Corgi AA33716 German Heinkel He-111H-16 Medium Bomber with Fi 103 (Doodlebug) - A1+HK, 2./Kampfgeschwader 53, Air Launch V-1 Flying Bomb Unit, Late 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Guns before butter. Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat."
- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Head of the German Luftwaffe
When World War I ended, the German Air Force was disbanded under the Treaty of Versailles, which required the German government to abandon all military aviation by October 1st, 1919. However, by 1922, it was legal for Germany to design and manufacture commercial aircraft, and one of the first modern medium bombers to emerge from this process was the Heinkel He 111, the first prototype of which an enlarged, twin-engine version of the single-engine mail-liaison He 70, which set 8 world speed records in 1933 flew in February of 1935. The second prototype, the He 111 V2, had shorter wings and was the first civil transport prototype, capable of carrying 10 passengers and mail. The third prototype, He 111 V3 also had shorter wings and was the first true bomber prototype. Six He 111 C series airliners were derived from the fourth prototype, the He 111 V4, and went into service with Lufthansa in 1936, powered by a variety of engines, including BMW 132 radials. The first production models had the classic stepped windshield and an elliptical wing, which the designers, Siegfried and Walter Gunter, favored.
As a military aircraft, it took longer to gain favor, because military load requirements and underpowered engines kept its cruising speed down to less than 170 mph. However, in early 1936, the plane was given 1,000 hp Daimler Benz DB 600A engines which improved performance dramatically enough to bring in substantial orders. The first two mass-production versions, He 111 E and He 111 F experienced great success during the Spanish Civil War, where they served with the Condor Legion as fast bombers, able to outrun many of the fighters sent against them.
In fact, the experience in Spain generated a false sense of security in which the Germans thought that the He 111's light armament and speed would be sufficient in the coming war. Thus, although it was out of date, the large numbers in which it had been produced made the He 111 the Luftwaffe's primary bomber for far too long in the war, availability being more persuasive than practicality for this serviceable, but highly vulnerable, aircraft. Modern fighters like the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane proved the He 111's inadequacy during the Battle of Britain. As soon as possible, the Luftwaffe replaced the Heinkel with the Junkers Ju 88, reassigning the Heinkel to night operations and other specialized tasks until, by war's end, it was being used primarily as a transport.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Heinkel He-111H-16 medium bomber carrying a V-1 flying bomb and attached to 2./Kampfgeschwader 53, Air Launch V-1 Flying Bomb Unit, during late 1944.
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Historical Account: "Doodlebugs" - Just one week after the D-Day landings and the successful Allied invasion of enemy occupied Europe, the Germans were determined to show that the war was far from over and launched the first of their V-1 Flying Bombs against Southern England. Described as their first "Vengeance Weapon", these pulse jet powered unmanned flying bombs emitted a distinctive sound from the intermittently firing engine and quickly became known as "Doodlebugs", with the indiscriminate nature of their targeting spreading panic amongst the British population.
At its peak, more than 100 V-1s were hurled against England from their launch sites on the French and Dutch coasts, however, although they spread panic amongst the population, the range of these attacks was restricted to southern English counties. In an attempt to extend the range of these attacks, a specialist bombing unit was formed and equipped with modified versions of Heinkel He-111H bombers, which could carry a Doodlebug slung beneath the starboard wing, between the wing root and the engine. With an electric connection running from the bomber to the V-1s engine, the optimum delivery method was for the Heinkel to reach a height of approximately 2,000 feet, before entering a shallow dive to reach a launch speed of 150mph. This was the speed needed for the V-1 to fly and once reached, the pulse jet engine was remotely fired, allowed to run for a few seconds, then released, with the parent aircraft diving away for a low level return to base. Many factors would then come into play and dictate where the V-1 fell, such as heading, wind direction and performance of the rather basic jet engine.