The He 111Z was the most unusual variant of the aircraft ever developed. It was built to tow the massive Me 321 Gigant glider, which weighted in at 75,000lbs when full. Heinkel’s solution to this problem was to take two He 111H-6s, place them side by side and then connect them with a new central wing section. A fifth engine was placed at the centre of the new central wing, producing a five engined aircraft with two full fuselages, with the seven man crew split between the two sides. The port fuselage carried the chief pilot (and the throttle controls), as well as a mechanic, radio operator and gunner, while the starboard fuselage carried the co-pilot along with a second mechanic and gunner.
The composite aircraft could tow the Me 321 to a target up to 1,000 miles from its start point. It entered service early in 1943 during a mission to re-supply German troops isolated in south west Russia. Only ten He 111Zs were built, before production was cancelled after engines were mounted directly on the Me 321 to produce the Me 323 powered transport aircraft. Only one unit (LLG 2) used the He 111Z, between February 1943 and September 1944, when only two aircraft remained.
Development - Combat - He 111A - He 111B - He 111C - He 111D - He 111E - He 111F - He 111G - He 111H - He 111J - He 111P - He 111R - He 111Z