Heinkel He 111H

The Heinkel He 111H was similar to the He 111P, and featured the same redesigned nose at that aircraft. This replaced the stepped nose of earlier models with a single glass canopy that covered a combined pilot’s and navigator/ bombardier’s cockpit, improving visibility for the pilot.

The He 111H differed from the P in the choice of engines. The DB 601 used in the 111P was in heavy demand for use in fighters, so Heinkel switched to the Jumo 211 engine, which was available in greater numbers for bombers. Production of the early models of the He 111H overlapped with that of the P, but continued on for much longer, with new variants appearing through to 1944.


The pre-production H-0 was powered by the 1,010hp Jumo 211A-1. Twenty-five had been built by May 1939. Other than the revised nose, the H-0 was similar to earlier models, with only three 7.92mm machine guns to provide defensive armament and an internal bomb bay that could carry up to eight 250kg/ 551lb bombs, but no larger weapons.


Heinkel He 111H-1 from the right
Heinkel He 111H-1 from the right

The H-1 was similar to the H-0. One hundred and thirty six had been produced by the outbreak of war in 1939, and the type would see service in the campaigns of 1939 and 1940.


Plans of Heinkel He 111P or He 111H
Plans of
Heinkel He 111P
or He 111H

Five hundred and two H-2s were built during 1939. It differed from the H-1 in the choice of engine, using a 1,100hp Jumo 211A-3 to replace the A-1 of the H-1. During the production run three extra MG 15s were added, two beam guns, one on each side, just above the ventral gondola, and one forward firing MG 15 in the ventral gondola. A fifth crewman was added to man the beam guns.


The H-3 saw another increase in engine power, this time to 1,200hp with the Jumo D-1. More guns were again added, this time a second MG 15 in the upper nose. The front gondola gun was sometimes replaced by a 20mm cannon, used as an anti-shipping weapon. The H-3 also armour added to protect the crew positions. Five hundred and four H-3s were produced - 182 by Heinkel, 196 by Arado at Brandenburg, 126 by ATG at Leipzig.


The H-4 was the first of the H series to use external bomb racks. The port bomb bay was replaced by an extra fuel tank, while the starboard bomb bay remained available for bombs. However, most weapons were now carried on either PVC 1006 or ETC 2000 external bomb racks, which allowed the aircraft to carry a wider variety of heavier bombs. The payload remained at 4,400lbs on the 150 H-4s. Early aircraft were powered by the Jumo 211D-1, later replaced by the 1,400hp Jumo 211F-1.


Heinkel He 111H dropping a torpedo
Heinkel He 111H dropping a torpedo

The five hundred H-5s saw an increase in the variety of bombs that could be carried. As well as the 4,400lb combinations used by earlier models, the H-5 could also carry a single SC 2500 bomb (2500kg/ 5511lbs) or two 1686lb torpedoes. The H-1 to H-5 were the main variants of the He 111 used during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.


The H-6 was the most numerous version of the He 111. Around 1,800 were produced during 1941 and 1942. The H-6 was powered by the Jumo 211F, first by the 1,300hp F-1 and later by the 1,340 F-2. The H-6 could carry its bombs internally, but that was rare. Far more common was the use of external bomb racks, either a pair of ETC 2000s or one ETC 2000 and one PVR 1006L, combined with an extra fuel tank in the fuselage. The H-6 could also carry two torpedoes in place of the bombs.

Defensive firepower was now provided by six 7.92mm machine guns, one in the nose, one in the dorsal mount, two in the ventral gondola (one forward and one aft) and two beam guns. A number of H-6s replaced the forward firing guns with 20mm cannon for use against ground targets. Another modification saw a single 7.92mm placed in the tail to discourage attack from the rear.


The H-7 would have been a lightly armoured night bomber, relying on speed and darkness for security. None were built.

Heinkel He 111 H-8 cable cutter: side view
Heinkel He 111 H-8 cable cutter: side view


The H-8 was a short-lived attempt to produce a balloon cable cutter. It was equipped with a massive and ungainly cable cutting kit attached to the front of the aircraft. Weighing 2,000lbs this reduced the aircraft's performance dangerously. Thirty were produced in early 1941, entered service and were quickly withdrawn after ten had been lost. The survivors were converted to glider tugs.


The H-9 was a minor modification of the H-6, produced in small numbers. It featured a much lighter cable cutting device built into the outer wings.


The H-10 was a further modification of the H-6. It was powered by the 1,300hp Jumo 211F-1, with exhaust flame dampers to make the aircraft harder to spot at night. It featured the same light balloon cable cutters as the H-9. The 425 He 111Hs carried an internal bomb load.


The H-11 was introduced in the summer of 1942, at a time when He 111 production was being reduced in preparation for the expected arrival of the He 177. The H-11 was more heavily armed, with a 13mm MG 131 in the dorsal position, a 20mm cannon in the nose and a twin barrelled MG 81Z in the beam and aft gondola positions. The H-11 was powered by the 1,340hp Jumo 211F-2. Variants of the H-11 could carry torpedoes, while the level bomber version could carry the standard 2000kg/ 4409lb bomb load. One hundred conversions and 230 new H-11s had been built by the summer of 1943, and a total of around 500 may have been completed.


The He 111H-12 was an experimental version of the aircraft produced to test out the Hs 293 glide bomb. Thirty seven were built from late 1942 but the glide bomb was not a great success and the H-12 never saw active service.


The H-14 was a pathfinder variant, equipped with advanced navigation equipment. It was powered by the Jumo 211F-2 engine, and could carry the standard internal bomb load or a combination of internal and external bombs. Fifty were built, and saw service in western Europe.


The H-15 was an H-12 modified to carry the Blohm & Voss BV 246 glide bomb. The general inaccuracy of the glide bomb resulted in the cancellation of this version.


Heinkel He 111H from the right
Heinkel He 111H from the right

The H-16 was the most important late model of the He 111. 1,155 were built from new and 315 converted from older models before the end of 1943. It replaced the H-14, which had been expected to be the main production version during 1943. The H-16 was powered by Jumo 211F-2 engines, giving 1,340hp and a top speed of 270 mph at 19,600 feet.

The H-16 carried one 13mm MG 131 in each of the nose and dorsal positions, an twin barrelled MH 81Z machine gun in the two beam positions and in the rear position in the gondola, but no forward gondola gun.

The H-16 could carry the by now standard mix of internal and external bombs, to a maximum bomb load of 4409lb/ 2000kg. That could be increased by 50% by using rocket assisted take off units, but that option was rarely taken.


The H-17 was a proposed dual control trainer than did not enter production.


The H-18 was produced as a night bomber to serve on the eastern front. As such it needed longer range than was normal for the He 111, and so the defensive armament was cut down to just three guns – an MG FF in the nose, a MG 131 B2 in the dorsal position and a MG 81Z in the rear gondola position. The H-18 carried a crew of three and had a range of 1740 miles. Twenty four aircraft were delivered in this format, but then had to have their defensive firepower increased.


The H-19 is reported to have been either a dual control trainer or an H-16 with wooden propellers. Whichever it was, it did not enter production.


The H-20 was the last major version of the He 111, and entered production in early 1944. It was produced in four main versions, all powered by the 1,750hp Jumo 213E-1 engine. All the main variants were armed with one 13mm MG 131 in the nose, ventral and dorsal positions, with the dorsal gun mounted in an electrically operated turret, and a MG 81Z in both beam positions. The exact designations appear to have changed during 1944, but the main subtypes and one designation were:

He 111H-20/R1

The H-20/R1 was a paratrooper transport, capable of carrying sixteen paratroops and two 800kg supply pallets.

He 111H-20/R2

The H-20/R2 was a freighter and glider tug that replaced the remaining Junkers Ju 52/3m transports.

He 111H-20/R3

The H-20/R4 was a standard night bomber, carrying a 2000kg/ 4409lb external bomb load and five crew.

He 111H-20/R4

The H-20/R4 was designed as a night harassment bomber, armed with twenty 50kg/110.2lb bombs.

H3 111H-21

The H-21 was a high altitude version of the He 111, powered by the 1,350hp Jumo 211F-2 engines, which produced more power at high altitudes that the apparently more powerful E-1s. The H-21 had a top speed of 298mph at 22,960 feet, a big leap on earlier models. However, it appeared in the summer of 1944 just in time for production to end when the emergency fighter program was put in place.

He 111H-22

The H-22 was another specialised variant of the He 111, designed to air-launch the V-1 flying bomb (Fieseler Fi 103A-1). After tests in the winter of 1943-4 this duty was given to KG 53, who launched around 1,200 flying bombs from the autumn of 1944. Of these perhaps 210 reached Britain, while KG 53 lost eight aircraft to British defences, whose main problem was slowing down enough to hit the heavily laden He 111s before they could release the flying bomb.

He 111H-23

The H-23 was a long range transport, produced in late 1944. It was designed to carry eight paratroops, and was meant for long range special operations. However, it did not see service in this role, and the small number of aircraft produced were converted back to bombers.  

Statistics H-6
Engine: Two Junkers Jumo 211F-2 12 cylinder liquid cooled inline engines
Horsepower: 1,350
Span: 73 feet 9.8 inches
Length: 53 feet 9.7 inches
Max Speed: 270 mph at 19,700 feet
Ceiling: 22,000 feet
Range: 1211.7 miles
Bomb load: 2000kg/ 4409.2lb

Heinkel He 111, Ron Mackay (Crowood Aviation). A comprehensive look at one of the most famous German aircraft of the Second World War, taking us through its pre-war development, its time as the Luftwaffe's most important bomber early in the war, to its long decline and the eventual collapse of the German bomber force.[see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 June 2007), Heinkel He 111H, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_he111H.html

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