG 15 machine guns.[42] The P-2 had its bomb capacity raised to 4 ESA-250/IX vertical magazines.[42] The P-2 thus had an empty weight of 6,202 kg (13,272lb), a loaded weight increased to 12,570 kg (27,712lb) and a maximum range of 2,100 km (1,305mi).[42]

The P-3 was powered with he same DB601A-1 engines. The aircraft was also designed to takeoff with a land catapult (KL-12). A towing hook was added to the fuselage under the cockpit for the cable. Just eight examples were produced, all without bomb equipment.[41] The P-4 contained many changes from the P-2 and P-3. The jettisonable loads were capable of considerable variation. Two external SC 1800 kg (3,960lb) bombs; two LMA air-dropped anti-shipping mines; one SC 1,800 kg plus four SC 250 kg; or one SC 2,500 kg external bomb could be carried on a ETC Rüstsatz rack. Depending on the load variation, a 835 L fuel and 120 L oil tank could be added in place of the internal bomb bay. The armament consisted of three defensive MG 15 machine guns.[41] But these were not sufficient, so a further six MG 15s and one MG 17 machine gun was added. The radio communications were standard FuG X(10), Peil G V direction finding and FuBI radio devices. Because of the increase in defensive fire power, the crew numbers increased from four to five. The empty weight of the P-4 increased to 6,775 kg (14,936lb), and the full takeoff weight increased to 13,500 kg (29,762lb) owing to the mentioned alterations.[41] The P-5 was powered by the DB601A. The variant was mostly used as a trainer and at least 24 production variants were produced before production ceased.[34] The P-5 was alleged to have been fitted with PVC bomb racks, which cannot be confirmed.[41] The P-5 was fitted with meteorological equipment, and was used in Luftwaffe weather units.[41] Many of the He 111 Ps served during the Polish Campaign. With the Junkers Ju 88 experiencing technical difficulties, the He 111 and the Do 17 formed the backbone of the Kampfwaffe. On 1 September 1939, Luftwaffe records indicate the Heinkel strength at 705 (along with 533 Dorniers).[43]

The P-6 variant was the last production model of the He 111 P series. In 1940, the RLM abandoned further production of the P series in favour of the H versions, mostly because the P-series' Daimler-Benz engines were sorely needed for Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighter production. The remaining P-6s were redesignated P-6/R2s and used as heavy glider tugs.[44] The most notable difference with previous variants was the upgraded DB608N powerplants.[39]

The P-7 variants history is unclear. German archives do not produce any relaible information for this variant, if it existed.[39] The P-8 was said to have been similar to the H-5 fitted with dual controls. Its existence cannot be established.[39] The P-9 was produced as an export variant for the Hungarian Air Force. Due to the lack of DB608E engines, the line was terminated in Summer 1940.[39]

He 111H, the main variant

He 111H-1 to H-10

The H variant of the He 111 series was more widely produced and saw more action during World War II than any other Heinkel variant. Owing to the uncertainty surrounding the delivery and availability of the DB 601 engines, Heinkel began tests with the 820 kW (1,100 hp) Junkers Jumo 211 powerplants. The somewhat larger size and greater weight of the Jumo 211 engines were unimportant considerations for a twin engine design, and the Jumo was used on almost all early-war bomber designs. When the Jumo was fitted to the P model it became the He 111 H.

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L20414, Torpedoangriff mit Heinkel He 111.jpg
He 111H on a torpedo training exercise, 10 October 1941

The He 111H-1 was fitted with a standard set of three 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15s and eight SC 250 250 kg (550 lb) or 32 SC 50 50 kg (110 lb) bombs. The same armament was used in the H-2 which started production in August 1939.[45] The P-series was gradually replaced on the eve of war with the new the H-2, powered by improved Jumo 211 A-3 engines of 820 kW (1,100 hp).[45] A count on 2 September 1939 revealed that the Luftwaffe had a total of 787 He 111s in service, with 705 combat ready, including 400 H-1 and H-2s that had been produced in a mere four months.[46] Production of the H-3, powered by the 895 kW (1,200 hp) Jumo 211 D-1, began in October 1939. The experiences during the Polish Campaign lead to an increase in defensive armament. MG 17s were fitted whenever possible and the number of machine guns was increased to seven. Normally one MG 17 would be installed in the nose, one in the ventral position, dorsal position and one in each waist window position. The two waist positions received an additional MG 15 or 17. On some Heinkels a permanent belt-fed MG 17 was installed in the tail.[45]

After the Battle of Britain, smaller scale production of the H-4s began. The H-4 was virtually identical to the He 111P-4 with the DB 600s swapped for the Jumo 211D-1s.[47] This variant also differed from the H-3 in that could either carry 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) of bombs internally or mount one or two external racks to carry one 1,800 kg (3,970 lb) or two 1,000 kg (2,210 lb) bombs. As these external racks blocked the internal bomb bay doors, a combination of internal and external storage was not possible. A PVR 1006L bomb rack was fitted externally and a 835 L (221 US gal) tank added. The PVR 1006L was capable of carrying a SC 1000 1,000 kg (2,210 lb) bomb. Some H-4s had their PVC racks modified to drop torpedoes.[47] Later modifications enabled the PVC 1006 to carry a 2,500 kg (5,510 lb) "Max" bomb. But 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) "Hermann" or 1,800 kg (3,970 lb) "Satans" were used more widely.[48] The H-5 series followed in February 1941, with heavier defensive armament.[49] Like the H-4, it retained a PVC 1006 L bomb rack to enable it to carry heavy bombs under the fuselage. The first ten He 111H-5s were pathfinders, and selected for special missions. The aircraft sometimes carried 25 kg flashlight bombs which acted as flares. The H-5 could also carry heavy fire bombs, either heavy containers or smaller incendiary devices attached to parachutes. The H-5 also carried LM A and LM B aerial mines for anti-shipping operations. After the 80th production aircraft, the PVC 1006 L bomb rack was removed and replaced with a heavy-duty ETC 2000 rack, enabling the H-5 to carry the SC 2500 "Max" bomb, on the external ETC 2000 rack, which enabled it to support the 5,000 lb bomb.[50] Some H-3 and H-4s were equipped with barrage balloon cable-cutting equipment in the shape of cutter installations forward of the engines and cockpit. They were designated H-8, but later named H8/R2. These aircraft were difficult to fly and the production stopped. The H-6 initiated some overall improvements in design. The Jumo 211 F-1 engine of 1,007 kW (1,350 hp) increased its speed while the defensive armament was upgraded with one 20 mm MG FF cannon in the nose position, one MG 15 in the ventral turret, and in each of the fuselage side windows (optional). Some H-6 variants carried tail-mounted MG 17 defensive armament.[51] The performance of the H-6 was much improved. The climb rate was higher and the machine could reach a slightly higher ceiling of 8,500 m (27,200ft). When heavy bomb loads were added, this ceiling was reduced to 6,500 m (20,800ft). The weight of the H-6 increased to 14,000 kg (30,600lb). Some H-6s received Jumo 211F-2s which improved a low-level speed of 226 mph (365 km/h). At an altitude of 6,000 m (19,200ft) the maximum speed was 270 mph (435 km/h). If heavy external loads were added, the speed was reduced by 21.75 mph (35 km/h)[52] Other designs of the mid-H series included the He 111 H-7 and H-8. The airframes were to be rebuilds of the H-3/H-5 variant. Both were designed as nightbombers and were to have two Jumo 211F-1s installed. The intention was for the H-8 to be fitted with cable-cutting equipment and barrage ballon deflectors on the leading edge of the wings. The H-7 was never built.[53] The H-9 was intended as a trainer with dual control columns. The airframe was a H-1 variant rebuild. The powerplants consisted of two JumoA-1s or D-1s.[53] The H-10 was also designated to trainer duties. Rebuilt from an H-2 of H-3 airframe, it was installed with full defensive armament including 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 and 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81Z machine guns. It was to be powered by two Jumo 211A-1s, D-1s or F-2s.[53]

Later H variants, H-11 to H-20

In the summer of 1942, the H-11, based on the H-3 was introduced. With the H-11, the Luftwaffe had at its disposal a powerful medium bomber with heavier armour and revised defensive armament. The drum-fed 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 was replaced with a belt-fed 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 in the now fully enclosed dorsal position (B-Stand); the gunner in the latter was now protected with armoured glass. The single MG 15 in the ventral C-Stand was also replaced, with a belt-fed 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81Z with much higher rate of fire. The beam positions originally retained the single MG 15s, but the H-11/R1 replaced these with twin MG 81Z as well; this latter arrangement was standardized in November 1942. The port internal ESAC bomb racks could be removed, and an 835 L (221 US gal) fuel tanks installed in its place.[54] Many H-11s were equipped with a new PVC rack under the fuselage, which carried five 250 kg (550 lb) bombs. Additional armour plating was fitted around crew spaces, some of it on the lower fuselage and could be jettisoned in emergency situations. Powerplants were consisted of two 1,000 kW (1,340 hp) Junkers Jumo 211F-2 engines, allowing this variant to carry a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload to a range of 2,340 km (1,450 mi). Heinkel built 230 new aircraft of this type and converted 100 H-3s to H-11s by the summer of 1943.[54]

The third large-scale production standard model of the He 111H was the H-16, entering production in late 1942. Armament was as on the H-11, with some differences. The 20 mm MG FF cannon was deleted, as the H-16s were seldom employed on low-level missions, was replaced with a single MG 131 in a flexible installation in the nose (A-Stand). On some aircraft, designated He 111H-16/R1, the dorsal position was replaced by DL 131 electrically-powered turret, armed with a MG 131. The two beam and the aft ventral positions were provided with MG 81Zs, as on the H-11. The two 1,000 kW (1,340 hp) Jumo 211 F-2 provided a maximum speed of 434 km/h (270 mph) at 6,000 m (19,690 ft); cruising speed was 390 km/h (242 mph), service ceiling was 8,500 m (27,900 ft).[55] Funkgerät (FuG) radio equipment. FuG 10P, FuG 16, FuBl Z and APZ 6 were fitted for communication and navigation at night, while some aircraft received the FuG 101a radio altimeter. The H-16 retained its eight ESAC internal bomb cells; four bomb cells, as on previous versions could be replaced by a fuel tank to increase range. ETC 2000 racks could be installed over the bomb cell openings for external weapons carriage. Empty weight was 6,900 kg (15,210 lb) and the aircraft weighed 14,000 kg (30,860 lb) fully loaded for take off. German factories built 1,155 H-16s between the end of 1942 and the end of 1943; in addition, 280 H-6s and 35 H-11s were updated to H-16 standard.[55]

The last major production variant was the H-20, which entered into production in early 1944. It was powered by two 1,305 kW (1,750 hp) Junkers Jumo 213E-1 engines, turning three-blade, Junkers VS 11 wooden variable-pitch propellers. Heinkel and its licenses built 550 H-20s through the summer of 1944, while 586 H-6s were upgraded to H-20 standard.[56] The H-20, in contrast to the H-11 and H-16, the H-20, equipped with two Jumo 211F-2s, was given more powerful armament and radio communications. The defensive armament consisted of one MG 131 in an A-Stand gun pod for the forward mounted machine gun position. One rotatable DL 131/1C (or E) gun mount in the B-stand was standard, and later MG 131 machine guns were added.[57] Navigational direction finding gear was also installed. The Peil G6 was added to locate targets and the FuBI 2H blind landing equipment was built in to help with night operations. The radio was a standard FuG 10, TZG 10 and FuG 16Z for naviagational direction to the target. The H-20 also was equipped with barrage balloon cable-cutters. The bomb load of the H-20 could be mounted on external ETC 1000 racks, or four ESAC 250 racks. The sub variant H-20/R4 could carry 20 50 kg (110lb) bombs as external loads.[57]

One of the most interesting variants was a glider tug, the He 111 Z, standing for Zwilling or twin. It was built from two 111 H-6s joined together with a connecting wing and a fifth engine and used to tow the giant Messerschmitt Me 321 or tow Gotha Go 242 gliders. Ten He 111 Zs were built, and all served until destroyed.[36]

The He 111H had to be kept in production until 1944 because the RLM failed to provide a successor: the He 177 Greif heavy bomber was plagued by engine problems, and the Bomber B program was eventually abandoned. The vast majority of the 7,300 He 111s produced were the H models, largely identical to the first H introduced in 1939.

He 111Z

File:Heinkel He 111Z.JPG
Heinkel He-111 Z

The He 111Z was a design that entailed the merging of two He 111s. The design was originally conceived to tow the Messerschmitt Me 321 glider. Initially, four He 111H-6s were modified. This resulted in a twin-fuselage, five-engine aircraft. They were tested at Rechlin, and the pilots rated them highly.[58] A batch of 10 were produced and five were built from existing H-6s. The machines were joined by a centre wing formed by two sections 6.15 m (20 ft) in length. The powerplants were five Jumo 211F engines at 1,000 kW (1,340 hp) each. Total fuel capacity was 8,570 L (2,260 US gal). This was increased with the addition of four 600 L (160 US gal) drop tanks.[36] It could tow a Gotha Go 242 glider or Me 321 for up to 10 hours at cruising speed. It could also remain airborne if the three centralised powerplants failed. The He 11Z-2s and Z-3s were also planned as heavy bombers carrying 1,800 kg (3,970 lb) of bombs and having a range of 4,000 km (2,500 mi). The ETC extensions allowed for a further four 600 L (160 US gal) drop tanks to be installed.

The He 11Z-2 could carry four Henschel Hs 293 anti-shipping guided missile, which were guided by the FuG 203b Kehl III missile control equipment.[59] With this load the He 111Z had a range of 1,094 km (680 mi) and a speed of 314 km/h (195 mph). Its maximum bombload was 7,200 kg (15,870 lb). To increase power the five Jumo 211F-2 powerplants were to be fitted with Hirth TK 11 superchargers. The armament was the same as the H-6 with the addition of one 20 mm MG 151/20 in a rotating gun-mount of the centre section. The variant did not display any convincing (stable) flight performance.[59] The layout of the He 111Z had the pilot and his controls in the port fuselage only. Only the controls themselves and essential equipment remaining in the starboard section. The aircraft had a crew of seven; a pilot, first mechanic, radio operator and gunner in the port fuselage, and the observer, second mechanic and gunner in the starboard fuselage.[36] The Z-3 was to be a reconnaissance version and was to have additional fuel tanks increasing its range to 6,000 km (3,730 mi). Production was due to take place in 1944, just as bomber production was being abandoned. The long-range variant designs failed to come to fruition.[60] The He 111Z was to have been used in an invasion of Malta in 1942 and as part of an airborne assault on the Soviet cities Astrakhan and Baku in the Caucasus in the same year. During the Battle of Stalingrad their use was cancelled due to insufficient airfield capacity. Later in 1943 it helped evacuate German equipment and personnel from the Caucasus region and during the Allied invasion of Sicily attempted to deliver reinforcements to the island.[61] During operations, the He 111Z did not have enough power to lift a fully loaded Me 321. The He 111s in RATO (rocket assisted takeoff) units were supplemented by rocket pods. Two were mounted beneath each fuselage and one underneath each wing. This added 500 kg (1,100 lb) in weight, but gave additional thrust to the engines. The pods were then released by parachute after takeoff.[36] The He 111s operational history was minimal. One such machine was caught by RAF fighter aircraft over France on 14 March 1944. The He 111Z was towing a Gotha Go 242, and was shot down.[62] Eight were shot down or destroyed on the ground in 1944.[63]

List of variants

  • He 111 A-0: 10 aircraft built based on He 111 V3, two used for trials at Rechlin, rejected by Luftwaffe all 10 were sold to China".[64]
  • He 111 B-0: Pre-production aircraft, similar to He 111 A-0, but with DB600Aa engines.
  • He 111 B-1: Production aircraft as B-0, but with DB600C engines. Defensive armament consisted of a flexible Ikaria turret in the nose A Stand, a B Stand with one DL 15 revolving gun-mount and a C Stand with one MG 15.[64]
  • He 111 B-2: As B-1, but with DB600GG engines, and extra radiators on either side of the engine nacelles under the wings. Later the DB 600Ga engines were added and the wing surface coolers withdrawn.[64]
  • He 111 B-3: Modified B-1 for training purposes.[64]
  • He 111 C-0: Six pre-production aircraft.
  • He 111 D-0: Pre-production aircraft with DB600Ga engines.[64]
  • He 111 D-1: Production aircraft, only a few built. Notable for the installation of the FuG X, or FuG 10, designed to operate over longer ranges. Auxiliary equipment contained direction finding Peil G V and FuBI radio blind landing aids.[29]
  • He 111 E-0: Pre-production aircraft, similar to B-0, but with Jumo 211A-1 engines.
  • He 111 E-1: Production aircraft with Jumo 211 A-1 powerplants. Prototypes were powered by Jume 210G as which replaced the original DB 600s.[29]
  • He 111 E-2: Non production variant. No known variants built. Designed with Jumo 211 A-1s and A-3s.[29]
  • He 111 E-3: Production bomber. Same design as E-2, but upgraded to standard Jumo 211A-3s.[29]
  • He 111 E-4: Half of 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) bomb load carried externally.[29]
  • He 111 E-5: Fitted with several internal auxiliary fuel tanks.[29]
  • He 111 F-0: Pre-production aircraft similar to E-5, but with a new wing of simpler construction with a straight rather than curved taper, and Jumo 211A-1 engines.[34]
  • He 111 F-1: Production bomber, 24 were exported to Turkey.[34]
  • He 111 F-2: 20 were built. The F-2 was based on the F-1, differing only in installation of optimised wireless equipment.[34]
  • He 111 F-3: Planned reconnaissance version. Bomb release equipment replaced with RB cameras. It was to have Jumo 211A-3 powerplants.[34]
  • He 111 F-4: A small number of staff communications aircraft were built under this designation. Equipment was similar to the G-5.[34]
  • He 111 F-5: The F-5 was not put into production. The already available on the P variant showed it to be superior.[34]
  • He 111 G-0: Pre-production transportation aircraft built, featured new wing introduced on F-0.
  • He 111 G-3: Also known as V14, fitted with BMW 132Dc radial engines.
  • He 111 G-4: Also known as V16, fitted with DB600G engines.
  • He 111 G-5: Four aircraft with DB600Ga engines built for export to Turkey.
  • He 111 J-0: Pre-production torpedo bomber similar to F-4, but with DB600CG engines.[34]
  • He 111 J-1: Production torpedo bomber, 90 built, but re-configured as a bomber.
  • He 111 L: Alternative designation for the He 111G-3 civil transport aircraft.
  • He 111 P-0: Pre-production aircraft featured new straight wing, new glazed nose, Db601Aa engines, and a ventral gondola for gunner (rather than "dust-bin" on previous models).[42]
  • He 111 P-1: Production aircraft, fitted with three MG 15s as defensive armament.
  • He 111 P-2: Had FuG 10 radio in place of FuG IIIaU. Defensive armament increased to five MG 15s.[42]
  • He 111 P-3: Dual control trainer fitted with DB601A-1 powerplants.[42]
  • He 111 P-4: Fitted with extra armour, three extra MG 15s, and provisions for two externally mounted bomber racks. Powerplants consisted of DB601A-1s. The internal bomb bay was replaced with a 835 L fuel tank and a 120 L oil tank.[42]
  • He 111 P-5: The P-5 was a pilot trainer. Some 24 examples were built. The variant was powered by DB 601A engines.[42]
  • He 111 P-6: Some of the P-6s were powered by the DB 601N engines. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 received these engines, as they had greater priority.[42]
  • He 111 P-6/R2: Conversions later in war of surviving aircraft to glider tugs.
  • He 111 P-7: Never built.[39]
  • He 111 P-8: Its existence and production is in doubt.[39]
  • He 111 P-9: It was intended for export to the Hungarian Air Force, by the project founder for lack of DB 601E engines. Only a small number were built, and were used in the Luftwaffe as towcraft.[39]
  • He 111 H-0: Pre-production aircraft similar to P-2 but with Jumo 211A-1 engines.
  • He 111 H-1: Production aircraft. Fitted with FuG IIIaU and later FuG 10 radio communications.
  • He 111 H-2: This version was fitted with improved armament. Two D Stands (waist guns) in the fuselage giving the variant some five MG 15 Machine guns.
  • He 111 H-3: Similar to H-2, but with Jumo 211A-3 engines. Like the H-2, five MG 15 machine guns were standard. One A Stand MG FF cannon could be installed in the nose and an MG 15 could be installed in the tail unit.
  • He 111 H-4: Fitted with Jumo 211D engines, late in production changed to Jumo 211F engines, and two external bomb racks. Two PVC 1006L racks for carrying torpedoes could be added.".[65]
  • He 111 H-5: Similar to H-4, all bombs carried externally, internal bomb bay replaced by fuel tank. The variant was to be a longer range torpedo bomber.[65]
  • He 111 H-6: Torpedo bomber, could carry two LT F5b torpedoes externally, powered by Jumo 211F-1 engines, had six MG 15s and one MG FF cannon in forward gondola.[65]
  • He 111 H-7: Designed as a night bomber. Similar to H-6, tail MG 17 removed, ventral gondola removed, and armoured plate added. Fitted with Kuto-Nase barrage balloon cable-cutters.[65]
  • He 111 H-8: The H-8 was a rebuild of H-3 or H-5 aircraft, but with balloon cable-cutting fender. The H-8 was powered by Jumo 211D-1s.[65]
  • He 111 H-8/R2: Conversion of H-8 into glider tugs, balloon cable-cutting equipment removed.
  • He 111 H-9: Based on H-6, but with Kuto-Nase balloon cable-cutters.
  • He 111 H-10: Similar to H-6, but with 20 mm MG/FF cannon in ventral gondola, and fitted with Kuto-Nase balloon cable-cutters. Powered by Jumo 211 A-1s or D-1s.[65]
  • He 111 H-11: Had a fully-enclosed dorsal gun position and increased defensive armament and armour. The H-11 was fitted with Jumo 211 F-2s.[65]
  • He 111 H-11/R1: As H-11, but with two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81Z twin-gun units at beam positions.
  • He 111 H-11/R2: As H-11, but converted to a glider tug.
  • He 111 H-12: Modified to carry Hs 293A missiles, fitted with FuG 203b Kehl transmitter, and ventral gondola deleted.[65]
  • He 111 H-14: Pathfinder, fitted with FuG FuMB4 Samos and FuG 16 radio equipment.[65]
  • He 111 H-14/R1:Glider tug version.
  • He 111 H-15: The H-15 was intended as a launch pad for the Blohm & Voss BV 246.[65]
  • He 111 H-16: Fitted with Jumo 211F-2 engines and increased defensive armament of MG 131 machine guns, twin MG 81Zs, and a MG FF cannon.
  • He 111 H-16/R1: As H-16, but with MG 131 in power-operated dorsal turret.
  • He 111 H-16/R2: As H-16, but converted to a glider tug.
  • He 111 H-16/R3: As H-16, modified as a pathfinder.
  • He 111 H-18: Based on H-16/R3, was a pathfinder for night operations.
  • He 111 H-20: Defensive armament similar to H-16, but some aircraft feature power-operated dorsal turrets.
  • He 111 H-20/R1: Could carry 16 paratroopers, fitted with jump hatch.
  • He 111 H-20/R2: Was a cargo carrier and glider tug.
  • He 111 H-20/R3: Was a night bomber.
  • He 111 H-20/R4: Could carry twenty 50 kg (110 lb) bombs.
  • He 111 H-21: Based on the H-20/R3, but with Jumo 213E-1 engines.
  • He 111 H-22: Re-designated and modified H-6, H-16, and H-21's used to air launch V-1 flying-bombs.
  • He 111 H-23: Based on H-20/R1, but with Jumo 213A-1 engines.
  • He 111 R: High altitude bomber project.
  • He 111 U: A spurious designation applied for propaganda purposes to the Heinkel He 119 high-speed reconnaissance bomber design which set an FAI record in November 1937. True identity only becomes clear to the Allies after World War II.[66]
  • He 111 Z-1: Two He 111 airframes coupled together by a fifth engine, used a glider tug for Messerschmitt Me 321.
  • He 111 Z-2: Long-range bomber variant based on Z-1.
  • He 111 Z-3: Long-range reconnaissance variant based on Z-1.
CASA 2.111
The Spanish company CASA also produced a number of heavily modified He 111s under license for indigenous use. These models were designated CASA 2.111 and served until 1975.


To meet demand for numbers, Heinkel constructed a factory at Oranienburg. On 4 May 1936, construction began, and exactly one year later the first He 111 rolled off the production line.[67] The RLM Luftwaffe administration office suggested that Ernst Heinkel lend his name to the factory. The "Ernst Heinkel GmbH" was established with a share capital of 5,000,000 Reichsmarks (RM). Heinkel was given a 150,000 RM share.[67] The factory itself was built and belonged to the German state.[67] From this production plant, 452 He 111s and 69 Junkers Ju 88s were built in the first year of the war.[68] German production for the Luftwaffe amounted to 808 He 111s by September 1939.[69] According to Heinkel's memoirs, a further 452 were built in 1939, giving a total of 1,260.[69] But "1940's production suffered extreme losses during the Battle of Britain, with 756 bombers lost".[68] Meanwhile, the He 111's rival - the Ju 88 - had increased production to 1,816 aircraft, some 26 times the number from the previous year.[68] Losses were also considerable the previous year over the Balkans and Eastern Fronts. To compensate, He 111 production was increased to 950 in 1941.[69] In 1942, this increased further to 1,337 He 111s.[68][69] The Ju 88 production figures were even higher still, exceeding 3,000 in 1942, of which 2,270 were bomber variants.[68] In 1943, He 111 increased to 1,405 aircraft.[68][69] But the Ju 88 still outnumbered it in production terms as its figures reached 2,160 for 1943.[68] The Allied bomber offensives in 1944 and in particular Big Week failed to stop or damage production at Heinkel. Up until the last quarter of 1944, 756 Heinkel He 111s had been built.[68][69] While Junkers produced 3,013 Ju 88s, of which 600 were bomber versions. During 1939-1944, a total of 5,656 Heinkel He 111s were built compared to 9,122 Ju 88s.[68] As the Luftwaffe was now on the strategic defensive, bomber production and that of the He 111 was suspended. Production in September 1944, the last production month for the He 111, included 118 bombers.[70] Of these 21 Junkers Ju 87s, 74 Junkers Ju 188s, 3 Junkers Ju 388s and 18 Arado Ar 234s were built.[70] Of the Heinkel variants, zero Heinkel He 177s were produced and just two Heinkel He 111s were built.[70]

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-774-0013-06, Produktion von Heinkel He 111.jpg
A He 111 in the preliminary stage of wing installation

Quarterly production 1942-1944.[70]

Quarter Year Number produced
First 1942 301
Second 1942 350
Third 1942 356
Fourth 1942 330
First 1943 462
Second 1943 340
Third 1943 302
Fourth 1943 301
First 1944 313
Second 1944 317
Third 1944 126
Fourth 1944 0


In 1937, 24 He 111F-1s were bought by the Turkish Air Force. The Turks also ordered four He 111G-5s.[70] China also ordered 12 He 111A-0s, but at a cost 400,000 Reichsmark (RM).[70] The aircraft were crated up and transported by sea. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish Air Force acquired 59 He 111 "survivors" and a further six He 111s in 1941-1943.[70] Bulgaria was given one He 111H-6, Romania received 10 E-3s, 32 H-3s and 10 H-6s.[70] Two H-10s and three H-16s were given to Slovakia, Hungary was given 3 He 111Bs and 12-13 He 111s by 6 May 1941.[70] A further 80 P-1s were ordered, but only 13 arrived.[70] Towards the end of 1944, 12 He 111Hs were delivered. The Japanese were due to receive 44 He 111Fs, but in 1938 the agreement was cancelled.[70]

File:He-111A CNAC.jpg
A Chinese He 111A equipped with unidentified radial engines.

Operational history

Polish campaign

Five He 111 Geschwader were committed to the German invasion of Poland. Kampfgeschwader 1 (KG 1), Kampfgeschwader 4 (KG 4), Kampfgeschwader 26 (KG 26), Kampfgeschwader 27 (KG 27) and Kampfgeschwader 53 (KG 53). All, with the exception of KG 4 were committed to Luftflotte 1 under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring. KG 4 operated under Luftflotte 4.[71] The He 111 provided medium-high altitude interdiction and ground support missions for the German Army. The He 111 participated in the Battle of the Bzura when the Polish Army Poznań and Army Pomorze were virtually destroyed by aerial assault.[72] It also participated extensively in the Siege of Warsaw. During the campaign the Luftwaffe had anticipated that its bombers would be able to defend themselves adequately. PZL P.11s "for all their limited firepower and aerodynamic limitations, were capable of handing out severe punishment when able to engage the bombers without interference".[73]

Phoney war

During the period of the phoney war the He 111 was tasked with strategic bombing attacks over the North Sea and naval bases in the United Kingdom as a means of attacking the Royal Navy. On 9 November 1939, Adolf Hitler issued directive No. 9 which emphasised the target with most importance as the British Navy. Mindful of the damaging blockade that hurt the German war effort in the First World War, the directive selected British port storage depots with particular reference to oil and grain facilities, mining British sea lanes and direct attacks on British merchant shipping.[74] In October 1939 several sorties had been made to bomb the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and the Firth of Forth. HMS Hood was a particular target.[74] Interceptions were made by RAF Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane squadrons and suffered the odd losses.[75] One significant incident took place on 22 February 1940. Kampfgeschwader 26 were ordered to attack fishing boats in the Dogger Bank region. The Kriegsmarine suspected they were being used as early warning vessels to report German warship movements in the North Sea, who at this time had made sorties to sink Allied merchant shipping. At the same time a German naval flottila 1st Zerstörerflottille was sent into to the are to disrupt Allied shipping.[76] Lying between the German ships and the open sea was a massive minefield to prevent the Royal Navy from reaching the Heligoland Bight. Within the field lay a 6 mile (10 km) gap for the Germans to slip through.[76] The liaison between the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe broke down. KG 26 had not been told of the German destroyers' presence. Attacking from 5,000ft (1,500m) the He 111s sank the Leberecht Maas and the Max Schultz, with the loss of 600 German sailors.[76]

Norwegian campaign

The Heinkel formed the backbone of the Kampfwaffe in Operation Weserübung, the invasions of Denmark and Norway. KG 4, KG26 and KGr 100 were committed. The occupation of Denmark took less than 24 hours with minimal casualties and no aerial losses. The He 111s first task along with the Luftwaffe in general was to offset British Naval superiority in the North Sea. He 111s of KG 26 were to support the German Naval Task Force, composed of the heavy cruisers Template:Ship and Lützow, light cruiser Template:Ship, three E-Boats and eight minesweepers with 2,000 men to Oslo. KG 26 were unable to prevent the sinking of Blücher at the Battle of Drøbak Sound by the Oscarsborg Fortress. KG 26 focused on Drøbak since the other strong points were taken. Showered with SC 250 250 kg (550 lb) bombs, the Norwegians capitulated.[77] Heinkel He 111s of KG 26 helped Junkers Ju 88s of KG 30 damage the battleship Template:HMS and sink the destroyer Template:HMS on 9 April.[78] With most of the country secure the He 111s participated in the Battles of Narvik and anti-shipping missions against Allied reinforcements being brought to Norway by sea in May-June 1940.

French campaign

The French Campaign opened on 10 May 1940. The He 111 Geschwader encountered scattered and uncoordinated Allied fighter resistance over the Netherlands and Belgium. On 14 May 1940, He 111s of KG 54 undertook the Rotterdam Blitz in which large portions of the city were destroyed after the 111s had dropped some 91 tonnes (100 tons) of bombs. The Dutch surrendered early the following morning, ending the Battle of the Netherlands.[79] Most units suffered light to moderate losses in the early stages. The exception was KG 27, which suffered the heaviest losses of the He 111 Geschwader over the French sectors. By the end of the first day, seven He 111s were missing, two were written off and five damaged.[80] The He 111s supported the dash to the English Channel and helped defeat the French forces at Sedan, the Allied counter-offensive at the Battle of Arras and assisted German siege forces during the Battle of Dunkirk. During the Sedan breakthrough, 3,940 sorties were flown against French positions by German bomber formations, the bulk of which were equipped with the He 111. The result was a French collapse that made the pincer move of Fall Gelb possible.[81] The He 111 - with its heavier bomb load - was also tasked with the destruction of the French rail network in the Reims and Amiens regions. Their attacks were instrumental in preventing French reinforcements and retreats. Any French counter against the German forces left flank was impossible as a result.[82] With the conclusion of Fall Gelb the He 111 units prepared for Fall Rot. Some 600 He 111s and Do 17s took part in Operation Paula which was aimed at the final destruction of French air power in and around Paris. The resulting combats and bombing failed to destroy what remained of the Armée de l'Air.[83] From that point He 111 losses were light, with occasional exceptions.[84] The He 111 had performed well, though losses were substantially higher than in any campaign before it. This was mainly due to its light defensive armament. This would be exposed during the Battle of Britain, the first major test of the He 111s poor defensive armament.[85]

Battle of Britain

Luftflotte 2 and Luftflotte 3 committed 34 Gruppen to the campaign over Britain. Fifteen of them were equipped with the He 111. The remainder were mixed Do 17 and Ju 88 units.[86] The He 111 and Ju 88 were equal in performance in all but speed, in which the Ju 88 was faster. The Do 17 was also faster, but lacked the heavy bomb load capabilities of the Ju 88 and He 111[86]. During the Battle of Britain the He 111 was to fare better than the Ju 88. The Heinkels ability to take heavy punishment was one of its strengths. However The battle highlighted the need for heavier armament and effective protection by the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Messerschmitt Bf 110 units if losses were to be kept to sustainable levels.[86].

The concentration of most of the crew in the glass nose made the He 111 vulnerable to concentrated fire from a head-on attack.[86]

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-401-0240-20, Flugzeug Heinkel He 111.jpg
A frontal shot of a He 111H, summer 1940. The cockpit design gave the crew excellent vision but was vulnerable to attack from a head-on position

The advantages won in July and August were destroyed by the switch of strategy to bombing British cities (known as the Blitz) on 7 September 1940. The He 111 was now being asked to perform in the role of the strategic bomber, something it had not been intended for. Despite this, the He 111 carried enough destructive power to cause severe damage to strategic targets; the de Havilland Mosquito factory near Bristol was devastated by Kampfgeschwader 53 on 30 August. A month later, the Woolston factory was destroyed largely by He 111s of Kampfgeschwader 55 on 26 September; the factory had been producing the Supermarine Spitfire. This attack forced the factory's closure and dispersal, though the disruption to production was, at that time, not as serious as it would have been in July/August 1940.[87]

He 111s were fitted with the Knickebein during the Blitz, leading to the Battle of the Beams. This system was intended to increase the navigational ability of the He 111. Several aircraft using this system were needlessly risked over London in nuisance raids in the winter 1939/40. One was shot down on 13 February 1940 but the crew were killed and the aircraft was lost over the North Sea. The Knickebein was later upgraded to the X-Gerät. This was expected to increase the precision to the extent that it could target individual buildings. Eventually, the Y-Gerät was introduced, as an enhanced version of the previous X system.[40] On 3 November 1940 the RAF had a chance to evaluate a He 111 with the equipment. The bomber had landed along the coast and was partially submerged. A Royal Navy captain who arrived claimed command of the salvage operation as he was a superior rank to the attending Army Officer. The captain insisted the He 111 be towed to deeper water before hoisting it up. The ropes snapped and the He 111 sank. The machine was eventually pulled out, but the salt water had got into its Gerät system.[40]

The Luftwaffe tried to attack industrial, transport and civilian targets simultaneously but failed to do so. Even so the He 111 contributed to the Birmingham Blitz, Bristol Blitz, Barrow Blitz, Coventry Blitz, Liverpool Blitz, Plymouth Blitz and Southampton Blitz which caused severe damage. Some of these targets were obscured by cloud, but the equipped X-Gerät Heinkels inflicted heavy damage. However the British countered its use with decoy sites to attract the attention of bombers and the "Meacon" system, which disrupted Luftwaffe beacon transmissions.[40]

242 He 111s were destroyed during the course of the battle between July and October 1940, a total substantially lower than the 303 Ju 88s destroyed. The Dornier Do 17s losses in the Battle of Britain amounted to 132 machines destroyed, the lowest losses of the three German bomber types.[88]

Balkans campaign

The campaign against Yugoslavia and Greece lasted only three weeks, but the He 111 played a key role in it. On 6 April 1941 He 111s attached to Luftflotte 4 participated in the Bombing of Belgrade. After the brief advance and conquest of Greece the He 111 also supported Axis forces in the Battle of Crete, sustaining light losses. During this period it also participated in the Siege of Malta and conducted bombing raids against Egypt and the Suez Canal.[89] Kampfgeschwader 4 delivered the lion's share of the raids in May-June 1941 against coastal targets including Alexandria and suffered the loss of six aircraft and five crews.[90]

Torpedo bomber operations

The He 111 also served as a torpedo bomber in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. In the Atlantic campaign the Luftwaffe created Fliegerführer Atlantik for this purpose. In the spring 1941, the Luftwaffe had been using conventional bombs to attack shipping more often than not. Such a method resulted in heavy losses to He 111 units in aircraft and crew as the 111s attack point was too close. III./Kampfgeschwader 40 had only eight of 32 crews remaining by April 1941 and had to be withdrawn. Most He 111 units were replaced by the faster Junkers Ju 88 and Dornier Do 217 which also suffered losses, but not to the extent of the He 111.[91] A proper aerial torpedo could have prevented such losses. The German Navy had purchased Horton naval torpedo patents from Norway in 1933 and the Whitehead Fiume patent from Italy in 1938. But air-launched torpedo development was slow. In 1939 trials with Heinkel He 59 and Heinkel He 115 had revealed a 49 percent failure rate owing to aerodynamic difficulties and depth control and fusing difficulties. Until 1941 the Luftwaffe obtained poor results in this field.[92] When in 1941 the Luftwaffe took an active interest, the Kriegsmarine resisted Luftwaffe involvement and collaboration[92] and direct requests by the Luftwaffe to take over development was refused.[92] With the Atlantic campaign in full swing, the Luftwaffe needed a torpedo bomber to allow its aircraft to avoid increased shipping defensive armament. It set up a number of schools devoted to torpedo attack at Gossenbrode, Germany and Athens, Greece. It was found that the He 111 was highly suited to such operations. In December 1941 the Luftwaffe was granted the lead in torpedo development. Trials at Grossenbrode enabled the He 111 to carry two torpedoes, while the Ju 88 could also manage the same number and remain faster in flight. KG 26 was equipped with both the He 111 and Ju 88. Some 42 He 11s served with I./KG 26 flying out of Norway.[93] The He 111's ordnance was the Italian Whitehead Fiume 850 kg (1,870 lb) torpedo and the German F5 50 kg (110lb) light torpedo. Both functioned over a distance of 2 miles (3 km) at a speed of 25mph (40kmph) The Whitedhead armament weighed over 200 kg (440lb).[94] To make an attack the He 111 pilot had to drop to 130ft (40m) and reduce air speed to 120mph (193kmph). The water depth had to a minimum of 50ft (15m).[94] The He 111 was committed to operations in the Arctic Ocean against the Arctic convoys traveling to the Soviet Union from the North America and the United Kingdom. One notable action involved I./KG 26 attacking Convoy PQ 17 in June 1942. I./KG 26 and its He 111s sank three ships and damaged three more. Later, III./KG 26 helped Ju 88s of III./KG 30 based at Banak sink several more ships. Some 25 out of 35 merchant ships were sunk altogether.[95] Convoy PQ 16 was also successful intercepted by KG 26, who claimed four vessels, but lost six crews in return.[96] Convoy PQ 18 was also intercepted during 13 15 September 1942. In total some 13 out of 40 ships were sunk. However it cost the Luftwaffe 40 aircraft, of which 20 were KG 26 He 111s.[96] Of the 20 crews, 14 were missing.[96] He 111 torpedo units continued to operate with success elsewhere. Anti-shipping operations in the Black Sea against the Soviet Navy were also carried out. The Soviets mainly sailed at night and singly. It made interception very difficult.[96] The Soviets heavily protected their shipping at sea and in port. Anti-aircraft defensive fire was severe in daylight and at night were supported by searchlights. Nevertheless it failed to stop the He 111 Geschwaders continued to press home their attacks with some success.[97] In the Mediterranean theatre the Allies had won air superiority by 1943 but the torpedo Geschwader, KG 26, continued to operate He 111s in shipping attack units. The He 111s attacked Allied shipping along the African coast flying from bases in Sicily and Sardinia both in daylight and darkness. In spite of nightfighers and anti-aircraft defences the He 111s continued to get through to their targets. Losses meant a gradual decline in experienced crews and standards of attack methods. Such missions were largely abandoned in the spring owing to shortages in aircraft and crews. By April, KG 26 could only scrape together some 13 Ju 88 and He 111 torpedo bombers.[98] With the exception of I./KG 26 all other groups converted onto the Ju 88.[99]

Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean

File:He 111 Wreck LOC 8e00286u.jpg
A He 111 wreck in North Africa, 1942

The Rashid Ali Rebellion and resulting Anglo-Iraqi War saw the Luftwaffe committ 4.staffel.II./KG 4 He 111s to the Iraqi Nationalists cause under "Flyer Command Iraq" (Fliegerführer Irak).[100] Painted in Iraqi markings their stay was very brief. Due to the Iraqi collapse the Staffel was with drawn on 31 May 1941, just 17 days after its arrival.[101] The record of the He 111 fleet at the time of its departure between the 15 and 29 May indicated it had participated in seven armed reconnaissance flights and five bombing missions against Habbaniya which involved 20 crews and the dropping of 10 tons of bombs.[102]

The Italian failures during the initial period of the North African Campaign forced the Wehrmacht to reinforce the Axis forces in North Africa which led to a 28 month aerial campaign. The He 111 along with the Ju 88 took on deep offensive bombing operations from the very beginning. In January 1941 a number of Kampfgeschwaders carried out raids against the Royal Navy and Allied convoys.[103] KG 26 was the first unit to be used in this capacity. Some of the early raids were costly despite the lack opposition. On night of 17/18 January 12 of KG 26s machines set out to bomb Benghazi, seven of eight were lost after running out of fuel. Successes were frequent and the minesweeper HMS Huntley and the freighter Sollum were sunk.[104] A number of He 111 units, mostly KG 26, also supported the German invasion of Crete.[105] During the Balkans conflict and following attack on the Soviet Union, most of the bomber operations in the theatre fell to the Ju 88 and Junkers Ju 87 equipped units. The He 111s returned during the winter of 1941/42 during the stalemate on the Soviet-German front.

Throughout 1941-1942, the small numbers of He 111s assisted in the attempt to starve Malta into surrender. With most of RAF Fighter Command concentrated on the Channel Front, the He 111s and the Luftwaffe came close to achieving this by gradually strangling the sea supply routes and forcing a partial collapse of British sea power in the central Mediterranean Sea. The Allied forces on Malta were considering surrender as late as November 1942. It was not until later that month the attacks ceased and the siege was lifted.[106]

Eastern Front

On 22 June 1941 Adolph Hitler initiated Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The Heinkel order of battle on this date amounted to three Kampfgeschwader. KG 53, committed to Luftflotte 2 attached to Army Group North. KG 27 was committed Luftflotte 4's Army Group Centre and KG 55, allocated to V. Fliegerkorps. As in the previous campaigns the He 111 were to provide tactical support to the German Army. Little thought was given to strategic bombing. It was thought that such an undertaking would not be required until the conquest of the European part of the Soviet Union west of a line connecting the cities of Arkhangelsk and Astrakhan, often referred to as the A-A line.[107] During 1941-1942 the tactical use of the He 111 was limited owing to its limited manoeuvrability and bulky airframe. The He 111 was switched to the job of "train busting". The only specialised German ground attack aircraft was the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka and Henschel Hs 123. However, both lacked the range. The only recourse was to "employ" the He 111, along with the Ju 88.[108] Some units had success. For example, KG 55 destroyed or damaged 122 train loads, along with claims of 64 locomotivess. But the Soviets set up countermeasures. Heavy concentrations of anti-aircraft artillery caused losses to increase, particularly in inexperienced crews. KG 55's special train busting staffel (Eis)./KG 55 suffered some 10 percent losses.[109] During the winter battles of 1941, the He 111 was used also reverted back to a transport aircraft. The He 111 helped evacuate 21,000 soldiers from the Demyansk pocket, while transporting some 24,300 tons of food and ammunition. The He 111 proved invaluable in the "battle of the pockets".[110]

Later, in 1942, the He 111 participated in the Battle of Stalingrad. During the Soviet Operation Uranus, which encircled the German Sixth Army, the He 111 fleet once again was asked to fly in supplies. The operation failed and the Sixth Army was destroyed. Some 165 He 111s were lost to heavily entrenched Soviet defences around the city during the siege.[111]

The He 111 operated in the same capacity as in previous campaigns on the Eastern Front. The bomber was asked to perform strategic bombing functions. Targeting Soviet industry had not been high on the OKL's agenda in 1941-42, but prior to the Battle of Kursk several attempts were made to destroy Soviet military production. The tank factory at Gorkovskiy Avtomobilniy Zavod (GAZ) was subjected to a series of heavy attacks throughout June 1943. On the night of 4/5 June, He 111s of Kampfgeschwader 1, KG 3, KG 4, KG 55 and KG 100 dropped 161 tonnes (179 tons) of bombs, causing massive destruction to buildings and production lines. All of GAZ No. 1 plant's 50 buildings, 9,000 m (29,500 ft) of conveyers, 5,900 pieces of equipment and 8,000 tank engines were destroyed.[112] However, the Germans made an error in target selection. The GAZ plant No. 1 produced only the T-70 light tank. Factory No. 112, the second-biggest producer of the more formidable T-34, continued production undisturbed. Soviet production facilities were repaired or rebuilt within six weeks. In 1943, Factory No. 112 produced 2,851 T-34s, 3,619 in 1944, and 3,255 in 1945.[112] The Luftwaffe had also failed to hit the Gorkiy Artillery Factory (No. 92) or the aircraft plant where the Lavochkin La-5 and La 5FN were made.[112] The Luftwaffe failed to disrupt the Soviet preparation for the coming battle, but the He 111 had proved capable of operating in a strategic role.

The He 111 also formed the core of the strategic bombing offensive later in the year. During the Soviet Lower Dnieper Offensive He 111 Geschwader performed strike missions. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring issued an order to General Rudolf Meister's IV. Fliegerkorps on 14 October 1943:

I intend to initiate systematic attacks against the Russian arms industry by deploying the bulk of the heavy bomber units [mostly equipped with medium bombers] - reinforced by special units - which will be brought together under the command of IV. Fliegerkorps. The task will be to deal destructive strikes against the Russian arms industry in order to wipe out masses of Russian tanks, artillery pieces and aircraft before they reach the front, thus providing the hard-pressed Ostheer [East Army] with relief which will be much greater than if these bombers were deployed on the battlefield.[113]

Soviet fighter opposition had made strategic bombing in daylight too costly.[113] German bombers crews were retrained in the winter of 1943/44 to fly night operations.[113] The offensive began on the night of the 27/28 March 1944.[113] Some 180 to 190 He 111s took part dropping an average of 200 tons of bombs.[113] On the night of 30 April/1 May 1944, 252 sorties were flown. This was the highest number flown during the offensive.[113] The targets were mainly Soviet marshalling yards in the western and eastern Ukraine.

Later in the summer, 1944, the He 111 once again operated with success as part of the shrinking German bomber force. German industry began to move factories eastward, out of the range of RAF Bomber Command and United States Army Air Force attacks.[113] In response, the USAAF started shuttle missions to the Soviet Union in which they would continue on and land in the USSR after their mission. The USAAF would then repeat the mission and continue to England. IV. Fliegerkorps was ordered to target the airfields of the USAAF bombers. On 21 June 1944, the US Eighth Air Force's B-17 Flying Fortresses landed at Mirgorod and Poltava airfields after bombing targets in Debrecen, Hungary.[113] The Soviets had not prepared proper anti-aircraft defences and IV. Fliegerkorps and its He 111s from KG 4, KG 53 and KG 55 dropped 91 tonnes (100 tons) of bombs destroying 44 B-17s and 15 US fighters. The He 111s flew at altitudes of 4,000-5,000 m (13,120-16,400 m), and not a single German aircraft was hit by enemy fire. Such missions were halted thereafter.[113] The suspending of the "shuttle missions" (known as Operation Frantic) was assessed by the Germans as a result of the Soviet failure to provide appropriate protection. It is likely, however, that the B-17 and P-51's, which now had the range to strike anywhere in Europe, and had bases that could reach Eastern Europe in Italy, did not fly shuttle missions to the Soviet Union owing to these reasons.[114]

Late war operations

File:He 111 - BV 143a Test (1941).jpg
A He 111 drops a Bv 143a during a 1941 test.

By the spring, 1943, the numbers of He 111s in operational combat units was declining. The introduction of more powerful bombers, mostly the Junkers Ju 88, but also the Dornier Do 217 (as a rival anti-shipping attack aircraft) forced the He 111 out of service.[115] Luftwaffe offensive operations were largely halted after late 1943 owing to Allied air superiority. [116] Nevertheless, the anti-shipping missions against the Soviet Navy in the Black Sea. The late model He 111 H-16s in particular were fitted with FuG 200 Hohentweil anti-shipping radar. The armament of the FuG 200 equipped He 111s consisted of several difference types of Anti-ship missiles.[117] The Henschel Hs 293 L-10 Friedensengel, a glider-mounted torpedo and the Blohm & Voss Bv 143 and Blohm & Voss BV 246 rocket-assisted glide bombs. Only the Hs 293s reached the operational stage. The Hs 293 was controlled by the FuG 203b Kehl III guidance control box. After the bomb was released, and the rocket fuelled power unit ignited, the rocket cleared the aircraft and was then in sight of the bomb aimer. The aimer controlled the lever of the FuG 203 to adjust the angle of the missile's control surfaces. Flares were attached to the missiles to allow the crew to track the direction of the missile until impact.[117]

Other variants such as the He 111H-16/R3 and H-20/R2 pathfinders carried V-1 flying bombs to their targets in London as part of Adolf Hitler's "vengeance" campaign. The V-1s had been launched from northern France and the German occupied Netherlands, but of the 2,000 launched some 50 percent had reached London, of which 661 were shot down. The He 111H-21 and H-22 were asked to deliver the V-1s when the British and Canadian 21st Army Group liberated the Netherlands and overran the landing sites. Some of the H-22s were loaded with Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg) missiles.[63] The conditions of late 1944 differed greatly from the "Blitz" of 1940-41. RAF nightfighters carried the AI Mk IV metric wavelength radar and the high performance of types like the de Havilland Mosquito ensured German bomber crews had to stay low to the surface of the sea to avoid early detection, while flying the North Sea route to the British coast. Flying at low-level for long periods carried heavy risk of collision with a rising wave. In order to have any chance of surviving, crews were forced to wear bulky immersion suits and inflatable life vests that made the average flight, of three to five hours, very uncomfortable.[118] The raids usually started from the radio beacon at Dan Helder, the Netherlands. When the release point was reached, the pilot would climb to 1,600ft (500m) and release the payload before retreating back to low altitude. The return journey was just as dangerous at that time. Mosquito units operating over the Netherlands and continent posed a threat to He 111s as they sought to land.[118] In late 1944 and 1945, the He 111 reverted to a transport role. It helped evacuate Axis forces from Greece and Yugoslavia in October - November 1944. He 111 units also transported men and material out of Budapest, during the siege of the city, while He 111s of Kampfgeschwader 4 assaulted Soviet bridgeheads and lay mines in the Danube to hamper the Red Army from crossing the river. The remaining He 111s withdrew from the Hungarian front after the siege ended in February 1945 to concentrate on destroying the bridges over the Oder river as the Soviet advance was nearing Berlin.[119]

Professor Heinkel said of the He 111s performance during the war:

They became reliable, proven and easily maintained worker-bees for the Luftwaffe bomber units. Even though, after 1941, they had been technically superseded and, above all were hampered by their lack of range..and, despite repeated modifications, could not be given the additional range required-there was really no substitute for them.[120]


Military operators

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  • United States Army Air Force operated several captured aircraft after the war. One pictured H-20 - 23, may be the machine currently on display at the RAF Museum Hendon, minus the DL131 turret.[128]

Civil operators

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  • Unknown civilian user operated one converted bomber. The registration of the He 111 was YR-PTP. It is unknown whether this was a German or Romanian designation. Works, or factory number is unknown.[129]


He 111, Werknr. 701152, RAF Hendon, London. This H-20, built in 1944, was modified to drop paratroops (Fallschirmjäger)
File:He-111P Norway.jpg
The He 111P-2, Wk Nr 1526, built in 1939

Only three original German built He 111 survivors are on display or stored in museums around the world (not including major sections)[130]:

  • He 111E-3 series (Wk Nr 2940) with the 'conventional' cockpit is on display at Museo del Aire, Madrid, Spain, having served in the Condor Legion.
  • A mostly complete He 111P-2 (Wk Nr 1526), is on display at the Norwegian Air Force Museum at Gardermoen.[130]
  • A He 111H-20, Wk Nr 701152, is on display at the RAF Museum Hendon, London.

In 2005 another He 111 was salvaged from a Norwegian lake and has since been moved to Germany for restoration, and may be the most complete wartime He 111 to date. [130] Unrelated to this effort are efforts by several organizations to restore one to flyable condition.

In popular culture

Specifications (He 111 H-6)

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Specifications (He 111 C-0)

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See also

Comparable aircraft

Related lists



  1. Heinkel He 111. Network Projects Production. 1993.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mackay 2003, p. 7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Nowarra 1980, p. 26.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Mackay 2003, p. 8.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mackay 2003, p. 9.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Regnat 2004, p. 26.
  7. Mackay 2003, pp. 9-10.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nowarra 1980, p. 28.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 Regnat 2004, p. 10.
  10. Mackay 2003, p. 10.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Mackay 2003, p. 105.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Mackay 2003, p. 14.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mackay 2003, p. 18.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Regnat 2004, p. 58.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Dressel & Griehl 1994, p. 32.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Nowarra 1980, p. 30.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Regnat 2004, p. 14.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Regnat 2004, p. 17.
  19. Nowarra 1980, p. 28.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Regnat 2004, p. 21.
  21. Janowicz 2004, p. 15.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Janowicz 2004, p. 16.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 23.6 23.7 23.8 23.9 Regnat 2004, p. 28.
  24. Dressel & Griehl 1994, p. 32-33.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Mackay 2003, p. 10.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 Dressel & Griehl 1994, p. 34.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Nowarra 1980, p. 66.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Griehl 2006, p. 4.
  29. 29.00 29.01 29.02 29.03 29.04 29.05 29.06 29.07 29.08 29.09 29.10 29.11 29.12 Regnat 2004, p. 31.
  30. Janowicz 2004, p. 23.
  31. Mackay 2003, p. 12.
  32. Warsitz 2009, p. 41.
  33. Warsitz 2009, p. 45..
  34. 34.00 34.01 34.02 34.03 34.04 34.05 34.06 34.07 34.08 34.09 34.10 34.11 Regnat 2004, p. 32.
  35. Janowicz 2004, p. 25.
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 36.4 Regnat 2004, p. 71.
  37. Janowicz 2004, p. 27.
  38. Nowarra 1980, p. 87.
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 Regnat 2004, p. 37.
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 Mackay 2003, p. 90.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 41.5 41.6 Regnat 2004, p. 35.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 42.4 42.5 42.6 42.7 42.8 42.9 Regnat 2004, p. 34.
  43. Nowarra 1990, p. 37.
  44. Dressel and Griehl 1994, p. 35.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 Janowicz 2004, p. 42.
  46. Dressel & Griehl 1994, p. 36.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Janowicz 2004, p. 48.
  48. Mackay 2003, p. 94.
  49. Griehl 1994, pp. 36-37.
  50. Griehl 2008, p. 7.
  51. Dressel & Griehl 1994, p. 37.
  52. Griehl 2008, p. 8.
  53. 53.0 53.1 53.2 Regnat 2004, p. 81.
  54. 54.0 54.1 Punka 2002, p. 35.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Punka 2002, p. 46.
  56. Punka, 2002, pp. 47-48.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Regnat 2004, p. 62.
  58. Janowicz 2004, p. 69.
  59. 59.0 59.1 Regnat 2004, p. 73.
  60. Janowicz 2004, pp. 70-71.
  61. Mackay 2003, p. 167.
  62. Nowarra 1980, p. 222.
  63. 63.0 63.1 63.2 Nowarra 1980, p. 229.
  64. 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.3 64.4 Regnat 2004, p. 28.
  65. 65.0 65.1 65.2 65.3 65.4 65.5 65.6 65.7 65.8 65.9 Regnat 2004, p. 61.
  66. Donald 1998, p.33.
  67. 67.0 67.1 67.2 Nowarra 1980, p. 63.
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 68.3 68.4 68.5 68.6 68.7 68.8 Regnat 2004, p. 74.
  69. 69.0 69.1 69.2 69.3 69.4 69.5 Nowarra 1980, p. 231.
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  71. Mackay 2003, p. 36.
  72. Mackay 2003, p. 42.
  73. Mackay 2003, p. 39.
  74. 74.0 74.1 Mackay 2003, p. 44.
  75. Mackay 2003, pp. 44-48.
  76. 76.0 76.1 76.2 Mackay 2003, pp. 48-49.
  77. Mackay 2003, p. 50.
  78. Hooton 2007, p. 34.
  79. Mackay 2003, p. 53.
  80. Mackay 2003, pp. 56-57.
  81. Hooton Vol 1 2007, p. 65.
  82. Mackay 2003, pp. 60-63.
  83. Hooton 2007, pp. 83-84.
  84. Mackay 2003, pp. 62-64.
  85. Mackay 2003, p. 60.
  86. 86.0 86.1 86.2 86.3 Mackay 2003, pp. 66-67. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mackay 2003, pp. 66-67" defined multiple times with different content
  87. Mackay 2003, p. 85.
  88. Aircraft Strength and Losses. Source used: "The Battle of Britain" by Peter G. Cooksley, Ian Allan Ltd, 1990
  89. Mackay 2003, p. 119-120.
  90. Mackay 2003, p. 121.
  91. National Archives 2000, p. 108.
  92. 92.0 92.1 92.2 National Archives 2000, p. 109.
  93. National Archives 2000, p. 112.
  94. 94.0 94.1 Mackay 2003, p. 131.
  95. Mackay 2003, p. 133.
  96. 96.0 96.1 96.2 96.3 Mackay 2003, p. 134.
  97. Mackay 2003, pp. 136-137.
  98. Mackay 2003, pp. 137-138.
  99. Mackay 2003, p. 138.
  100. Mackay 2003, pp. 120-122.
  101. de Zeng Vol 1 2007, p. 54.
  102. Mackay 2003, p. 123.
  103. Mackay 2003, pp. 112-117.
  104. de Zeng 2007 Vol 1, p. 85.
  105. Mackay 2003, p. 129.
  106. Taylor & Man 1974, p. 182.
  107. Mackay 2003, p. 139.
  108. Mackay 2003, p. 149.
  109. Mackay 2003, pp. 150-151.
  110. Mackay 2003, p. 154.
  111. Hayward 2001, p. 310.
  112. 112.0 112.1 112.2 Bergström 2007 p. 20
  113. 113.0 113.1 113.2 113.3 113.4 113.5 113.6 113.7 113.8 Bergstrom 2008, p. 133.
  114. Mackay 2003, p. 171.
  115. Griehl 2008, pp. 8-9.
  116. Griehl 2008, p. 9.
  117. 117.0 117.1 Mackay 2003, p. 172.
  118. 118.0 118.1 Mackay 2003, pp. 179-180.
  119. Mackay 2003, pp. 177-179.
  120. Nowarra 1980, p. 233.
  121. Mackay pp. 187, 189
  122. Nowarra 1980, pp. 244-245.
  123. 123.0 123.1 Mackay 2003, p. 186.
  124. Mackay 2003, p. 187.
  125. Nowarra 1980, pp. 246.
  126. Griehl 1994, p. 34.
  127. Mackay 2003, p. 119.
  128. Mackay 2003, p. 177.
  129. Nowarra 1980, p. 245.
  130. 130.0 130.1 130.2 List of He 111 survivors


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cs:Heinkel He 111 da:Heinkel He 111 de:Heinkel He 111 es:Heinkel He 111 fr:Heinkel He 111 gl:Heinkel He 111 io:Heinkel He 111 it:Heinkel He 111 lb:Heinkel He 111 hu:Heinkel He 111 nl:Heinkel He 111 ja:He 111 no:Heinkel He 111 pl:Heinkel He 111 pt:Heinkel He 111 ru:Heinkel He 111 sk:Heinkel He 111 sl:Heinkel He 111 sr:Хајнкел 111 fi:Heinkel He 111 sv:Heinkel He 111 tr:Heinkel He 111 vi:Heinkel He 111 zh:He 111轟炸機

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