Aviation of World War II

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Heinkel 59. Combat Use.

In 1939, the first rescue naval aviation group (Seenotgruppe) was formed as part of two squadrons (Seenotstaffeln) from He-59C-2 and He-59D-1 aircraft. By the beginning of World War II, four squadrons of coastal aviation still had 43 He-59V-2 As of September 2

1939, the aircraft were distributed as follows:

3./Ku.FI.Gr.106, base Borkum, commander Major Horn -10 aircraft;

3./Ku.FI.Gr.406, Liszt base, CO Hauptmann Bergman - 9 aircraft;

3/Ku.FI.Gr.706, Norderney base, CO Hauptmann Stein - 12 aircraft;

3/Ku.FI.Gr.506, Pillau base, CO Hauptmann Fechling - 12 aircraft.

Non-59V-2 from 37Ku.FI.Gr.506 took part in the battles to capture Poland from the first day of the war. The task of the seaplanes was to bomb the Polish troops on the coast of Kepi Oksuvska and Helu. In order to destroy the coastal batteries in Helu, the crews of the Non-59B carried out several night raids. The aircraft were used most actively on the night of September 2-3, 1939, when 27 sorties were made.

On September 3, aircraft from 37Ku.FI.Gr.406 and 37Ku.FI.Gr.706 began to sorties. On this day, eight He-59V-2 from 37Ku.FI.Gr.706 attacked the Polish naval base in Hel and damaged the Grif patrol vessel. On the night of September 3-4, Non-59В from 37Ku.FI.Gr.406 and 37Ku.FI.Gr.506 bombed the Poles' defenses in the vicinity of Hele. During the raid, the Germans used the tactics worked out in Spain. The crews approached the coastline at an altitude of 2000 meters, after which they turned off the engines and, picking up speed while descending, went to the target area. Polish air defense systems opened fire belatedly, when the bombs were already exploding in the port. The next day, three He-59Bs from 3./Ku.FI.Gr.406 corrected the fire of the Schleswig-Holstein cruiser.

After France and England declared war on Germany on September 4, 3./Ku.FI.Gr.406 and 3./Ku.FI.Gr.706 moved to the west. During the Polish campaign, the Germans lost three He-59B. On September 13, 1939, seaplanes from 3./Ku.FI.Gr.506 flew to the North Sea bases, which from September 16 began patrolling the Baltic and North Seas, searching for enemy ships and submarines. As a rule, a pair of He-59B flew out on patrol. When a ship was found, one of the planes landed near the ship and landed an inspection team, which determined the ship's ownership. At this time, the second aircraft continued to be in the air and controlled the process of disembarking the patrol group.

On September 26, 1939, four seaplanes from 3./Ku.FI.Gr.106 carried out reconnaissance of the Norwegian coast in the interests of the German cruisers Gneisenau and Cologne. A few days later, He-59В armed with torpedoes from 3./Ku.Fl.Gr.106 tried to attack the British ships. At the same time, two seaplanes due to lack of fuel were forced to land on the high seas. Crews and aircraft delivered warships to their base.

In November and December 1939, German He-59 seaplanes, together with He-115, laid magnetic mines off the east coast of England and in the mouth of the Thames. At the same time, the Non-59В took on board two 500-kg aircraft mines of the LMA type or one 1000-kg LMB. The efforts of the Germans brought results. The Polish ship "Pilsudski" was blown up on exposed mines, the newest English cruiser "Belfast" was damaged, and several more auxiliary ships sank. One of the magnetic mines dropped by the Germans fell on the swampy bank of the Thames. The British managed to neutralize it and study it, which subsequently helped them fight these weapons.

On November 28, 1939, the British launched a raid on the German base of naval hydroaviation in Borkume. Bristol Blenheim Mk.lF aircraft from the 25th and 601st squadrons of the Royal Air Fleet (RAF) took part in the attack. The British managed to destroy only one Ju W34/See seaplane and damage the He-59B from 3./Ku.FI.Gr.106.

On the night of December 6-7, 1939, Non-59B again took part in the mining of the English coast. During the operation, the Germans lost two seaplanes. During takeoff, a Non-59B from 37Ku.FI.Gr.106 (tail number M2 + VL, serial WNr 1986, crew commander Senior Lieutenant Bernhard Bock) crashed. Only the navigator of the aircraft managed to escape. Upon returning, another He-59B from the same squadron crashed while landing (tail number M2 + OL, serial number WNr 1974). All crew members were killed.

In the winter of 1939/40, the He-59B seaplanes did not take an active part in the battles. These obsolete machines carried out single combat missions mainly to control the ships of neutral countries in the Baltic and the North Sea.

In April 1940, Non-59s were included in the new transport squadron KG.z.b.V.108, urgently formed to carry out Operation Weserubung to invade Norway and Denmark. On April 10, 1940, 18 Non-59В from KG.z.b.V.108 flew to Stavanger, delivering several battalions of Wehrmacht infantry and artillery soldiers there. At noon that day, the Germans lost one He-59D. On April 17, 1940, during the shelling of the port of Stavanger by the British cruiser Suffolk, KG.z.b.V.108 suffered another loss - four He-59s were sent to the bottom.

On April 20, 1940, 78 Ju-52 / 3t aircraft and 4 He-59D seaplanes delivered to Trondheim the personnel of the 1st Battalion of the 388th Infantry Regiment and 4 batteries of the 112th Mountain Artillery Regiment.

As of May 10, 1940, KG.z.b.V.108 had 13 He-59C/D seaplanes, of which only 8 were in flight condition. In the early morning of May 6, a Non-59B (tail number 6I + HL), from 37Ku.FI.Gr.706, mistakenly flew into the airspace of neutral Sweden in the Kullen-Hoganas area and was fired upon by air defense batteries. As a result of direct hits on the aircraft, the right engine and fuel tanks were damaged, which forced the pilot to make an emergency landing southwest of Kuplenny. The crew boarded a rescue boat and sailed towards the coast of Denmark, where they were soon picked up by fishermen. The abandoned aircraft was towed by the Swedes to the port of Helsingborg and returned to the Germans on November 4, 1940.

On May 15, 1940, the Germans attacked British ships in the Narvik area. At the same time, Non-111 (III7KG26) received combat damage and made an emergency landing. He-59C-1 D-AKUK from 2. Seenotstaffel flew to rescue the crew, but the seaplane did not reach its destination - due to an engine failure, it had to make an emergency landing near Sandneson. At the same time, the seaplane was damaged, and the crew was captured.

Non-59B biplanes were also used during the occupation of Holland. It was vital for the Germans to quickly capture the Meuse bridges before they were destroyed by the Dutch. In the early morning of May 10, 12 He-59s took off from Lake Zwischenachn near Oldenburg. On board the aircraft were soldiers of the 16th Infantry Regiment and the 22nd Engineer Battalion. At 0700, seaplanes landed troops on both sides of the William Bridge bridge. The paratroopers quickly captured this bridge, followed by the Leu-weni and Yan Kuiten bridges. All attempts by the Dutch infantry to recapture the bridges ended in failure. At the same time, the Dutch gunboat destroyed four He-59s moored near the river bank with artillery fire.

Subsequently, Non-59s became known for activities of a different kind. White with large red crosses He-59C-2 and D-1 from the rescue squadrons operated during the Battle of England over the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea. The British believed that the seaplanes were engaged in the delivery of agents and mining of the Thames Estuary. Following the protest of the British government, several of these aircraft were shot down by British fighters. The British suspicions were confirmed on July 1, 1940, when an English Spitfire Mk.1A fighter from 72 Squadron damaged one Non-59C-1 (D-ASAM) from 3. Seenotstaffel in the Sunderland area. The crew of the damaged seaplane made an emergency landing 8 miles east of Sunderland and was taken prisoner. During interrogation, the captured pilots said that the main tasks of the He-59C-1 rescue aircraft were to bring German agents into the UK and reconnaissance of the weather.

On July 9, 1940, Lieutenant Allen of the 54th Fighter Squadron RAF in the Goodwin Sands area forced a He-59B-2 (D-ASUO) seaplane of the same 3. Seenotstaffel to land. The crew was taken prisoner, and the aircraft was towed to the port of Ramsgat.

On July 14, 1940, Fighter Command of Great Britain (Fighter Command) issued an instruction in which it was ordered to attack any German rescue aircraft. Six days later, RAF fighters shot down two, and in August, seven rescue He-59s.

In September, German losses amounted to five vehicles. According to German data, seaplane crews managed to save 73 pilots in August and September. The shortage of rescue He-59s forced the Germans to use Do-18s for these purposes, and then Do-24s. The remaining Non-59s continued to be used in rescue units in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. On the Black Sea, three Non-59s were based in the Konstanci area. In 1943, the He-59 seaplanes were removed from service.


  • Luftwaffe Aviation / V.N. Shunkov /
  • Luftwaffe Combat Aircraft / Edited by David Donald /