Corgi AA33718 German Heinkel He-111H-6 Medium Bomber - W. Nr. 4500, A1+FN, Lt. Erich Horn, 5./Kampfgeschwader 53 "Legion Condor", Yukhnov, West of Moscow, January 21st, 1942 (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 Thus, although it was out of date, the large numbers in which it had been produced made the He 111 the Luftwaffe's primary bomber for far too long in the war, availability being more persuasive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-6 medium bomber that was piloted by Lt. Erich Horn, who was attached to 5./Kampfgeschwader 53 "Legion Condor", and crash landed behind German lines at Yukhnov, West of Moscow, on January 21st, 1942.
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Release Date: December 2021
Historical Account: "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" - If the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the most famous Luftwaffe fighter aircraft of the Second World War, then its direct bomber equivalent had to be the Heinkel He-111, an aircraft which can trace its origins back to the early 1930s and its development as a supposed fast civilian airliner, due to the restrictions imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. Once the country was no longer concerned with the pretense of trying to plicate the other European powers, the Heinkel showed itself to be a 'wolf in sheep's clothing' and thanks to its large, fully glazed 'greenhouse' nose, would become one of the most famous aircraft of WWII. Possessing greater range than other Luftwaffe strike aircraft, the Heinkel He-111 would see heavy use during Operation Barbarossa and the air battles which raged over the Eastern Front from 1942 onwards, but not always in its primary strike role. Due to the rapidly deteriorating situation for the Germans, Heinkel He-111 bombers were also used for casualty evacuation and re-supply duties, where they would supplemented the efforts of the lumbering Junkers Ju-52 Trimotors. This particular Heinkel has added rather effective whitewash blotches over its standard camouflage, something which would have looked rather effective against the frozen Russian tundra from above. While attempting a low level bombing attack against targets in the Kaluga area, south of Moscow, this bomber was hit by accurate Soviet anti-aircraft fire and was forced to crash land, thankfully for the crew, safely behind German lines. Although the Soviet High Command had a strong mistrust of the Germans, they did not necessarily want to do anything militarily that would provoke them into an attack.
Also, despite the fact that their massive air force was coming towards the end of a significant period modernization and reorganization, this work was still ongoing and on the eve of Operation Barbarossa, even though more modern aircraft were now slowly being introduced, pilot conversion and the general organization of the force still left much to be desired. With Soviet airfields in the Western districts regularly undergoing air raid drills, when the sirens sounded in the early hours of June 22nd, 1941, few on the seventy-six airfields identified for attack by Luftwaffe aircraft that morning actually took any notice, with crews remaining in their tents sheltering from the rain, only rushing to their posts once the explosions started. These early Luftwaffe strikes proved to be devastatingly effective, with reports sent back to headquarters later claiming almost 1,500 Soviet aircraft destroyed on the ground alone, figures which seemed so incredible that Herman Goering had them independently verified.In fact, the figures proved to be a little conservative and as German ground troops overran numerous Soviet airfields during their lightning advance, it became clear that this figure was actually well in excess of 2,000 aircraft destroyed. In the air it was a different story and despite flying obsolete Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters, Soviet pilots proved to be tenacious and brave, resorting to ramming their German foes if they could get close enough. This would prove to be the sign of things to come and whilst initial German victories were indeed spectacular, the Russian winter and the nation's manufacturing prowess and fighting spirit would soon turn the tables in their favor.