Aviation of World War II

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He 118

Heinkel He 118
  • Dive bomber
  • First flight: 1935
  • Heinkel

The He.118 dive bomber was close in design and layout to a fighter. The Günther brothers, working under the direction of a new technical director and chief designer, Heinrich Hertel, created an aircraft that successfully combined excellent aerodynamic shapes with a strong dive bomber design at a slightly overweight. It was equipped with a Daimler-Benz DB-600 liquid-cooled engine.

The aircraft had a duralumin semi-monocoque fuselage with accommodation for two crew members in one cockpit half-closed by a canopy. The three-piece wing had one main spar and two auxiliary ones. The center section of the wing contained gas tanks and had a negative V. The center section was carried out integrally with the fuselage. At the break of the "seagull" of the wing, the landing gear was attached. Semi-elliptical consoles had niches in front of the main spar for cleaning the chassis. Flaps of a large area, being fully released, played the role of air brakes. The bomb bay was located in the fuselage under the gunner's cockpit and immediately behind the main spar passing through the fuselage. It was possible to hang a 500kg bomb in the compartment with one crew member or one 250kg bomb with two. The bomb was mounted on a special retractable rocking chair, which ensures that the bomb is pulled out of the plane swept by the propeller.

The first experimental He 118-V1 under the registration D-IKYM flew in the winter of 1935-36. On the experimental "Heinkel", as well as on its main competitor - Ju 87, the English engine "Rolls-Royce" - "Buzzard", liquid-cooled with a supercharger was used. The engine developed 845 hp on takeoff and 955 hp near the ground. The screw was three-bladed, variable pitch. During the first flights, the plane had a wooden stabilizer - its most optimal shape was selected. He.118-V2 (D-UHAH) soon flew behind the V1, which was distinguished by the DB-600 engine with a takeoff power of 880hp and a large takeoff weight - 4325kg instead of 4100.

The first flights revealed the need to somewhat improve the stability of the aircraft in flight and increase the efficiency of control, but the calculations were fully justified - the speed reached 430 km / h. By this time, the Technical Department had already decided to make a choice between Heinkel and Junkers - both cars received an order for 10 pre-production cars, and the Arado option was considered only as a spare. At Heinkel, some improvements were made to the He.118 to eliminate the comments received during the tests. As a result, the third experimental He.118-V3 (D-UHUR) appeared, which began flying in the late spring of 1936. It had a DB-600C engine with a take-off power of 910hp.

The main changes were made to the wing and plumage. So the elliptical shape was preserved somewhere up to a third of the wing span, the chord of the center section was lengthened, the ailerons were increased in area, and the wingtips were trimmed. The wingspan was reduced from 15.4 to 15.1 m, and the area - from 39 to 37.7 sq.m. The horizontal tail was redesigned, the rudder was enlarged and changed in shape.

He.118a-01 Specification
Crew 1-2
Wing span, m 15,10
Wing area, m² 37.70
Length, m 11.80
Height, m 4.20
1 × PE Daimler-Benz DB-600C, power, hp 2 × 850
Weights, kg
Empty plane 2,700
Loaded weight 4,125
Maximum speed over ground, km/h 320
Maximum speed at altitude, km/h 390
Cruise speed over ground, km/h 290
Cruise speed at altitude, km/h 330
Maximum rate of climb, m/min 330
Service ceiling, m 7,000
Service range, km 1,050

Armament. Two wing-mounted 7.9 mm MG-17 machine guns and one 7.9 mm MG-15 machine gun on a mobile mount at the end of the cockpit;

One 500kg single-seat bomb or one 250kg double-seat bomb

Photo Description
Drawing He 118V-2

Drawing Heinkel He 118V-2

At the beginning of 1936 in Rechlin, competitive diving tests were held in front of officials from the Technical Department and the RLM. The He.118-V1, under the control of the flag-captain Heinrichs, clearly did not look against the background of the Ju.87-V2. If the Junkers pilot put his plane literally "on its head", diving almost vertically, and safely brought it into level flight, then Heinrichs did not exceed a dive angle of 50 °. This immediately had its effect - "Junkers" was put into series. But Colonel Ernst Udet, who had just replaced von Richthofen, was not completely satisfied with this decision and himself raised the He.118 into the air.

Among the rather large number of innovations on the He.118 was a single control system for propeller pitch and flaps - air brakes. But by June 27, 1936 - before the flight of Udet, the system had not yet been debugged. Heinkel chief test pilot Nitschke briefed Udet on the propeller pitch change mechanism, explaining that until the automatic pitch control was adjusted for installation on an aircraft, one should remember to load the propeller before entering a dive. Udet listened impatiently to the briefing, and then raised the He.118-V3 into the air. Having gained about 4000 m, Udet entered the plane into a vertical dive, but forgot to change the pitch of the propeller. As a result, the screw "left" the aircraft, capturing the gearbox at the same time. The tail part fell off, and Udet jumped out with a parachute. The decision to launch the Ju-87 series remained unchanged.

Heinkel made an attempt to sell the He 118 to Japan, where plans were made for its licensed production, but these intentions were prevented by the crash of the aircraft, which fell apart right in the air.

In the meantime, He 118-V1 under the new registration D-UKYM and V2 (D-OVIE) have been upgraded. At the beginning of 1939, they tested the turbojet HeS-3A with a thrust of 450 kg, reinforced under the fuselage. After testing HeS-3 He 118-V2, again under the new registration WL-OVIE, was handed over to the 41st aviation school in Frankfurt. Production of the previously ordered He 118a-0 continued throughout 1937. In general, they were similar to the ill-fated He 118-V3, with the exception of the installation of two MG-17 wing machine guns. He 118a-01, A-02, A-04-07 were equipped with DB-600C engines, and He 118a-03 and A-08 received DB-601A. These aircraft were used as experimental aircraft and ended their careers in flight schools.


  • "Wings of the Luftwaffe (warplanes of the Third Reich)" /William Green, 1993/
  • "Luftwaffe warplanes" / Ed. David Donald/
  • "World War II German Aircraft" /IN. Shunkov and others/