Model Airplane News
November, 1936

Model Airplane News Cover for November, 1936 by Jo Kotula Heinkel He 70

Heinkel He 70
Model Airplane News Cover Art for November, 1936
by Jo Kotula
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The Heinkel He 70 was a German mail plane, passenger, liaison, training and bomber aircraft of the 1930s. Although useful, it had a relatively brief commercial career before it was replaced by types which could carry more passengers. As a combat aircraft, it was a not a great success because it rapidly became outdated. Nevertheless, the He 70 was a brilliant design for its day, setting no fewer than eight world speed records by the beginning of 1933.

The Heinkel He 70      The Heinkel He 70

Heinkel He 70
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The Heinkel He 70 Blitz was designed in the early 1930s to serve as a fast mailplane for Deutsche Lufthansa. It was a low-wing monoplane, with a revolutionary elliptical wing. In order to meet the demanding speed requirements, the design minimised drag, with countersunk rivets and a retractable undercarriage. It was powered by a BMW V-12 engine, cooled by ethylene glycol rather than water, allowing a smaller radiator and therefore reducing drag. The pilot and radio operator were seated in tandem, with a cabin housing four passengers on two double seats facing each other.

Lufthansa operated He 70s between 1934 and 1937 for fast flight service which connected Berlin with Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne, as well as the Cologne/Hamburg route. Lufthansa He 70s were flown abroad from Stuttgart to Sevilla between 1934 and 1936. Remaining aircraft were transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1937. Twenty-eight aircraft were sent with the Legion Kondor, where they were used during the Spanish Civil War as fast reconnaissance aircraft. Their high speed gave them the nickname Rayo (lightning).

The main weakness of the He 70 design soon became obvious. The He 70 airframe was made out of so-called "electron metal", a very light, yet strong alloy of magnesium, which burns spontaneously in air when heated, and is only exhausted when covered in sand. A single hit from a light machine gun usually set the entire plane ablaze, killing the crew.

Here is a video of the Heinkel He 70:

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