Model Airplane News|
Heinkel He 112
Model Airplane News Cover Art for February, 1938
by Jo Kotula
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The Heinkel He 112 was a fighter aircraft designed by Walter and Siegfried Günter. It was one of four aircraft designed to compete for the Luftwaffe's 1933 fighter contract, which was eventually won by the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Small numbers were used for a short time by the Luftwaffe, and small runs were completed for several other countries, but less than 100 were completed in total. It remains one of the least known production fighter designs.
Photos of the Heinkel He 112
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In combat in the Spanish Civil War, it was shown that speed was far more important than maneuverability. The Luftwaffe took this lesson to heart, and started a series of design projects for much more modern aircraft. One of these projects, Rüstungsflugzeug IV, called for a day fighter with a top speed of 250 mph at 19,500 ft which it could maintain for 20 minutes out of a total endurance of 90 minutes. It also needed to be armed with at least three machine guns with 1,000 rpg, or one 20 mm cannon with 200 rounds. The priorities for the aircraft were level speed, climb speed, and then maneuverability in that order.
The primary source of inspiration for the 112 is their earlier He 70 Blitz ("Lightning") design, a single-engine, four-passenger version originally designed for use by Lufthansa, and it in turn was inspired by the famous Lockheed Model 9 Orion mail plane. Like many civilian designs of the time, the aircraft was pressed into military service and was used as a two-seat bomber (although mostly for reconnaissance) and served in this role in Spain. The Blitz introduced a number of new construction techniques to the Heinkel company; it was their first low-wing monoplane, their first with retractable landing gear, their first all-metal monocoque design, and its elliptical, reverse-gull wing planform would be seen on a number of later projects. The Blitz could almost meet the new fighter requirements itself, so it is not surprising that the Günters would choose to work with the existing design as much as possible.
Here is a brief video of the Heinkel He 112 :
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