The He 111 flew secretly for the first time as a bomber in February, 1935, the prototype being officially classsified as a passenger/mail plane (its actual role had to remain hidden since Germany was not authorized to have an air force, following the First World War).
In 1937, the He 111 entered service in the Condor Legion in Spain where it proved to be very efficient. This success would later be costly for the Luftwaffe. Indeed, during the Battle of Britain, it was the main medium bomber used, but it was quite vulnerable, as were the other Luftwaffe’s bombers. The Allied fighters were more effective at intercepting them than the Republican fighters had been in Spain four years before.
Defensive weapons and crew members were therefore added, until the changes started to affect negatively the bomber’s performances.
Even though the He 111 was already outclassed at the beginning of the war, it was required on every front. Unable to transport enough defensive weapons in a plane that was already overloaded, the crews found that they were an easy preay to the Allied fighters. Produced in large numbers, the He 111 operated extensively around the world for more than two decades (the Spanish, for instance, built a version with Merlin engine that flew until 1956).
|Engine:||Two 1,350-hp Jumo 211F-2 inverted V-12 piston engines|
|Max speed:||260mph (435 km/h)|
|Range:||1 950km (1,212 miles)|
|Weight (empty):||6,818 kg (15,031 lb) to 8,000kg (17,640 lb)|
|Weight (loaded):||9,600kg (21,165 lb) to 13,500kg (29,762 lb)|
|Height:||4 m. (12 ft.)|
|Armament:||1x 7.92mm MG15 machine gun in nose, ventral dustbin and dorsal positions, bombload up to 2,000 kg (4,410 lb)|