Aviation of World War II

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Heinkel He 111H
  • Medium Bomber
  • First flight: 1939
  • Heinkel

The main modification of the He-111 was the He-111H. In fact, it was a He-111P with a different version of the power plant - it had two Jumo 211 engines.

The He 111H was put into service in 1939; in total, about 6150 of these aircraft were manufactured in a variety of variants from the He-111H-1 to the He-111H-23. These modifications were characterized by increasing engine power, increased fuel tank capacity, increased defensive armament and improved armor. Aircraft of this type could be used to attack enemy ships, reconnaissance and adjustment, transport paratroopers and tow landing gliders.

Drawing He 111 H-6
Drawing He 111 H-6
He-111H-3s from the 55th Battle Squadron took off from their base in Drubes in France.

Taking into account the shortage of Daimler-Benz engines needed for Messerschmitt fighters, the Heinkel designers from the very beginning were simultaneously preparing a spare version of the bomber with Jumo 211 engines, and in the spring of 1939 the He 111H-0 of the first machine of the He 111 H-installation series appeared 0, which were distinguished by slightly more powerful Jumo 211A-1 motors, which developed 1075 hp each. In May, the plant in Oranienburg began to produce the first series of He 111H-1. A few weeks later, the Arado and ATG factories also began production of this modification. Three enterprises, respectively, assembled 95, 21 and 20 aircraft. With the exception of the motor unit, the machines of the H-0 and H-1 variants were no different from the He 111R-2.

Soon, the production of He 111H significantly surpassed the R type in scale. By the beginning of World War II, about half of the 808 He 111s in the first line were machines of this modification. In four months, about 400 copies left the factories.


Parallel to the evolution of the He 111P, the process of evolution of the H modification was going on. Already after the start of the war, the assembly lines were switched from the He 111H-1 to the H-2, which at first differed from the previous modification only in the Jumo 211A-3 engines, boosted to takeoff power of 1100 hp. However, by October 1939, the armament of the aircraft was upgraded similarly to the He 111 R-4, bringing it up to six MG 15 machine guns; at the same time, they also switched to a crew of five people. But there were also types that had no analogues among the He 111 R series. In November 1939, a new version appeared, He 111H-3, designed for operations against ships. In the ventral gondola, in addition to the rear-firing machine gun, a forward-directed 20-mm MG FF cannon was mounted, fed from a drum magazine. A sixth member of the crew fired from it. The effectiveness of this weapon was somewhat reduced due to the small angles of fire and the relatively low rate of fire (540 rds / min). This variant also featured improved armor protection and Jumo 211D-1 engines (1200 hp). It was possible to install additional tanks instead of the left bomb cassette, as on the He 111 R-4. The maximum takeoff weight has risen to 13,100 kg. The production of He 111H-3 continued throughout 1940.

He 111H-3 was also produced under license in Romania for the needs of the local Air Force. In 1940, preparations began for their release at the SET plant in Bucharest. But the Romanians fiddled with this for a long time. A total of 30 (according to other sources - 32) aircraft were handed over to the Romanian Air Force in 1942, and production was stopped at this point.

From the beginning of 1940, He 111H-4 was built in parallel with the H-3. At first, he had the same Jumo 211D-1 engines as the H-3, but later received Jumo 211F-1, which developed 1340 hp each.

He 111 H-16 Specification
Crew 5
Wing span, m 22.,60
Wing area, m² 87.70
Length, m 16.40
Height, m 4.00
2 × PE 12-cylinder V-shaped Jumo-211f-2, power hp 2 × 1,350
WEights, kg
Empty weight 8,690
Loaded weight 14,000
Maximum speed over ground, km/h 360
Maximum speed at altitude, km/h 430
Cruise speed over ground, km/h 310
Cruise speed at altitude, km/h 370
Climb time 4000m, min 24
Service ceiling, m 8500
Flight range with maximum load, km 1,930

Armament. One 20 mm MGFF cannon with 180 rounds in the nose (sometimes also a 7.9 mm MG-15 machine gun), one 13 mm MG-131 machine gun in the upper mount (the electrified turret on the R-1 ), two 7.9-mm machine guns MG-81 with 1000 rounds in the rear of the lower gondola, one MG-15 or MG-81 with 1000 rounds or a twin MG-81 with 500 rounds per barrel in the side windows; 32×50kg or 8×250kg or 16×50kg + 1×1000kg bombs on external holder or 1×2000kg + 1×1000kg on external holders

The next version, He 111H-5, produced in Marienakh from July 1940 to April 1941, like the early H-4s, was equipped with Jumo 211D-1 engines. However, it provided for two additional fuselage tanks (both on the left and on the right side). In this case, the entire bomb load was placed outside on two PVC bomb racks. The maximum takeoff weight of this variant was up to 14,054 kg, and the maximum bomb load was up to 2,500 kg. H-5 was made in 560 copies.

The next mass modification, which replaced the H-3 in the workshops of the enterprise in Marienakh in April 1941, was the He 111H-6. It used the same Jumo 211F-1 engines as the later H-4s, but in combination with Junkers wide-blade propellers instead of the previous VDMs and individual exhaust pipes instead of headers. The He 111H-6 featured the enhanced defensive armament introduced on the H-2, plus a 20mm MG FF cannon in the forward ventral pod derived from the H-3.

In reality, the machine was used as a day and night bomber, minelayer and torpedo bomber, less often as a transport aircraft. The He 111H-6 was popular with pilots and was easy to fly even at maximum load. It had good handling, excellent stability and maneuverability.

To take off with maximum weight, rocket boosters "R-Gerate", that is, the "R device", were developed. Inside a healthy cigar, a liquid-propellant rocket engine, fuel and oxidizer tanks were mounted. Two accelerators were attached under the consoles. They were launched immediately after the main engines were brought to full throttle. The boosters worked for only a few seconds, then the tanks were empty. After cleaning the chassis, the cigars were dumped. They were refilled and reused.

The H-6 type was built until September 1942, with a total of 1,775 vehicles. But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let's go back a couple of years and move to the Balkan Peninsula.

He 111H-7 and He 111H-9 were versions of the H-6 with modified equipment. There is no detailed information about them. It is not known whether they were built at factories in at least a small series or were finalized by various workshops.

Het 111H-10, released in a small series, was considered as a specialized night bomber. Aircraft with two Jumo 211F-2 engines, 1340 hp each. carried armament of five MG 15 machine guns and reinforced armor protection. But most importantly, the H-10 provided protection from the cables of barrage balloons. The skin of the toe of the wing consoles was thin. The cable easily cut through it and ran into a sharpened steel profile-knife. The weight of the empty aircraft increased again, and the bomb load had to be reduced to 2000 kg. Such machines were received mainly by squadrons that carried out raids on England, but something also fell on the Soviet-German front. We definitely shot down at least one such bomber.

A further step in the same direction was the H-11 type, which was produced in Marienakh since October 1942. The engine mount remained the same as that of the H-10, and defensive armament and armor protection were again strengthened. The upper firing point was made completely closed, the 7.9 mm MG 15 machine gun gave way to the 13 mm MG 131 (continuous feed from a box with 1000 rounds). At the same time, the firing angles decreased, but the range of effective fire increased. In the ventral gondola, the rear MG 15 was replaced with a coaxial 7.9 mm MG 81 machine gun (MG 81Z). Cartridges were fed to him from above from a box for 2000 rounds through two sleeves. MG 15 remained in front (450 rounds). A short-barreled 20-mm MG FF cannon was placed in the nose of the fuselage; 150 shells for it were contained in interchangeable magazines in the shape of a truncated cone. This gun was more intended for firing at ground (or surface) targets. The upward angle was not provided for for it at all, but downward it deviated by 40 °. The firing sectors to the side were narrow, and asymmetrical: to the right - 15 °, to the left - 35 °. MG 15 machine guns looked through the side windows at the rear of the fuselage. They had magazines for a total of 375 rounds for each. With the usual crew of five for the H-11, both installations in the gondola were served by one shooter, and there was also only one for two onboard machine guns. This meant that only one unit could fire from each pair at a time.

Bombers He 111H-11 were built in Marienakh until July 1943. Even German historians do not know the exact number of issued copies, defining it as "about 480".

The production of proven "Heinkels" in Marienakh continued. Based on the H-11, several specialized variants were designed. The He 111 H-12, which appeared in early 1943, was specially designed to carry two Hs 293 radio-controlled glide bombs. The ventral gondola interfered with their suspension, and it was removed. The release was carried out at a speed of about 340 km / h, then the aircraft took a position to the right of the bomb and the pilot removed the gas, slowing down the car to about 260 km / h. The winged vehicle, after separation from the carrier, accelerated the rocket engine for 10 seconds, and then planned for the target. Few 111H-12s were built, and none of them were tested in combat.

He 111H-14 was a further development of the H-10 type and was intended to serve as a target designator. It was equipped with special radio equipment, including the Samos system with the Pale GV direction finder and the Corfu FuG 351. The crew increased to six people. Outwardly, such bombers were distinguished by additional antenna racks above the fuselage. The first batch included 30 cars. On another 20 aircraft, special radio equipment was removed before being sent to units. They were equipped for towing cargo gliders like He 111H-14/R2.

The He 111 H-15 was an analogue of the H-12 for BV 246 glide bombs. It was assumed that it could carry up to three such bombs on an external sling: two under the wings and one under the fuselage (asymmetrically, shifted to the left). Several machines were indeed built, but the tests revealed difficulties with bomb control, and all of them were converted into H-10 night bombers. One bomber was turned into a flying stand for testing the HeS 011 turbojet engine. The engine was mounted on two pylons under the fuselage. Fuel was supplied from a tank in the Heinkel's fuselage.

The new, third in a row, mass serial modification of the H-family bombers (after the H-3 and H-6) was He 111H-16. The power plant with Jumo 211F-2 engines was taken from the H-6, weapons and armor protection - from the H-11. The bombs were placed in cassettes inside the fuselage or outside on ETC 2000 holders. In the latter case, additional gas tanks could take up free space inside the aircraft. Serial production of the H-16 began in December 1942 in Marienakh. The release of the H-16 type lasted exactly one year, they were built somewhere around 1110-1200 pieces. It is possible that the types H-12, H-14 and H-15 mentioned above are also included in this amount.

In parallel with the H-16, a number of specialized modifications were built in small numbers. The He 111H-18 night bomber was similar to the H-16/R3, but had the same radio equipment as the H-14. Defensive armament consisted of one MG FF cannon (in the nose) and five MG 81 machine guns, the crew was six people. The bomb load was limited to 1000 kg. All He 111H-18s were fitted with flame arresters on the engine exhaust manifolds. Such machines were received by the KG 40 squadron operating in the west.

The next was the He 111H-20 multi-purpose aircraft, built from December 1943. Its prototypes were the He 111V46, V47 and V48. The H-20 airframe was based on the H-16. The car was assembled in four main versions, all of them had to operate at night. Not 111H-20/R1 - a transport aircraft with a crew of three, designed to deliver 16 paratroopers behind enemy lines. It had a jump hatch at the bottom and could carry two 800 kg cargo containers on an external sling. H-20/R2 - glider tug; crew - five people, armament included an upper turret with an electric drive for a MG 131 machine gun. The H-20 / R3 night bomber was armed with single MG 131s in the nose, at the top and bottom points, plus two twin MG 81Z in on-board installations; external suspension beams were designed for 2000 kg of bombs. The armor protection on it was strengthened, the radio equipment was improved. The H-20/R4 was also a night bomber, but narrowly specialized. It was intended for night harassing raids and was distinguished by an external suspension of 20 bombs of 50 kg each. The GM1 device was mounted on its engines for short-term boosting. Known pictures of aircraft type R3 or R4 with the installation in the nose spinner instead of a machine gun cannon MG FF / M with a flame arrester.

In February 1944, the plant in Marienakh suffered from a raid by American bombers, and productivity there fell. But the production of aircraft continued. Production of the He 111H-20 was stopped in September 1944, with the production of about 770 machines.

At the beginning of 1944, it was decided to install Jumo 213E-1 engines with a three-speed two-stage supercharger and an intermediate radiator (intercooler) on the He 111H, which could develop power up to 1750 hp. The increase in thrust made it possible to raise the maximum take-off weight to 16000 kg, and the bomb load to 3000 kg (at normal - 2000 kg). Some local structural reinforcements were required due to the installation of new engines, but the airframe as a whole, equipment and defensive weapons remained the same as on the He 111 H-20 / R3. The Jumo 213E-1 variant was designated He 111H-21. The flight speed without bombs rose to 480 km / h, but the aircraft was considered only as a night bomber. MG 131 machine guns were mounted at the bow, upper and lower points, and twin MG 81Z machine guns were mounted on the sides. Due to a delay in the delivery of new engines, the first 22 cars were assembled with Jumo 211F engines. "Full-fledged" H-21s entered the front in the summer of 1944.

It's hard to imagine a bulky, slow and clumsy "Heinkel" as a fighter. Nevertheless, at the end of 1942, several He 111 H-6s on the Eastern Front were converted into improvised night fighters. The armament of the aircraft was supplemented by four 20-mm fixed MG FF cannons and two WB 81Z containers with twin MG 81Z machine guns. Such machines were intended to combat Soviet night bombers. Of course, to hit the plywood-linen U-2, a battery of guns is not needed, but against the four-engine TB-3 they were needed.

At the end of 1943, on the basis of the modification H, an auxiliary aircraft for the air defense system was made. It was equipped with a FuG 220SN-2 Liechtenstein PLC (which made it possible to detect a target at a distance of up to 4 km) and FuG 350 Naxos navigation equipment. The crew, according to the data of the ground guidance station, went to the area where the air target was located, detected it and illuminated it with a searchlight. Then the fighters moved in. The aircraft itself did not carry weapons.


  • "Aviation of Luftwaffe" /Viktor Shunkov/
  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • Airplane magazine /1-2001/