The Last Flying He-111
The He-111 at LeesburgClick thumbnail to view full-size
Aircraft History and Importance
The last flying He-111 was a Spanish version of the He-111, a CASA-2.111E. This aircraft, N72615, was destroyed in a crash on July 10, 2003. Tragically the pilot and co-pilot, the only two people in the aircraft, died in the crash. This aircraft had been damaged on landing in October 1989. This aircraft was used in the movie The Battle of Britain and in the miniseries Piece of Cake. The aircraft sported the KG-51 Edelweiss emblem. He-111s flew their first bombing missions on March 9, 1937, as part of the German Condor Legion, in the Spanish Civil War. Although obsolescent by World War II He-111s flew missions throughout the war. KG-51 was arguably the most famous of the Luftwaffe bomber wings.
To Fly or Not To Fly
An ongoing controversy is if historic aircraft such as this should still be flying. The history of this aircraft gives arguments to both sides of this controversy. Only a handful of He-111s and CASA-2.111s are known to be in existence. Of these aircraft types only three were in North America. Now only the CASA-2.111B the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio and the CASA-2.111B at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas remain. Flying the aircraft afforded thousands of people the opportunity to view this aircraft in flight. It also affords many people the opportunity to view the aircraft that wouldn’t otherwise get to see it. Sometimes museums display some of their aircraft in ways that obscure part of the aircraft from public view. In some cases museums display some of their aircraft such that visitors can’t get to view them close-up. By flying this aircraft visitors were able to get a close-up, 360 degree, unobstructed view of the aircraft. Taking this aircraft to various air shows and open houses afforded thousands to see it who would not have had the opportunity.
Fly Them or Ground Them
Should rare historical aircraft be flown?
He-111s participated in many of the most famous and infamous Luftwaffe actions. On 26 April, 1937 He-111s participated in the bombing of Guernica. The bombing inspired Pablo Picasso to make what may be his most well known painting, Guernica.
On May 14, 1940 57 He-111s dropped high explosive bombs on Rotterdam. The resulting fire devastated the city. Over 900 civilians were killed in the bombing.[i] Some movies made during the war referenced Rotterdam. In the postwar movie “Miracle on 34th Street” the Dutch Girl’s Adopted Mother mentioned she was from an orphanage in Rotterdam.
The Luftwaffe lost many He-111s to the British air defenses during the Battle of Britain. This limited their daylight operations over Great Britain. He-111s flew in the London Blitz.
He-111s flew against the Arctic convoys. On September 13th and 14th He-111s launched torpedo attacks against convoy PQ 18. They sank 10 merchant ships in the convoy.[ii]
He-111s served as transport aircraft in the unsuccessful attempt to resupply the trapped 6th Army at Stalingrad.
He-111s launched over 1,200 V-1 Flying Bombs against Great Britain from July 1944 until January 14, 1945. The Luftwaffe lost 77 He-111s during these V-1 operations. [iii]
[i] The Luftwaffe War Diaries, by Cajus Bekker, © 1966 by Macdonald & Company, Ltd.
[ii] The Warplanes of the Third Reich by William Green © 1970.
2 x 1,100 hp at take-off
1,015 hp at 14,765'
5 or 6 7.9 mm machine guns
4 x 550 # bombs (internal)
2 x 1,102 # bombs (external)
225 mph at sea level
247 mph at 16,400'
Max Speed w/Max Load
176 mph at sea level
200 mph at 16,400'
1,224 miles at 9,840'
1,400 miles with fuel overload
26,250' at 23,590 #s
14,765' at 29,762 #s
Empty Equipped 17,670 #s
Max Load 29,762 #s
© 2014 Robert Sacchi