Armour Collection B11E391 German Heinkel He 111 P-2 Night Bomber - Kampfgeschwader 55, "Greif", Villacoublay, France, 1940 (1:48 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 Thus, although it was out of date, the large numbers in which it had been produced made the He 111 the Luftwaffe's primary bomber for far too long in the war, availability being more persuasive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.
This particular 1:48 scale replica of a German Heinkel He 111 P-2 medium bomber was flown by KG 55 "Greif", which was based at Villacoublay, France during the Autumn of 1940.
Wingspan: 17 inches
Length: 13.5 inches
Historical Account: "Pax Britannia" - The Battle of Britain is the name commonly given to the effort by the German Luftwaffe to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), before a planned sea and airborne invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion) during the Second World War. Neither Hitler nor the Wehrmacht believed it possible to carry out a successful amphibious assault on the British Isles until the RAF had been neutralized. Secondary objectives were to destroy aircraft production and ground infrastructure, to attack areas of political significance, and to terrorize the British people with the intent of intimidating them into seeking an armistice or surrender.
British historians date the battle from July 9th to October 31st, 1940, which represented the most intense period of daylight bombing.
German historians usually place the beginning of the battle in mid-August 1940 and end it in May 1941, on the withdrawal of the bomber units in preparation for the attack on the USSR. The failure of Nazi Germany to destroy Britain's air force, or to break the spirit of the British government or people is considered the Third Reich's first major defeat.
Some historians have argued no invasion could have succeeded; given the massive superiority of the Royal Navy over the Kriegsmarine, Sealion would have been a disaster. They argue the Luftwaffe would have been unable to prevent decisive intervention by RN cruisers and destroyers, even with air superiority.
The Battle of Britain was the first major battle to be fought entirely by air forces. It was the largest and most sustained bombing campaign yet attempted, and the first real test of the strategic bombing theories developed since the previous World War.