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Heinkel He 111F

Heinkel He 111F

Heinkel He 111F

The He 111F saw the first major change to the basic design of the aircraft. In order to simplify production the elliptical wing used in all earlier models was replaced by a more traditional straight edged wing. As a result the wingspan of the aircraft was reduced from 74 feet 1.8 inches to 73 feet 9.8 inches. The new wing had first been used on the He 111G commercial transport version of the aircraft, but was not introduced into military production until late in 1937.


The pre-production F-0 was completed late in 1937. It was powered by the 1,100hp Junkers Jumo 211A-3 engine, giving it a top speed of 267mph at 16,400 feet.


Twenty-five He 111F-1s were built for Turkey during 1938, remaining in service in Turkey until 1946.


The F-2 was similar to the F-1 but with improved radio equipment. Twenty were built.


The F-3 was a reconnaissance version that was never built.


The F-4 was similar to the E-4, with external bomb racks. Forty were built during 1938, before the He 111F was replaced by the He 111P with its improved nose.

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



No. 00-P-1896.

Decided: December 12, 2002

Although the precise question, the interrelation of G.L. c. 41, § 100, and G.L. c. 41, § 111F, is novel, the applicable principles of the law of arbitration are familiar. We decide that the provisions of § 100 do not preclude submission to arbitration of the question of entitlement to paid leave under § 111F, and that a motion by the city of Lawrence (city) to vacate an arbitration award that conferred paid leave was rightly denied.

General Laws c. 41, § 100, as amended through St.1970, c. 27, requires employers of police officers or fire fighters to indemnify them for medical expenses attendant on work-related injury, if the appointing authority determines that it “is appropriate under all the circumstances.” Chief among the relevant “circumstances” is whether the medical expenses were, in fact, work related, i.e., causally related to something that happened to the officer or fire fighter on the job. 1 Section 111F provides that a police officer or fire fighter who suffers an incapacitating injury on duty shall receive paid leave for the period of incapacity.

1. Background facts. Robert Jackson, a patrolman on the Lawrence police force, suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) while on patrol duty on the morning of November 18, 1998. He applied promptly for paid leave on the ground that he had been injured on duty i.e., he sought § 111F benefits. When Jackson returned to work in the spring of 1999, the city had not yet acted on his application for paid leave. It had received a letter dated May 21, 1999, from Timothy E. Guiney, M.D., one of several physicians who had treated Jackson, saying that the TIA was traceable to an embolus to the brain arising in the heart. That put in play G.L. c. 32, § 94, the so-called “Heart Law.” 2

The city sought an additional opinion from a medical claims administration service, Meditrol, Inc. An officer of Meditrol, whose training was in accounting, reviewed Jackson's medical records. His opinion was that the heart law presumption was not applicable and that Jackson's TIA was the product of a congenital, preexisting condition. Consequently, Meditrol advised, the city was not to reimburse Jackson's medical expenses under G.L. c. 41, § 100, or grant him paid leave under G.L. c. 41, § 111F.

2. The arbitration. Lawrence Patrolmen's Association (union), as collective bargaining agent for the Lawrence patrolmen, entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the city on behalf of the patrolmen. Article XII of that agreement, devoted to the subjects of “Sick Leave, Injuries, Special Leave and Death Leave,” provided in § 4 as to “Injured Leave” as follows:

“General Laws [c]hapter 41, [s]ection 111F shall be applied in cases of injury. Officers shall have twenty-four (24) hours to report injury in the line of duty.”

After progressing through the requisite grievance stages, the union demanded arbitration on the question of paid leave for Jackson. A single arbitrator decided that the § 111F question was a proper subject of arbitration under the agreement, and he awarded Jackson incapacity leave pay from November 18, 1998, to the date Jackson resumed work. 3 The city brought a complaint in Superior Court to vacate the arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrator had exceeded his powers. See G.L. c. 150C, § 11(a )(3). A judge of the Superior Court concluded that the arbitrator had acted within his authority and denied the application to vacate the award. 4

3. Arbitrability of dispute. As previously noted, the subject of paid leave on account of injuries was part of the collective bargaining agreement and referred to the substantive rights conferred by G.L. c. 41, § 111F. That statutory provision is among those enumerated in G.L. c. 150E, § 7(d ), as subordinate to the collective bargaining agreement in the event of conflict between the agreement and the statutory provision. Article XVI of the collective bargaining agreement, pertaining to “Grievance Procedure,” provides in § 1 that:

“The term ‘grievance’ shall be defined as any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Agreement.”

This is a so-called “broad” arbitration clause that presumptively makes disputes under the agreement a subject of arbitration. United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Nav. Co., 363 U.S. 574, 576, 582-583, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409 (1960). Local Union No. 1710, Intl. Assn. of Fire Fighters v. Chicopee, 430 Mass. 417, 421-422, 721 N.E.2d 378 (1999). 5 Disputes under the agreement are to be arbitrated unless “it may be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation that covers the asserted dispute. Doubts should be resolved in favor of coverage” (citations omitted). Id. at 421, 721 N.E.2d 378. 6 See Duxbury v. Duxbury Permanent Firefighters Assn., Local 2167, 50 Mass.App.Ct. 461, 464-466, 737 N.E.2d 1271 (2000). The provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, compounded with the strong policy favoring arbitration when parties have agreed to it, Plymouth-Carver Regional Sch. Dist. v. J. Farmer & Co., 407 Mass. 1006, 1007, 553 N.E.2d 1284 (1990) Danvers v. Wexler Constr. Co., 12 Mass.App.Ct. 160, 163, 422 N.E.2d 782 (1981), put solid ground under the conclusion of the arbitrator and the judge that the question of Patrolman Jackson's entitlement to injured leave pay under § 111F was arbitrable.

Even a broad clause, however, does not make arbitrable questions that a statute or agreement places beyond the authority of arbitrators. See School Comm. of Hanover v. Curry, 369 Mass. 683, 685, 343 N.E.2d 144 (1976) Leominster v. International Bhd. of Police Officers, Local 338, 33 Mass.App.Ct. 121, 127-128, 596 N.E.2d 1032 (1992). See also the many authorities collected in School Comm. of W. Springfield v. Korbut, 373 Mass. 788, 795, 369 N.E.2d 1148 (1977), although in that case the court determined that there was not a statutory prohibition against the subject committed to arbitration.

The city's argument for the proposition that G.L. c. 41, § 100, forbids submitting to arbitration questions arising under G.L. c. 41, § 111F, begins with the observation that § 100 is not among those statutes enumerated in G.L. c. 150E, § 7(d ), as subordinate to a collective bargaining agreement. Section 100 confers upon the appointing authorities of cities and towns discretion to determine whether an injury is work related and “whether indemnification is ‘appropriate under all the circumstances.’ ” Packish v. McMurtrie, 697 F.2d 23, 25 (1st Cir.1983). Without developing the thought by either authority or analysis, the city proceeds on the assumption that this function of appointing authorities is nondelegable and that entitlement to indemnification for medical expenses may not be submitted to arbitration. We think the question of the nondelegability of matters under § 100 is not free from doubt, but we need not decide it. For purposes of resolving the instant case, we are prepared to assume that a claim under § 100 is immune to arbitration.

A major question in deciding claims under § 100 is whether the injury for which medical expenses are to be reimbursed was work related. The city contends its nonarbitrable decision that Jackson's medical expenses were not work related must, because there is overlapping subject matter, govern a decision whether he is entitled to paid leave under § 111F and, therefore, his § 111F claim is not arbitrable. In the absence of any language so suggesting in either § 100 or § 111F, we do not think that a decision maker under § 100 on medical reimbursement in connection with on-the-job accidents (see note 1, supra), binds, by some sort of administrative collateral estoppel, the decision maker under § 111F on paid leave for incapacity caused by injury on duty. As in the case of private agreements, we think that limitations on arbitration must be set forth with some clarity. See Grobet File Co. of America v. RTC Sys., Inc., 26 Mass.App.Ct. 132, 135, 524 N.E.2d 404 (1988). The two sections of the statute are independent rather than interdependent.

That § 111F issues may be the subject of a collective bargaining agreement is strongly suggested by the inclusion of § 111F among those provisions made subordinate by G.L. c. 150E, § 7(d ), to a collective bargaining agreement in the event of conflict between the agreement and the statute. See particularly Worcester v. Borghesi, 19 Mass.App.Ct. 661, 663-664, 477 N.E.2d 155 (1985), in which the court expressly ruled that a § 111F question was a proper subject of arbitration. Cf. Willis v. Board of Selectmen of Easton, 405 Mass. 159, 164-165, 539 N.E.2d 524 (1989), in which the arbitrability of § 111F issues is implied. Other cases in which questions under § 111F were submitted to arbitration include Duxbury v. Duxbury Permanent Firefighters Assn., Local 2167, supra and Reading v. Reading Patrolmen's Assn., Local 191, 50 Mass.App.Ct. 468, 737 N.E.2d 1268 (2000). Cf. Howcroft v. Peabody, 51 Mass.App.Ct. 573, 581-582, 747 N.E.2d 729 (2001).

The question of Patrolman Jackson's paid leave claim under § 111F was properly submitted to arbitration. The arbitrator's findings, rulings, and award, in the absence of fraud (never here suggested) are binding. Lynn v. Thompson, 435 Mass. 54, 61-62, 754 N.E.2d 54 (2001), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 1131, 122 S.Ct. 1071, 151 L.Ed.2d 973 (2002). Bernard v. Hemisphere Hotel Mgmt., Inc., 16 Mass.App.Ct. 261, 264, 450 N.E.2d 1084 (1983).

As the Superior Court judge correctly declined to vacate the arbitration award, we affirm the judge's order. Pursuant to G.L. c. 150C, § 11(d ), the judge should have confirmed the award and entered judgment pursuant to it. See G.L. c. 150C, § 13. An order confirming the arbitration award and judgment pursuant thereto shall enter nunc pro tunc as of September 8, 2000, the date of the Superior Court judge's order.

1. Paragraph 1 of § 100 provides that the employer shall determine whether the employee's medical expenses were “incurred as the natural and proximate result of an accident occurring or of undergoing a hazard peculiar to his employment, while acting in the performance and within the scope of his duty without fault of his own.”

2. General Laws c. 32, § 94, as appearing in St.1963, c. 610, provides that “any condition of impairment of health caused by hypertension or heart disease resulting in total or partial disability or death to a uniformed member of a paid fire department or permanent member of a police department ․ shall, if he successfully passed a physical examination on entry into such service ․ be presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty, unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence.” Jackson's physical when he entered the force in 1975 did not turn up evidence of heart disease.


My father – Flight Captain Erich Warsitz – is remembered as the first person to fly an aircraft under turbojet power, the Heinkel He 178, on August 27, 1939 and also the first to fly an aircraft under liquid-fueled rocket power, the Heinkel He 176, on June 20 the same year, setting two milestones in aviation history.

Late in 1936 he was seconded by the RLM (Reich Air Ministry) to Wernher von Braun and Ernst Heinkel, because he had been recognized as one of the most experienced test-pilots of the time, and because he also had an extraordinary fund of technical knowledge. Little is known of this pioneer period because of the strict secrecy which shrouded the whole project!

You will find a lot of information about Erich Warsitz and his achievements under Erich Warsitz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia or either under http://www.firstjetpilot.com/history.html inclusive rare video footage and audio commentaries by von Braun and my father.

It’s a little unfortunate that the He 178 quite often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. After all, every other turbine propelled aircraft that has graced or is now gracing our skies has, at best, come second place to it.


Senior Master Sergeant


Senior Airman

Capt. Vick

Lieutenant Colonel

Before the rocket powered Heinkel He 176 flew, weren't they testing the rocket engine on a He 112? And didn't I read that on one flight the piston engine packed-up and THAT was the first rocket power aircraft flight? Was that your father also?

What about the Opel/Sanders rocket powered gliders? When did they fly? It's hard to tell the players without a score card.

Great to have you with us. I saw an article recently about your dad, but I think the official painting that was comissioned of the flight showed a "fanciful" dipiction of the He 178 (or He 176) with an elongated "glass" nose.



Many thanks for kind welcome and your interest!

Fritz Stamer made the world’s first glider flight using a solid fuel propellant on 11 June 1928. On 30 September 1929 Fritz von Opel made the first official rocket-assisted take-off.

Erich Warsitz tested the first liquid-fuel rocket engines on a He 112 at Neuhardenberg in 1937. First he test-flew Wernher von Braun's rocket engine (once in the air he was forced to shut down the Jumo piston engine, so one could say that this was the first rocket flight, but the He 176 was the first pure rocket airplane). Despite the wheels-up landing and having the He 112 fuselage on fire, it proved to official circles that an aircraft could be flown satisfactorily with a back-thrust system through the rear. The subsequent flights with the He 112 used the Walter-rocket instead of von Braun's it was more reliable, simpler to operate and the dangers to my father and machine were less.
At Neuhardenberg (1937), my father also tested Walter's assisted take-off rocket boosters on a He 111. There are some videos of both airplanes under http://www.firstjetpilot.com/history3.html?id=20&start=12 and http://www.firstjetpilot.com/archive.html

If I could see the painting of the article I could tell you more. But I do believe you mean the painting by Hans Liska showing my father after his first flight with the He 176. In which magazine was it?

5. Lockheed S-3 Viking/ES-3 Shadow

The S-3 Viking was more than just a submarine hunter. This plane also could carry out aerial refueling missions, electronic intelligence, and carrier onboard delivery. The plane had a range of almost 3,200 miles and could carry anti-submarine torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, bombs, and rockets. With Russia and China deploying advanced attack submarines, this is a plane that would be very useful on carrier decks.

A S-3 Viking attached to Sea Control Squadron Two One (VS-21) conducts routine flight operations from aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk is operating in the Sea of Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Alex C. Witte)

The aircraftofHeinkel

Three-seat low-wing monoplane floatplane designed by Ernst Heinkel but produced under licence in Sweden for the Navy as the Svenska .

The Heinkel He 2 represented an improvement on the He 1 and underwent considerable testing before it was licence-built in .

Three-seat reconnaissance monoplane, developed from the He 1 and powered by 268kW Rolls-Royce IX . The He 4 was licence-built .

Three-seat reconnaissance monoplane, developed from the He 1 and powered by 335kW Napier Lion engine. The He 5 was licence-built .

The He 8 was a two/three-seat reconnaissance floatplane powered by a 335kW Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar radial engine. It was a .

The He 46 of 1931 was a two-seat armed reconnaissance and army cooperation parasol-wing monoplane, powered in its production form .

The He 59 first appeared in 1931 and was a large twin-float biplane powered by two 492kW BMW VI engines. .

The He 45 was the first of Heinkel's combat aircraft proper for the Third Reich. At the time of its .

The He 50 was a 484.4kW Bramo 322B-engined single-seat dive-bomber and two-seat reconnaissance biplane of 1931, production examples of which went .

Ernst Heinkel, chief designer of Hansa Brandenburg for a number of years, was responsible for the creation of several significant .

The first prototype flew in 1932. There were two modifications: the land based He-63L and the float plane He-63W. .

Two-seat sporting and training monoplane powered by a 112kW Argus As 8R inverted engine. Both cockpits were completely enclosed by .

The He 70 was produced as a commercial and military high-performance monoplane, powered by a 469.5kW or 559kW BMW VI .

The He 60 entered production in 1933 as a two-seat short-range armed reconnaissance biplane and trainer, .powered by a 492kW .

Appearing in 1933, the He 72 was a two-seat open-cockpit biplane for training and aerobatics, usually powered by a 112kW .

Scaled-down version of the He 51 biplane, intended as advanced trainer and home defence .

Developed to replace the He 59, the Heinkel He 115 floatplane prototype was flown during 1936. Its two machine-guns .

Seeking a replacement for the Heinkel He 51 and Arado Ar 68 biplane fighters, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium issued in .

Like a number of German aircraft which were designed and built in the 1930s, the He 111 was planned from .

Intended to replace Heinkel's own He 60, the Heinkel He 114 was developed originally as a private venture. Five .

Developed in 1936 as a mailplane for Deutsche Lufthansa, the Heinkel He 116 made use of design features of the .

Experimental two-seat reconnaissance aircraft. The He 119 had a DB 606 or DB 610 .

Designed as a replacement for the very successful Messerschmitt Bf 109, the He 100 failed to win production orders. Nevertheless .

Two-seat monoplane dive bomber, a sleek aircraft with a quasi-elliptical wing. The He 118 .

Single-seat experimental aeroplane powered by a 5.89kN Walter HWK-R1 203 rocket motor. First flown on 20 June 1939.

This aircraft is assured a distinguished place in aviation history: on 27 August 1939, piloted by Flugkapitan Erich Warsitz, it .

Four years of development preceded the first production orders for the He 177, the first prototype of which had flown .

When work on the He 178 was discontinued in the autumn of 1939, effort was transferred to a more .

Potentially one of the Luftwaffe's most effective night-fighters, the Heinkel He 219 Uhu (owl) was another aircraft which suffered from .

In an effort to overcome the problems being experienced with the coupled DB 606 engines of the He 177, .

The He 111Z (Zwilling, or twin) combined two He 111H-6 airframes, joined by a new wing centre-section to mount a .

Popularly known as the '"Volksjager" (People's Fighter) but best remembered by the name Salamander, the He 162 turbojet-powered single-seat fighter .

Developed in substitution for the planned He 177A-4 high-altitude bomber, the Heinkel He 274 was the detail design responsibility of .

The Soviet Baltic Fleet was a threat that was always in the minds of the Finnish General Staff – the existence of a strong Soviet Baltic Fleet opened up the possibility of an amphibious movement to outflank the defences of the Karelian Isthmus and hence the ever-present emphasis the Finns put on the Coastal Defence Batteries and the Coastal Defence Divisions as well as on the Marine Division and the Torpedo Boat and Fast Minelayer flotillas. Bottling up the Soviet Navy in Krondstadt was one of the primary missions of the Merivoimat and also for the nacent Merivoimat Air Arm.

At the end of 1937, the Merivoimat Air Arm’s torpedo bomber forces consisted of a small number of now-obsolete Blackburn Ripons. The existing Blackburn Ripon’s were considered to be getting long in the tooth and short of performance and a more modern aircraft was planned to be acquired – not to replace the Ripons as these could still be used for patrolling areas such as the Gulf of Bothnia – but to augment them. In 1938, the Merivoimat Budget made provision for the purchase of a Squadron of new Torpedo Bombers as well as an additional squadron of Dive Bombers. Accordingly, the Ilmavoimat Procurement Team searched for such an aircraft and, as with all their purchases, evaluated a number of types before maing a decision.

In early to mid-1938, there were a number of Torpedo Bombers already in service, but some of them were either obsolete, or nearly so. However, the procurement team went ahead and evaluated many of these on the off-chance that a good aircraft might be missed. And, as always, there was the dual question of both cost and availability to be assessed – and aircraft manufacturers, particularly those in Britain, France and Germany, were often overruled by their respective Governments when it came down to actual delivery. The following aircraft were evaluated over the first six months of 1938.

Blackburn Baffin (UK)

With a crew of 2, the Baffin was powered by a single Bristol Pegasus I.M3 9-cylinder radial engine 565 hp (421 kW) giving the aircraft a maximum speed of 136 mph. Range was 490 miles, service ceiling was 15,000 feet and armament consisted of 1 × forward firing fixed 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers gun and × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun in the rear cockpit. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1,800 lb (816 kg) 18 in (457 mm) torpedo or 1,600 lb (726 kg) of bombs.

In the early 1930’s the torpedo bomber squadrons of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm were equipped with the Blackburn Ripon. While the Ripon had only entered service in 1930, it was powered by the elderly water-cooled Napier Lion engine, and it was realised that replacing the Lion by a modern air-cooled radial engine would increase payload and simplify maintenance.

In 1932 Blackburn decided to build two prototypes of radial-engined Ripons, one powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Tiger and the second by a Bristol Pegasus, as a private venture (i.e. without an order from the Air Ministry). The Pegasus-engined prototype first flew on 30 September 1932, and after testing was chosen ahead of the Tiger-powered aircraft as a short-term replacement for the Ripon. Initial orders were placed for 26 new-build aircraft and 38 conversions of Ripon airframes, production beginning in 1933. A further 26 conversions of Ripons into Baffins were ordered in 1935 because of reliability problems associated with the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger engines powering Blackburn Sharks, and the desire to expand the strength of the Fleet Air Arm.

In the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, the Baffins were seen as a short-term replacement for the Ripons and by late 1937 were being replaced by the Blackburn Shark and the Fairey Swordfish. The Merivoimat Air Arm had no intention of replacing one obsolete Torpedo Bomber with another, especially in light of otherand rather more modern potential torpedo bombers available. After an initial evaluation, the Baffin was immediately removed from further consideration.

Blohm and Voss Ha140 (Germany)

With a crew of 3, the Ha140 V2 was powered by 2 BMW 132K 9 cynclinder single row supercharged air coold radial engines (970hp each), had a maximum speed of 207mph, a range of 715 miles and a service ceiling of 16,400 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1× 7.9 mm MG15 machine gun in the nose and 1× MG 15 machine gun at the dorsal hatch. Bombload consisted of 1× 952 kg (2,095 lb) torpedo or 4× 250 kg (550 lb) bombs.

The Blohm and Voss Ha 140 was a German multi-purpose seaplane which firest flew in 1937 and which was designed for use as a torpedo bomber or long-range reconnaissance aircraft. The Ha 140 was a developed as a twin-engine floatplane, with an all-metal structure and an inverted gull wing, similar to the larger Ha 139. The crew consisted of a pilot and radio operator, with a gunner in a revolving turret in the nose or in a second gun position to the rear. The torpedo or bomb load was accommodated in an internal bomb bay. Three prototypes were built and flew test flights in 1937.

In Germany the design was not carried any further, as the similar Heinkel He 115 was selected for service. The Merivoimat evaluated the aircraft but the test team reported back that the handling was unacceptable. It was also indicated to the Maavoimat that Blohm & Voss did not have the production capacity to meet any orders for the aircraft. A further factor was that the Luftwaffe had selected the Heinkel He115 in preference to the Ha140 and this was the final nail in the coffin as far as the evaluation was concerned. The Ha140 was removed from further consideration.

The Douglas TBD Devastator (USA)

The Douglas TBD Devastator was a United States Navy torpedo bomber, ordered in 1934, first flying in 1935 and entering service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the USN and possibly for any navy in the world. Ordered on 30 June 1934, flying for the first time on 15 April 1935 and entered into a U.S. Navy competition for new bomber aircraft to operate from its aircraft carriers, the Douglas entry was one of the winners of the competition. Other than requests by test pilots to improve pilot visibility, the prototype easily passed its acceptance trials that took place from 24 April-24 November 1935 at NAS Anacostia and Norfolk bases. After successfully completing torpedo drop tests, the prototype was transferred to the Lexington for carrier certification. The extended service trials continued until 1937 with the first two production aircraft retained by the company exclusively for testing. A total of 129 of the type were purchased by the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), and starting from 1937, began to equip the carriers Saratoga, Enterprise, Lexington, Wasp, Hornet, Yorktown and Ranger.

A U.S. Navy Douglas TBD-1 Devastator of Torpedo Bomber Squadron VT-6 being used by the Merivoimat Test Team to make a practice torpedo drop in February 1938. The Devastator tested by the Merivoimat required a crew of 3 (Pilot, Torpedo Officer/Navigator, Radioman/Gunner) and was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial engine of 900 hp (672 kW) giving a maximum speed of 206mph, a range of 535 miles with a Torpedo and 716 miles with a 1,000lb bombload. Service ceiling was 19,500 feet and defensive armament consisted of 1 × forward-firing 0.30 in (7.62 mm) or 0.50 (12.7 mm) or machine gun and 1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun in rear cockpit (later increased to two). Bombload consisted of 1 x Torpedo or 1 x 1,000lb bomb (or 2 x 500lb bombs or 12 x 100lb bombs).

The Devastator marked a large number of “firsts” for the U.S. Navy. It was the first widely-used carrier-based monoplane as well as the first all-metal naval aircraft, the first with a totally-enclosed cockpit, the first with power-actuated (hydraulically) folding wings it is fair to say that the TBD was revolutionary. A semi-retractable undercarriage was fitted, with the wheels designed to protrude 10 in (250 mm) below the wings to permit a “wheels-up” landing with only minimal damage. A crew of three was normally carried beneath a large “greenhouse” canopy almost half the length of the aircraft. The pilot sat up front a rear gunner/radio operator took the rearmost seat, while the bombardier occupied the middle seat. During a bombing run, the bombardier lay prone, sliding into position under the pilot to sight through a window in the bottom of the fuselage, using the Norden Bombsight.

The normal TBD offensive armament consisted of either a 1,200 lb (540 kg) Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 aerial torpedo or a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb. Alternatively, three 500 lb (230 kg) general-purpose bombs: one under each wing and one under the fuselage, or 12 x 100 lb (45 kg) fragmentation bombs: six under each wing, could be carried. This weapons load was often used when attacking Japanese targets on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in 1942. Defensive armament consisted of a .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun for the rear gunner. Fitted in the starboard side of the cowling was either a .30 in (7.6 mm) or .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun. The powerplant was a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp radial engine of 850 hp (630 kW), an outgrowth of the prototype’s Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-60/R-1830-1 of 800 hp (600 kW). Other changes from the 1935 prototype included a revised engine cowling and raising the cockpit canopy to improve visibility.

Dornier D022 (Germany)

The Do22 had a crew of 3 (Pilot, Gunner and Radio Operator) amd was powered by a single Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs V-12 liquid cooled inline piston engine producing 641 kW (860 hp) and giving a maximum speed of 217mph. Range was 1,428 miles and service ceiling was 29,500 feet. Armament consisted of 4 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns in nose, ventral and rear cockpit positions. Bombload consisted of 1 × 800 kg (1,764 lb) torpedo or 4 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs. The example shown in the photo above is a Yugoslav Do22.

The Do 22 was an improved version of the Do C 2 floatplane, which was manufactured in 1930 and in one sample sent to Colombia. When after WWI manufacturing of aicraft in Germany was halted by the Treaty of Versailles, Dornier simply moved to the other side of Lake Constance by setting up a factory at Altenrheim in Switzerland. In 1934 the Dornier Company began work on a three-seat multi-purpose military monoplane suitable for operation with float, wheel or ski undercarriages, and intended solely for export. This was the Do C3, with two prototypes being built, with the first being flown in 1935. It was a parasol wing monoplane of fabric covered all-metal construction. Its slightly swept-back wing was attached to the fuselage by bracing struts, while its two floats were braced to both the wing and fuselage. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs engine driving a three-bladed propeller, and could carry a single torpedo or bombs under the fuselage, while defensive armament was one fixed forward firing machine gun, two in the rear cockpit and one in a ventral tunnel. The first production model, known as Do 22/See when fitted with floats, first flew on 15 July 1938 from Dornier’s factory at Friedrichshafen, Germany, although it did incorporate parts made in Switzerland.

While the Luftwaffe was not interested in the aircraft, some 30 Do22’s were sold to Yugoslavia, Greece and Latvia. In March 1939, a prototype with conventional landing gear (Do 22L) was completed and test flown, but did not enter production. However, four Do22’s did end up serving with the Merivoimat Air Arm over the last two months of the Winter War, seeing action once when they sank a Russian submarine attempting to enter the waters of the Gulf of Finland from Leningrad.

The Latvian Air Force had ordered four Do22’s – these had not been delivered when the Soviet Union occupied Latvia in June 1940 (which occurred despite the war with Finland not going well) and the aircraft were as a result retained by Germany. These four aircraft were subsequently sold by a German arms dealer, Josef Veltjens (of whom we will hear more now and then), to a “Swedish” company which after taking delivery, promptly “sold” the aircraft to Finland, where they were taken into service with the Maavoimat in August 1940. These aircraft were almost brand new, even though they were bought as “second hand”. The aircraft were flown by Swedes from Friedrichshafen (Germany) on 25 July to Sweden and then on to Helsinki Malmi airfield, where they landed on 1 Aug. Used for maritime patrolling, the Do 22s saw action once when they torpdeoed two Soviet submarines on the surface in late August 1940 as they were trying to breach the Finnish mine fields in front of Leningrad, sinking one. They remained in service until 18th October 1944 and were scrapped in 1952.

The four aircraft destined for Latvia (designated Do-22K1) were built in Friedrichshafen but were not delivered before the Soviet occupation. These aircraft eventually made their way to Finland instead. The above illustration is how they might have appeared if delivered to Latvia as had originally been intended.

Merivoimat Dornier Do 22KI at Maarianhamina on 21st August 1940

The Fairey Swordfish (UK)

The Swordfish was based on a Fairey Private Venture (PV) design a proposed solution to the Air Ministry requirements for a spotter-reconnaissance plane, spotter referring to observing the fall of a warship’s gunfire. A subsequent Air Ministry Specification S.15/33, added the torpedo bomber role. The “Torpedo-Spotter-Reconnaissance” prototype TSR II (the PV was the TSR I) first flew on 17 April 1934. It was a large biplane with a metal frame covered in fabric, and utilized folding wings as a space-saving feature for aircraft carrier use. An order was placed in 1935 and the aircraft entered service in 1936 with the Fleet Air Arm (then part of the RAF), replacing the Seal in the torpedo bomber role. By 1938 the Fleet Air Arm (now under Royal Navy control) had 13 squadrons equipped with the Swordfish Mark I.

The Fairey Swordfish had a Crew of 3 (pilot, observer, and radio operator/rear gunner) and was powered by a single Bristol Pegasus IIIM.3 radial engine of 690 hp (510 kW) giving a maximum speed of 139mph, a ramge of 546 miles and a service ceiling of 19,250 feet. Defensive Armament consisted of 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun in the engine cowling and 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis or Vickers K machine gun in the rear cockpit. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1,670 lb (760 kg) torpedo or 1,500 lb (700 kg) mine under the fuselage or 1,500 lb of bombs under the fuselage and wings.

The Merivoimat eliminated the Swordfish from consideration immediately, considering it outdated and failing minimum performance requirements.

OTL Note: The primary weapon was the aerial torpedo, but the low speed of the biplane and the need for a long straight approach made it difficult to deliver against well-defended targets. Swordfish torpedo doctrine called for an approach at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) followed by a dive to torpedo release altitude of 18 ft (5.5 m). Maximum range of the early Mark XII torpedo was 1,500 yd (1400 m). The torpedo traveled 200 yd (180 m) forward from release to water impact, and required another 300 yd (270 m) to stabilise at preset depth and arm itself. Ideal release distance was 1,000 yd (900 m) from target if the Swordfish survived to that distance. Swordfish flying from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious made a very significant strike on 11 November 1940 against the Italian navy during the Battle of Taranto, Italy, sinking or disabling three Italian battleships and a cruiser lying at anchor. The planning for this strike had its origins in the audacious attack by Finnish torpedo bombers and dive bombers on the Soviet Baltic Fleet in Krondstadt in which many Soviet ships were sunk. In the aftermath, Taranto was visited by the Japanese naval attache from Berlin, who later briefed the staff who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. Swordfish also flew anti-shipping sorties from Malta.

Swordfish Attack at Taranto, 11 November 1940

In May 1941, a Swordfish strike from HMS Ark Royal was vital in damaging the German battleship Bismarck, preventing it from escaping back to France. The low speed of the attacking aircraft may have acted in their favour, as the planes were too slow for the fire-control predictors of the German gunners, whose shells exploded so far in front of the aircraft that the threat of shrapnel damage was greatly diminished. The Swordfish also flew so low that most of the Bismarck’s flak weapons were unable to depress enough to hit them. The Swordfish aircraft scored two hits, one which did little damage but another that disabled Bismarck’s rudder, making the warship unmanueverable and sealing its fate. The Bismarck was destroyed less than 13 hours later.

The problems with the aircraft were starkly demonstrated in February 1942 when a strike on German battleships during the Channel Dash resulted in the loss of all attacking aircraft. With the development of new torpedo attack aircraft, the Swordfish was soon redeployed successfully in an anti-submarine role, armed with depth-charges or eight 󈬬 lb” (27 kg) RP-3 rockets and flying from the smaller escort carriers or even Merchant Aircraft Carriers (MAC) when equipped for rocket-assisted takeoff (RATO). Its low stall speed and inherently tough design made it ideal for operation from the MAC carriers in the often severe mid Atlantic weather. Indeed, its takeoff and landing speeds were so low that it did not require the carrier to be steaming into the wind, unlike most carrier-based aircraft. On occasion, when the wind was right, Swordfish were flown from a carrier at anchor.

Swordfish-equipped units accounted for 14 U-boats destroyed. The Swordfish was meant to be replaced by the Albacore, also a biplane, but actually outlived its intended successor. It was, finally, however, succeeded by the Fairey Barracuda monoplane torpedo bomber. The last of 2,392 Swordfish aircraft was delivered in August 1944 and operational sorties continued in to January 1945 with anti-shipping operations off Norway (FAA Squadrons 835 and 813), where the Swordfish’s manouvreability was essential. The last operational squadron was disbanded on 21 May 1945, after the fall of Germany and the last training squadron was disbanded in the summer of 1946.

The Fairey Albacore (UK)

The Fairey Albacore had a crew of 3 and was powered by a single Bristol Taurus II (Taurus XII) 14-cylinder radial engine of 1,065 hp (1,130 hp) / 794 kW (840 kw) giving a maximum speed of 161 mph with a range of 930 miles (with torepedo) and a service ceiling of 20,700 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in the starboard wing and 1 or 2 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine guns in the rear cockpit. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1,670 lb (760 kg) torpedo or 2,000 lb (907 kg) bombs.

The Fairey Albacore, was conceived as a replacement for the aging Fairey Swordfish, which had entered service in 1936 and the prototypes were built to meet Specification S.41/36 for a three-seat TSR (torpedo /spotter /reconnaissance) for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm to replace the Fairey Swordfish. Like the Swordfish, the Albacore was fully capable of dive bombing: “The Albacore was designed for diving at speeds up to 215 knots(400 km/h) lAS with flaps either up or down, and it was certainly steady in a dive, recovery being easy and smooth…” and the maximum under wing bomb load was 4 x 500 lb bombs or s single torpedo. The Albacore had a more powerful engine than the Swordfish and was more aerodynamically refined. It offered the crew an enclosed and heated cockpit. The Albacore also had features such as an automatic liferaft ejection system which triggered in the event of the aircraft ditching.

At the time of the Merivoimat evaluation in early 1938, the Fairey Albacore was “design only.” The evaluation team did however review the specifications and Fairey design drawings and considered the aircraft both outdated in design and lacking in speed and defensive armament. This was expressed somewhat diplomatically to the Fairey team, who in typical British fashion shrugged of what they perceived as criticism from mere foreigners.

OTL Note: The first of two prototypes flew on 12 December 1938 and production of the first batch of 98 aircraft began in 1939 – these began entering service in March 1940. Early Albacores were fitted with the Bristol Taurus II engine and those built later received the more powerful Taurus XII. Boscombe Down testing of the Albacore and Taurus II engine, in February 1940, showed a maximum speed of 160 mph (258 km/h), at an altitude of 4,800 ft (1,463 m), at 11,570 lb (5,259 kg), which was achieved with four under-wing depth charges, while maximum speed without the depth charges was 172 mph (277 km/h). Some 800 in total were built. Initially, the Albacore suffered from reliability problems with the Taurus engine, although these were later solved, so that the failure rate was no worse than the Pegasus that equipped the Swordfish. It remained less popular than the Swordfish, however, as it was less agile, with the controls being too heavy for a pilot to take effective evasive action after dropping a torpedo.

Fieseler Fi 167 (Germany)

The Fieseler Fi 167 was a 1930s German biplane torpedo and reconnaissance bomber designed for the new aircraft carriers then being planned. In early 1937, the Riechsluftfahrtministerium or German Ministry of Aviation issued a specification for a carrier-based torpedo bomber to operate from Germany’s first aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin construction of which had started at the end of 1936. The specification was issued to two aircraft producers, Fieseler and Arado, and demanded an all-metal biplane with a maximum speed of at least 300 km/h (186 mph)a range of at least 1,000 km and capable both of torpedo and dive-bombing. By the summer of 1938 the Fiesler design proved to be superior to the Arado design, the Ar 195.

With a Crew of 2 (Pilot and Gunner) and powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 601B liquid cooled inverted V12, of 1,100 hp, the Fi 167 had a maximum speed of 202mph, a range of 808 miles and a service ceiling of 26,900 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 fixed forward firing 7.92 mm MG 17 machine gun and 1 rear facing MG-15 machine gun on a flexible mount. Bombload consisted of 1 × 1000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb or 1 × 765 kg (1,685 lb) torpedo or 1 × 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb plus 4 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs.

After two prototypes (Fi 167 V1 & Fi 167 V2), twelve pre-production models (Fi 167 A-0) were built. These had only slight modifications from the prototypes. The aircraft exceeded by far all requirements, had excellent handling capabilities and could carry about twice the required weapons payload. Like the famous Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, the Fi 167 had surprising slow-speed capabilities the plane would be able to land almost vertically on a moving aircraft carrier. One notable demonstration showed the types excellent low speed performance when Fiesler himself flew the Fi 167 from 9,800 ft. to 100 ft. while remaining stationary over one spot and all the time retaining full control. For emergency landings at sea the Fi 167 could jettison its landing gear, and airtight compartments in the lower wing would help the aircraft stay afloat at least long enough for the two-man crew to evacuate. The Merivoimat evaluation team considered that the Fi 167 handling was superb.

OTL Note: Since the Graf Zeppelin was not expected to be completed before the end of 1940, construction of the Fi 167 had a low priority. When construction of the Graf Zeppelin was stopped in 1940, the completion of further aircraft was stopped and the completed examples were taken into Luftwaffe service in the “Erprobungsgruppe 167”. When construction of the Graf Zeppelin was resumed in 1942 the Ju 87C took over the role as a reconnaissance bomber, and torpedo bombers were no longer seen to be needed. Nine of the existing Fi 167 were sent to a coastal naval squadron in the Netherlands and then returned to Germany in the summer of 1943. After that they were sold to Croatia, where their short-field and load-carrying abilities (under the right conditions, the aircraft could descend almost vertically) made it ideal for transporting ammunition and other supplies to besieged Croatian Army garrisons between their arrival in September 1944 and the end of the War. The remaining planes were used in the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (“German Aircraft Experimental Institute”) in Budweis, Czechoslovakia, for testing different landing gear configurations. The large wing area and resulting low landing speeds made the Fi 167 ‘too good’ at this task, so in order to test landings with higher wing loads, the two test aircraft had their lower wings removed just outboard of the landing gear. No examples of this aircraft survive.

Heinkel He111 (Germany)

The Ilmavoimat had looked at a prototype Heinkel He111 as early as 1935 as a potential acquisition. However at that early stage in its development, the aircraft was still in development, delivery times could not be guaranteed and the cost as compared to the Italian SM.81 aircraft was on the high side. By early 1938, the situation was somewhat different. The He 111B had gone into limited production in late 1936, followed by the He 111E-1’s in 1937 – the first of which came of the production line in February 1938, in time for a number of these aircraft to serve in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War in March 1938. The He 111F was next, being built and entering service in 1938 also and then came the He 111J – the version that the Merivoimat evaluated and tested.

The He 111 was in production in 1938. Heinkel constructed a factory at Oranienburg and on 4 May 1936, construction began. Exactly one year later the first He 111 rolled off the production line.

Heinkel He 111-J carrying two torpedoes: With a Crew of 4, the He111J had a maximum speed of 230mph, a range of 1030 miles and a service ceiling of 22,966 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 3 machine guns (Nose, Dorsal and Ventral) and the bombload consisted of two torpedoes.

The He 111J was powered by the DB600 engines and was intended from the start as a torpedo bomber. As a result, it lacked an internal bomb bay and carried two external torpedo racks. The RLM gave an order for the bomb bay to be retrofitted this variant became known as the J-1. In all but the powerplant, it was identical to the F-4. The He 111’s low-level performance attracted the interest of the Kriegsmarine. The Kriegsmarine believed the He 111 would make an excellent torpedo bomber, and as a result, the He 111J was produced. The J was capable of carrying torpedoes and mines.

The Kriegsmarine eventually dropped the program as they deemed the four man crew too expensive in terms of manpower. The RLM however, had progressed too far with the development, and continued to build the He 111 J-0. Some 90 (other sources claim 60) were built in 1938 and were then sent to Küstenfliegergruppe 806. The He 111 J-0 was powered by the DB 600G without retractable radiators. It could carry a 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) payload. Few of the pre-production J-0s were ever fitted with the DB 600G. Instead, the DB 600 was used and the performance of the powerplant left much to be desired.

The Merivoimat evaluation team advised that the He 111 possessed excellent flight characteristics. It was steady to fly, unwavering in level flight and completely predictable as well as having very good low-level maneuverability and providing a very good bombing or torpedo attack platform.

Heinkel He115 (Germany)

In 1935, the German Reich Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium or RLM) produced a requirement for a twin engined general purpose floatplane, suitable both for patrol and for anti-shipping strikes with bombs and torpedoes as well as for aerial mine-laying. Proposals were received from both Heinkel Flugzeugwerke and from Blohm & Voss’ aircraft subsidiary, Hamburger Flugzeugbau, and on 1 November 1935, orders were placed with both Heinkel and Hamburger Flugzeugbau for three prototypes each of their prospective designs, the He 115 and the Ha 140. The first Heinkel prototype flew in August 1937, with testing proving successful. The He 115 was selected over the Ha 140 early in 1938, resulting in an order for an additional prototype and 10 pre-production aircraft. Meanwhile, the first prototype was used to set a series of international records for floatplanes over 1,000 km (621 mi) and 2,000 km (1,243 mi) closed circuits at a speed of 328 km/h (204 mph). Four further protoypes were built between late 1937 and early 1939, introducing a glassed cockpit amd struts in place of wire. There were also variations on armament.

With a Crew of 3, the Heinkel He 115 was powered by 2 × BMW 132K 9-cylinder radial engines of 630 kW (970 hp) each giving a maximum speed of 203 mph with a combat radius of 1,305 miles and a service ceiling of 17,100 feet. Defensive armament consisted of 1 × fixed 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine gun and 1 × flexible 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun in dorsal and nose positions. Bombload consisted of five 550 lb (250kg) bombs, or two such bombs and one torpedo of 1,760 lb (800kg), or one 2,030 lb (920 kg) sea mine.

OTL Note: Seven He 115A-2’s (Five of them He 115Ns) served in the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service against the Germans during the Norwegian Campaign of April–June 1940. The Norwegians signed another order of six He 115Ns in December 1939, with delivery estimated to March/April 1940. The delivery of this second order was however pre-empted by the German invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940. Four of the Norwegian aircraft (F.52, F.56, F.58 and F.64) made the journey to the United Kingdom after the 10 June 1940 surrender, a fifth (F.50) escaping to Finland, landing on Lake Salmijärvi in Petsamo. A sixth He 115 (F.54) also tried to make the journey to Britain, but was lost over the North Sea. The last of the Norwegian He 115s, was unserviceable at the time of the evacuation and had to be abandoned at Skattøra, later being repaired and flown by the Germans.

One Norwegian aircraft (F.50) escaped to Finland, where it was interned, and later used by the Finnish Air Force’s LLv.44 to ferry sissi troops. In this role, it proved valuable as it did not require a vast open space to land on, but instead could touch down on lakes. It served in this role until it crashed on enemy fire behind Soviet lines in East Karelia on 4 July 1943. Two others were leased from Germany for similar purposes in 1943-44. The Swedish Air Force operated 12 He 115A-2s. Another six aircraft were ordered, but never delivered due to the outbreak of World War II. They were sturdy and well liked by their crews, and were not taken out of use until 1952. The Swedish He 115’s were kept on duty throughout World War II and made a valuable contribution to protecting and enforcing Swedish neutrality. They replaced the outdated Heinkel HD 16s in the torpedo bomber role and also served as a regular bomber, for smoke screening and for long-range reconnaissance missions. Five of the 12 He115’s were lost in accidents during their service with the Swedish Air Force.

Junkers Ju88 (Germany)

As mentioned earlier, the Ilmavoimat had evaluated the Junkers Ju88 prototype in early 1937 and at that stage, liked the aircraft and could see its potential with its projected bombload of 6,600lb and a speed of 300mph+. However, with the problems still being worked on, a number of prototypes in development and production not yet in sight, the team had recommended a “wait and see” approach with a further evaluation to be carried out in 1938. In the event, it was the Merivoimat that again evaluated the Ju88 a year later, in early 1938, as they searched for an effective Torpedo Bomber.

Junkers Ju88 as evaluated by the Maavoimat Team.

In August 1935, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium submitted its requirements for an unarmed, three-seat, high-speed bomber, with a payload of 800-1,000 kg (1,760-2,200 lb). Junkers presented their initial design in June 1936, and were given clearance to build two prototypes. The aircraft’s first flight was made by the prototype Ju 88 V1, which bore the civil registration D-AQEN, on 21 December 1936. When it first flew, it managed about 580 km/h (360 mph) and Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe was ecstatic. It was an aircraft that could finally fulfill the promise of the Schnellbomber, a high-speed bomber. The streamlined fuselage was modeled after its contemporary, the Dornier Do 17, but with fewer defensive guns because the belief still held that a high speed bomber could outrun late 1930s-era fighters. However, production was delayed drastically with developmental problems.

In October 1937 Generalluftzeugmeister Ernst Udet had ordered the development of the Ju 88 as a heavy dive bomber. This decision was influenced by the success of the Ju 87 Stuka in this role. The Junkers development center at Dessau gave priority to the study of pull-out systems, and dive brakes. The first prototype to be tested as a dive bomber was the Ju 88 V4 followed by the V5 and V6. These models became the planned prototype for the A-1 series. The V5 made its maiden flight on 13 April 1938, and the V6 on 28 June 1938 and it was these versions that the Maavoimat team evaluated and tested. Both the V5 and V6 were fitted with four-blade propellers, an extra bomb bay and a central “control system”, the wings were strengthened, dive brakes were added, the fuselage was extended and the number of crewmembers was increased to four. As a dive bomber, the Ju 88 was capable of pinpoint deliveries of heavy loads however, despite all the modifications, dive bombing still proved too stressful for the airframe.With these modifications the top speed had dropped to some 280mph and work was still ongoing with further prototypes being built and no production version or manufacturing in sight.

Again, the Finnish evaluation team liked the aircraft but with prototyping still ongoing and problems being identified in testing, it was a questionable decision. The performance and potential of the prototype however were excellent and the team rated that aircraft highly overall.

Latécoère 298 (France)

The Latécoère 298 (sometimes abridged to Laté 298) was a French seaplane that was designed primarily as a torpedo bomber, but served also as a dive bomber against land and naval targets (with two bombs of up to 150 kg each), and as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft (with extra 535 litre fuel tank), night reconnaissance and smokescreen laying. The design originated in a French Navy requirement for a torpedo bomber to replace the unsuccessful Laté 29 that had just entered service in the mid-1930’s. The prototype Laté 298 was completed at Latécoère’s Toulouse plant in 1936 and first flew on 8 May 1936.

It was designed as a single-engined, mid-wing cantilever monoplane with an all-metal oval-section stressed-skin fuselage. The aircraft was powered by an 880 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled engine and had a crew of three accommodated under a glazed canopy. Two exceptionally large floats were attached to the fuselage by struts, each float containing a fuel tank. A ventral crutch served to accommodate different payloads, depending on the mission. It could carry one Type 1926 DA torpedo, two 150 kg bombs or depth charges. Additional armament consisted of three 7.5 mm Darne machine guns, two fixed forward firing and one rear-firing on a flexible mount at the rear of the crew canopy. It was sturdy and reliable, possessing good maneuverability.

The Latécoère 298 as evaluated by the Ilmavoimat in early 1938 had a Crew of 3 and was powered by a single Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs liquid-cooled V-12 of 880 hp giving a maximum speed of 167mph and a range of 497 miles with maximum payload. The service ceiling was 21,325 ft and defensive armament consisted of two fixed forward firing machineguns and one rear-firing machinegun on a flexible mount. A maximum bombload of 1,500lbs, or one torpedo, could be carried.

OTL Notes: The first Laté 298s entered service in October 1938 with the Escadrilles (squadrons) of the Aéronautique Navale, the French Naval Air Force. The first naval escadrilles to equip with the type were T2 at the Saint-Raphael Naval Base and T1 at the Berre Naval Base in February and March 1939 respectively. Escadrilles HB1 and HB2 on the seaplane carrier Commandant Teste re-equipped with the Late 298B in April and July of 1939. In all some 110 Late 298 of all versions had been built by 25 June 1940 and a further 20 Late 298F (with MAC instead of Darne weapons and two additional 7.7mm machine-guns for ventral ‘under-tail’ defence) were built for the French Vichy regime. The Late 298B version had folding wings for shipboard stowage. The Late 298D had a fourth crew member, and the ‘one-off’ unsuccessful Late 298E had a ventral observation gondola.

At the outbreak of WW2 four squadrons flew with this aircraft, and by May 1940, when the German offensive in the west began, 81 aircraft equipped six squadrons. They were used at first for maritime patrol and anti-submarine duties, but did not meet any German ships. The Laté 298s first saw action during the Battle of France in 1940, being used in shallow dive-bombing attacks during the May-June 1940 ‘Blitzkrieg’ on France and later, as the Wehrmacht drove through France, they were used to harass and interdict armoured columns. Despite not having been designed for this role, they performed reasonably well, suffering fewer losses than units equipped with other types. After the armistice of June 1940, the French Navy under the Vichy regime was allowed to retain some Laté 298 units, and several captured aircraft were used by the Luftwaffe for liason duties. Both the Vichy and Free French forces continued to operate the aircraft, mainly on reconnaissance missions.

After Operation Torch, French units in Africa sided with the Allies. In this guise, the Laté 298 was used for Coastal Command missions in North Africa, in cooperation with Royal Air Force Wellingtons. The Laté 298’s final combat missions were flown during the liberation of France, where they were used to attack German shipping operating from strongholds on the Atlantic coast. A number of Late 298’s continued to operate into the post-World War II period with the French Aéronautique Navale, retiring from active service in 1946 but continuing to serve as trainers until 1950.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (“Sparrowhawk”) (Italy)

The SM.79 project began in Italy in 1934, where the aircraft was first conceived as a fast, eight-passenger transport capable of being used in air-racing (the London-Melbourne competition). Piloted by Adriano Bacula, the prototype flew for the first time on 28 September 1934. Originally planned with the 800 hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI Ri as a powerplant, the aircraft reverted to the less powerful 590 hp Piaggio P.IX RC.40 Stella (a license-produced Bristol Jupiter and the basis of many Piaggio engines). The engines were subsequently replaced by Alfa Romeo 125 RC.35s (license-produced Bristol Pegasus).

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (“Sparrowhawk”)

The SM.79 had three engines, with a retractable tailwheel undercarriage and featured a mixed-material construction, with a box-section rear fuselage and semi-elliptical tail. Like many Italian aircraft of the time, the fuselage of the SM.79 was made of a welded tubular steel frame and covered with duralumin forward, duralumin and plywood over the top, and fabric on all other surfaces. As with most cantilevered low-wing monoplanes, the wings were of all-wood construction, with the trailing edge flaps and leading edge slats (Handley-Page type) to offset its relatively small size. The internal structure was made of three spars, linked with cantilevers and a skin of plywood. The wing had a dihedral of 2° 15′. Ailerons were capable of rotating through +13/-26°, and were used together with the flaps in low-speed flight and in takeoff. The grouping of engines, the slim fuselage, coupled with a low and wide cockpit and the “hump” gave this aircraft an aggressive and powerful appearance. Its capabilities were significant with over 2,300 hp available and a high wing loading that gave it characteristics not dissimilar to a large fighter.

The engines fitted to the main bomber version were three 582 kW (780 hp) Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34 radials, equipped with variable pitch, all-metal three-blade propellers. Speeds attained were around 260mph at 12,000 feet, with a relatively low practical ceiling of 23,400 feet m. The best cruise speed was at 60% of power. The landing was characterized by a 125 mph final approach with the slats extended, slowing to 90mph with extension of flaps, and finally the run over the field with only 600 feet needed to land. With full power available and flaps set for takeoff, the SM.79 could be airborne within 900 feet then climb to 12,000 feet in 13 minutes 2 seconds. The bomber version had ten fuel tanks (3,460 l).The endurance at full load averaging 200mph was 4 hr 30 min. In every case, the range (not endurance) with a 1,000 kg payload was around 5-600 miles.

The aircraft crew complement was either five or six in the bomber version with cockpit accommodation for two pilots, sitting side-by-side. Instrumentation in the central panel included oil and fuel gauges, altimeter for low and high altitude (1,000 m and 8,000 m), clock, airspeed and vertical speed indicator, gyroscope, compass, artificial horizon, turn and bank indicator, rev counters and throttles for all three engines. Cockpit equipment also included the flight controls, fire extinguishers, and control mechanisms for the brakes and other systems.

The SM.79’s defensive armament consisted of four, and later five machineguns. Three were 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) calibre guns, two of which were in the “hump,” with the forward one (with 300 cartridges) fixed with an elevation of 15°, and the other manoeuvrable with 60° pivotal movement in the horizontal, and 0-70° in the vertical planes. The amount of ammunition was 500 cartridges (in two metal boxes), as was the third 12.7 mm machine gun, located ventrally. There was also a 7.7 mm (0.303 inch) machinegun fitted laterally, with a mount that allowed a rapid change of side for the weapon. This Lewis gun was later replaced by two 7.7 mm Bredas, which were more reliable and faster firing (900 rounds/min instead of 500), even though there was only sufficient room in the fuselage for one man to operate them. Despite the low overall power (Rate of Fire and energy of the projectile) of the SM.79’s machine guns, it was heavily-armed by 1930s standards (for bombers, essentially three light machine guns), the armament being more than a match for the lightly-protected fighter aircraft of the time, not usually fitted with any armour.

The internal bomb bay was configured to carry bombs vertically, preventing larger bombs being accommodated internally. The aircraft could hold two x 500 kg, five x 250 kg, 12 x 100 kg or 50 kg bombs, or hundreds of bomblets. The bombardier, with an 85° forward field of view, had a “Jozza-2” aiming system and a series of bomb-release mechanisms. The machine gun to the rear of the gondola prevented the bombardier from lying in a prone position, and as a result, the bombardier was provided with gambali, retractable structures to support his legs while being seated. Torpedoes were carried externally, as were larger bombs. This was only standardized from 1939, when two hardpoints were fitted under the inner wing. Theoretically two torpedoes could be carried, but the performance and the manoeuvrability of the aircraft were so reduced that usually only one was used in action. In addition, the SM.79’s overall payload of 3,800 kg prevented it carrying 1,600-1,860 kg of bombs without a noticeable reduction of the fuel load (approximately 2,400 kg, when full).

The introduction of the aircraft in operational service was made with 12° Stormo (Wing), starting in early 1936. 12° Stormo was involved in the initial evaluation of the bomber, which continued throughout 1936. The Wing was operational on 1 May 1936 with the SM.79 successfully completing torpedo launches from 5,000 meters in August 1936. The torpedo-bomber variant was much more unstable and less easy to control than the civilian version. Its capabilities were still being explored when the Spanish Civil War broke out, and a number of SM.79s were dispatched to support the Nationalists. By 4 November 1936 there were six SM.79s with crew to fly them operating in Spain and serving with the Aviazione Legionaria, an Italian unit sent to assist Franco’s Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. By the beginning of 1937 there were 15 SM.79s in total, and they went on to be used in Spain throughout the conflict, with very few losses. Around 19 of the total sent there were lost. Unofficially, the deliveries to 12 Wing and other units involved numbered at least 99 aircraft.

The first recorded interception of an SM.79 formation took place on 11 October 1937 when three aircraft were attacked by 12 Polikarpov I-16s (known as the Mosca (Fly) to the Spanish Republicans and Rata (Rat) to the Spanish Nationalists). One of the SM.79s was damaged by repeated attacks made by the slightly faster I-16s, but its defences prevented the attackers from pressing close-in attacks. All the bombers returned to base, although one had been hit by 27 bullets, many hitting the fuel tanks. A few other examples of similar interceptions occurred in this conflict, without any SM.79s being lost. Combat experiences revealed some deficiencies in the SM.79: the lack of oxygen at high altitudes, instability, vibrations experienced at speeds over 400 km/h and other problems were encountered and sometimes solved. Initially the SM.79s operated from the Balearic Islands and later from mainland Spain. Hundreds of missions were performed in a wide range of different roles against Republican targets. No Fiat CR.32s were needed to escort the SM.79s, partly because the biplane fighters were too slow.

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (“Sparrowhawk”) in action, WW2

OTL Note: After serving in the Spanish Civil War, the Sparviero was brought into use with 111° and 8° Stormo. By the end of 1939, there were 388 Sparvieros in service, with 11 wings that were partially or totally made up of this aircraft. They also participated in the occupation of Albania in autumn 1939. Thanks to the experience gained in Spain, the SM.79-II formed the backbone of the Italian bomber force during World War II and by the beginning of WW2 612 aircraft had been delivered, making the Sparviero the most numerous aircraft in the Regia Aereonautica. These aircraft were deployed in every theatre of war in which the Italians fought. Favorable reports of its reliability and performance during the Spanish Civil War led Yugoslavia to order 45 aircraft generally similar to the SM.79-I variant in 1938, and these Yugoslavian versions were designated the SM.79K. They were delivered to Yugoslavia in 1939, but most were destroyed in the invasion by Germany in 1941 by their crew or advancing Italian forces. Among several actions against German and Italian forces they manage to destroy enemy in Kacanicka sutjeska (Kacanik canyon). Some of aircraft also escaped into Grecce carried King Peter Karadjordjevic and his party. A few did survive, one to be pressed into service with the pro-Axis forces of the NDH, apart from four which became AX702-705 of the RAF.

Attempts were also made to gain large-scale export orders, but only three countries finalized contracts, with twin-engined versions being supplied to Brazil (three with 694 kW/930 hp Alfa Romeo 128 RC.18 engines), Iraq (four with 746 kW/1,030 hp Fiat A.80 RC.14 engines), and Romania (24 with 746 kW/1,000 hp Gnome-Rhône Mistral Major 14K engines). Romania later acquired an additional eight aircraft from Italy powered by Junkers Jumo 211Da engines, and these were designated the SM.79JR. They also built a further 72 Jumo powered variants under license.

The Results of the Torpedo Bomber Evaluation Exercise by the Ilmavoimat – mid-1938

Factors involved in making a Decision: Evaluation criteria emphasized good speed, manouverability and range, bombload / torpedo carrying ability and as always, cost and availability (with an emphasis on certainty of delivery and ability of the supplier to complete manufacturing within a reasonable timeframe). Service Ceiling was not considered a major factor as this was intended as a torpedo bomber. Ratings are 5 (excellent), 4(good), 3 (fair), 2 (poor), 1 (inadequate) for each category. Amphibious capability was not considered necessary as the primary theatre of operations would be the Gulf of Finland and the Northern Baltic – with the Aland Islands functioning as an unsinable aircraft carrier in the event of war, thus extending the range southwards considerably (but floatplanes were given a +1 bonus due to flexibility of basing). Twin-engined designs were given a positive weighting of 2 points as, with extended over-water operations there was a better margin of survivability with an engine failure.

Blackburn Baffin: 136mph: 0
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 207mph: 2
Douglas TBD Devastator: 206mph: 2
Dornier Do 22: 217mph: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 139mph: 0
Fairey Albacore: 161mph: 1
Fieseler Fi 167: 202mph: 2
Heinkel He 111: 230mph: 3
Heinkel He 115: 203mph: 2
Junkers Ju88: 317mph: 5
Latécoère 298: 167mph: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 260mph: 4

Combat Range
Blackburn Baffin: 490 miles: 1
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 715 miles 3
Douglas TBD Devastator: 535 miles: 2
Dornier Do 22: 1,428 miles: 5
Fairey Swordfish: 546 miles: 2
Fairey Albacore: 930 miles: 4
Fieseler Fi 167: 808 miles: 3
Heinkel He 111: 1,030 miles: 4
Heinkel He 115: 1,305 miles: 5
Junkers Ju88: 1,429 miles: 5
Latécoère 298: 497 miles: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 600 miles: 2

Blackburn Baffin: 2
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 1
Douglas TBD Devastator: 2
Dornier Do 22: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 2
Fairey Albacore: 2
Fieseler Fi 167: 5
Heinkel He 111: 4
Heinkel He 115: 3
Junkers Ju88: 4
Latécoère 298: 3
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 5

# of Torpedoes (Bombload was secondary)
Blackburn Baffin: 1 Torpedo: 3
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 1 Torpedo: 3
Douglas TBD Devastator: 1 Torpedo: 3
Dornier Do 22: 1 Torpedo: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 1 Torpedo: 3
Fairey Albacore: 1 Torpedo: 3
Fieseler Fi 167: 1 Torpedo: 3
Heinkel He 111: 2 Torpedoes: 5
Heinkel He 115: 1 Torpedo: 3
Junkers Ju88: 2 Torpedoes: 5
Latécoère 298: 1 Torpedo: 3
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 1 – 2 Torpedoes: 4

Single or Twin Engines (+2 bonus for twin-engined designs)
Blackburn Baffin: 0
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 2
Douglas TBD Devastator: 0
Dornier Do 22: 0
Fairey Swordfish: 0
Fairey Albacore: 0
Fieseler Fi 167: 0
Heinkel He 111: +2
Heinkel He 115: +2
Junkers Ju88: +2
Latécoère 298: 0
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: +2

Floatplane or Land-Based (+1 Bonus for Floatplanes)
Blackburn Baffin: 0
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 1
Douglas TBD Devastator: 0
Dornier Do 22: 1
Fairey Swordfish: 0
Fairey Albacore: 0
Fieseler Fi 167: 0
Heinkel He 111: 0
Heinkel He 115: 1
Junkers Ju88: 0
Latécoère 298: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 0

Cost (Lowest Cost = Highest Ranking)
Blackburn Baffin: 2
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 4
Douglas TBD Devastator: 4
Dornier Do 22: 3
Fairey Swordfish: 2
Fairey Albacore: 3
Fieseler Fi 167: 4
Heinkel He 111: 5
Heinkel He 115: 4
Junkers Ju88: 5
Latécoère 298: 3
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 3

Blackburn Baffin: 4
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 4
Douglas TBD Devastator: 3
Dornier Do 22: 4
Fairey Swordfish: 4
Fairey Albacore: 0
Fieseler Fi 167: 4
Heinkel He 111: 5
Heinkel He 115: 5
Junkers Ju88: 3
Latécoère 298: 1
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 5

Overall Points Scored and Ranking (maxium possible = 33):
Blackburn Baffin: 12
Fairey Swordfish: 13
Fairey Albacore: 13
Latécoère 298: 13
Douglas TBD Devastator: 16
Blohm and Voss Ha 140: 20
Fieseler Fi 167: 21
Dornier Do 22: 22
Heinkel He 115: 25
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero: 25
Heinkel He 111: 28
Junkers Ju88: 29

At this stage, with the evaluations and test flights completed and initial rankings made, a number of aircraft could immediately be eliminated. As can be seen, the performance of the British and French aircraft in terms of speed and range were so poor that they were removed from consideration. Indeed, the evaluation team (as was mentioned) raised concerns with the British that when compared to other countries aircraft and designs, their torpedo bombers were so out-dated that they would almost certainly be wiped out of the sky if faced with any serious opposition. The Douglas Devastator was briefly considered but, put simply, the German and Italian aircraft were so far in advance of the Devastator that after a brief assessment, this was also eliminated. The handling of the Bloehm abd Voss Ha 140 had been so poor in the test flighst that this aircraft also was eliminated immediately.

Of the remaining aircraft, the Fieseler Fi 167 was considered for a longer period – it was a highly maneouverable aircraft, superb in fact, and it remained in the running due to this. In the end though, the decision boiled down to the three aircraft with the highest speed and bomb or torpedo load / armament capacity. The superb track record of the SM 79 in the Spanish Civil War was a consideration, as also was the performance of the He 111 in the samwe conflict. At this stage the SM 79 was tentatively eliminated – its somewhat limited range being the primary factor, and the finalists then boiled down to the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju88 with the SM 79 and Fi 167 as runners up. There were major concerns about whether the Junkers Ju88 would move into production, but in the end these conerns were outweighed by the performance of the aircraft. Initial discussions with Junkers took place, and as it turned out, both Junkers and the Reichsluftfahrtministerium saw an opportunity to use the Maavoimat as guineapigs to further test the aircraft. At the time of the early negotiations, Dr. Heinrich Koppenberg (managing director of Jumo) assured the Finnish Team that the production of 300 Ju 88s per month was definitely possible and that the Finnish order would easily be filled.

The Merivoimat ordered 24 Junkers Ju88’s, modified to be able to carry torpedoes and with a longer wingspan to correct performance deficiencies that the Merivoimat evaluation team had identified in their testing. The aircraft could also be used as bombers and as dive-bombers and could carry a maximum bombload of 5,510 lbs (although in practice it was usually between 3,000 and 4,500 lbs). Again, as with some of their other bombers, the Finns specified a solid nose, in this case with provision for mounting four Finnish-manufactured 20mm Hispano Suiza cannon in the nose (After the aircraft were delivered to Finland, many of the aircraft were fitted with a further four 20mm cannon in twin blisters on either side of the fuselage. This reduced performance a little but the pilots preferred to have the additional fire power for suppression of AA fire when attacking at low level. In action, the impact of 8 streams of 20mm cannon shells on a destroyer had to be seen to be believed). As the Finnish aircraft were intended to be used almost exclusively for low-level torpedo attacks, the ventral weapon (and crew position) was removed – the Merivoimat Ju88 flew with a Crew of 3 (Pilot, Co-Pilot/Navigator and Rear Dorsal Gunner).

Merivoimat Ju88’s on the Junkers production line, early 1939.

The decision having been made, Finland negotiated with Junkers and the Reichsluftfahrtministerium through July and August of 1938 while at the same time keeping the doors open with Heinkel and the Italians in the event that the Junkers purchase could not be finalised. However, in early September 1938 the deal was finally signed and closed, although there were some concerns over the delivery timelines. The Munich Crisis accentuated these concerns, as did the developmental problems that Junkers continued to experience which slowed production to a painfully slow pace which caused the Finns great concern, to the extent that they consider cancelling the order and buying either the Heinkel He 111 or the SM 79 instead.

By January 1939, one Ju88 per week was beginning to trickle off the Junkers production line, but as problems were ironed out this began to improve and the Merivoimat took delivery of the final aircraft of the order in July 1939, shortly before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact shocked the world, and the details of the secret clauses relating to Finland and the Baltic States shocked the Finnish Government and military.

With a far higher maximum speed than the old Ripons, new tactics suitable for the Junkers Ju88 needed to be developed and rehearsed. The aircraft was capable of a relatively quick climb, had an excellent turn-of-speed for its time, and its rugged structure and responsiveness allowed the aircraft be flown to the maximum capabilities of its flight envelope. The best means of defence from fighters, however, was to fly in tight formations down at sea level. Utilizing flaps and slats, takeoffs and landings could be performed in short distances, making it suitable for use on rough airfields. Torpedoes could be carried on two hardpoints under the inner wings. Finnish-built torpedoes based on a German design were utilised.

The Ju88 had several advantages compared to other torpedo-bombers. In mid-1939, it had no equal as a torpedo bomber in speed. The Douglas Devastator for example, with a maximum speed of 206mph was far slower, the other contenders such as the old Fairey Swordfish even more so. While the relative efficiency of torpedo-bombers compared to dive-bombers for attacks on naval targets continued to be debated, the Merivoimat Air Arm opted for both. Dedicated torpedo-bomber squadrons equipped with heavy aircraft were expensive and specialized, but the torpedoes packed a heavy punch if they hit, certainly enough to damage a battleship. Dive-bombers on the other hand were less costly and more flexible, being able to be used against both naval and land targets, used more economic and less specialized weapons, and had a less dangerous flight profile while diving almost vertically from high altitude but the size of the bombs able to be carried meant that were probably less effective against the topsides of well-armoured battleships. It was a debate the Merivoimat resolved to some extent by opting to buy both – and in the event, with the Junkers Ju88 they had an aircraft that could fill both roles – and it was a decision that served them well.

Merivoimat Junkers Ju88 Torpedo bomber following delivery in mid-1939: this was one of the first aircraft delivered and came with the glazed nose: some of the first aircraft were delivered to the Merivoimat without the specified solid-nose modifications….In service, the Ju88 proved to have good flight performance and was highly manoueverable, with excellent cockpit visibility for the Pilot.

As the Finnish aircraft were intended to be used almost exclusively for torpedo attacks, the ventral weapon was removed. Additionally, the intended use of the Ju 88 by the Merivoimat Air Arm in low-level attacks (as a torpedo-bomber), meant that the aircraft would likely be attacked almost exclusively from the rear and above and this was one of the two main concerns – and was met up upgrading the rear gunners position to twin machineguns. The other was the equipping of the aircraft with forward-firing guns of a heavy calibre for flak suppression during torpedo attacks. To achieve this, four Hispano-Suiza 20mm cannon were mounted in the fuselage nose, with an additional four in blisters on the fuselage on each side of, and below, the cockpit.

Following the virtual elimination of the Soviet Baltic Fleet early in the Winter War, Merivoimat Ju88’s were used heavily in support of the Maavoimat over the Spring and Summer of 1940. They proved as effective in this role as they had as torpedo bombers. With engine upgrades, they remained in service into the 1950’s.

OTL Note: The Ilmavoimat actually did have Ju88’s. In April 1943, as Finland was fighting its Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany. The aircraft were used to equip No. 44 Sqn which had previously operated Bristol Blenheims, but these were instead transferred to No. 42 Sqn. Due to the complexity of the Ju 88, most of 1943 was used for training the crews on the aircraft, and only a handful of bombing missions were undertaken. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather). In the summer of 1943, the Finns noted stress damage on the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing. Restrictions followed: the dive brakes were removed and it was only allowed to dive at a 45-degree angle (compared to 60-80 degrees previously). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear.

One of the more remarkable missions was a bombing raid on 9 March 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Leningrad, when the Finnish aircraft, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn, catching the Soviets unprepared and destroying many Soviet bombers and their fuel reserves, and a raid against the Aerosan base at Petsnajoki on 22 March 1944. The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions per day, day and night, when the weather permitted. No. 44 Sqn was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945. After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb stores. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped over the following years. No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa.

Heinkel He 112

The Heinkel He 112 was the only serious threat (next to the Messerschmitt Bf 109) to becoming Germany's first modern monoplane design in operational service. The aircraft exhibited potential right from the start but was ultimately developed too late for consideration by the RLM to which the Bf 109 made the right impressions at the right time. With Britain already inking a deal with Supermarine to mass produce the Spitfire, Germany felt the dire need to modernize and went ahead with their most promising design - that being the Bf 109. This left the Heinkel design in limbo though the aircraft was progressed through a development life cycle. The airframe was used in a battery of rocket propulsion tests and proved to be a better aircraft at the end of its development run than at the beginning. The system was exported to a handful of Axis-friendly countries, produced in limited numbers and went away as quietly as it appeared.

Design of the He 112 was put into action 1934 just in time for the run-off evaluation against a Messerschmitt, Arado and Focke-Wulf design. The trials occurred in spring of 1935 with the Messerschmitt and Heinkel types coming out ahead. The He 112 was developed from the Heinkel He 70 4-seat passenger aircraft which is an important footnote in itself as the development of the He 70 forced the Heinkel firm to develop new construction and design methods for modern aircraft. Initial He 112 systems were actually fitted with the Rolls-Royce Kestrel Mk IIS engines of 695 horsepower as the intended Junkers Jumo 210 series was as yet unavailable. The initial display of the He 112 V1 prototype yielded some noticeable drag that resulted from its large wings. as a result, the V2 was designed with "clipped" thin wings. The V3 appeared shortly with some minor changes, the most notable of these being the enclosed cockpit.

Trials between the He 112 and the Bf 109 continued throughout 1935 but was over by 1936, with the Messerschmitt product entering full production. Nevertheless, the development of the He 112 continued in an effort to nab a variety of potential export customers on the horizon. The total amount of sales on the export market never seriously materialized with just under 100 total He 112's being produced.

Despite the effort put into development, the He 112 program had nothing but a large series of developmental prototype models to show for it. Inevitably, the He 112A model series became the initial production fighter but this was followed by the more refined, completely redesigned he 112B series. The B model was noted for its bubble canopy which in itself was quite an advance over the standard "framed" designs. Though useful to a combat pilot, this particular bubble canopy was quite complicated and came in three separate parts as opposed to the two-part canopies later seen in Mustangs and Spitfires. Armament was impressive with twin 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns housed ingeniously in the engine cowling sides with an additional two 20mm MG FF type cannons in the wings.

The He 112 airframe was used extensively in rocket propulsion testing to which several prototypes were crashed yet miraculously rebuilt. Beyond its development years, the system did in fact serve in some limited combat sorties with the Condor Legion. A full 30 units were shipped to the Japanese Navy but were used for pilot training instead. While the Bf 109 went on to achieve mythical status in the global conflict, the promising yet unfulfilling He 112 design became something of a footnote for aircraft design in the Second World War. In any case, it was a promising endeavor and one that most likely provided much needed experience in the way of furthering the German rocketry research program.

The discerning aviation aficionado will note the similarities in wing and nose design to the British Hawker Hurricane.

File:Royal Navy officers defuse a German bomb which dropped onto the fishing trawler STRATH BLARE when an attacking Heinkel He 111 bomber hit the vessel's mast and crashed into the sea, 8 March 1941. A3387.jpg

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Devyatayev’s Flight: A Russian POW stole a German bomber and lived to tell the tale

Daring Russian fighter pilot Mikhail P. Devyatayev (left) faced perils from friend and foe when he decided to escape a concentration camp in a German Heinkel 111 bomber.

Public domain images from Peenemünde Archiv-Kreis / Imperial War Museum via Wikimedia Commons / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive / HistoryNet photo illustration

Zita Ballinger Fletcher
February 10, 2021

This week in 1945, Soviet fighter pilot Lt. Mikhail Petrovich Devyatayev made one of military history’s most daring escapes—stealing a Luftwaffe Heinkel 111 bomber and literally flying out of the grasp of his German captors, and taking nine fellow POWs with him.

Devyatayev was a tough trooper who also possessed a flair for shrewdness and daring. A fighter pilot by vocation, he graduated from the Chkalov Military Aviation School of pilots in 1940 and went on to complete 180 combat flights, counting a Junkers Ju-87 and a Focke-Wulf 190 among his kills.

Devyatayev’s luck in the air ran out in the summer of 1944 as he tangled with the Luftwaffe over Ukraine. Then serving as a flight commander in the 104th Guards Fighter Regiment, Devyatayev was piloting an American-built Bell P-39 Airacobra as wingman for his regimental commander when his plane was shot down near Lviv. Injured, Devyatayev landed by parachute on German territory and fell immediately into Nazi hands.

German SS and police troops in Russia ride past a burning structure as they pillage captured territory. Nazi Germany made it official policy to starve Russians, kill them on sight or exterminate them through forced labor. Devyatayev, 27, was made a slave laborer after being captured. / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive

As a Russian military officer, Devyatayev did not expect to live long. The Germans had literally made it official policy to exterminate Russians—either murdering them on sight, or killing them through starvation and forced labor. The strong and sturdy Devyatayev, then 27, soon found himself trapped in the brutal concentration camp system. He attempted an unsuccessful escape from a camp in Lodz, Poland, only to be packed off to the inferno of Sachsenhausen.

“When we came through the front entrance, two corpses were hanging on it [the gallows],” he later recalled of Sachsenhausen at age 85. “It shocked me. I thought, ‘What place have I come to?’”

After arriving at Sachsenhausen, Devyatayev became aware that his Soviet military service would attract undue attention from German torturers at the camp and thus spell his doom. He managed to swap identities with a dead Soviet infantryman, allegedly using the alias “Nikitenko,” and passing himself off as an ordinary conscript.

Devyatayev could never forget seeing the gallows at Sachsenhausen (above). / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive

Life seemed to get worse for Devyatayev when he was packed into a cattle car in late 1944 and shipped by rail to an unknown location withsome 500 other POWs. He witnessed about 30 men die around him in the railway car during the trip. However, the journey would eventually provide him with a means to escape.

The new site was the town of Peenemünde on the island of Usedom in the Baltic Sea, which today is a tourist destination known for its sunny beaches. Usedom was a Luftwaffe testing site used for the assembly and development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets. Wernher von Braun worked at the rocket development center there.

As the Third Reich began to crumble, the Nazis became more desperate to deploy rocket “wonder weapons.” The High Command’s suicidal stubbornness resulted in more German troops being killed on the frontlines and drew more civilians into the war. Manpower shortages began to take a heavier toll. SS leader Heinrich Himmler opted to keep V-2 rocket production going at full speed through slave labor. A concentration camp at Peenemünde was built for that purpose. Thousands of inmates had been forced to work at the camp, called Karlshagen, since 1943, and continued to be used as slave labor there until the end of the war despite a massive attack by British RAF bombers in August 1943.

A V-2 rocket captured by the Allies, c. 1945. The site at Peenemünde where Devyatayev was forced to work was used for the testing and development of V-2 rockets. / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive

For Devyatayev and fellow prisoners, the sunny island was a blazing hell of gruesome working conditions, sadistic guards and endless industrial work. The inmates were forced to assemble explosive devices that would be used to destroy their own people and homelands. They were also forced to clear unexploded ordnance and build runways. They were starved and tortured by SS guards. The physical and emotional distress suffered by inmates was indescribable.

“You could be made into a cripple there,” recalled Devyatayev. “They beat us while we were working. There were ‘unwritten rules.’ One punishment was called ‘Ten Days of Life.’ It meant that a prisoner was beaten for 10 days solid, mornings, afternoons and evenings. If he didn’t die on his own during this time, they would kill him on the tenth day.”

Forced laborers at Sachsenhausen / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive

Devyatayev made up his mind that he would escape or die trying. He began to formulate plans to steal a German plane. He had access to a runway and confidence in his skills as a pilot. He began secretly studying the Heinkel 111.

Over a period of time, Devyatayev examined spare parts and pieces of wreckage from the Heinkel 111. Conveniently, the Germans had marked different elements of the aircraft with signs and labels. Devyatayev could not read German but stole the pieces and studied them with other inmates who had better knowledge.

Devyatayev also managed to observe a Heinkel 111 pilot preparing for takeoff. “When the engines roared, I wanted to look with at least one eye at the actions of the pilot who started the engines for heating,” he later wrote in an autobiographical book, “Escape from Hell.”

The German pilot noticed the emaciated prisoner peeking as he wielded the levers—and, apparently wanting to show off, gave a repeat performance.

Despite having only seen this demonstration once, Devyatayev decided he was ready to escape as soon as opportunity presented itself. Working together with a group of five other Russian-speaking inmates, he decided to fly to freedom as soon as the predictably punctual German guards went to lunch.

After calling off two attempts due to the lingering presence of guards on the airfield, the daring band of Russians improvised. On their third attempt, they ambushed and stealthily killed a German trooper using a sharpened crowbar and stole his uniform. In an audacious display of theatrics, one POW put the uniform on and pretended to march the prisoners onto the airfield. Germans observing the area from a distance didn’t immediately detect something was amiss.

A Heinkel 111 was ripe for the taking. Devyatayev quickly bypassed the locked cockpit by breaking a small hole in the casing and prying open the door handle.

Meanwhile a fellow escapee noticed another group of Russian-speaking forced laborers working nearby and invited them to join the escape. Thus a grand total of 10 men came barreling onto the plane, ready to leave or die.

Devyatayev wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing. “I pressed all the buttons at once. The devices did not light up…there were no batteries!” he later wrote, recalling his despair. Thankfully one fellow Russian escapee managed to dash outside, retrieve a cart with batteries and help get the engines started.

Devyatayev decided to commandeer a Heinkel 111 bomber (such as this one above) in his daring escape plan. / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive

Yet Devyatayev’s problems were not over. For all his dash and ingenuity, he had no experience flying a Heinkel 111. As the plane rolled forward, Devyatayev tried to accelerate the engine and slam pedals to achieve takeoff. This sent the plane spinning around the tarmac in a screeching whirl. “As if in a tornado, the plane acquired a furious rotational motion,” he recalled.

By now, the Germans had noticed a problem. They endeavored to stop Devyatayev but narrowly escaped being run over by him as he jerked the plane into position and sped down the runway for takeoff—twice, as the first attempt to achieve liftoff was unsuccessful. It took Devyatayev and two helpers to drag the plane skyward in what must have been a chaotic scene in the cockpit.

Soviet gunners (such as these shown in Russia, c. 1941) directed fire at Devyatayev's plane, believing he was a German bomber, during his flight home. / Museum of Danish Resistance Archive

After takeoff, the plane spiraled in the air for some time before the daring pilot gained total control of the aircraft. During this time, with wild audacity rivaling the fictional Star Wars hero Han Solo, Devyatayev evaded enemy fire and escaped being shot down by fighter planes, including a Junkers Ju 88, deployed to take him down.

Despite being targeted by Soviet guns, Devyatayev and his friends managed to make a safe landing in friendly territory and return home. Instead of being welcomed as heroes, the men were subjected to suspicion and interrogation by NKVD agents, who were inclined to disbelieve their story and assumed they had cooperated with the Germans. Despite this Devyatayev was able to provide the Soviet authorities with valuable information about Germany’s secret V-2 weapons program, which worked in his favor.

After living ignominiously as a presumed “traitor” for years, Devyatayev was recognized as a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1957. He later visited the site of the Peenemünde facility and met with Germans who had witnessed his spectacular flight, including Günter Hobohm, the Junkers Ju 88 pilot who had been ordered to shoot him down. Devyatayev passed away in 2002.

His son, Alexander Devyatayev, said his father was “driven by the belief that a human being is capable of doing things which should ordinarily be impossible.” MH

World War II A Heinkel He - 111 of the German air force flying supplies to Stalingrad - autumn 1942 - Photographer: ullstein - Sobotta -

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