The plane we are talking about now was really good. Yes, the peak of his career fell on the Spanish Civil War, but in this conflict our hero played a very significant role. And the Second World War, in which the seaplane entered as outdated, forced it to work in full.
In general, our hero marked the beginning of a whole era of universal naval aircraft. But first things first.
So, "Heinkel" Ne.59.
When Ernst Heinkel began working on this aircraft (and not only on this, by the way), as such a marine aviation in Germany was no longer. Or not yet. What was accumulated until the end of the First World War by the forces of AGO, Fokker, Focke-Wulf, and especially by Friedrichshafen, which supplied the bulk of seaplanes to German aviation, was irretrievably lost after the surrender.
So, by the beginning of the 30s, aircraft from the First World War with all the ensuing consequences were serving in the German naval aviation, or rather, they were serving. There were no long-range and medium scouts, no bomber, no torpedo bomber. There were only short-range patrol seaplanes 10-15 years old.
In 1930, the command of the Reichsmarine (it was still not customary to arrange competitions at that time) formulated the requirements for a new universal aircraft and issued an assignment for development to the Heinkel company.
Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke GmbH, headquartered in Warnemünde, was by that time one of the most dynamically developing German design and manufacturing firms. Ernst Heinkel founded it after the First World War, and after 1933 the company went just fine. For the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine, seven aircraft of various types were created and launched into series.
No.59 was a very interesting development. At first glance, he was no different from his classmates. However, Heinkel laid down interesting moves in the design, which provided the plane with a rather long life by the standards of that time.
Plus, at that time, the plane became the largest ever created by Heinkel.
Since the Reichsmarine did not determine his desires, and he saw the plane in two guises, a patrol reconnaissance aircraft and a torpedo bomber capable of working on both sea and ground targets, Heinkel launched work on two models.
And at the same time, two aircraft were built: He.59A, with a wheeled landing gear and He.59B, with floats. The planes were not identical, the differences were not only in the methods of landing. For the land He.59A, all the fuel was placed in the tanks inside the fuselage, then the He.59V tanks were placed in floats, and the place inside the hull was used for combat load.
Both aircraft passed a complex of tests, but only the naval version was adopted. In 1933, the Ministry of Aviation Industry (revived by Hitler) gave the assignment for the construction of the first 21 copies of the He.59V-1.
The aircraft was adopted as a standard general-purpose seaplane for naval air groups. Vague, but at that time the Germans still preferred to be encrypted from their guards.
In 1935, the first 14 aircraft entered the commercial aviation school on List Island. Subsequently, the school was transferred to train personnel specifically for naval aviation. And the production itself was transferred to the company "Arado", which had the opportunity for a faster release of aircraft.
We went into series production of an aircraft with an increased radius of action, reinforced armament and a medical and rescue version of the He.59V. And in 1935, the first combat squadron was formed, equipped with the He.59B and Do.15.
And in 1936, a special naval reconnaissance squadron AS / 88 received a Non-59B and was included in the Condor legion to be sent to Spain, where the Civil War began.
In October 1936, 12 He.59V-2 aircraft, flight and technical personnel arrived in Spain by sea. The aircraft were assembled, flown and the squadron began to carry out combat missions. The squadron was headed by Captain Karl-Hein Wolf.
No.59B with the emblem of the Condor Legion
Based on AS / 88 at the Cadiz Puntales naval base. Basically, the aircraft were engaged in reconnaissance of coastal waters in the interests of the Francoist fleet... But over time, flights with bombs and torpedoes began in the interests of the Kriegsmarine (by that time the Reichsmarine was renamed), in order to test weapons in combat conditions.
On several aircraft, a 20-mm MG-FF cannon was installed instead of a bow machine-gun mount.
The first almost victory was won by Chief Lieutenant Klumper. He took off in his He.59B for a free search, which culminated in the discovery of the ship "Dolphin", which was sailing to the port of Malaga with cargo for the Republicans. Klumper attacked the Dolphin with a torpedo, but missed. In general, this was the first case of a torpedo attack on a ship after the end of the First World War.
Klumper did not calm down, but flew to the base, demanded that he be hung up with bombs and again went in search of the Dolphin. And that was not lucky: not only did Klumper find the ship, he still did not miss. Two bombs exploded near the side caused damage to the hull so severe that the ship's captain decided to throw the Dolphin aground. The ship survived, but most of the cargo was damaged.
On February 1, 1937, the same Klumper discovered the ship "Nuria Ramon", which belonged to the Republicans and was sailing with cargo from Algeria. Klumper did not have bombs and torpedoes, but he did not need them. With machine gun fire, riddling the ship's wheelhouse, Klumper forced the Nuria Ramon to drift, and then by radio directed the cruiser Canarias, which had escorted the ship to Melilla.
And three days later, AS / 88 suffered its first losses. German aircraft covered from the air the same heavy cruiser Canarias, which fired at the Republican positions. The I-15 fighters of the Republican Air Force that appeared in the air went on the attack, and, evading their fire, He.59V and He.60E collided in the air. Pilot No.59V Lecht drowned. This was the first loss of AS / 88.
In mid-1937 and before the end of the war, the seaplanes were transferred to the Polensa base on the island of Mallorca.
In general, the actions of the He.59 in Spain could really be described as the work of universal aircraft.
Patrolling territories (reconnaissance) and searching for enemy ships, covering ships (fighter), bombing and torpedo strikes (torpedo bomber), moreover, some strikes were made at night (night bomber).
Not.59B coped with the tasks and even earned respect. The plane even received from the Spanish-Francoists, its own nickname - Zapatero, that is, the shoemaker. The Republicans nicknamed the plane Sanatones - big shoes.
A small amount of He.59B more than paid off both the production cost and the delivery cost.
On August 13, 1937, He.59B bombed and sank the Danish steamer Edith.
On September 22 and 25, AS / 88 aircraft attacked the CAMPSA refineries in Cartagena and Barcelona. Several gasoline tanks were destroyed.
On September 30, in the port of Valencia, No.59B, the transport "Gurcho", which arrived with cargo from Feodosia, was sunk.
On October 6, all AS / 88 aircraft were thrown against a detachment of Republic ships going to shell Mallorca. Air attacks forced the Republicans to abandon the operation.
On October 30, No.59B sank the British bulk carrier Jane Weems. It was not proven that the British steamer was carrying cargo to the Republicans, but it was stopped by cannon and machine-gun fire, and then finished off with bombs. It seems that the ship was carrying military equipment, but all the evidence was at the bottom.
On November 4, near Barcelona, Non-59B discovered the steamer Corsica. Which went from Marseille to Barcelona. The seaplane crew attacked the steamer with cannon and machine gun fire, causing a number of damage. On the radio, the captain of the Corsica requested help, and help came. An I-15 fighter arrived and attacked the He.59V, however, in one of the attacks, the arrows of the seaplane knocked out the fighter and it left towards the coast. And the steamer was forced to follow instead of Barcelona to Mallorca, where it was captured by the Francoists.
On February 4, 1938, a pair of He.59B sank the British ship "Electra", which was leaving Barcelona.
In general, the constant actions of German seaplane crews forced the Republicans to strengthen the air defense of the ports.
On March 14, He.59V sank the transport "Menorca" in / and 1022 tons.
On March 15 in the port of Taragon "Heinkeli" sank the dry cargo ship "Colombo" in / and 2246 tons.
On April 7, in the harbor of the port of Roses, one 50-kg bomb He.59B sank the tugboat Rio Urumeya (in / and 275 tons), which was converted into a patrol ship.
On May 10, a transport unloading at the pier was sunk in Alicante. On the night of May 18-19, in the same Alicante, fuel tanks were set on fire by bombs.
On May 24, the ship Westcliff was sunk in Valencia. On May 27, 5 "Heinkels" together sent to the bottom the Greek tanker "Nautica" with a displacement of 5 tons.
On June 4, the Heinkels sank with bombs the British steamer Isadora of 4000 tons, unloading in the port of Denia. On June 21, a torpedo from the He.59B sunk a British steamer bound for Valencia. On June 22, at the anchorage of Valencia, a British transport "Salton" in / and 3 tons with a cargo of ammunition was attacked by bombs. In the hold of the transport ammunition detonated from bomb explosions, destroying the steamer.
On July 21, the steamer Bodil was sunk, carrying planes for the Republicans.
On August 6, the cargo ship "Lake Lugano" in / and 2120 tons was sunk.
There were also victories that were not listed in this list, since their reliability was in doubt. But it is worth noting that for a squadron with a maximum of 8 aircraft at a time, the achievements are very, very decent.
Of course, we will not say that He.59B destroyed everything on its way without incurring losses. During its participation in the Civil War, AS / 88 lost 9 seaplanes and 11 people were killed. Another 10 people were captured.
It is clear that in exchange for the lost aircraft, new ones were sent from Germany. Crews were also replenished. All He.59Bs were manned by German crews, and as an observer, a Spaniard was planted for better orientation on the terrain.
As part of the Spanish Air Force, He.59B served throughout the Second World War and were decommissioned only in 1945.
Meanwhile, time passed, and No.59 was getting old. There was no point in upgrading, by 1938 it became clear that the biplane scheme had outlived its usefulness. Therefore, the production of No. 59 was discontinued. But since, by and large, the plane was still more morally obsolete, it was decided to transfer it from combat to auxiliary.
The firm "Walter Bach-mann Flugzeugbau" was entrusted with the re-equipment of the aircraft, and as a result, three more modifications were born.
Not.59C-1. Training vehicle for training naval pilots and navigators. Notable for the presence of additional navigation equipment and cameras. It could be used as a scout.
Not.59C-2. Sanitary rescue aircraft. He had on board six inflatable rescue boats and a first aid room. In the lower part of the fuselage, a hatch with a ramp for lifting and lowering boats was equipped.
Not 59D-1. Something in between the first two models. It could be used both as a training aircraft and as a rescue aircraft. A new bow was made for the navigator, without a shooting point and glazing, an open cockpit.
Not 59E-1. Training bomber or torpedo bomber.
Not 59E-2. Photo scout.
And from the He.59C-2 and He.59D-1 aircraft in 1939, the first naval aviation rescue group (Seenotstaffeln) was formed, consisting of two squadrons. That is, 32 aircraft. Plus, four squadrons of coastal aviation consisted of another 43 He.59.
And so No.59 entered the Second World War.
And he started it all the same as a bomber. True, at night. No.59V-2 was bombed by Polish batteries in Khela and Kepi Oksówska on the night of September 2 and 3.
Eight He.59B-2 on the afternoon of September 3 attacked the naval base in Hel and damaged the Grif patrol ship.
On September 4, three He.59Bs corrected the shooting at Polish targets of the battleship "Schleswig-Holstein"
During the Polish campaign, three He.59s were lost.
Then the patrol service No.59 began, which was now carried out as follows: seaplanes were used to inspect suspicious ships. Heinkels flew in pairs. One plane landed and disembarked the inspection team, the second controlled the situation in the air.
In November and December 1939, He.59 set up magnetic mines off the east coast of England and at the mouth of the Thames. The Non-59V could take on board two LMA mines weighing 500 kg or one LMB mines weighing 1 kg.
How many mines were set, it is impossible to say for sure. But on them the light cruiser "Belfast" was damaged and the Polish ship "Pilsudski" and several auxiliary ships were blown up and sank. Not a bad result, but in the end the Germans hurt themselves. One of the planes dropped a mine on the banks of the Thames, where it was discovered by a patrol. British specialists studied the mine and were able to figure out the methods of countermeasures.
The British decided to pay a "return visit" to pat the seaplanes that were getting them. On November 28, 1939, an air raid was carried out on the seaplane base in Borkum. True, He.59 did not suffer, with the exception of one aircraft, which was not destroyed, but only damaged.
In response, the Germans threw mines at the Thames estuary on the night of December 6-7. True, two planes were lost, one crashed on takeoff, the other on landing. 7 out of 8 crew members were killed.
In 1940, He.59 took an active part in the operations to capture Norway. These aircraft delivered several infantry battalions to Stavanger. By the way, 4 He.59 aircraft were lost in the port of Stavanger. They were destroyed by artillery fire by the approaching cruiser Suffolk.
Until the end of Operation Weserubung No.59, an infantry battalion and 4 batteries of a mountain artillery regiment were delivered to Trondheim.
He.59 took part in the occupation of Holland. Moreover, quite successfully. It was on them that the troops were landed, which captured the bridges over the Meuse. Seaplanes boarded the Meuse and landed paratroopers on both sides of the river. The paratroopers captured the bridges, and the Dutch were unable to recapture or destroy them before the approach of the main forces of the Wehrmacht.
True, a Dutch gunboat burned 4 out of 12 seaplanes. Belated revenge.
During the "Battle of England" He.59S-1 took the most direct part in the rescue of German pilots from planes that fell into the English Channel.
True, there was a small political scandal here. The British believed that the whites with red crosses He.59S-1 were doing things that were somewhat far from salvation. Namely, the delivery of spies to the territory of the kingdom and the mining of the coast.
On July 1, 1940, the British knocked out one He.59S-1 and captured its crew. The captured Germans confirmed that they had landed spies on the British coast and that all ambulance seaplanes were doing this.
On July 14, 1940, the UK Fighter Air Command issued an instruction that ordered the shooting down of any German rescue aircraft. In general, in the attacks that followed, RAF pilots shot down 14 He.59 aircraft in two months.
Rescue planes were in short supply. I had to use Dо.18 and Dо.24 in this role. The surviving He.59 was used on the periphery, in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
In 1943, all He.59s were decommissioned.
What is the phenomenon of this plane? The biplane, which was released in small numbers, but made things real on all fronts where it appeared, from sinking ships to rescuing people.
Simple and reliable design. Steel tube frame, linen (excluding the bow) plating. In the bow section, behind the glazing, which gives an excellent view, is the navigator's cabin. The cockpit was open on top and a turret with a machine gun or cannon was mounted there.
The cockpit was also open, behind it was a bomb bay, into which, if desired, two fuel tanks of 487 liters each could be installed. Or transport people.
Bombs or torpedoes could be suspended from holders in the middle of the fuselage.
In the aft fuselage there were two more cabins: an upper open gunner with a turret and a lower closed radio operator with a pivot machine gun mount. The shooter's duties also included lifting people rescued from the water on board.
The floats are wooden, single-ribbed, divided into 8 watertight compartments. The floats contained fuel tanks with a capacity of 854 liters each - two in each float.
The plane, despite its size, was incredibly simple and easy to fly, easily took off from the water even in rough seas, and landed easily. The seaworthiness was decent, allowing the use of a seaplane in waves of up to 3 points.
Maintainability was excellent, access to all systems was very easy. As a result, Ernst Heinkel really got a simple and inexpensive, but versatile and functional seaplane.
Standard small arms consisted of three 7,92 mm MG15 machine guns. The machine guns in the cockpits of the navigator and the radio operator had 975 rounds of ammunition (13 disks, 75 each). The machine gun in the lower gunner's cockpit had 600 rounds of ammunition.
On the He-59V-1 aircraft used in the AS / 88 Squadron of the Condor Legion, a 20-mm MG-FF cannon with a stock of 75 rounds was installed in the navigator's cockpit. On the He-59V-3 seaplanes, small arms were limited to two machine guns in the cockpits of the navigator and the radio operator.
Offensive weapons, that is, bombs, were placed in the bomb bay of the fuselage or on bomb racks under the fuselage. The plane took up to 1000 kg quite calmly.
The set of bombs could be as follows:
- 20 x 50 kg bombs SC 50;
- 4 x 250-kg bombs SC 250;
- 2 х 500-kg bombs SC 500.
- 2 x 500 kg LMA mines;
- 1 х 1000 kg LMB mine;
- 1 х 743-kg torpedo LF.5f.
Wingspan, m: 23,70
Length, m: 17,40
Height, m: 7,10
Wing area, м2: 153,40
- empty aircraft: 5 000
- maximum take-off: 9 100
Engines: 2 x BMW-VI-6.0ZU x 660 hp
Maximum speed km / h
- near the water: 220
- at height: 208
Cruising speed, km / h
- near the water: 185
- at height: 178
Practical range, km
- normal: 940
- when installing 2 500 l add. tanks: 1500
Maximum rate of climb, m / min: 215
Practical ceiling, m: 3 500
Crew, prs: 4
- one 7.9 mm MG-15 machine gun with 975 rounds per barrel in open front and rear turrets
- one MG-15 with 675 rounds in the lower mount;
- up to 1000 kg of bombs or 1 x 700 kg torpedo.