- Heinkel He 112
name = He 112
type = Fighter
first flight =September
primary user =
more users =
Imperial Japanese Navy Spanish Air Force
Royal Hungarian Air Force
Royal Romanian Air Force
number built =<100
unit cost =
developed from =
Heinkel He 70
variants with their own articles =
Heinkel's He 112 was a fighter aircraftdesigned by Walter and Siegfried Günter. It was one of four planes 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 one hundred were completed in total. It remains one of the least known production fighter designs.
Design and development
In the early 1930s, the German authorities started placing orders for new aircraft, initially training and utility aircraft. Heinkel, as one of the most experienced firms in the country, received contracts for a number of two-seat aircraft, including the He 45, He 46 and He 50. The company also worked on single-seat fighter designs, which culminated in the He 49 and later with the improved He 51.
When the He 51 was tested 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 fighterwith a top speed of 400 km/h at 6,000 m (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 rounds each, or one 20 mm cannon with 200 rounds. The specification required that the wing loading should be below 100 kg/m² - a way of defining the plane's ability to turn and climb. The priorities for the plane were level speed, climb speed, and then maneuverability in that order.
In October 1933,
Hermann Göringsent out a letter requesting aircraft companies consider the design of a "high speed courier aircraft" – a thinly veiled request for a new fighter. In May 1934, this was made official and the "Technisches Amt" sent out a request for a single-seat interceptor for the "Rüstungsflugzeug IV" role, this time under the guise of a "sports aircraft". The specification was first sent to the most experienced fighter designers, Heinkel, Arado, and Focke-Wulf. It was later sent to newcomer Bayerische Flugzeugwerk (Bavarian Aircraft Manufacturers or BFW) on the strength of their Bf 108"Taifun" advanced sports plane design. Each company was asked to build three prototypes for run-off testing. By the spring of 1935, both the Arado and Focke-Wulf planes were ready, the BFW arriving in March, and the He 112 in April.
Heinkel's design was created primarily by twin brothers Walter and Siegfried Günter, whose designs would dominate most of Heinkel's work. They started work on Projekt 1015 in late 1933 under the guise of the original courier aircraft, based around the
BMW XVradial engine. Work was already under way when the official request went out on 2 May, and on 5 May the design was renamed the He 112.
The primary source of inspiration for the 112 is their earlier
Heinkel He 70"Blitz" (Lightning) design. The Blitz was a single engine, 4-passenger plane 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 plane 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 gear, their first all-metal monocoquedesign, and its elliptical, reverse- gull wing planformwould 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.
In many ways, the resulting 112 design was a scaled-down He 70. Like the He 70, the 112 was constructed entirely of metal, using a two-spar wing and a monocoque fuselage with flush-mounted rivets. The gear retracted outward from the low point of the wing's gull-bend, which resulted in a fairly wide nine-meter track, giving the plane excellent ground handling. Its only features from an older era were its open cockpit and fuselage spine behind the headrest, which were included to provide excellent vision and make the biplane-trained pilots feel more comfortable.
The first prototype, He 112 V1, was completed on 1 September 1935, but as the
Junkers Jumo 210engine unavailable, a 695 hp Rolls-Royce KestrelMk IIS was fitted. Initial test flights at the factory revealed that drag was much higher than expected and that the plane was not going to be as fast as originally predicted. The V1 was sent off to be tested by the Reich Air Ministry(RLM) in December at Travemünde.
The second prototype, V2, was completed on
16 November. It had the 640 hp Jumo 210C engine and a three bladed propeller, but was otherwise identical to the V1. Meanwhile, the data from the V1 factory flights was studied to discover where the unexpected drag was coming from. The Günter brothers identified the large, thick wing as the main culprit. V2 was kept at the factory and modified with a thinner, clipped wing, which was expected to improve the speed of the plane by 25 to 30 km/h (15 to 18 mph) and allow it to compete with the 109. This made the 112 creep over the wing loading requirements in the specifications, but with the 109 way over the limit, this was not seen as a problem, and the V2 was sent off for testing.
The V3 took to the air in January. Minor changes included a larger radiator, fuselage spine and vertical stabilizer, but it was otherwise largely the same as the clipped wing V2. Other changes included a single cover over the exhaust ports instead of the more common "stack", and it also included modifications to allow the armament to be installed in the cowling. It was expected to join the V2 in testing, but instead was assigned back to Heinkel in early 1937 for tests with rocket propulsion. During a test, the rocket exploded and the plane was destroyed, but in an amazing effort the V3 was rebuilt with several changes, including an enclosed cockpit.
The 112V1 started in the head-to-head contest when it arrived at
Travemündeon 8 February 1936. The other three competitors had all arrived by the beginning of March. Right away, the Focke-Wulf Fw 159and Arado Ar 80proved to be lacking in performance, and plagued with problems, and were eliminated from serious consideration.
At this point, the 112 was the favorite over the "unknown" 109, but opinions changed when the 109V2 arrived on
21 March. All the competitor aircraft had initially been equipped with the Rolls-Royce Kestrelengine, but the 109V2 had the Jumo. From that point on, it started to outperform the 112 in almost every way, and even the arrival of the Jumo-engined 112V2 on the 15 Aprildid little to address this imbalance.
As would be expected, the 112 had better turn performance due to its larger wing, but the 109 was faster at all altitudes and had considerably better agility and aerobatic abilities. During spin tests on the
2 March, the 109V2 showed no problems while the 112V2 crashed. Repairs were made to the plane and it was returned in April, but it crashed again and was written off. The V1 was then returned to Heinkel on 17 April and fitted with the V2's clipped wings.
Meanwhile, news came in that
Supermarinehad received a contract for full-scale production of the Spitfire. The Spitfire was far more advanced than any existing German aircraft and this caused a wave of concern in the high command of the Luftwaffe. Time now took on as much importance as any quality of the winning plane itself, and the RLM was ready to put any reasonable design into production. That design was the Bf 109, which in addition to demonstrating better performance, was considerably easier to build due to fewer compound curves and simpler construction throughout. On 12 March, the Commission wrote up the outcome of their meetings in a document called "Bf 109 Priority Procurement". There were some within the RLM who still favored the Heinkel design, and as a result the RLM then sent out contracts for 15 "zero series" planes from both companies.
Testing continued until October, at which point some of the additional zero series planes had arrived. At the end of September, there were four He 112s being tested, yet none was a match for the 109. From October on, the Bf 109 appears to have been selected as the winner of the contest. Although no clear date is given, in "Stormy Life"
Ernst Udethimself delivered the news to Heinkel that the 109 had entered series production in 1936. He is quoted as saying, "Pawn your crate off on the Turks or the Japs or the Rumanians. They'll lap it up." With a number of air forces looking to upgrade from biplanes and various designs from the early 1930s, the possibility for foreign sales was promising.
Heinkel had expected orders for additional aircraft beyond the initial three prototypes, and was able to respond quickly to the new contract for the 15 zero series aircraft. The new planes would be given the series designation He 112A-0.
The first of these new planes, V4, was completed in June 1936. It included the more powerful 210Da engine with a two-speed
superchargerthat brought the power to 690 hp (507 kW) for takeoff. The only other change was a slight reduction in the size of the vertical stabilizer.
In July, both V5 and V6 were completed. V5 was identical to V4, with the 210Da engine, and it also sported two fuselage-mounted 7.92 mm
MG 17 machine guns. V6, on the other hand, was completed as the pattern plane for the A series production run, and thus included the 210C engine instead of the more powerful, but less available Da. The only other change was a modification to the radiator, but this would not appear on later A-0 series models. V6 suffered a forced landing on 1 August and was repaired and joined V4 for testing in October.
The last of the prototype A-0 series was V8, which was completed in October. It switched engines entirely and mounted the
Daimler-Benz DB 600Aa, along with a three-bladed, fully-adjustable, all-metal propeller. The engine was a huge change for the plane, producing 910 hp (670 kW) for takeoff and had 33.9 l displacement at 686 kg (2069 in³ in at 1510 lb), compared that to the Jumo 210Da's 690 hp (510 kW) from 19.7L (1202 in³) at about the same weight. V8 was seen primarily as a testbed for the new engine, and more importantly, its cooling systems. The DB used a dry liner in the engine that resulted in poor heat flow, so more of the heat was removed by oil as opposed to water, requiring changes to the cooling systems.
In March 1937, the plane was assigned to rocket propulsion tests at
Peenemünde. It completed these tests later that summer (without exploding) and was returned to the factory, where it was converted back into a normal model. At the end of the year, it was sent to Spain, where it was seriously damaged on 18 July 1938. Once again, it was put back together and was flying four months later. Its fate after this time is not recorded.
At this point, the prototype stage was ostensibly over, and Heinkel continued building the A-0 as production line models. The naming changed, adding a production number to the end of the name, so the next six planes were known as 112A-01 through 112A-06. All of these included the 210C engine and were essentially identical to V6, with the exception of the radiator.
These planes were used in just as varied a manner as the earlier V series had been. A-01 flew in October 1936 and was used as the prototype for a future 112C-0 carrier based aircraft. It was later destroyed during rocket tests. A-02 flew in November, and then joined the earlier V models at
Rechlin-Lärz Airfieldfor further testing in the contest. A-03 and A-04 were both completed in December, A-03 was a show aircraft and was flown by Heinkel pilots at various air shows and exhibitions, A-04 was kept at Heinkel for various tests.
The last two models of the A-0 series, A-05 and A-06, were completed in March 1937. They were both shipped to Japan as the initial machines of the 30 for the
Imperial Japanese Navy.
In October 1936, the RLM changed the orders for the zero series 112s, instructing Heinkel to complete any A-0s already under construction and then switch the remaining planes to an updated design. This gave Heinkel a chance to improve the 112, which they did by completely redesigning it into an almost entirely new aircraft called the 112B. It is at this point that it became a modern design that could compete head-to-head with the Bf 109.
The 112B had a completely redesigned and cut-down rear fuselage, a new vertical stabilizer and rudder, and a completely-enclosed cockpit with a bubble-style canopy. The canopy was somewhat more complex than later bubble designs; instead of having two pieces with the majority sliding to the rear, the 112B's canopy was in three pieces and the middle slid back and over a fixed rear section. Even with the additional framing, the 112 still had excellent visibility for its day. Armament was also standardized on the B model with two 7.92 mm MG17s in the sides of the cowling with 500 rounds each, and two 20 mm
MG FFs in the wings with 60 rounds each. For aiming, the cockpit included the then-modern Revi 3B reflector sight.
The first B series airframe to be completed was V7 in October 1936. V7 used the DB 600Aa engine like the A-series V8, and it also used the original V1 style larger wing. This wing was later replaced with a smaller one, but instead of the clipped version from the earlier V models, a completely new single-spar fully elliptical wing was produced. This design became standard for the entire B series. V7 was turned over to von Braun in April 1937 for yet more rocket tests, and managed to survive the experience. It was then returned in the summer and sent to
Rechlinwhere it was used as a test aircraft.
The next plane was V9 which flew in July 1937, powered by the 680 hp Jumo 210Ea engine. V9 can be considered to be the "real" B series prototype, as V7 had received the DB 600Aa originally for experimental reasons. The entire surface was now flush riveted and the plane had several other aerodynamic cleanups. The radiator was again changed, this time to a semi-retractable design for reduced drag in flight. The plane also underwent a weight reduction program which reduced the empty weight to 1617 kg.
As a result of all of these changes, the V9 had a maximum speed of 485 km/h (301 mph) at 4000 m, and 430 km/h (267 mph) at sea level. This was a full 20 km/h faster than the contemporary 109B-2. Nevertheless, by this time, the 109 was already ramping up production, and the RLM saw no need for another largely similar plane. It is also worth noting that users of the plane generally found it impossible to reach this speed, and rarely managed to exceed 260 mph.
The RLM had already contracted for another six 112s, so production of the prototypes continued. V10 was supposed to receive the 960 hp
Junkers Jumo 211A (Junker's new DB 600 competitor), but the engine was not available in time and V10 instead received the new 1,175 hp DB 601Aa. The engine drove V10 to 570 km/h (354 mph) and increased climb rate significantly. V11 was also supposed to get the 211A, but instead received the DB 600Aa.
The last prototype, V12, was actually an airframe taken off the B-1 series production line (which had started by this point). The 210Ea was replaced with the new fuel-injected 210Ga, which improved performance of the engine to 700 hp for takeoff, and a sustained output of 675 hp at the reasonably high altitude of 4700 m. Better yet, the Ga also "decreased" fuel consumption, thus increasing the plane's endurance. The new engine gave V12 such a boost that it became the pattern plane for the planned B-2 series production.
With all of these different versions and experimental engine fits, it might seem like every aircraft differed significantly. But with the exception of the engine fits, the Bs are all basically identical. Due to the shortage of just about any German engine at the time and the possibility that advanced versions could be blocked for export, various models had to be designed with different installations. Thus the B models were different only in their engine, the 210C in the B-0, the 210Ea in the B-1, and the 210Ga for the B-2.
In order to show off the He 112, V9 spent much of the later half of 1937 being flown by pilots from all over the world. It was also sent around Europe for tours and air shows. The effort was a success and orders quickly started coming in. However, a variety of problems meant few of these were ever delivered.
The first order was from the
Imperial Japanese Navy. After seeing V9 in flight, they quickly placed an order for thirty 112Bs, with an option for 100 more. The first four were shipped in December 1937, another eight in the spring, and promises for the rest to arrive in May. Before delivery, the Luftwaffe unexpectedly took over twelve of the planes to bolster its forces during the Sudetenland Crisis. The planes were then returned to Heinkel in November, but the Japanese refused to accept them this late and Heinkel was left holding the aircraft.
Spain was so impressed with the 112's performance during evaluation in the civil war that the Spanish Air Force purchased the twelve planes in early 1938, and later increased the order by another six (some sources say five). Of the first twelve, two were shipped in November, another six in January, and the rest in April.
In November 1937, an
Austrian delegation came to see the plane, led by Generaloberst Alexander Löhr, Command-in-Chief of the "Luftstreitkräfte" (Austrian Air Force). Test pilot Hans Schalk flew both the Bf 109 and the He 112V9 back to back. Although he felt that both models performed the same, the Heinkel had more balanced steering pressures and better equipment possibilities. They placed an order on 20 December for forty-two 112Bs. Pending the license for the MG FF cannon, these planes would remove the cannon and add six THM 10/I bomb shackles which carried small 10 kg anti-personal bombs. The order was later reduced to thirty-six planes due to a lack of funds (the 112B cost 163,278 Reichsmark), but the planes were never delivered due to the annexation of Austria in the March 1938 Anschluss.
In April, it looked like
Yugoslaviawould be the next user of the 112. It placed an order for thirty of the planes, but later cancelled the order and decided to produce other designs under license. Finlandappeared to be another potential customer. Between January and March 1938, the famous Finnish pilot Eka Magnussontravelled to Germany to gain experience in new tactics. He had been on similar tours in Francein the past and was interested to see how the Germans were training their pilots. On a visit to the Heinkel plant in Marienehe, he flew the 112 and reported it to be the best plane he had flown. In May, Heinkel sent the first of the 112B-1s to Finland to join an air show. It remained for the next week and was flown by a number of pilots, including Magnusson, who had since returned to Finland. Although all of the pilots liked the plane, the cost was so high that the "Suomen Ilmavoimat" (Finnish Air Force) decided to stick with the much less expensive Fokker D.XXI.
A similar setback would accompany sales efforts targeting the
Dutch Air Force, who was looking to purchase 36 fighters to form two new squadrons. A 112B-1 arrived for testing on 12 July and quickly proved to be the best plane in the competition. Nevertheless, they decided to purchase the locally-built (and rather outdated) Koolhoven F.K.58instead. The plane was not ready for production, so in an odd twist, they then purchased a number of Hawker Hurricanes because they could be delivered immediately. In the end, the F.K.58s were never delivered.
Fortunes would be seem to be reversed with
Hungary. In June 1938, three pilots of the "Magyar Királyi Honvéd Légierö" (Royal Hungarian Home Defense Air Force or MKHL) were sent to Heinkel to study V9. They were impressed with what they saw, and on 7 September, an order was placed for 36 planes, as well as an offer to license the design for local construction. Through a variety of political mishaps, only three planes were ever delivered and licensed production never happened.
The final and perhaps most successful customer for the 112B was
Romania. The "Forţã Aeronauticã Regalã Românã" (Royal Romanian Air Force) ordered 24 planes in April 1939, and increased the order to 30 on 18 August. Deliveries started in June, with the last being delivered on 30 September.
By this point war had broken out, and with better models on the market –including Heinkel's own He 100– no one else was interested in purchasing the design. The production line was closed after a total of only 98 planes, 85 of those being the B series models.
When it was clear the 112 was losing the contest to the Bf 109, Heinkel offered to re-equip V6 with 20 mm cannon armament as an experimental aircraft. She was then broken down and shipped to
Spainon 9 Decemberand assigned to "Versuchsjagdgruppe 88", a group within the Legión Cóndor devoted to testing new planes and joined three V series Bf 109s which were also in testing.
Oberleutnant Wilhelm Balthasar used it to attack an armoured train and an armoured car. Other pilots flew it, but the engine seized during landing in July and she was written off.
For the annexation of the
Sudetenland, every flightworthy fighter was pressed into service. The batch of 112Bs for the Japanese Navy was taken over, but not used before the end of the crisis and shipped to Japan to fulfill orders.
The Japanese rejected the He 112 as a fighter but took 30 for training duties, and V11 with its DB 600Aa was used for testing.
The Spanish government purchased twelve 112Bs. This increased to 19. The He 112s were to operate as top cover for Fiat fighters in the opening stages of the Civil War, the Fiat having considerably worse altitude performance. In the event, only a single kill was made with the He 112 as a fighter and it was moved onto ground attack work.
During the Second World War, when Allied forces landed in North Africa, Spanish forces in
Moroccointercepted stray aircraft of both Allied and German forces. None of these incidents resulted in losses. In 1943, a plane of Grupo 27 attacked the tail-end plane of eleven Lockheed P-38s forcing it down in Algeria. By 1944, the planes were largely grounded due to a lack of fuel and maintenance.
Like the Germans, Hungary had stiff regulations imposed on her armed forces with the signing of the
Treaty of Trianon. In August 1938, the armed forces were re-formed, and with Austria (historically her partner for centuries) being incorporated into Germany, Hungary found herself in the German sphere.
One of the highest priorities for the forces was to re-equip the MKHL as soon as possible. Of the various planes being considered, the 112B eventually won out over the competition, and on 7 September, an order was placed for 36 planes. The Heinkel production line was just starting, and with Japan and Spain in the queue, it would be some time before the planes could be delivered. Repeated pleas to be moved to the top of the queue failed.
Germany had to refuse the first order at the beginning of 1939 because of its claimed neutrality in the Hungarian/Romanian dispute over Transylvania. In addition, the RLM refused to license the Oerlikon 20 mm MG FF cannon to the Hungarians, likely as a form of political pressure. This later insult did not cause a problem, because they planned to replace it with the locally-designed Danuvia 20 mm cannon anyway.
V9 was sent to Hungary as a demonstrator after a tour of Romania, and arrived on
5 February 1939. It was test flown by a number of pilots over the next week, and on 14 February, they replaced the propeller with a new three-bladed Junkers design (licensed from Hamilton). While being tested against a CR.32 that day, V9 crashed. On 10 March, a new 112B-1/U2 arrived to replace the V9 and was flown by a number of pilots at different fighter units. It was during this time that the Hungarian pilots started to complain about the underpowered engine, as they found that they could only reach a top speed of 430 km/h (267 mph) with the 210Ea.
With the Japanese and Spanish orders filled, things were looking up for Hungary. However, at that point, Romania placed its order, and was placed at the front of the queue. It appeared that the Hungarian production machines might never arrive, so the MKHL started pressing for a license to build the plane locally. In May, the Hungarian Manfred-Weiss company in
Budapestreceived the license for the plane, and on 1 June, an order was placed for twelve planes. Heinkel agreed to deliver a 210Ga powered plane to serve as a pattern aircraft.
As it turns out, the B-2 was never delivered; two more of the B-1/U2s with the 210Ea were sent instead. On arrival in Hungary, the 7.9 mm
MG17s were removed and replaced with the local 8 mm 39.M machine guns, and bomb racks were added. The resulting fit was similar to those originally ordered by Austria. Throughout this time, the complaints about the engines were being addressed by continued attempts to license one of the newer 30 litre class engines, the Junkers Jumo 211A or the DB600Aa.
Late in March, the He 100 V8 took the world absolute speed record, but in stories about the record attempt, the plane was referred to as the He 112U. Upon hearing of the record, the Hungarians decided to switch production to this "new version" of the 112, which was based on the newer engines. Then in August, the Commander-in-Chief of the MKHL recommended that the 112 be purchased as the standard fighter for Hungary (although likely referring to the earlier versions, not the "112U").
At this point, the engine issue came to a head. It was clear that no production line planes would ever reach Hungary, and now that the war was underway, the RLM was refusing to allow their export anyway. Shipments of the Jumo 211 or DB601 were not even able to fulfill German needs, so export of the engine for locally built airframes was likewise out of the question.
By September, the ongoing negotiations with the RLM for the license to build the engines locally stalled, and as a result, the MKHL ordered Manfred-Weiss to stop tooling up for the production line aircraft. The license was eventually canceled in December. The MKHL turned to the Italians and purchased the
Fiat CR.32and Reggiane Re.2000. The later would be the backbone of the MKHL for much of the war.
Nevertheless, the three B-1/U2 aircraft continued to serve on. In the summer of 1940, tensions with Romania over
Transylvaniastarted to heat up again and the entire MKHL was placed on alert on 27 June. On 21 August, the 112s were moved forward to the Debrecenairfield to protect a vital railway link. The next week, a peaceful resolution was found, and the settlement was signed in Vienna on 30 August. The 112s returned home the following week.
By 1941, the planes were ostensibly assigned to defend the Manfred-Weiss plant, but were actually used for training. When Allied bomber raids started in the spring of 1944, the planes were no longer airworthy, and it appears all were destroyed in a massive raid on the Budapest-Ferihegy airport on 9 August.
After the licensed production of the 112B fell through in 1939, the plan was to switch the production line to build a Manfred-Weiss designed plane called the W.M.23 "Ezüst Nyíl" (Silver Arrow). The plane was basically a 112B adapted to local construction; the wings were wooden versions of the 112's planform, the fuselage was made of a plywood over a steel frame, and the engine was a licensed version of the 1000 hp class
It would seem that this "simplified" plane would be inferior to the 112, but in fact the higher-powered engine made all the difference and the W.M.23 proved to be considerably faster than the 112. Nevertheless, work proceeded slowly and only one prototype was built. The project was eventually canceled outright when the prototype crashed in early 1942. It is still a mystery why so little work had been done in those two years on what appeared to be an excellent design.
Treaty of Versaillesratified the wish of the of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, by recognizing the national states of Poland, Czechoslovakiaand Yugoslaviaas well as the Union of the Romanian people, by integration of former provinces of the defunct Tsarist and Austro-Hungarian empires, with a Romanian ethnic majority, into the Romanian Kingdom(see Union of Transylvania with Romania, Union of Bessarabia with Romania). Also Romania had been granted southern Dobrogeaafter the Second Balkan War. These territorial changes didn’t go well with Bulgaria, and the successor states of the former oppressive empires ( Hungary, USSR), witch adopted a hostile stance. Throughout the 1920sand 1930s, Romania entered a number of alliances with the nearby nations which were in a similar situation, notably Czechoslovakiaand Yugoslavia. They were interested in blocking any changes to the Treaty of Versailleswhich could lead to reintegration by force in a multinational empire and, eventually, the loss of national identity.
Germany looked on Romania as an important supplier of war material, notably oil and grain. Looking to secure Romania as an ally, throughout the middle of the 1930s, Germany applied increasing pressure in a variety of forms, best summed up as the "carrot and stick" approach. The carrot came in the form of generous trade agreements for a variety of products and by the late 1930s, Germany formed about half of all of Romania's trade. The stick came in the form of Germany siding with Romania's enemies in various disputes.
26 June 1940, the Soviet Uniongave Romania a 24 hour ultimatum to return Bessarabiaand cede northern Bukovina, even though the latter had never even been a part of Russia. Germany's ambassador to Romania advised the king to submit, and he did. In August, Bulgariareclaimed southern Dobruja, with German and Soviet backing. Later that month, German and Italian foreign ministers met with Romanian diplomats in Vienna and presented them with an ultimatum to accept the ceding of northern Transylvaniato Hungary.
Romania was placed in an increasingly bad position as her local allies were gobbled up by Germany, and her larger allies' (Britain and France) assurances of help proved empty, as demonstrated by their lack of action during the invasion of
Poland. Soon the king was forced from the throne and a pro-German government was formed.
With Romania now firmly in the German sphere of influence, her efforts to re-arm for the coming war were suddenly strongly backed. The primary concern was the air force, the FARR. Their fighter force at the time consisted of just over 100 Polish
PZL P.11aircraft, primarily the P.11b or the locally modified f model, and P.24E. Although these aircraft had been the most advanced fighters in the world in the early 1930s, by the late 1930s, they were hopelessly outclassed by practically everything.
In April 1939, the FARR was offered the Bf 109 as soon as production was meeting German demands. In the meantime, they could take over 24 112Bs that were already built. The FARR jumped at the chance and then increased the order to 30 planes.
Late in April, a group of Romanian pilots arrived at Heinkel for conversion training, which went slowly because of the advanced nature of the 112 in comparison to the PZL. When the training was complete, the pilots returned home in the cockpits of their new aircraft. The planes, all of them B-1s or B-2s, were "delivered" in this manner starting in July and ending in October. Two of the planes were lost, one in a fatal accident during training in Germany on 7 September, and another suffered minor damage on landing while being delivered and was later repaired at SET in Romania.
When the first planes started arriving, they were tested competitively against the locally designed
IAR.80prototype. This interesting and little known plane proved to be superior to the 112B in almost every way. At the same time, the test flights revealed a number of disadvantages of the 112, notably the underpowered engine and poor speed. The result of the fly-off was that the IAR.80 was ordered into immediate production, and orders for any additional He 112s were cancelled.
15 September, enough of the planes had arrived to re-equip Escadrila 10 and 11. The two squadrons were formed into the Grupul 5 vânãtoare (5th Fighter Group), responsible for the defense of Bucharest. In October, they were renamed as the 51st and 52nd squadrons, still forming the 5th. The pilots had not been a part of the group that had been trained at Heinkel, so they started working their way toward the 112 using Nardi F.N.305 monoplane trainers. Training lasted until the spring of 1940, when a single additional 112B-2 was delivered as a replacement for the one that crashed in Germany the previous September.
During the troubles with Hungary, the 51st was deployed to Transylvania. Hungarian
Ju-86s and He-70s started making reconnaissance flights over Romanian territory. Repeated attempts to intercept them failed because of the 112's low speed. On 27 August, Locotenent Nicolae Polizu was over Hungarian territory when he encountered a Caproni Ca.135bis biplane bomber flying on a training mission. Several of his 20 mm rounds hit the bomber, which was forced down safely at the Hungarian Debrecen airbase – home of the Hungarian 112s. Polizu became the first Romanian to shoot down a plane in aerial combat.
When Germany prepared to invade the USSR in 1941, Romania joined it in an effort to regain the territories lost the year before. The FARR was made part of Luftflotte 4 and, in preparation for the invasion, Grupul 5 vânãtoare was sent to
Moldavia. At the time, 24 of the 112s were flyable. Three were left at their home base at Pipera to complete repairs, two others had been lost to accidents, and the fate of the others is unknown. On 15 June, the planes were moved again, to Foscani-North in northern Moldavia.
With the opening of the war on 22 June, the 112s were in the air at 10:50am supporting an attack by
Potez 63s of Grupul 2 bombardment on the Soviet airfields at Bolgrad and Bulgãrica. Although some flak was encountered on the way to and over Bolgrad, the attack was successful and a number of Soviet planes were bombed on the ground. By the time they reached Bulgãrica, fighters were in the air waiting for them, and as a result the twelve 112s were met by about 30 I-16s. The results of this combat were mixed; Sublocotenent Teodor Moscu shot down one of a pair of I-16s still taking off. When he was pulling out, he hit another in a head-on pass and it crashed into the Danube. He was set upon by several I-16s and received several hits, his fuel tanks were punctured but did not seal. Losing fuel rapidly, he formed up with his wingman and managed to put down at the Romanian airfield at Bârlad. His plane was later repaired and returned to duty. Of the bombers, three of the thirteen dispatched were shot down.
Over the next few days, the 112s would be used primarily as ground attack aircraft, where their heavy armament was considered to be more important than their ability to fight in the air. Typical missions would start before dawn and would have the Heinkels strafe Soviet airbases. Later in the day, they would be sent on search and destroy missions, looking primarily for artillery and trains.
Losses were heavy, most not due to combat, but simply because the planes were flying an average of three missions a day and were not receiving adequate maintenance. This problem affected all of the FARR, which did not have the field maintenance logistics worked out at the time. On 29 July, a report on the readiness of the air forces listed only fourteen 112s in flyable condition, and another eight repairable. As a result the planes of the 52nd were folded into the 51st to form a single full strength squadron on the 13th of August. The men of the 52nd were merged with the 42nd who flew IAR.80s, and were soon sent home to receive IAR.80s of their own. A report from August on the 112 rated it very poorly, once again noting its lack of power and poor speed.
For a time, the 51st continued in a front-line role, although it saw little combat. When Odessa fell on 16 October, the Romanian war effort ostensibly ended, and the planes were considered to be no longer needed at the front. Fifteen were kept at Odessa and the rest were released to Romania for training duty (although they seem to have seen no use). On 1 November, the 51st moved to Tatarka and then returned to Odessa on the 25th, performing coastal patrol duties all the while. On
1 July 1942, the 51st returned to Pipera and stood down after a year in action.
On 19 July one of the He 112s took to the air to intercept Soviet bombers in what was the first night mission by a Romanian plane. As the Soviets were clearly gearing up for a night offensive on Bucharest, the 51st was then re-equipped with Me 110 night fighters and became the only Romanian night fighter squadron.
By 1943 the IAR.80 was no longer competitive, and the FARR started an overdue move to a newer fighter. The fighter in this case was the barely competitive Bf 109G. The 112s found themselves actively being used in the training role at last. The inline engine and general layout of the German designs was considered similar enough to make it useful in this role, and as a result the 112s came under the control of the Corpul 3 Aerian (3rd Air Corps). Several more of the 112s were destroyed in accidents during this time. It soldiered on in this role into late 1944, even after Romania had changed sides and joined the Allies.
pecifications (He 112A-0 V4)
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
length main= 9.0 m
length alt=29 ft 5⅜ in
span main=11.5 m
span alt=37 ft 8¾ in
height main=3.7 m
height alt=12 ft 1⅝ in
area main= 23.2 m²
area alt= 250.5 ft²
empty weight main= 1680 kg
empty weight alt= 3,704 lb
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
Junkers Jumo 210Da
type of prop=liquid–cooled inverted
number of props=1
power main= 680 hp
power alt=507 kW
max speed main= 488 km/h
max speed alt= 303 mph
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main= 1,100 km
range alt=684 miles
ceiling main= 8,000 m
ceiling alt= 26,245 ft
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main=102.5 kg/m
armament=3 × 7.92 mm
MG 17 machine guns mounted in the engine cowling
pecifications (He 112B-2)
plane or copter?= plane
jet or prop?= prop
length main= 9.22 m
length alt= 30 ft 11 7/8 in)
span main= 9.09 m
span alt= 29 ft 9¾ in
height main= 3.82 m
height alt= 12 ft 6¾ in
area main= 17 m²
area alt= 183 ft²
empty weight main= 1,617 kg
empty weight alt= 3,565 lb
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main= 2,248 kg
max takeoff weight alt= 4,957 lb
Junkers Jumo 210Ga
type of prop=liquid–cooled inverted
number of props=1
power main= 522 kW
power alt= 700 hp
max speed main= 510 km/h
max speed alt= 317 mph
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
range main= 1150 km
range alt= 715 miles
ceiling main= 9,500 m
ceiling alt= 31,200 ft
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main= 132 kg/m²
loading alt= 27.1 lb/ft²
* 2 × 7.92 mm
MG 17 machine guns with 500 rounds each, mounted in the sides of the engine cowling
* 2 × 20 mm
MG FF cannons with 60 rounds each, in the wings
* Bernád, Dénes. "Heinkel He 112 in action". Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 1996.
* Fleischer, Seweryn. "Heinkel 112 (Wydawnictwo Militaria 164)" (in Polish). Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo Militaria, 2002. ISBN 83-7219-145-X.
* Heinkel, Ernst. "Stormy Life". E.P. Dutton, 1956.
* Hirsch, R.S. "Heinkel 100, 112 (Aero Series 12)". Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1967. ISBN 0-81680-544-X.
* Kens, Karl-Heinz. "He 112 Took Only Second Place". "Flug Revew 1/2000". Stuttgart, Germany: Motor-Presse Verlag, 1999. [http://www.flug-revue.rotor.com/FRheft/FRH0001/FR0001d.htm]
* [http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Elevon/baugher_other/he112.html Heinkel He 112]
* [http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/he112.html The Luftwaffe Resource Group He 112 page]
* [http://avia.russian.ee/air/germany/he-112.html He 112, along with illustrations and a three-view]
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