Heinkel He 51

Heinkel He 51

Heinkel He 51

Summary: Heinkel He 51 is a German biplane produced before the war. The aircraft was designed for a variety of purposes, including fighter jets, seaplanes and even ground attack aircraft. Heinkel He 51 took part in the 1936 outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Compared with the old-fashioned biplane, it was proved having more advanced properties. But then the Soviet Union sent a new aircraft, including I-15 and I-16, etc., Heinkel He 51 then lost the advantage, and was replaced by Messerschmitt Bf 109s.

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Heinkel He 51 was a single-engined fighter biplane built by the German Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke in the thirties.

Operationally tested during the Spanish Civil War as equipment of the Condor Legion, it continued to be used, primarily of Luftwaffe before and during the Second World War.



In the thirties, the German air force, the Luftwaffe future, trying to refitting aircraft with modern features, Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke and was one of the aeronautical companies that could serve the purpose, with a group of designers as the brothers Walter and Siegfried Günter that materialize soon a first result: He 49 fighter, designed in November 1932, which was approved a later model and improved the fighter He 51.

The He 49 was a fighter with an engine from 690 hp BMW VI disguised as civilian aircraft, like many other German media made at the time, to get around the restrictions resulting from the defeat ofGermanyin the First World War. After the prototype was released in November, were required other two devices, the He 49B-fuselage lengthened by40 cm, and the E, with trailer fairing.

Günter brothers, however, were convinced that we could achieve a better result, and the new model was launched series production. With a cell lighter, designed by Karl Schwarler in fact, three months after the prototype He 51 made its first flight.

Operational use

He 51 of July of 1934 began to be delivered clandestinely departments. Since April 1935, he was officially established the first department of the newly founded Luftwaffe fighters, the Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) Richthofen.
Soon the aircraft was sent to theaters of war, starting with the Spanish Civil War (the first six specimens were sent to Cadiz in August 1936), which both Germany and Italy ‘s participated in strength, providing over 1200 military aircraft among other things.

Together with the Italian Fiat CR32, after some initial successes the Heinkel He 51 soon proved less than most of the fighters Republicans, mainly French manufacture, as was evident in the middle of September 1936 when only two Republicans hunting He scattered six 51 which preparing to attack some Breguet bombers. Germany responded by increasing the numerical size of the aircraft, so by the end of November reached Spain other 72 He 51, of which 24 were delivered Aviation nationalist, who went to equip all four squadrons of Jagdgruppe 88 (J/88) . The arrival in the same month of the Soviet fighters Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 yields nothing but the German reaction.

Consequently, the first Messerschmitt Bf 109 B arrived, in the spring of 1937, the fighters were relegated He 51 ground attack missions or transferred Spanish Nationalist Air Force. He remained in the 51 Condor Legion were moved near Madrid in July 1937 to take part in the battle of Brunete in the same period in which Adolf Galland was appointed head of the pack, the 3rd of the J/88, equipped with the He 51. The successes achieved by Galland on the front north-central Spain against men and enemy structures, against which were also tested primitive napalm bombs (simple cluster bombs linked to a container filled with gasoline and lubricating oil), acted the hijacking of 28 new He 51 by Nationalist forces the Condor Legion, which was thus able to reactivate the 4th squadron of the J/88. On 20 February 1938 the pilot Eckehardt Priebe, flying a He51 insupport of the troops who were fighting the battle of Teruel, shot down a T-26 tank, which was also the first tank destroyed by German ground attack aircraft .

The advancedAragonin the summer of 1938 offered the Luftwaffe, through its 51 He, to improve the techniques of ground attack that would be later used in World War II more than a year later.

In all 135 specimens were sent toSpain, especially the He51C.

Heinkel, AGO, Arado and other German companies were involved in the production of the fighter He 51, which soon reached the 700, not an exceptional result but enough to re-equip, along with the Arado Ar 68, 8 Flocks at home and the Legion Condor. A copy was also provided to ‘theSoviet Union.

Technical Description


The aircraft was equipped with a robust and solid traditional type of mixed construction with metal wings covered with wood and painted canvas, the fuselage was coated with metal frame metal front, rear canvas. The ailerons were present only on ‘front wing and top at the same time, because you were in the bottom flaps.

The wings, of considerable surface, were biplane, but staggered to an appreciable extent, with the lower not only backward (to the level of the passenger compartment) but also of lower opening. They were braced and fitted with two rigid supports in tandem, with a single span.

The tail planes were conventional, braced and equipped with a large rudder. The landing gear was fixed, the front fairing, just a metal slide without the rear wheel.

The instrumentation He 51 was remarkable and very complete fighter of the year 1930.


The engine was a BMW VI 7.3 Z 12-cylinder water-cooled V, as many as 750 horses, with two-blade propeller Schwarz, wood and fixed. Unlike that in hunting Fiat, the propeller was placed in the lower part of the muzzle rather than in the high, having the radiator in an inverted position (at the top rather than at the bottom).

The discharges were very significant in terms of overall dimensions and oriented downwards. The fuel tank was 210 liters.


The armament consisted of two MG 17 machine guns caliber7.92 mmwith 1000 shots available positioned on the hunt.


He51 A

He51 A-1

first version of the series, 150 units produced, half of them from Arado and Erla.

He 51 B

It was introduced in 1935 and produced until the middle of the following year, as the most numerous of the German fighters of this type. Strengthened, also had a 170 liter removable tank, which increased autonomy. Some were equipped with underwing joists for 6 SC 10 bombs of10 kg.

H and 51 B-2

Hydro version shipped with hunting boots made of aluminum and comes with the cruisers and other heavy units of the Kriegsmarine. Made in 38 specimens; prototypes for high altitudes He 51 B and D were not followed.

H and51 C

H and51 C-1

It was built for the war inSpainand was a skilled fighter, used all its power to support up to four50 kgbombs under the lower wings. 100 cars built, 79 of which are provided to the Condor Legion and to a lesser extent, aviation nationalist.

H and51 C-2

It was built with improved radio equipment, intended only for the Luftwaffe.

He 51 D

Version of high altitude remained at the prototype stage.


BGR 1908-1946

  • Vazhdushnite na Negovo Velichestvo Voiski

DEU 1933-1945

  • Luftwaffe
  • Condor Legion

ESP 1939-1945

  • Ejército del Aire
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