Throughout the 1930s, the air service of Germany, the Luftwaffe, was in rebuilding form and commissioned all manner of aircraft for service before World War 2 arrived in 1939. This allowed many-a-concern to ply their trade and attempt to deliver viable training and weapons-minded platforms to the burgeoning service as it expanded to become one of the most powerful arms of the German military during the decade. The He 119, by Ernst Heinkel A.G., was one of the promising, and certainly impressive, designs to come out of the pre-war period: its well-streamlined fuselage was mated to a tandem engine arrangement promising considerable speed gains in the process. The aircraft was briefly considered for high-speed reconnaissance and bombing roles within the Luftwaffe but the project only matured as far as eight prototypes serving as experimental platforms.
Design work on the type began in 1936 and engineers selected the slimmest of profiles with no obvious physical protrusions to be had along the fuselage. This allowed the airframe to benefit from streamlining as even the cockpit was integrated into the clean lines of this aircraft, its position given away by heavy glazing near the nose and aft of the propeller spinner. To fit the twin engine arrangement, the powerplants were coupled aft of the cockpit and powered the nose-mounted propeller by way of a drive shaft. The propeller was a four-bladed design. The drive shaft ran between the two crewmembers. The engine of choice was the Daimler-Benz DB601 which, when coupled, formed the DB606A-2, a 24-cylinder, liquid-cooled inverted V12 monster outputting 2,350 horsepower.
The wing mainplanes were elliptical and similar in design to those featured on the wartime He 111 medium bomber. The aircraft, like in the He 111, also relied on a single, curved rudder with low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage was of a retractable tricycle arrangement.
A first-flight by way of the V1 prototype was recorded during mid-1937 and the V2 followed with an experimental radiator fit. V3 was the same design though reworked as a seaplane and still able to retain the aircraft's impressive performance. V4 was set aside for speed trials and managed a record in 1937 of 314 miles per hour while carrying a load of 2,205lb over 621 miles. Prototypes V5 through V8, added in 1938, were intended to serve as production-minded prototypes for operational reconnaissance and bomber aircraft (two of each form). These designs were all given a three-man crew and an MG15 machine gun fitted to a dorsal position (strictly for self-defense). The proposed bomber design was to carry up to 2,205lb of conventional drop stores.
While the He 119 never materialized into an operational combat aircraft, V7 and V8 went on to see extended testing in the hands of Japanese engineers as the pair were sold off to the German ally. Interestingly, German propaganda designated the He 111 as the "He 111U". The "He 519" was a related proposal of 1944 intended as a high-speed bomber. It was developed as a private venture by the company and was to rely on the DB613 engine (a larger version of the DB601). The end of the war in 1945 ended the He 519 in full.
V6 had some of its figures recorded and was capable of 367 miles per hour. It managed an empty weight of 11,465lb against a loaded weight of 16,678lb and could range out to 1,940 miles at altitudes nearing 15,000 feet.