If there was an aircraft that had done moredamage regarding strategic bombing during the Battle of Britain, it wasthe Heinkel He 111. But, unlike many of Britain's bombers, the He 111 wasnot specifically made for the Second World War. As we know, Germany wasnot allowed to have a military air force under the terms of the VersiallesTreaty, so many aircraft were being built under strict secrecy, often underthe guise of Lufthansa Airlines. The He 111 was no exception. The Luftwaffehad requested that a large commercial airliner be constructed way backin 1934, but it should be designed in such a way that it could be easilyand cheaply converted into a bomber adhering to German military specifications.
Walter and Siegfried Günter basedtheir design on the He 70 'blitz' current at the time. Because, as a militaryaircraft capable of carrying a bomb load, the payload weight would be fargreater so the overall size of the aircraft had to be increased. as didthe engines powering the aircraft. The first He 111 was to fly in February1935, and with a few modifications a number of He 111A's were constructedwhich at the time it was considered that the aircraft performed exceptionallywell. But by 1936, it was considered that the He 111 was under poweredand those aircraft that had been constructed were sold to China. Heinkelswapped the twin 600hp BMW engines for the far more powerful 1,000hp Daimler-BenzDB600A engines for the next variant the He 111B. Not only would the additionalpower be more suited to a bomber, but it also increased the top speed to225 mph. A number of changes took place from 1937, mostly in trying toget the power unit correct. In fact, the numberof variants of the Heinkel He 111 reads like a book index.
The variants came, and went using the lettersof the alphabet, and a number of experimental or temporary versions weregiven the letter "V". These variants, were not necessary in alphabeticalorder, although by looking at the variant listing, it was very close, butthe variant used in the battle of Britain was the He 111H. But the variantthat laid the foundations to this was in fact the He 111P. Up until the"P" version, the nose of the aircraft was round, but all metal and thepilots cockpit stepped almost Dakota fashion. It was with the "P" thatthe nose took on the popular look as we know the He 111 to be with itsall glazed nose that housed the nose gunner and above him the pilot andthe observer. The He 111P was in production in late 1938 and within twomonths was supplied to KG157 and was used extensively in the build up tothe Polish campaign and continued service well into 1940.
The He 111H entered service with the Luftwaffejust prior to the invasion of Poland and made up a total of 810 He 111'sof differing variants when war was declared in September 1939 comprising400 He 111H, 349 He 111P, 40 He 111E and 21 He 111J. Of these it is believedthat nearly 100 aircraft had been declared unserviceable which in effectthe total Heinkel He 111 strength was only just over 700 aircraft. Thosethat took part in the Polish campaign claimed many successful missions,and construction was far greater than losses meant that the build up ofthe He 111 meant that in future campaigns the Heinkel bomber force wouldbe one of great strength. Where there were seven Kampfgeschwadern operatingHe 111 bombers in Poland, only three operated during the Norwegian campaign,mainly due to the fact that there were no suitable airfields in Norwayat the time. It was a formation of 100 He 111 bombers that attacked Rotterdamon May 14th 1940.
By the time that the Battle of Britainhad commenced, nearly all bombing missions were carried out by the HeinkelHe 111H (and the Dornier 17Z.) most of the other variants had disappearedalthough records show that one of the Heinkels shot down over Middle Wallopas late as August 14th 1940 was in fact a He 111P which only shows thatolder variants were still being used in raids against Britain. The HeinkelHe 111H variant itself also had a number of supplementary variants beingdesignated by a number following the variant designation. These were He111H-1, He 111H-2, He 111H-3 and He 111-4. The modifications were mainlyin the power unit used, although a few other modifications were made. Theoriginal He 111H-1 based on the He 111P used Junkers Jumo 211 engines,an improved Jumo 211A-3 engine was put into the He 111H-2, the He 111H-3used a Jumo 211D-1 engine and was equipped with a forward firing 20mm cannonand used as an anti-shipping strike aircraft. later models of the He 111H-4used Jumo 211F-1 engines. The Junkers Jumo 211F-1 engine that produced1350 hp each replaced the older 211D-1 engine that only produced 1100 hpand was used continuously until the Jumo 213 was introduced on the He 111H-23much later in the war.
One of the most common variants used wasthe He 111H-5. The modification here was that additional fuel tanks wereinstalled where the wing bomb cells were, and this extended the normalrange of the aircraft to 1,212 miles (1950 kms). Two external bomb rackswere fitted with each one capable of holding a 2,205lb (1000kg) bomb. Theall up weight of the He 111H-5 was now increased to 30,985 lbs (14055kg)and obviously was to slow the aircraft when under a full load, but theseaircraft were filled to capacity during the night raids on London duringthe 'Blitz" and caused devastating results.
The next variant was the He 111H-6, andalthough not used during the Battle of Britain, it was used in great numbersin bombing raids on London and all major British cities from early 1941.This variant as well as the He 111H-5 and other German bombers continuednight attacks on British targets to which Britain really had no answer.The He 111H-6, equipped to carry torpedoes, although it was mostly usedin normal bombing missions, was used as a shipping strike aircraft fromBardufoss and Banak in Norway against shipping convoys plying the NorthCape route from mid-june 1942 onwards with great success.
As the later models of bomber was introducedby such aircraft as the He 177 and Do 217 the role of the He 111 was becomingoutdated and the aircraft was reverted to the role of a transport althoughlater variants of the He 111 still continued to serve in theMiddle East and along the Eastern Front in a bomber role. It was duringthe move on Stalingrad between November 1942 and February 1943 that inthe role of a supply aircraft flying in food and ammunition to the German6th Army that under the extreme cold conditions the Luftwaffe was to losea total of 170 He 111 bombers of different variants. This was to placean additional strain on other bombers and pilots, and on the Luftwaffeitself, as it meant pulling other aircraft away from important duties,or ceasing supply operations at Stalingrad, the latter was really out ofthe question.
In 1944, Germany had developed the V-1flying-bomb. These early versions were launched from aircraft and not rocketlaunchers as they were later in the war. The idea was for an aircraft tocarry the V-1 at extreme low level to avoid detection from British radar,then as they approached the British coast they would sharply increase theiraltitude to about 1,500ft (450m) before releasing the V-1, then generallyusing cloud cover or low level flying to make good their escape back totheir bases. The aircraft chosen to carry out this task was the He 111H.A number of these including the He 111H-6, the He 111H-16, the He 111H-21and the He 111H-22, were modified to carry the new projectile which actuallywas a Fieseler Fi 103 flying bomb, but known as the V-1. All these aircraft,after modification became the He 111H-22. They were delivered to III/KG3that was based in the Netherlands, and for the next six or seven weeksit has been reported that the He 111H-22 carried and launched over 300V-1 rockets against London, 100 against Portsmouth and Southampton and20-30 against Bristol. The use of the He 111H-22 and the V-1 rocket wassuch a success, that over 100 He 111H aircraft were modified to He 111H-22standards and delivered to KG53 for the sole purpose of launching the V-1at British targets.
But the success was no where near the greatheight achieved on the initial missions. In the next six months, only 20%of 1,200 V-1 rockets reached their intended targets, many of then fallingand exploding in empty fields or in out of the way suburbs, and some eightyHe 111H-22 aircraft were destroyed either by the RAF or by AA gunfire.Later, the rockets were launched from specially constructed launch pads.
One of the great success stories of theHe 111 comes from the Soviet airfield of Potavia on June 21/22 1944 where,after the bombing of Berlin by B17s and their P-51 escorts the U.S wereusing the airfield at Potavia. The Luftwaffe sent a formation of He 111bombers to make a surprise attack on the airfield. Some forty-five B17bombers and 15-20 P-51 fighters were destroyed. Through German eyes,a glittering finale to the workhorse of the Luftwaffe. An aircraft thatcould take a lot of punishment and still be able to fly, possibly one ofthe reasons that so many damaged He 111 bombers made it back to their base.An aircraft that took on many roles, not all of them successful, but itwas against London in 1940 to 1942 that the bomber will best be remembered.
Heinkel 111H Specifications
|Type||Long Range Medium Bomber/NightBomber/Glider Tug|
|Power Plant||2 x Junkers Jumo 211F-11350 hp engines|
|Fuel Capacity||765 gallons|
|Unladen weight||19,136 lbs (8680kg)|
|Laden weight||30,864 lbs (14000kg)|
|Max Speed (19,685 ft)||270 mph (435 km/h)|
|Max range (Normal Load)||1,212 miles (1950 km)|
|Max range (Full Load)||760 miles|
|Max range (with wing tanks)||2,640 miles (with normalload)|
|Service Ceiling||27,890 ft (8500m)|
|Armament ||1 x 20mm MG FF Cannon|
1 x 13mm MG 131 MachineGun
7 x 7.92mm MG 15 and/orMG 81 Machine Guns
1 x 4,409 lb bomb (carriedexternally) and
1 x 1,102 lb bomb (carriedinternally) or
8 x 551lb bombs (all carriedinternally)
|Wingspan||74ft 1¾in (22.60m)|
|Length||53ft 9½in (16.40m)|
|Height||13ft 1¼in (4.00m)|
|Wing Area||931.1 sq ft (86.50 m²)|
|HEINKEL He 111 VARIANTS|
He 111a (He 111 VI): 1st prototype,two 600-hp (448-kW) B.M.W. V16,OZ with two-blade propellers
He 111 V2: 2nd prototype (D-ALIX)
He 111 V3: 3rd prototype (D-ALES)
He 111 V4: 4th prototype (D-AHAO)
He 111C-0: six aircraft (D-ABYE.-AMES. -AQUY. -AQYF-ATYL-AXAV); two delivered to Kommando Rowehl for clandestinereconnaissance
He 111A-1: 10 aircraft basedon V3; rejected
He 111 V-5: DB 600A powerplant; all-up weight 18,959 lb (8600 kg)
He 111B-0: pre-productionversion accepted by Luftwaffe: one aircraft with Jumo 21Ga
He 111B-1: production bombers;early aircraft with 08 iOOAa. later 08 60CC; all-up weight 20.536 lb (9323kg); maximum bombload 3.307 lb (1500 kg)
He 111B-2: supercharged DB600CG engines, all-up weight increased to 22.048 lb (10000 kg)
He 111 V-7: prototype withstraight tapered wing
He 111G-01: also termed He111 V12 (D-AEQU) B.M.W. VI 6.OZu. passed to DLH
He 111G.02: also termed He111 V13 (D-AYKI)
He 111G-3: two aircraft V14(D-ACBS) with B.M.W.132Dc and V15 (D-ADCF) with B.M.W. 132H-1; bothpassed to DLH and re-styledHe 111L
He 111G-4: also termed He111V16 (D-ASAR); D8 600G; used by Milch as personal transport
He 111G-5: four aircraft withDB 600Ga engines, sold to Turkey
He 111 V-9: modifIed fromB-2 airframe with DB 600 Ga; became He 111D prototype with wingradiators
He 111D-0: pre-productionbatch with DB 600Ga and radiators moved to engine nacelles
He 111D-1: small number ofproduction aircraft. abandoned due to shortage of DB engines
He 111 V-6: prototype(D-AXOH) from modifIed B-0 with Jumo 610 Ga
He 111 V-10: prototype He111E (D-ALEQ) from modified D-0 with Jumo 211A-114.
He 111 E-0: pro-productionaircraft 3.748-lb (11700-kg) bombload; all-up weight 22,740-lb (10315-kg)
He 111 E-1: productionbombers. 4.400-lb (12000-kg) bombload all-up weight 23,754 lb (10775 kg)
He 111 E-3:minor intemal alterations. internal bombload only
He 111 E-4: half bombloadcarried externally
He 111 E-5: as E-4with extra internal fuel tanks
He 111 V-11:prototype He 111F with straight-tapered wing; Jumo 211A-3 engines
He 111 F-0: pm-productionaircraft, all-up weight 24.250 lb (11000 kg)
He 111 F-1: 24 aircraft soldto Turkey in 1938
He 111 F-4:40 aircraft for Luftwaffe with E-4 bombload
He 111 J-0:pm-production aircraft. 08 EOOCO; extemal bombload only
He 111 J-1: 60 productionaircraft intended as torpedo bombers but saved as bombers only
He 111 W: modified 10-ADUOIwith stepped cockpit profile
He 111 P-O: pre-productionbatch similar to V1, following J-1 in factory
He 111 P-1:production 08 601A-1; maximum speed 247 mph (398 km/h)