The Heinkel 111E was one of the many ‘undercover’ pre-war German aircraft deisgned by Siegfried and Walter Günter at Heinkel Flugzeugwerke in 1934. After its defeat in World War I, Germany was banned from operating an air force by the Treaty of Versailles. German re-armament began earnestly in the 1930s and was initially kept secret because it violated the treaty. The early development of military bombers was disguised as a development program for civilian transport aircraft. For this reason, throughout development it was described as a "wolf in sheep's clothing” because the project masqueraded the machine as civilian transport, though from conception the Heinkel was intended to provide the fledgling Luftwaffe with a fast medium bomber.
Perhaps the best-recognised German bomber due to the distinctive, extensively glazed "greenhouse" nose of later versions, the Heinkel He 111 was the most numerous Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II. The bomber fared well during the Spanish campaign as part of the Condor Legion and during the invasion of Poland and other early attacks until the Battle of Britain, when its weak defensive armament was exposed. Nevertheless, it proved capable of sustaining heavy damage and remaining airborne. As the war progressed, the He 111 was used in a variety of roles on every front in the European theatre. It was used as a strategic bomber during the Battle of Britain, a torpedo bomber in the Atlantic and Arctic, and a medium bomber and a transport aircraft on the Western, Eastern, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African Front theatres.
The He 111 was constantly upgraded and modified, but became obsolete during the latter part of the war although the Luftwaffe were forced to continue operating the He 111 in combat roles until the end of the war due to no viable alternative bomber of comparative range and size. Manufacture of the He 111 ceased in September 1944, at which point piston-engine bomber production was largely halted in favour of fighter aircraft. With the German bomber force virtually defunct, the He 111 was relegated to a behind the front lines transport role.
The design of the He 111 initially had a conventional stepped cockpit, with a pair of windscreen-like panels for the pilot and co-pilot. The He 111P and subsequent production variants were fitted with fully glazed cockpits and a laterally asymmetric nose, with the port side having the greater curvature for the pilot, offsetting the bombardier to starboard. The resulting stepless cockpit, which was a feature on a number of German bomber designs during the war years in varying shapes and formats, no longer had the separate windscreen panels for the pilot. Pilots had to look outside through the same bullet-like glazing that was used by the bombardier and navigator.
The pilot was seated on the left and the navigator/bomb aimer on the right. The navigator went forward to the prone bomb-aiming position or could tilt his chair to one side, to move into the rear of the aircraft. In later models with teh introduction of the full ‘Greenhouse’ canopy, there was no cockpit floor below the pilot's feet—the rudder pedals being on arms—giving very good visibility below. Sliding and removable panels were manufactured into the nose glazing to allow the pilot, navigator and or bomb aimer to exit the aircraft quickly, without a time-consuming retreat into the fuselage.
For the German pilots, overall impression of space within the cockpit area and the great degree of visual sighting afforded by the Plexiglas panelling were regarded as positive factors, with one important provision in relation to weather conditions. Should either bright sunshine or rainstorms be encountered, the pilot's visibility could be dangerously compromised either by glare throwback or lack of good sighting.
Taxiing was easy and was only complicated by rain, when the pilot needed to slide back the window panel and look out to establish direction. On take off, Brown reported very little "swing" and the aircraft was well balanced. On landing, Brown noted that approach speed should be above 145 km/h and should be held until touchdown. This was to avoid a tendency by the He 111 to drop a wing, especially on the port side.
The fuselage contained two major bulkheads, with the cockpit at the front of the first bulkhead. The nose was fitted with a rotating machine gun mount, offset to allow the pilot a better field of forward vision. The cockpit was fully glazed, with the exception of the lower right section, which acted as a platform for the bombardier-gunner. The commonly-used Lotfernrohr-series bombsight penetrated through the cockpit floor into a protective housing on the external side of the cockpit
Between the forward and rear bulkhead was the bomb bay, which was constructed with a double-frame to strengthen it for carrying the bomb load. The space between the bomb bay and rear bulkhead was used up by Funkgerät radio equipment and contained the dorsal and flexible casemate ventral gunner positions. The rear bulkhead contained a hatch which allowed access into the rest of the fuselage which was held together by a series of stringers. The wing was a two spar design. The fuselage was formed of stringers to which the fuselage skin was riveted. Internally the frames were fixed only to the stringers, which made for simpler construction at the cost of some rigidity.
The wing leading edges were swept back to a point inline with the engine nacelles, while the trailing edges were angled forward slightly. The wing contained two 700lt fuel tanks between the inner wing main spars, while at the head of the main spar the oil coolers were fitted. Between the outer spars, a second pair of reserve fuel tanks were located, carrying an individual capacity of 910lt of fuel. The outer trailing edges were formed by the ailerons and flaps, which were met by smooth wing tips which curved forward into the leading edge.
The control systems also featured numerous innovations. The control column was centrally placed and the pilot sat on the port side of the cockpit. The column had an extension arm fitted and had the ability to be swung over to the starboard side in case the pilot was incapacitated. The control instruments were located above the pilot's head in the ceiling, which allowed viewing and did not block the pilot's vision. The fuel instruments were electrical. The He 111 used the inner fuel tanks, closest to the wing root, first. The outer tanks acted as reserve tanks.
The defensive machine gun positions were located in the glass nose and in the flexible ventral, dorsal and lateral positions in the fuselage, and all offered a significant field of fire. Some H-3 and H-4s were also equipped with barrage balloon cable-cutting equipment in the shape of cutter installations forward of the engines and cockpit. They were designated H-8, but later named H8/R2. These aircraft were difficult to fly and production stopped.
* Images shown are a guide and references only to show how the kit can be assembled allowing for modellers to add extra detail as required
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