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Heinkel He-111
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The Heinkel He-111 medium bomber

 

By mid 1940, Romania had been forced by international situation to join the Axis, so German military aid started to arrive. Most of early deliveries consisted of modern fighters and bombers, purchased by the ARR in order to boost its offensive and defensive capabilities. For the new bomber groups, the ARR had decided to buy the proven Heinkel He-111 bomber.
Mayby more than any other plane, the Heinkel He-111 made up the bulk of Germany's bomber force in the six years of war. Like most German bombers of that time, it was completed in secret, under the disguise of a "fast" airliner ( it had been designed by the Günther brothers after the model of their Heinkel He 70 Blitz passenger aircraft ). The bomber V1 prototype flew for the first time in February 1935, followed soon by the V2 civilian version. It was a modern design in all aspects : low-wing, twin engine monoplane, with eliptical gull wings and small, rounded control surfaces. The V1 was powered by two BMW V1 engines, rated at 600HP. Next came the V3 bomber prototype, which added one bomb bay in the inner portion of each wing as well as three MG15 machine guns for self defense. Performance however dropped because of all the extra weight and top speed now stood at just 272 km/h. Things got better when the V3 received the excellent Daimler Benz DB600A engine, which could produce 950HP. The Luftwaffe immediately placed an order for 300 He-111B's, and many of these planes served with the Condor Legion in Spain. Their 360 km/h speed enabled them to outrun most of the fighters encountered, so the 3 MG15 machine guns seemed to be enough for defense. Luftwaffe's confidence in their bombers grew, but this was a mistake, because the days of the schnellbomber concept ( bombers faster than fighters were numbered ).

 

 

A Romanian Heinkel He-111H3 bomber on route towards Tiraspol. June 1941

One major blow to the He-111 program came in 1938, when the RLM ( the German Air Ministry ) decided that all DB600 engines would go to the Messerschmitt company, for use on the new Bf-109 and Bf-110 fighters. This left the He-111 without the only engine that gave it a reasonably good performance. Problem wasn't solved until late 1938, when deliveries of the new 1200HP Jumo 211 inline engines began. Together with the new nose ( the famous glazed "dome" that gave improved visibility and less friction ) the new engine allowed the He-111 to reach almost 400 km/h. This new version was designated as He-111H, and was by far the most mass-produced version of the war. Later versions, although were fitted with improved Jumo engines were pretty much similar with those built in 1939 and were clearly outclassed by the new generation of Allied fighters. Many attempts were made to give the He-111 more defensive firepower, even mounting a 20 mm MG/FF canon in a pod under the plane's belly, but it still remained vulnerable to enemy fighters, as the plane was so overburdened with equipment that it could rarely exceed 360 km/h.
It was late 1940 when the first 32 Heinkel He-111H3's were delivered to Romania. In 1940, these were the very best bombers the ARR had in its arsenal, so it was decided to create an elite "heavy" bomber unit : the 5th Bomber Group. By Romanian standards, the He-111, with its 2000 kg bombload, was a "heavy" bomber, although the plane is remembered mostly as a medium bomber. The He-111's did a very good job during the Bassarabian campaign, when they shot down 17 Soviet fighters and claimed to have destroyed 47 more Soviet planes on th ground, for the loss of just 7 Heinkels.
  A Heinkel He-111H3 belonging to the 1st Bomber Flotilla  
In early 1942 , 15 more Heinkel He-111's were ordered from Germany. This time it was Heinkel He-111H6 version, which instead of bombs could carry two 533 mm torpedoes ( one underneath each wing ), but the ARR never used them as torpedo bombers. All available He-111's took part in the Stalingrad campaign, where they took heavy losses. At the start of 1943, all surviving He-111's and their crews were sent back home for R&R.The last order for He-111's was placed in the summer of 1944, when ten He-111E3 transport aircraft were bought.
 
However, it seems that they were occasionally employed as bombers as well, since they still had the capacity to carry 1000 kg of bombs. Like most aircraft, the Heinkels were used again for frontline duty in the summer of 1944, when the Red Army had reached Romania's eastern border. After August 1944, they equipped the 78th Bomber Squadron until October 1944, when the last three He-111H6's left were pulled out of active service.
One He-111H20 captured after the 23rd of August 1944 was converted into a VIP transport aircraft and used extensively by King Mihai and his entourage.

Technical data for the Heinkel He-111H3

Wingspan
22.6 meters
Length
16.4 meters
Height
4 meters
Weight (empty)
8680 kg
Weight (loaded)
14000 kg
Maximum speed at 6000 meters
406 km/h
Maximum operational ceiling
8500 m
Range
1930 km
Engine
Two Junkers Jumo 211D-1 rated at 1200HP
Armament
Six 7.92 mm MG17 machine guns plus one 20 mm MG/FF canon
Payload
Up to 2000 kg
Crew
5
Numbers received
32

Technical data for the Heinkel He-111H6

Wingspan
22.6 meters
Length
16.4 meters
Height
4 meters
Weight (empty)
8680 kg
Weight (loaded)
14000 kg
Maximum speed at 6000 meters
406 km/h
Maximum operational ceiling
8500 m
Range
1930 km
Engine
Two Junkers Jumo 211F-1 rated at 1350HP
Armament
Six 7.92 mm MG17 machine guns plus one 20 mm MG/FF canon
Payload
Up to 2000 kg
Crew
5
Numbers received
15

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