Early He111 Variants 

in Lufthansa Service


Two of the initial prototypes were intended for use with Deutsche Lufthansa to develop shuttle routes and further enhance the South American mail service; V2 W.Nr. 715, D-ALIX "Rostock" began endurance testing shortly after its first flight in January 1936, and continued in service until crashing with the loss of four lives on approach to Banjul, Gambia on 12 March 1937.  Interestingly, some 90% or better of the mail was subsequently recovered from the wreck, and forwarded to its proper destination.  For more information concerning this event, please visit http://www.stampdomain.com/baef/Gambia1937.htm.


The V4 (W.Nr. 1968, D-AHAO "Dresden") had a far shorter career; demonstrated with considerable aplomb by Heinkel test pilot Gerhard Nitschke in January 1936, this was the first example with the full metal wing and served as the C-series prototype.  In April, however, the aircraft was heavily damaged when it was taxied into a building... thus, "Dresden" never made it into Lufthansa's official service inventory.


Six examples of the He111C were constructed for use by Deutsche Lufthansa, with the build sequence, names, and registration as follows:

He 111C-01  W.Nr. 1828    Nurnberg (D-AMES)
He 111C-02
  W.Nr. 1829    Leipzig (D-AQYF)
He 111C-03
  W.Nr. 1830    Köln (D-AXAV)
He 111C-04
  W.Nr. 1831    Königsberg (D-ABYE)
He 111C-05
  W.Nr. 1832    Breslau (D-AQUA)
He 111C-06
  W.Nr. 1833    Karlsrühe (D-ATYL) 

There were four other Heinkels to enter service with DLH, and these aircraft were fitted with the BMW 132H-1 radial engine.  

W.Nr. 1884 "Augsburg" (D-ACBS) is an example of the He111L (luftgekühlt, or air cooled) which featured BMW 132H-1 radial engines in place of the lower-rated BMW VI inline units.  D-ACBS and W.Nr. 1885 "Dresden" (D-ADCF) were equipped from the outset with this power package; in 1939 both DLH He111G "straight wing" aircraft (W.Nr. 2534, "Halle" D-AEQA and W.Nr. 2535 "Magdeburg" D-AYKI) were similarly equipped.  Two C models were retrofitted with the radials as well; the first and last ("Nurnberg" and "Karlsruhe") were rebuilt with the new all-metal wing and engine combo in 1938/39, thus having their designation changed to He111L.


Load'em up!  From the Lufthansa website comes this superb shot of an He111C being loaded with a decidedly pedestrian cargo; interesting items of note abound in this shot, including the silver nose interior and gear legs, the quality of the finish, and various engine panel and outline details. 

The passenger variants of the 111 suffered from the inclusion of interior bulkheads which the RLM specified must remain in order to facilitate conversion of the aircraft into a bomber role; this legacy is still felt over sixty years after the Lufthansa aircraft entered service, as the Roden kit also features extreme bulkhead difficulties!


he111_d-aqyf.jpg (111091 bytes)        He111C-02_1.jpg (18702 bytes)

He111C-02 W.Nr. 1829 D-AQYF "Leipzig" seen prewar in a photo possibly taken at Berlin-Templehof, and at right in a photo taken after the commencement of hostilities.  All nine surviving Lufthansa Heinkels were impressed into Luftwaffe service as high-speed courier aircraft, a role to which they were well suited.


One of the six C models is seen warming up its BMWs in this lovely period shot; note the Lufthansa Ju86 and He70 in the background.


he111_d-axav.jpg (14795 bytes)

He111C-03 W.Nr. 1830, D-AXAV "Köln" seen on final approach.  D-AXAV was written off following a crash in February, 1938.  Please note the Hakenkreuz has been airbrushed out on this photo... :/

One further note should be made, this concerning the alleged use of Lufthansa aircraft in a clandestine reconnaissance role.  There were indeed three He111Fs (W.Nrs. 2358-2360) which were so outfitted, and which were finished in Lufthansa markings.  These three aircraft were never part of the Lufthansa fleet, however, and all the civilian examples documented here remained such until sold to the Luftwaffe in 1940.

Information on this page is primarily drawn from the excellent Aeroplane article of June 2002.