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Heinkel He 51

Fighter / Floatplane / Ground Attack Aircraft

Heinkel He 51

Fighter / Floatplane / Ground Attack Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The Heinkel He 51 series was part of Germany's rebuilding program, providing priceless combat experience for Luftwaffe pilots in the Spanish Civil War.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Nazi Germany
YEAR: 1935
MANUFACTURER(S): Heinkel - Nazi Germany
PRODUCTION: 700
OPERATORS: Bulgaria; Nazy Germany; Spain
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Heinkel He 51A model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 27.56 feet (8.4 meters)
WIDTH: 36.09 feet (11 meters)
HEIGHT: 10.50 feet (3.2 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 3,219 pounds (1,460 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 9,211 pounds (4,178 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x BMW VI 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine developing 750 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 205 miles-per-hour (330 kilometers-per-hour; 178 knots)
RANGE: 354 miles (570 kilometers; 308 nautical miles)
CEILING: 25,262 feet (7,700 meters; 4.78 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 350 feet-per-minute (107 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
2 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns in nose

OPTIONAL:
Up to 6 x 22lb bombs
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• He 49a - Initial Prototype Model showcasing a shortened fuselage.
• He 49b - Second Prototype Model; revised lengthened fuselage; evaluated as both seaplane and land-based plane.
• He 49c - Third Prototype Model; revised engine mount.
• He 51a - Fourth Prototype Model; new radiator system; revised vertical tail fin and main wings; redesigned undercarriage.
• He 51A-0 - Nine Pre-production Examples; based on He 51a.
• He 51A-1 - Initial Full-Rate Production Model; 150 examples produced.
• He 51B-0 - Second Pre-production Batch; reinforced understructure; 12 examples produced.
• He 51B-1 - Second Production Batch; based on He 51B-0 model; 12 examples produced.
• He 51B-2 - Sea-Plane Derivative; dedicated reconnaissance platform; 46 examples produced.
• He 51B-3 - High-Altitude Platform
• He 51C-1 - Ground Attack Variant
• He 51C-2 - Improved He 51C-1 model; new radio equipment;2 1 examples produced.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Heinkel He 51 Fighter / Floatplane / Ground Attack Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/3/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The He 51 was a product of the German Heinkel firm and a design of the Gunter twins, Walter and Siegfried. The Gunters became part of the Heinkel firm in 1931 and made the He 49 their first product with the company. The He 49 was a biplane aircraft developed as a fighter, sporting a pair of machine guns, and developed into three major prototype forms. It was these prototype designs that eventually developed into the He 51a prototype and, ultimately, the He 51 production models.

The He 51a differed from the previous He 49 forms in that it was given a new tail fin, wings, undercarriage and radiator. The He 51 itself would become a successful German fighter in World War 2, becoming a serviceable floatplane derivative and light ground attack platform as well. Despite the limitations imposed on German war machine development following the close of World War 1, the He 51 was none-the-less pursued under the guise of it being an advanced trainer. In many ways, the He 51 was part of the "new-look" German military soon to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

The He 51 was given uneven-span biplane wings (also known as "sesquiplane") with the upper span longer (and situated forward) than the lower span. Each wing had a single bay with parallel struts angled forward (in profile) and outward with applicable bracing cables. The engine was positioned at the extreme forward of the contoured fuselage and consisted of a liquid-cooled inline engine powering a two-bladed propeller. The pilot sat directly behind and under the upper wing element in an open-air cockpit protected by a forward windscreen. The empennage was conventional with a rounded vertical tail fin and mid-mounted elevators. The undercarriage was fixed and featured two main landing gears faired over and a tail wheel at rear, also faired over. The seaplane version of the He 51 was very similar in design with the most notable exception being the large pontoon floats affixed in place of the landing gears. Armament consisted of 2 x MG 17 machine guns mounted over the engine, synchronized to fire through the revolving propeller blades, with 500 rounds reserved to a gun. For the light strike roles inherent in the C-models, up to six 22lb bombs could be carried.




Heinkel He 51 (Cont'd)

Fighter / Floatplane / Ground Attack Aircraft

Heinkel He 51 (Cont'd)

Fighter / Floatplane / Ground Attack Aircraft



The Heinkel He 51 was produced in a handful of variants but represented in only three major production models. The four prototypes represented the aircraft initially beginning with the He 49a featuring a short fuselage, the He 49b with a lengthened fuselage, the He 49c with a revised glycol-cooled engine and the He 51a with its revised vertical tail fin and wings, a new undercarriage and new radiator. The He 51a prototype led to the first nine pre-preproduction aircraft under the He 51A-0 designation. This was followed by the first production-rate examples in the 150 He 51A-1's.

The He 51B-0 appeared as another dozen pre-production examples that saw reinforcement of their structure. The production version became the He 51B-1 of which only another 12 were produced. The He 51B-2 was a floatplane variant to which 46 were produced in total. The He 51B-3 was a dedicated high-altitude version.

The He 51B-1 was powered by a single BMW VI series 7,3Z liquid-cooled V12 engine with an output of 750 horsepower. This allowed for a maximum speed of up to 205 miles per hour with a cruise speed of 174 miles per hour. Range was limited to 354 miles with a respectable service ceiling of 25,256 feet.

The He 51C-1 was the first dedicated light ground attack model. At least 79 of these were delivered to Spain to fight with the Legion Kondor (Germany's "Condor Legion") in Spain's civil war in favor of the Nationalist forces. The He 51C-2 was nothing more than an improved version of the He 51C-1. These fitted improved radio equipment. Twenty-one examples of this type were produced.

In all, some 700 examples represented the He 51 series in slightly varied forms. Operators included the German Luftwaffe, the Spanish State and Bulgaria. Bulgaria received twelve He 51's from Germany.

He 51's were first used in anger in the Spanish Civil War. In many ways, Germany used this battleground to field test a variety of items including aircraft, vehicles and tactics. Six He 51 systems were delivered to the battlefront on August 6, 1936, and quickly proved better systems then their biplane contemporaries. Spanish and German airmen both flew the aircraft in the conflict, the Germans under the Condor Legion banner.

As the war progressed and aircraft technology advanced, the He 51 was just as quickly taken out of the dogfighting fold. Instead, the system was utilized as a ground attack platform with good success, despite losses to more modern monoplane types. Many Spainish He 51's survived the conflict, and the ensuing World War, to be of use through the end of the 1940s. Its limited successes in the Spanish Civil War showcased the limitations of fighters relying on biplane wing arrangements over those with monoplane arrangements. The He 51 was nimble enough thanks to its slower speeds and available wing area but speed was once again at the forefront of dogfighting. Newer systems could simply outrun aircraft like the He 51. This naturally forced the He 51 our of favor against more modern implements though the aircraft did soldier on for the German Luftwaffe as a trainer in the early years of the war. As a front-line fighter, however, the type was dropped from service in 1938.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (205mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
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  MSK
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  TKY
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  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Heinkel He 51A's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
700
700

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
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MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
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Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
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SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Supported Arsenal
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