Heinkel He 111 H20 (701152) [@ RAF Hendon]
The Heinkel He 111 provided the Luftwaffe with a fast, manoeuvrable medium bomber, which it used as a spearhead for the Blitzkrieg tactics so successfully employed during the early campaigns of the Second World War. The He111s defensive shortcomings were harshly demonstrated in 1940 and 1941, but the Germans had little alternative than to continue production of an ageing and inadequate aircraft. The series was subjected to a progressive upgrading of its power plant, continual revision of its offensive and defensive armament, the provision of additional armour, and its adaptation to various roles that included anti-shipping torpedo attack, path finding, missile carrying and launching, paratrooper delivery and glider towing.
The Heinkel He 111 was designed early in 1934 as a high-speed transport and as a bomber for the still-secret Luftwaffe. The design owed a great deal to that of the earlier He 70, retaining the latter's graceful lines. The first prototype, the He 111 A (later redesignated He 111 V1) flew for the first time on 24 February 1935, powered by two 660hp BMW VI engines, and was followed by the V2, which made its maiden flight on 12th March 1935. This aircraft, D-ALIX, was a transport version with a reduced span and a straight trailing edge; it was delivered to Lufthansa and named Rostock, and was later used for clandestine reconnaissance missions. The He 111 V3, D-ALES, was a bomber with a further reduced wingspan, and was the forerunner of the He 111A production model. The latter was not a success, being overweight and underpowered, and only ten pre-production aircraft were being built, these being sent to China. The He 111 A0's replacement was the He 111 B, which had two 1000hp Daimler-Benz DB 600A engines. The prototype was the He 111 V5 D-APYS. The aircraft was ordered into production for the Luftwaffe as the He 111 B1, the first examples being delivered to I/KG 154 'Boelcke' at Hannover- Langenhagen late in 1936. In 1937 the He 111 B1 was tested under combat conditions with the Condor Legion in Spain and proved very successful, its speed alone enabling it to evade fighter interception.
The 300 He 111 Bs were followed by the He 111 D, only a few of which were completed before production switched to the He 111 E bomber with Junkers Jumo engines and a small number of He 111 Fs similarly powered, the latter being the first to feature a wing with a straight leading edge. These variants also served in Spain, and after the civil war were taken over by the Spanish Air Force. The He 111 G was another transport version, five being delivered to Lufthansa and four to Turkey. About 1000 examples of all these He 111 variants had been produced by mid-1939, by which time a new model had made its appearance. This was the He 111 P, which was powered by two 1150 hp Daimler-Benz DB 601 A engines and which incorporated a fully-glazed asymmetric nose, with its offset ball turret, in place of the stepped-up cockpits of the earlier variants. Relatively few He 111 Ps were completed before production switched to the He 111 H, powered by two 1100 hp Junkers Jumo 211 engines. Sub-variants of this series formed the backbone of the Luftwaffe's bomber force between 1940 and 1943, about 6150 being built before production ended in 1944.
Werknummer 701152, ‘Stammkennzeichen’ NT+SL, was built in 1944 and modified into a parachute H 20 variant to carry 16 paratroops and 3 crew transport. Fitted with an electrically operated EDL 131 dorsal turret and two 1,750hp Junkers Jumo 213 E1 engines, 701152 was never used as a bomber with the upper gunners’ position being removed to create more room for the paratroops. With the German surrender in May 1945 701152 was initially allotted to USAAF Colonel H E Watson's collection of German aircraft and was flown to Cherbourg on the French coast for shipment to the USA for evaluation but missed the passage due to a lack of space. USAAF field units whilst still based in the European Theatre of Operations used German aircraft; painted in the markings of the 61st Fighter Squadron (56th Fighter Group) (who flew P47M Thunderbolts) 701152 was used as a squadron hack while the Fighter Group was based at RAF Boxted, Essex, between April 1944 and September 1945. On the 3rd November 1945 701152 flew from Heston airfield to Farnborough for inclusion in the RAE German Aircraft Display and this became the last flight. 701152 survived the fate of being scrapped and eventually arrived at RAF Hendon in May 1978.