Corgi AA33715 German Heinkel He-111H-6 Torpedo Bomber - 1H+BB, I./Kampgeschwader 26, Bardufoss Airfield, Norway, July 5th, 1942 (1:72 Scale)
"The worst journey in the world."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his remarks about the lend-lease convoys transiting the Arctic to reach the Russian ports of Archangel and Murmansk
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 Thus, although it was out of date, the large numbers in which it had been produced made the He 111 the Luftwaffe's primary bomber for far too long in the war, availability being more persuasive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-6 torpedo bomber that was attached to I./Kampgeschwader 26 and involved in attacks on allied convoys transiting the Arctic during 1942.
Release Date: May 2017
Historical Account: "War in the Arctic" - Perhaps the most interesting missions carried out by 'H' model Heinkel He IIIs were those of the torpedo carrying maritime attack bombers, which flew at wave-top height, before delivering their payload of two air launched LT F5b torpedoes. Operating from the airfield at Bardufoss in northern Norway, the anti-shipping Heinkels of KG26 were involved in the infamous attack against Arctic convoy PQ17, which proved to be one of the most disastrous episodes in the history of the Royal Navy. Leaving Iceland, bound for Arkhangelsk in Russia, the convoy consisted of 35 merchant vessels and a large protecting force of naval ships. Quickly detected by the Germans, the first attack came from 25 Heinkel torpedo bombers of KG26 - warned of their approach, the escort vessels put up a murderous wall of defensive fire, which claimed four of the Luftwaffe bombers destroyed. Determined in their attack, the torpedoes did their damage and a number of ships were sunk and the defensive shield of the convoy disrupted.
Worried by the ferocity of the attack and intelligence reports suggesting that the mighty German battleship Tirpitz was steaming towards the battle, naval commanders ordered the escorts to withdraw and the convoy to scatter. Over the course of the next few days, Convoy PQ17 came under repeated attack from U-boats and Ju88 bombers, which claimed 23 of the defenseless ships. July 2017 will mark the 75th Anniversary of this naval disaster.