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Heinkel He 111
A Heinkel He 111H of Kampfgeschwader 53
A Heinkel He 111H of Kampfgeschwader 53
[Source: Bundesarchiv]

The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter G√ľnter at Heinkel Flugzeugwerke in 1934. Through development, the project Heinkel presented the machine as a civilian transport, though from conception the it was intended to provide the nascent 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 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. The German Bomber B project was not realised which forced the Luftwaffe to continue operating the He 111 in combat roles until the end of the war. 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 used for logistics.

Sources:
Gunston, Bill & Wood, Tony - Hitler's Luftwaffe, 1977, Salamander Books Ltd., London
WikiPedia - Heinkel He 111

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