Heinkel He III

Heinkel He III

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As a result of the restrictions placed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty the Heinkel He III was originally produced as a transport aeroplane. However, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party gained power permission was given to transform it into a bomber aircraft.

The Heinkel He III had a maximum speed of 252 mph (405 km) and had a range of 1,280 miles (2,060 km). It was 53 ft 9 in (16.39 m) long with a wingspan of 74 ft 1 in (22.60 m). The aircraft was armed with 6 machine-guns and could carry 5,501 lb (2,495 kg) of bombs.

At the beginning of the Second World War the Heinkel He III, along with the Dornier D017 and Junkers Ju 88A, were the main bombers used by the Luftwaffe. Almost 7,000 were built during the war.

The aircraft was found to be highly vulnerable against the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire, during the Battle of Britain. Several changes were made to the design and production of the aircraft. The Daimler Benz engines were replaced by the more powerful Junkers Jumo. A glassed-in cockpit gave the pilot greater visibility and the bomb-aimer was able to lay forward in the transparent nose.

The Heinkel Project

We, the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge, have spent many years looking for a Heinkel He 111H / CASA 2.111.B project and when we heard that the Imperial War Museum's project might become available, we also listened to the rumours that she was completely stripped out in side (to lighten her for the airlift), was full of corrosion (as she had been a gate guardian in Spain for nearly thirty years) and was built as a CASA 2.111.B.

So you can imagine the surprise when Dave, Richard, Julian and Jim, four volunteers from the Museum, inspected the project at Duxford earlier this summer and discovered that many of her instruments, controls, control column, rudder bar pedals etc were still insitu. The corrosion was fairly localised and can be inhibited, controlled, patched and replaced, as and where necessary. More importantly we believe she was built in the early 1940's as a Heinkel He 111H-16 and later converted, including her engines to a CASA 2.111.B.

Since acquiring the project the volunteers, lead as always by Dave, have been busy planning, in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, to move the Heinkel to Hawkinge in mid to late November.

We have also been busy tracking down spare parts for her long-term restoration. So far we have a large percentage of the radio equipment required, following up leads on Jumo 211 engines in various countries around the world and seeking prices for replacement engine cowlings, so we can convert her back to her original Heinkel He 111H specification!

During the Winter of 2019 to Spring 2020, the Museum restored the CASA 2.111.B to the specifications of a Heinkel He 111H-2 bomber, in the livery of A1+DA from Stab Kampfgeschwader 53 which was shot down on 15 September 1940 - now commemorated as Battle of Britain Day - over East London. In the UK, there are only two examples of a Heinkel He III and A1+DA being the only bomber variant.

More information about its past was revealed when the paintwork was removed from the leading edge of the port wing stub, when German style battle damage repair to a bullet hole was discovered, confirming that it had flown with the Luftwaffe during WW2 and had seen combat.

On 15 September, the 1st and 2nd Gruppen of Kampfgeschwader 53, comprising of twenty-four Heinkel He 111's, had taken off from Lille-Nord in France and met twenty-eight Heinkel He 111's of Kampfgeschwader 26, forty-three Dornier Do 17's of Kampfgeschwader 2 and nineteen Dornier Do 17's of Kampfgeschwader 3 north of Boulogne at 14:05 hours. Accompanied by approximately four hundred and fifty fighters they crossed the coast at Dungeness heading towards their targets in London. Arriving over East London at 14:45 hours, Kampfgeschwader 53, in the centre column, were hit by forty-one RAF fighters.

It was during the ensuing dogfight that Heinkel He 111H-2 Werke No. 3140 (coded A1+DA) of Stab Kampfgeschwader 53 was shot down by British fighters at 14:50 hours on Sunday 15th September 1940 whilst on a bombing raid to attack the Becton Gas Works, in East London. Shortly after releasing its twelve bombs, which dropped near the Becton Gas Works, it is believed to have been intercepted and shot down by Sgt Bohumír Fürst of 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron but was also possibly attacked by F/O Blair D. Russell of No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron.

Some of the wreckage of this aircraft lay undisturbed until 1986 when the Arsenal was being developed to form part of the new Thamesmead Estate. Items including two MG 15 machine-guns, sections of armour plate, main undercarriage leg and tyre, large section of the gondolier, coins etc where unearthed and are on show in the museum.


In 1939, Ernst Heinkel began the jet age with the first successful flight of the He 178. Flown by Erich Warsitz, the He 178 was powered by a turbojet engine designed by Hans von Ohain. Long interested in high-speed flight, Heinkel presented the He 178 to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Reich Air Ministry, RLM) for further evaluation. Demonstrating the aircraft for RLM leaders Ernst Udet and Erhard Milch, Heinkel was disappointed when neither showed much interest. Little support could be found from RLM's superiors as Hermann Göring preferred to endorse piston-engine fighters of proven design.

Undeterred, Heinkel began moving forward with a purpose-built fighter that would incorporate the He 178's jet technology. Beginning in late 1939, the project was designated He 180. The initial result was a traditional looking aircraft with two engines mounted in nacelles under the wings. Like many Heinkel designs the He 180 featured elliptically-shaped wings and a dihedral tailplane with twin fins and rudders. Other features of the design included a tricycle landing gear configuration and the world's first ejection seat. Designed by a team led by Robert Lusser, the He 180 prototype was complete by summer 1940.

Heinkel He 111 H-6

The Heinkel He 111 is a German fast and medium bomber designed by the Günter brothers at the Heinkel Flugzeugwerke company in the early 1930s. He 111 is sometimes described as a “sheep wolf” At first it was disguised as a transport aircraft. He 111 was used by the Luftwaffe in the early days of World War II, symbolizing German airspace, featuring the “cage” nose and the ability to bombard and attack. But in the Air War in the United Kingdom, He 111 exposed defects in self-defense. However, when heavily damaged, He 111 is still capable of keeping altitude.

Heinkel He 111 is used in many tactics: bombing in the United Kingdom, torpedoing in the Baltic Sea front, transport and bombing in the Eastern, Western, Mediterranean and North Africa fronts.

Despite improvements several times, Heinkel He 111 was gradually sacked in the later stages of World War II. Because the Luftwaffe did not have enough time and capacity to design another aircraft to replace He 111, older He 111s continued to be used until 1944.

On February 8, 1945, Mikhail Petrovich Devyatayev and 10 other prisoners flew a He 111, making a magical escape from the Nazi concentration camp in Penemünde.

Heinkel He 111P

The He 111P saw the final major redesign of the aircraft, and gave it its most familiar profile. The biggest problem reported with the earlier models was that the pilot had poor downwards visibility at all times and poor forward visibility when on the ground. In order to solve this problem Heinkel created a new all-glazed nose, containing the pilot&rsquos and navigator/ bombardier&rsquos positions in a single open cockpit. The pilot sat to the left (port) in a raised position. The seat could be further raised to allow the pilot access to a hatch in the canopy roof that further improved visibility, especially on the ground. The navigator/ bombardier&rsquos position was in the base of the nose, which was offset to the right (starboard) to further improve the pilot&rsquos visibility. The bombsight was located in the floor of this position, with the forward firing machine gun located in the tip of the nose. The navigator/ bombardier would slide forwards in his compartment to fire the gun. The new nose improved visibility and aerodynamics, as well as reducing the length of the aircraft to 53 feet 9.7 inches.

The dorsal and ventral gun positions were also modified. The open dorsal gun position was enclosed in a canopy and widened. The retractable ventral &ldquodustbin&rdquo position was replaced by a permanent gondola below the aircraft. This caused less drag than the &ldquodustbin&rdquo, and was later able to carry extra forward firing guns. However, the new aircraft still only carried three 7.92mm machine guns, each with a restricted field of fire.

The pre-production P-0, powered by two 1,150hp DB 601Aa engines, was produced late in 1938. They were the first of over 800 He 111Ps produced before production switched to the 111H. The P-0 retained the standard four bay internal bomb bay used in earlier models of the He 111.

Shortages of the DB 601Aa engine meant that the 68 P-1s were powered by the DB 601A-1, but the type was otherwise the same as the P-0.

The P-2 was similar to the P-1 but with better radio (FuG 10 instead of Fug III). Seven hundred and forty nine were produced.

The P-3 was a duel-control trainer produced by converting existing P-1s and P-2s. The work was carried out by Blohm & Voss, who produced 48 P-3s.

The P-4 was introduced after the fighting in Poland. It featured extra armour protection, and at least three extra guns. One forward firing MG 15 was added to the ventral gondola. Another MG 15 was placed on each side of the aircraft, and an extra crewman was added to fire these two extra beam guns.

The P-4 saw the internal bombs replaced by external bombs carried on either two PVC 1006 bomb racks, capable of carrying 1000kg/ 2204lbs of bombs each, or one ETC 2000 electrically operation bomb rack, capable of carrying one 2500kg/ 5511lb SC 2500 bomb. An extra fuel tank was placed in part of the internal bomb bay. While these external bombs did not increase the payload of the aircraft, they did allow the use of a wider variety of bombs and were common on later He 111s.

The P-5 was a dual control trainer built directly by Heinkel. Twenty four were built during 1939.

The P-6 was powered by two 1,175hp DB 601N engines, increasing top speed to 273 mph, although decreasing range. Defensive firepower was again increased, with twin barrelled MG 81Z machine guns used in the dorsal and ventral positions. The P series was then abandoned in favour of the N series, powered by the Jumo 211 engine, which was in less demand than the DB 601.

Heinkel He 111, Ron Mackay (Crowood Aviation). A comprehensive look at one of the most famous German aircraft of the Second World War, taking us through its pre-war development, its time as the Luftwaffe's most important bomber early in the war, to its long decline and the eventual collapse of the German bomber force.[see more]

Heinkel He III - History

Mission: Attack on industrial targets, Coventry, England.

Unit: Stab III./Kampfgeschwader 1

Location: Manor Avenue, Caterham, Surrey, England.

Pilot: Feldwebel. F Meyer &ndash Captured unhurt. POW.

Observer: Major. Willibald Fanelsa (Gruppenkommandeur) &ndash Captured unhurt. POW.

Flt/Eng: Oberfeldwebel. A Vetter &ndash Captured unhurt. POW

Radio/Op: Oberfeldwebel. E Braunsburger Captured unhurt. POW.

Gunner: Gefreiter. G Zimpel Captured unhurt. POW.

Left an aerodrome near Montdidier at 23.40 hrs. to bomb factories in the Coventry area. Twenty 50 kg bombs carried. A track on a map showed a point 3 miles ENE Montdidier to just short of Dieppe, landfall at Eastbourne and then to Coventry. Even when they started out the starboard engine was not running well and when over the target the port engine stopped, possibly due to AA fire. With faltering engine the aircraft lost height and at about 4,800 ft. they were picked up by searchlights so the crew dropped the bombs blindly finally bailing out at 2,300 ft. and landed uninjured. The aircraft was completely wrecked.

Crash site of Major. Fanelsa&rsquos He 111H-2 in between houses in Manor Avenue.

Close up of the remains of the aircrafts tail unit destroyed by fire.

Thutmose III's Battle of Megiddo Inscription

The Battle of Megiddo (c. 1457 BCE) is one of the most famous military engagements in history in which Thutmose III (1458-1425 BCE) of Egypt defeated the coalition of subject regions led in rebellion by the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo. The battle itself was a decisive victory for Egypt and the seven- or eight-month siege which followed reduced the power of the subject kings, gave Thutmose III control of northern Canaan (from which he launched his campaigns into Mesopotamia), and elevated the Egyptian king's status to legend.

Thutmose III's Ascension & The Revolt

Thutmose III was the son of Thutmose II (1492-1479 BCE) by a lesser wife named Iset. Thutmose II's great royal wife was Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE), who was appointed regent to the young Thutmose III upon the death of his father. Hatshepsut, however, broke with the tradition which insisted on a male pharaoh and assumed the position herself.


Thutmose III grew up at court and received extensive military training as was expected for a prince in the period of the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570 - c. 1069 BCE), the age of empire. When Hatshepsut died, Thutmose III came to power, and believing him to be weak and inexperienced, the king of the Syrian city of Kadesh incited a rebellion in the Egyptian province of Canaan which quickly gained support from other regions hoping to cast off Egyptian rule. This coalition assembled at the city of Megiddo.

The Battle of Megiddo & Inscription

In c. April of 1457 BCE, Thutmose III marched his army from Thebes to Megiddo in northern Canaan (northern Israel in the present day), prudently chose to approach the city by a narrow pass from the town of Aruna – instead of the wider and easier routes to the city – and surprised his enemies by entering the Qina Valley behind their defensive positions and driving them from the field. The entire campaign could have been ended that day, had the Egyptian army not halted their pursuit of survivors to collect treasures and trophies from the field Thutmose III had to lay siege to the city to take it.


Thutmose III's commander and military scribe Tjaneni (also given as Thanuny, c. 1455 BCE) naturally accompanied his king on the campaign to put down the revolt and kept a journal detailing the engagement. Tjaneni's account so pleased Thutmose III that he had portions of it inscribed on the walls of the great Temple of Amun at Karnak and, to lesser extents, elsewhere. Tjaneni's report is among the most detailed of any campaign in Egypt's history including that of Ramesses II's famous account of The Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE.

Tjaneni begins by explaining why the inscription is to be found engraved on the temple's walls. He then proceeds to detail the campaign and the reasons for it. The 'wretched enemy' mentioned periodically is the king of Kadesh who initiated the rebellion and organized the forces against Egypt but at some points is used to designate all who had joined the rebellion. Following the Battle of Megiddo, Thutmose III would subjugate and punish all who participated, conquering not only Kadesh but all of Syria and the lands of the Mitanni in Mesopotamia, among others.

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Text of the Inscription

The following translation is by James B. Pritchard from his work Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (1955), reprinted in The Ancient Near East, Volume I: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures also by Pritchard. Some passages have been omitted here for brevity or because they are incomplete or unclear. At points, a passage will be summarized in parentheses for clarity and to maintain narrative form. Brackets are used to clarify dates, expressions, or certain locations:

His majesty commanded that the victories which his father Amun had given to him should be established upon a monument in the temple which his majest had made for his father Amun, in order to set down each individual campaign together with the booty which his majesty carried off from it and the dues of every foreign country which his father Ra had given to him.

Year 22, 4th month of the second season, day 25 [possibly 16 April 1457 BCE]. His majesty passed the fortress of Sile [on the Egyptian frontier] on the first campaign of victory which his majesty made to extend the frontiers of Egypt, in valor, in victory, in power, and in justification. Now this was a long time in years…while every man was tributary before Egypt. But it happened in later times that the garrison which was there was in the town of Sharuhen while from Iursa to the outer ends of the earth [from southern Canaan to northern Syria] had become rebellious against his majesty.


(The army marched at a rate of 150 miles in 10 days to reach Gaza where they rested. They then moved on to the town of Yehem near Aruna where Thutmose III called a council of his commanders. There were three ways the army could travel to Megiddo: a narrow path where the troops would have to march single-file, a road to the south, and another to the north both of which were wider and would allow for an easier movement of the army. Thutmose III had decided on the narrow road from Aruna his generals wanted to go by either of the two other easier routes).

His majesty ordered a conference with his victorious army, speaking as follows:

"That wretched enemy of Kadesh has come and has entered into Megiddo. He there at this very moment. He has gathered to him the princes of every foreign country which had been loyal to Egypt, as well as those as far as Naharin and Mitanni, them of Hurru, them of Kode, their horses, their armies, and their people, for he says – so it is reported - 'I shall wait here in Megiddo to fight against his majesty'. Will you tell me what is in your hearts?"


They said in the presence of his majesty: "What is it like to go on this road which becomes so narrow? It is reported that the foe is there, waiting on the outside, while they are becoming more numerous. Will not horse have to go after horse and the army and the people similarly? Will the vanguard of us be fighting while the rear guard is waiting here in Aruna unable to fight? Now, two other roads are here. One of the roads – behold, it is to the east of us, so that it comes out at Taanach. The other – behold, it is to the north side of Djefti, and we will come out to the north of Megiddo. Let our victorious lord proceed on the one of them which is satisfactory to his heart but do not make us go on that difficult road!"

Then messages were brought in about that wretched enemy and discussion was continued of that problem on which they had previously spoken. That which was said in the majesty of the Court – life, prosperity, health [a common blessing regarding pharaoh. Thutmose III spoke to the assembly:]

"I swear, as Ra loves me, as my father Amun favors me, as my nostrils are rejuvenated with life and satisfaction, my majesty shall proceed upon this Aruna road! Let him of you who wishes go upon these roads of which you speak and let him of you who wishes come in the following of my majesty! 'Behold', they will say, these enemies whom Ra abominates, 'has his majesty set out on another road because he has become afraid of us?' – So they will speak."


They said in the presence of his majesty:

"May thy father Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, Presiding over Karnak, act according to thy desire! Behold, we are following they majesty everywhere that thy majesty goes, for a servant will be after his lord."

Then his majesty laid a charge upon the entire army:

"Ye shall hold fast to the stride of your victorious lord on that road which becomes so narrow. Behold, his majesty has taken an oath, saying: 'I will not let my victorious army go forth ahead of my majesty in this place!'"

Now, his majesty had laid it in his heart that he himself should go forth at the head of his army. Every man was made aware of his order of march, horse following horse, while his majesty was at the head of his army.

(The army traveled by the narrow road from Aruna to Megiddo. The men marched in single-file, leading the horses. The chariots were dismantled and carried by the soldiers. Although reports had been received that the enemy would be waiting for them at the end of the narrow road, they found no one there. The coalition expected Thutmose III to take either of the easier paths and were actually waiting for him at the end of those roads.)

Then his majesty issued forth [from the narrow road] at the head of his army which was prepared in many ranks. He had not met a single enemy. Their southern wing was in Taanach while their northern wing was on the south side of the Qina valley. Then his majesty rallied [his troops] saying: "They are fallen! While that wretched enemy [watched for us in the wrong place, we have arrived to surprise them.] May ye give praise to Amun may he extol the might of his majesty, because his arm is greater than that of any king. It has indeed protected the rear of his majesty's army in Aruna!"

Now while the rear of his majesty's victorious army was still at the town of Aruna, the vanguard had come out into Qina Valley and they filled the mouth of this valley.

Then they [his generals] said to his majesty – life, prosperity, health! – "Behold, his majesty has come forth with his victorious army and they have filled the valley. Let our victorious lord listen to us this time and let our lord guard for us the rear of his army and his people. When the rear of the army comes forth for us into the open, then we shall fight against these foreigners, then we shall not trouble our hearts about the rear of our army."

A halt was made by his majesty outside [of the valley] and he [sat] there guarding the rear of his victorious army. Now the leaders had just finished coming forth on this road when the shadow turned [meaning it was noon, when the sundial had to be repositioned. It took seven hours before the rearguard caught up to the vanguard of the army in the valley]. His majesty reached the south of Megiddo on the bank of the Qina brook when the seventh hour was in its course in the day.

Then a camp was pitched there for his majesty and a charge was laid upon the entire army, saying: "Prepare ye! Make your weapons ready, since one will engage in combat with that wretched enemy in the morning."

Resting in the enclosure of life, prosperity, and health [in the royal pavilion] the pharaoh provided for the officials, issuing rations to the retinue, posting the sentries of the army, saying to them: "Be steadfast, be steadfast! Be vigilant, be vigilant!" Awakening in life in the tent of life, prosperity, and health [he met with his messengers]. They came to tell his majesty: "The desert is well and the garrisons of the south and north also!"

His majesty set forth in a chariot of fine gold, adorned with his accoutrements of combat, like Horus, the Mighty of Arm, a lord of action like Montu, the Theban, while his father Amun made strong his arms. The southern wing of his majesty's army was at a hill south of the Qina brook and the northern wing was to the northwest of Megiddo, while his majesty was in their center. Amun being the protection of his person in the melee and the strength of Set pervading his members.

Thereupon his majesty prevailed over them at the head of his army. Then they [the enemy] saw his majesty prevailing over them, and they fled headlong to Megiddo with faces of fear. They abandoned their horses and their chariots of gold and silver so that someone might draw them up into this town by hoisting on their garments. Now, the people had shut this town against them but they let down garments to hoist them up into this town. Now, if only his majesty's army had not given up their hearts to capturing the possessions of the enemy, they would have captured Megiddo at this time, while the wretched enemy of Kadesh and the wretched enemy of this town were being dragged up hastily to get them into their town, for fear of his majesty entered their bodies and their arms were weak for his serpent-diadem had overpowered them.

Then their horses and their chariots of gold and silver were captured as easy as prey. Ranks of them were lying stretched out on their backs like fish in the bight of a net while his majesty's victorious army counted up their possessions. Now there was captured that wretched enemy's tent which was worked with silver.

Then the entire army rejoiced and gave praise to Amun because of the victory which he had given to his son on this day. They lauded his majesty and extolled his victories. Then they presented the plunder which they had taken: hands [hands cut off as spoils of war], living prisoners, horses, and chariots of fold and silver and of painted work.

Then his majesty commanded his army with these words:

"Capture ye effectively, my victorious army! Behold, all foreign countries have been put in this town by the command of Ra on this day, inasmuch as every prince of every northern country is shut up within it for the capturing of Megiddo is the capturing of a thousand towns! Capture ye firmly, Firmly!"

Orders were issued to the commanders of the troops to provide for their divisions and to inform each man of his place. They measured this city, which was corralled with a moat and enclosed with fresh timbers of all their pleasant trees, while his majesty himself was in a fortress east of this town, being watchful. He ordered the town enclosed with a girdled wall. Its name was called "Men-kheper-Ra-is-the Corraller-of-the-Asiatics." People were appointed as sentries at the enclosure of his majesty and they were told: "Be steadfast, be steadfast! Be vigilant, be vigilant!" Not one of them was permitted to go outside from behind this wall except to come out at a knock on the door of their fortress [by an Egyptian].

Now everything which his majesty did to this town and to that wretched enemy and his wretched army is set down by the individual day by the individual expedition and by the individual troop commanders. They are set down on a roll of leather in the Temple of Amun today.

Now the princes of this foreign country came on their bellies to kiss the ground to the glory of his majesty and to beg breath for their nostrils because his arm was so great, because the prowess of Amun was so great over every foreign country, all the princes whom the prowess of his majesty carried off, bearing their tribute of silver, gold, lapis lazuli, and turquoise, and carrying grain, wine, and large and small cattle for the army of his majesty, with one gang of them bearing tribute southward. Then his majesty appointed princes anew for every town.

List of the booty which his majesty's army carried off from the town of Megiddo:

340 living prisoners and 83 hands, 2,041 horses, 191 foals, 6 stallions 1 chariot worked with gold with a body of gold belonging to that enemy, 1 fine chariot worked with gold belonging to the prince of Megiddo, and 892 chariots of his wretched army – total: 924. 1 fine bronze coat of mail belonging to that enemy, 1 fine bronze coat of mail belonging to the prince of Megiddo, and 200 leather coats of mail belonging to his wretched army 502 bows, and 7 poles of meru-wood worked with silver of the tent of that enemy.

Now the army of his majesty carried off cattle of 387, 1,929 cows, 2,000 goats, and 20,500 sheep. List of what was carried off afterward by the king from the household goods of that enemy who was in Uanoam, Nuges, and Herenkeru [of northern Syria] together with the property of those towns which had made themselves subject to him: 38 [officers] belonging to the enemy, 84 children of that enemy and of the princes who were with him, 5 [officers] belonging to them and 1,796 male and female slaves as well as their children and 103 pardoned persons who had come out from that enemy because of hunger – total: 2,503 – apart from bowls of costly stone and gold, various vessels (100), a large jar in Syrian work, jars, bowls, plates, various drinking vessels, large kettles, 17 knives – making 1,784 deben [the Egyptian monetary unit], gold in discs found in the process of being worked, as well as abundant silver in discs – 966 deben and 1 kidet, a silver statue with a head of gold, 3 walking sticks with human heads, 6 carrying chairs of that enemy of ivory, ebony, and carob-wood, 1 bed belonging to that enemy of carob-wood worked with gold and with every kind of costly stone, completely worked in gold, a statue of that enemy which was there of ebony worked with gold, its head of lapis lazuli, bronze vessels and much clothing of that enemy.

Now the fields were made into arable plots and assigned to inspectors of the palace in order to reap their harvest. List of the harvest which his majesty carried off from the Megiddo acres: 207,300 plus sacks of what apart from what was cut as forage by his majesty's army.

Heinkel He III - History

Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: The He-162 Volksjäger and the Hitlerjugend
by Arvo L. Vercamer

The origins of the development of the Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger" can be traced back to 1943. This was a time when Britain's Royal Air Force and the USAAF were gaining control of the skies over Germany. German economic, industrial and military centers were being bombed on a near daily basis and the Luftwaffe was increasingly less effective to offer effective resistance.

It was clear to all that the Reichsluftministerium (RLM) was no longer in a position to command and control the construction and supply of new aircraft for the war effort. As a result, Armaments Minister Alber Speer was given full authority over all aspects of military production requirement. Speer introduced a number of radical changes to the German economy. As a part of those changes, in late 1943, Speer introduced the "Jäger-Programm". This was a consolidated effort to produce Germany's next generation of fighters and bombers, including the "Volksjäger" aircraft, which were to be built from non-strategic materials.

As each day brought Germany closer to defeat, Hitler still had hopes of winning the war - he believed that his aces-up-his-sleeves were his technically advanced "Wunderwaffen" (wonder weapons). The Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger" counted as one of those, late-war, wonder weapons.

On 08 September 1944, the technical department of the Reichsluftministerium (RLM) ordered Germany's aircraft design bureaus to develop a single engine, jet interceptor fighter. The Arado Airplane Company entered the bidding effort with its Arado Ar E.580 fighter, Blohm und Voss submitted its designs for the Blohm und Voss BV P.210 fighter, and the Junkers Company entered its plans for the Ju EF 123/124. The winning bidder however, was Heinkel, which submitted its plans for the He 162. Oberst Knemeyer of the RLM made the final approval to Heinkel on 29 September 1944.

Of interest is that the He 162 was in fact based on an earlier Heinkel design for the P.1073 jet fighter project. Heinkel essentially modified the basic P.1073 design to create the He 162. To enhance security measures, the He 162 was code named "Salamander" after early October, 1944. It is from this that the airplane received its nickname of He 162 "Salamander".

The He 162 was officially designated as the "People's Fighters" (Volksjäger) by the Luftwaffe, which, when completed, was to be flown by the Hitlerjugend. This aircraft has a rather unique history in the annals of the Second World War. From its initial conception to its final design to its construction in numerous underground factories to its actual deployment against the RAF and USAAF - less than 90 days transpired. Albert Speer had much to do with the project since he was after all looking for an inexpensive way to produce jet fighters. The He 162 also has another worlds first to its credit - it was the world's first operational single jet engine, interceptor fighter.

On 25 September 1944, Adolf Hitler called for the creation of the Volkssturm. Reichs Air Marshal Hermann Göring, who strongly desired to outshine everyone else again, wanted an equivalent of the German Army's "Volkssturm" for his Luftwaffe. The just authorized He 162 program was the answer to this problem. Arthur Axmann, leader of the Hitlerjugend, assured Göring that there were enough Hitlerjugend (boys and girls!) available in Germany to be trained as pilots IF there were jets available. Göring in turn assured Axmann that Armaments Minister Albert Speer could deliver the needed jets as he was already working on such a program. Fritz Sauckel in turn assured Speer that the needed labor force would be available for additional "Volksjäger" airplanes. This seemed to satisfy Göring, and the project was signed off on. Per an immediate order issued by Arthur Axmann, the entire class of 1944 HJ aviation candidates were ordered to commence to accelerate their glider training regimens and to begin to convert to jet aircraft training as quickly as possible. Göring was of the opinion that once one got the hand of gliding, becoming a jet fighter pilot should be an easy task - any HJ member should be up to that task. A training center for future HJ "Volksjäger" pilots was established at Trebbin they practiced on engineless He 162S models (glider towed).

Due to the intense and severely damaging Allied aerial bombing efforts, Germany could no longer afford to use precious metals and develop high-tech jigs and tools for the manufacturing process of the He 162. It was therefore decided that the He 162 was for the most part to be constructed out of non-strategic materials (wood). A number of furniture factories in the Stuttgart area were prime contractors for these components. Germany's now standard BMW 003A jet engine was selected to be the main propulsion unit. Only a small modification was made to the engine. As the BMW 003A engine was designed to be used with conventionally designed German jet fighters and jet bombers, the position of the mounting brackets for the BMW 003A had to be relocated from the top of the engine (for wing mounting) to the bottom of the engine, so that it could be mounted to the spine of the He 162 (BMW 003E). Semi-skilled workers, unskilled workers, prisoners of war and slave laborers comprised most of the construction work force of the He 162. Sauckel thus made good on his promise to provide the needed manpower.

The technical drawings were completed on 29 October 1944 in Vienna-Schwechat. The first evaluation/test He 162, Werke Nr. 200001 (coded VI+IA), flew on 06 December 1944. It was constructed at the Heinkel factory near Vienna/Schwechat. 69 days had passed since Heinkel won the contract - surely a record accomplishment by any standard.

Initially, the first few production line He 162's were armed with a MK 108 30mm cannon. But because Soviet forces captured Germany's only remaining plant manufacturing that weapon, the more available MG 151 20mm cannons were used instead. Production aircraft were assembled at Heinkel's production facilities, which included Rostock/Marienehe, Berlin/Oranienburg, subcontracting with the Junkers Werke in Aschersleben-Bernburg-Halberstadt-Leopoldshall-Schönebeck, a salt mine near Salzburg/Eger and a subterranean factory near Vienna/Hinterbrühl. It was originally intended to use the BMW 003E engine on the He 162's, but shortages of these engines at this stage of the war forced the design teams to seek out alternative power plants. At least one He 162 (M42) is known to have flown towards the end of March 1945 in Bad Gandersheim with two Argus As 014 thruster rockets the same power plants used on the V-1.

Towards the end of January, 1945, the Luftwaffe authorized the newly established Erprobungskommando 162 to begin immediate combat and flight evaluations of the He 162 jet fighter. Fliegertechnische Schule 6, co-located at Neuenmarkt and Weidenberg (near Bayreuth), was tasked with training the needed ground crews and service personnel, as was the (Hitlerjugend) Segelfliegerschule in Trebbin. As a result of these flight evaluations and tests, a number of corrections and modifications were undertaken to the He 162's airframe. One of the modifications was the addition of the now familiar anhedral wingtips.

Although about 120 He 162's were eventually for immediate front line service, they were anything but easy airplanes to fly. Even experienced pilots had to struggle with the airplane on the ground and in the air. Because the engine was mounted on the back and towards the rear, the He 162 was prone to longitudinal rolling. No sudden movements were recommended, as the aircraft was very temperamental and somewhat un-aerodynamic. Interestingly, a few Luftwaffe pilots found the aircraft to have good flight characteristics.

A number of variants were foreseen, but only the A-1 and A-2 variants were built in larger quantities:
He 162 A-1 (w/BMW 003E-1 jet engine and anhedral wingtips)
He 162 A-2 (as A-1, only minor differences)
He 162 B-1 (w/two Argus As 014 pulse engines and anhedral wingtips
He 162 B-2 (w/single Argus As 044 pulse engine and anhedral wingtips)
He 162 C (w/single HeS 011 jet engine sweep-forward wings and "V" tail)
He 162 D (w/single HeS 011 jet engine anhedral wing and "V" tail)
He 162 S (as the A-1 version, except without an engine HJ glider trainer)

In February of 1945, the first squadron of Jagdgeschwader 1 (I. "Volkssturm"/JG 1) began operational use of the He 162. Later, the second squadron of JG 1 (II/JG 1) also received a batch of operational He 162's. At that time, II/JG 1 was configured as follows:
Staff (Oberst (COL) Herbert Ihlfeld commanding)
I Gruppe (Major (MAJ) Werner Zober)
- 1. Staffel - Hauptmann (CPT) Heinz Künnecke
- 2. Staffel - Hauptmann (CPT) Wolfgang Ludewig
- 3. Stafflel - Oberleutnant (1LT) Emil Demuth
II Gruppe (Hauptmann (CPT) Rahe)
- 4. Staffel - Hauptmann (CPT) Fallowitsch
- 5. Staffel - Hauptmann (CPT) Bergholz
- 6. Stafflel - Oberleutnant (1LT) Zipprecht

While the records are not 100% authoritative, it appears that three individual Luftwaffe pilots did score "credible" kills while flying the He 162 A-1 in combat against the RAF and the USAAF. The first "kill" of I Gruppe/JG 1, is credited to Oberst (CPT) Herbert Ihlefeld's wingman, Sill, near Kirchheim-Treck in early February of 1945. On 21 April 1945, a number of He 162's, belonging to I Gruppe/JG 1, conducted operational missions against Allied ground forces in nothern Germany. At that time, I Gruppe/JG 1 operated out of Leck near the Danish-German border. On 26 April 1945, Unteroffizier Rechenbach, also of I Gruppe/JG1, was witnessed to have downed an Allied aircraft flying his He 162. On 04 May 1945, Leutnant (2LT) Rudolf Schmitt of I Gruppe/JG 1 allegedly shot down an RAF Typhoon near Rostock. Of important note is that official British RAF records do not substantiate this claim. While German Luftwaffe pilots did fly the He 162, and some even scored kills with it - no Hitlerjugend member ever flew the He 162 in combat.

1945 - Heinkel He 162S (Glider variant)

Illustration © Arvo L. Vercamer

1945 - Heinkel He 162A-1, Weisse 23

Illustration © Arvo L. Vercamer

1945 - Heinkel He 162A-1, Gelbe 4

Illustration © Arvo L. Vercamer


It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Nazi Germany needed a strategic heavy bomber capable of carrying six tonnes of bombs to targets 950 miles from its base and flying at 8,000m, too high for enemy fighters to intercept. However, vector bombsights originally developed during the First World War were still in use during the 1930s and accuracy from high altitude could not be guaranteed. Impressed by the precision dive-bombing of the Junkers Ju87 Stukas during the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe concluded that their new heavy bomber should attack targets by diving.

Heinkel were chosen to manufacture this revolutionary warplane, designated the He177 Greif (‘Griffin’). Weighing eight times as much as a Stuka when fully loaded, the He177 required four engines to meet its performance targets, but the propellers created too much drag for dive-bombing, so Heinkel’s chief designer, Siegfried Gunter, devised a radical solution. Two Daimler-Benz DB601 V12 engines were coupled together to drive a single propeller, creating a four-engined aircraft with only two propellers. Ingenious, but flawed. The twin engines shared a central exhaust system, which overheated and ignited any oil or grease that had seeped from the motors. Engine fires were so common that aircrew nicknamed it the Luftwaffenfeuerzeug or ‘airforce lighter’. Employed for the first time in an anti-shipping role in November 1943, the captain of an Allied merchant ship reported flames coming from the starboard engine of one of the attacking aircraft.

These were not the only shortcomings of the He177. In order to cope with diving at an angle of 60 degrees, the fuselage had to be lengthened and strengthened, significantly increasing weight and affecting both performance and handling.

To cap it all, by the time the He177 entered active service in January 1942, Germany had developed the Lotfe 7 bombsight, which was accurate from heights of 4,000m, rendering dive-bombing unnecessary. By then it was too late to revert to a traditional four-engined layout, which would have solved the engine reliability issues.

On the plus side, He177 aircrew had a fairly good chance of surviving operations. Gliding down from high altitude to 4,500m to release its payload made it tricky for British radar guiding the anti-aircraft guns to predict its course, while on the Eastern Front, most Soviet interceptor fighters operated at too low a level to catch the He177. In total, 1,169 He177s were built, but events overtook the Luftwaffe’s only strategic bomber one last time. By August 1944 Allied air raids had reduced German production of aviation fuel by 90% compared to May, and all He177s were grounded because scarce fuel was desperately needed for defensive fighters.

Perhaps the final word should go to one of Britain’s top test pilots, Eric Brown, who flew an He177 that had been captured in September 1944: ‘Somehow the He177 always conveyed an impression of fragility despite its size.’ It was ‘one of the very few German aircraft of the period that I tested that I did not enjoy flying.’

Heinkel He 111

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/14/2018 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The German Luftwaffe of World War 2 fielded a trio of capable (though eventually limited) medium-class bombers in the Dornier Do 17, the Junkers Ju 88, and the Heinkel He 111. The latter became the Reich's most important bomber of the war despite being exceeded in production numbers by the competing Junkers Ju 88 line (15,138). The He 111 appeared during the tumultuous interwar years as part of the reemerging German military and enjoyed a long service life with final versions not retired until 1975 with Spain (as the CASA 2.111). Over 7,000 examples were ultimately produced in all with variants, some to suit certain battlefield roles including transport, glider towing, and torpedo delivery. A very specialized transport version - the He 111Z "Zwilling" (detailed elsewhere on this site) - mated two whole He 111 airframes together by way of a common joining inboard wing structure to produce a doubly-capable tow aircraft for the massive Messerschmitt Me 321 glider detailed elsewhere on this site.


After World War 1 (1914-1918) and the restrictions placed upon German industry - particularly its war-making capabilities - several projects were undertaken in secrecy or under the guise of civilian market operation. This proved the case with the He 111 which was developed as a fast medium bomber posing as a fast passenger airliner. The design was headed in the early 1930s by brothers Siegfried and Walter Gunter who, at that time, brought little experience to the table. The record-setting Henkel 70 was used as the starting point as this aircraft was specifically made for fast passenger and mail transportation. its design showcased a very streamlined form with elliptical wing mainplanes and 324 of the type were eventually realized with local production also seen in Hungary.

The Model 70 was revised into a twin-engine layout, the nose-mounted engine removed and the engine pair now fitted to the wing leading edges. The high-performance elliptical wings were retained though lengthened and attention was given to the fuselage with was also extended. A stepped cockpit was used and the engine of choice became the relatively underpowered BMW VI 6.oZ piston engine of 660 horsepower (each) for heftier engine breeds were being reserved for "true" military aircraft. A single vertical fin was seated at the tail along with low-set horizontal planes - all well-rounded for aerodynamic efficiency. The fuselage was very tubular and the wing mainplanes set low along its sides. The undercarriage featured two single-wheeled main landing gear legs under the mass of the aircraft with a diminutive tail wheel under the aft section (the tail wheel only partially retractable into the fuselage). First flight was recorded on February 24th, 1935 - the prototype being He 111 V1 under a civilian registration - and the resulting flight proved the design sound on the whole though maximum speed was limited to 225 miles per hour. V2 followed, also with civilian markings, but incorporated refined wings, various engine installations from BMW, and other general upgrades to reach speeds in the 255 mile per hour range.

By this time, Heinkel was in direct competition with a Junkers design (the Ju 86) and the Dornier Do 17 but all three were supported by the German Air Ministry. Performance of the Ju 86 resulted in limited interest and Junkers then moved onto bettering its classic Ju 88 product. The Do 17 was adopted to replace the Heinkel Model 70 and the He 111 was continually evolved through extensive work.

A- and B-Models

Ten trials He 111 A-0 aircraft followed as did another prototype (V3) for further evaluation. The V3 was selected as the primary serial production model and the ten pre-productions were then later sold off to China. With Daimler-Benz DB 600Aa inline engines installed, the aircraft was formally received into Luftwaffe service as the He 111 B-0 and production models bore the He 111 B-1 designation while being powered with Daimler-Benz DB600C engines. The He 111 B-2 was given DB 600GG engines (later DB 600Ga engines) but was more or less faithful to the B-1 and B-3 served as a trainer.

C-, D-, and E-Models

He 111 C-0 was used to signify six additional pre-production airframes which led to the He 111 D-0 production models with longer range capability and updated equipment. He 111 E-0 marked more pre-production aircraft built from the B-0 models though with Junkers Jumo 211 A-1 engines. Its production form became the He 111 E-1 and the E-3, the latter with Junkers Jumo 211 A-3 engines. The E-4 brought about use of external hardpoints and E-5 added more internal fuel storage for improved ranges.

The He 111 F-0 served as a pre-production mark while being based on the E-5 models of earlier. The wings were refined for a more simplified construction approach and the aircraft outfitted with Junkers Jumo 211 A-1 series engines. Its production mark became the He 111 F-1 and about two dozen were sold to Turkey in an attempt to woo the Asian power into supporting the Axis cause. The He 111 F-2 then followed in twenty production aircraft and were largely the F-1 model though with an improved communications system. The F-3 became an unrealized reconnaissance-minded derivative that utilized camera equipment instead of the regular bomb load. The F-4 were F-models converted as staff communications platforms.

G- and J-Models

G-models followed as transport-minded aircraft with the G-0 serving as pre-production aircraft based on the F-0 form. The G-3 was outfitted with BMW 132Dc radial piston engines and the G-4 with Daimler-Benz DB 600G inline piston engines. G-5 numbered five airframes for Turkey powered by DB 600Ga engines. The He 111 J-0 was the pre-production torpedo bomber form based on the F-4 model and powered by 2 x DB 600CG engines. Its production guise came in the He 111 J-1 and 90 were seen in all.

The Revised He 111 P-Model

The drastically revised He 111 form - with its all-glazed cockpit flightdeck arrived in the He 111 P-series lead by the P-0 pre-production aircraft in 1939. A new straighter wing element was implemented as were Daimler-Benz DB 601Aa series engines. Along the belly of the aircraft was added a gondola for observation purposes as well as another (improved) defensive machine gun position. The production form became He 111 P-1. P-2 included better radio kits and defensive machine guns were increased form three to five. The trainer variant was the P-3 (crew) and the P-5 (pilot) while P-4 added additional armoring and machine guns, external bomb racks, and additional fuel stores. Some of the following P-6 models used DB 601N engines until their supply became restricted for German fighter use. P-6/R2 was used as a glider tug as was the P-9.

He 111 H-0 were pre-production aircraft with Junkers Jumo 211A-1 engines which led to the standard H-1 production models with improved radio kits. The H-2 was given improved defensive machine gun armament and H-3 followed with Junkers Jumo 211 A-3 engines and five machine guns with provision for cannon support as well. H-4 took on Junkers Jumo 211D series engines and featured bomb racks under the wings as well as support for torpedo dropping. H-5 carried all of its ordnance load externally with its bomb bay now reserved for fuel - thus allowing for drastically increased operational ranges. H-6 was a dedicated torpedo bomber form with combination machine gun/cannon armament. H-7 served in the night bomber role and lost some of its defensive armament while having additional armoring. H-8 were H-3 and H-5 models with barrage balloon-cutting equipment installed. The H-8/R2 were H-8 models relegated to towing duties. H-9 was built from the H-6 model with balloon-cutting equipment installed. Other H-model forms introduced slight variations on the base design - some with more guns (H-20) and others used solely as infantry transport (H-20/R1). H-20/R3 served in the night bomber role and H-20/R4 was given extensive external bomb rack equipment. H-22 served as an air-launch platform for V-1 "Buzz Bomb" terror weapons as the war moved on. He 111R was a high altitude bomber program.

H-Model Specifications

The typical He 111 form (H-6) utilized a crew of five made up of the pilot, nose gunner who doubled as the bombardier and navigator, a dorsal gunner that operated the radio as well, a waist gunner, and a ventral machine gunner. Power was served through 2 x Junkers Jumo 2111F-1 liquid-cooled inline engines of 1,300 horsepower each providing a maximum speed of 273 miles per hour, a range out to 1,430 miles, a service ceiling of 21,330 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 17,000 feet. Defensive armament was 7 x 7.92mm machine guns spread about as two machine guns in the nose section, one in the dorsal position, two machine guns at beam positions, and two machine guns in the ventral position. A 20mm MG FF cannon was fitted either in the nose as well or in a forward ventral gun mounting. Additionally, a 13mm MG 131 machine gun could be fitted in the ventral rear position or at the dorsal position. The typical bomb load maxed at 4,400lbs though up to 7,900lbs could be carried externally - at the cost of speed (increased drag) and the loss of the internal bomb bay (bomb racks restricted use of the bomb bay doors).

Operational Service

As with other classic pre-war German designs, the He 111 served throughout the whole war and over any front the Germans fought at. Its medium bomber role was gradually evolved out of battlefield necessity which showcased the versatility of the excellent design. Germany did not commit heavily to heavy bomber forms for it believed its medium bomber groups and fighter-bomber types were more valuable than lumbering heavies - which the Allies extensively relied on.

He 111s were debuted during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) which gave the Luftwaffe the active test ground to further its tactics and prove its new technologies. He 111B-1 aircraft served under the "Condor Legion" banner in the war. It was then used during the Polish "blitzkrieg" campaign which subdued Warsaw and began the rise of the Reich Empire by force. Additional sorties then followed during the lull in direct action, nicknamed the "Phoney War" period lasting from October 1939 to April 1940. Additional service then saw the He 111 back in action during the conquests of Denmark and Norway prior to the French campaign of May 1940.

He 111s were useful medium bombers capable of undertaking various sortie types during its service tenure but it was during the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940 that its weaknesses were finally brought to light against a determined British fighter and Anti-Aircraft gun defense. He 111s proved too slow to outrun danger and their defensive gun network lacked all-around capabilities which forced the Germans to commit more to escort fighter groups which, in turn, lacked the fuel necessary to engage enemy interceptors for long periods of time. He 111s were, however, still effective bombers and hit British military infrastructure such as radio centers, airfields, and even the English capital (London). As a direct assault platform, however, its days were numbered and the Battle of Britain ended in a stunning German defeat.

Such limitations are what forced the evolution of the line and the story of the He 111 was not written in full by this time in the war. It continued in service as a bomber during the Balkans invasion and was in play as a torpedo bomber platform during the War in the Atlantic against Allied shipping. The aircraft line was then deployed in number across North Africa and the Middle East where it still held value and contributed to the Malta offensive under lightened enemy air defenses.

When Germany committed to the invasion of the Soviet Union in June of 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), all new problems greeted German logistics and the He 111 was pressed over an unforgiving Eastern Front for years. Low-flying ground attacks became the norm as did transport service due primarily to the He 111s inherent operational range. The He 111 was present at the classic Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk though losses to Soviet ground-based fire and interceptors proved damaging to German He 111 numbers.

The End of the Line

From early 1943 onwards, the He 111 had seen its best fighting days behind it and Allied air superiority continued to grow while Axis-controlled territories shrank. The He 111 was quickly proving obsolescent and its performance was not getting any better against new generations of Allied aircraft and airmen. The terror campaign was a painful, yet ultimately doomed, initiative by the Germans that pressed He 111s in the rocket delivery role. By now, British response times were excellent thanks to new aircraft and an efficient radar/communications network. Despite their obsolete label, the end of German-operated He 111s came only with the end of the war in May of 1945.

Some He 111s continued into the post-war years with other powers and few survive today (2014) as preserved museum showpieces. The RAF Museum of Hendon has one in their collection as does RAF Duxford. Spanish forms were license-built by CASA as the Model 2.111 and these managed a service tenure into 1975. The Japanese Army evaluated the He 111 as the Army Type 98 but elected against adopting it into inventory.

Watch the video: Heinkel He 111 - Entwicklung, Produktion - Dokumentation (November 2022).

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