×
Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks
HOME
AIRCRAFT / AVIATION
MODERN AIR FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE
GOLDEN AGE
WORLD WAR 2

Heinkel He 51


Fighter / Floatplane / Ground Attack Aircraft (1935)


Aviation / Aerospace

1 / 4
Heinkel He 51 parked; front view
2 / 4
Heinkel He 51 parked; side view
3 / 4
A pair of Heinkel He 51s in flight
4 / 4
Heinkel He 51 on water with pontoon floats

Jump-to: Specifications

The Heinkel He 51 series was part of Germany's rebuilding program, providing priceless combat experience for Luftwaffe pilots in the Spanish Civil War.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/03/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Advertisements
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.
Advertisements
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.

Specifications



Service Year
1935

Origin
Nazi Germany national flag graphic
Nazi Germany

Crew
1

Production
700
UNITS


Heinkel - Nazi Germany
National flag of Bulgaria National flag of modern Germany National flag of Spain Bulgaria; Nazy Germany; Spain
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.


Length
27.6 ft
(8.40 m)
Width/Span
36.1 ft
(11.00 m)
Height
10.5 ft
(3.20 m)
Empty Wgt
3,219 lb
(1,460 kg)
MTOW
9,211 lb
(4,178 kg)
Wgt Diff
+5,992 lb
(+2,718 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Heinkel He 51A production variant)
Installed: 1 x BMW VI 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine developing 750 horsepower.
Max Speed
205 mph
(330 kph | 178 kts)
Ceiling
25,262 ft
(7,700 m | 5 mi)
Range
354 mi
(570 km | 1,056 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
350 ft/min
(107 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Heinkel He 51A production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
STANDARD:
2 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns in nose

OPTIONAL:
Up to 6 x 22lb bombs


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 6


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.


Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft


Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.

Advertisements





Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies


2022 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-