SECURING THE SKIES

Heinkel He 111

Overview

Designed (supposedly) as a fast mail and passenger aircraft for Lufthansa, the He111 prototype nevertheless had provision for three gun positions and a 2,200lb (1,000kg)-bomb load. Early versions featured a conventional 'stepped' cockpit and nose section and were used during the Spanish Civil War with great success where their relatively high speed and good defensive armament was more than a match for Republican fighters.

In 1938, a new version of the He111, the He111P began to leave the production lines and featured a completely redesigned wing and nose with extensive glazing and off-set to improve pilot visibility and this was to become the trademark of the type for the remainder of its service. Another feature of the 'P series was a streamlined ventral gondola which replaced the retractable 'dustbin' fitted to earlier models. Gruppen of He111Ps saw service in Poland, but it was not until the invasion of France that large numbers of defending fighters were encountered, and by the time of the Battle of Britain many German units were flying the He111H which suffered from inadequate firepower when attacked.

Recognition

Sleek, shark-like fuselage with faired-in cockpit featuring large glazed areas. Prominent fin with gun position above and below the fuselage. Mainwheels retract into engine fairings

AccommodationPilot and two gunners/navigators/bomb-aimers.
BombloadNormal load of 4,410lb (2,002kg).
ArmamentThree 7.9mm machine guns in nose, dorsal and ventral positions.
Max Speed247 mph (398km/h) at 16,400 ft (4,998m)
Length53ft 9½in (16.39m)
Span74ft 1¾in (22.60m)
PowerplantTwo 1,100 hp Daimler-Benz DB601A-1 twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled engines.
Power and specifications