Staff Writer (Updated: 6/28/2010):
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.