Air War Archive, Heinkel He 111, The Early Years – Fall of France, Battle of Britain and the Blitz

Another new addition to the very popular Air War Archive series. This book covers the early war years of the Heinkel He 111, which was one of the most important German bombers, flying on through WWII to the end. The author has provided clear text to accompany the outstanding selection of images. There is also an introduction that covers the Heinkel development process through to the He 111. Much Recommended

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NAME: Air War Archive, Heinkel He 111, The Early Years – Fall of 
France, Battle of Britain and the Blitz
FILE: R2447
AUTHOR:  Chris Goss
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back 
PAGES:  146
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, World War 2, Second World War, German 
Air Force, Luftwaffe, medium bomber, twin engine bomber, France, 
Britain, Blitz, Battle of Britain
ISBN: 1-84832-482-9
IMAGE: B2447.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/hjlyu8n
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: Another new addition to the very popular Air War Archive 
series. This book covers the early war years of the Heinkel He 111, 
which was one of the most important German bombers, flying on through 
WWII to the end.  The author has provided clear text to accompany the 
outstanding selection of images. There is also an introduction that 
covers the Heinkel development process through to the He 111. 
Much Recommended 

This book covers the early war years of the ubiquitous He 111 that 
served from Norway's North Cape to the Mediterranean and through the 
full term of WWII.

The He 111 shows the strength and the weakness of the German planning 
for war. The strength was that the Luftwaffe built a large force of 
medium bombers that could be used for strategic bombing but which 
were really intended to support the army in its lightning war concept. 
As long as the army could roll forward, little requirement existed 
for strategic bombing beyond a relatively small number of large 
terror raids on largely unprotected cities, much as had been 
rehearsed during the Spanish Civil War. 

The weakness came once the Germans had reached a significant natural 
obstacle. The army was not equipped with landing craft, beyond the 
limited ability required to cross rivers. The English Channel 
presented a much more serious obstacle that was made harder by the 
Royal Navy with its formidable Coastal Forces and main Fleet. That 
required a German Navy capability, far beyond what it possessed, to 
provide escort for a huge fleet of sea-going landing craft, and to 
provide shore bombardment in support of the first waves of landing 
craft. As a result, the Germans fell back on their best chance of 
victory in attempting to gain air superiority. They had to destroy 
the RAF and then heavily bomb all key points of defence to the 
landings. Even then, it was probably no more than a pipe dream that 
Hitler was soon keen to swap for an invasion of Russia. If there 
really was a master plan, a swift Russian campaign would provide a 
huge increase in German resources and buy time to build the new 
weapons that would be necessary to make a successful invasion of 
Britain possible after the Russian surrender. The Russians failed to 
oblige, Britain mounted a formidable air assault on Germany and 
Occupied Europe, America entered the War in alliance with Britain, 
and Germany was forced to surrender. In the meantime, He111 crews 
did their best with what they had.

The He 111 was an advanced mid wing metal monoplane with low drag 
at the time of its entry into service. Unfortunately for the Germans, 
it was soon obsolescent outside its use in support of the army. Its 
twin engine power limited the weight of bombs it could carry and its 
range was limited, if more than adequate as flying artillery 
supporting armoured forces advancing rapidly. The bomb bay cellular 
design also limited the size bombs it could carry, in contrast with 
the RAF Lancaster that could carry a heavy load to targets across 
Germany and had a cavernous bomb bay that was eventually able to 
carry the massive 10 ton Grand Slam earthquake bomb, or a huge 
variety of incendiary and explosive bombs. Of course, the Lancaster 
had the advantage of being designed specifically for high altitude 
bombing over long distances and with a very heavy bomb load. It 
also started its design later than the He111 and, in its final form, 
included bombing radar.

The result was that, even with ample airbases, from Northern Norway 
to the Spanish border, the Luftwaffe's He 111 were unable to reach 
all of the British isles. This might have been adequate had Britain 
been defended in the same way as Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium 
and France. Unfortunately for the Germans, the RAF was equipped with 
two outstanding and complementary single seat fighter planes, the 
Hurricane and the Spitfire, that were already arriving for all 
fighter squadrons with a point defence mission and were linked by 
radio into the most advanced command and control system anywhere in 
the world. That system drew information from Royal Observer Corps 
observation posts, and from a very advanced chain of radar stations. 
That exposed the other major weakness of the He 111, a lack of 
defensive armament. Single rifle calibre machine guns that were hand 
controlled at only three positions were grossly inadequate. An 8 gun 
British fighter was able to attack where only one machine gun could 
fire back. Without fighter escort, the He 111 was a sitting duck, as 
demonstrated with a single attack from Norway on Northern England 
where the Germans believed there were no fighters for defence. The 
RAF fighters scythed through this large formation and the Germans 
fled back, never to repeat the attempt. In the South, they could only 
avoid catastrophic losses with heavy fighter escort and the Me 109, 
which was the only German fighter then able to contend with 
Hurricanes and Spitfires, had inadequate fuel, giving it only minutes 
of combat time over British targets. The RAF fighters had similar 
short range but they were not having to fly across the Channel first 
and were able to land, refuel, re-arm and be back in the air, ready 
for the next German wave.

The He 111 weaknesses have given the opportunity to include a large 
number of images of shot-down Heinkels.