The German Heinkel HE 111 was designed in the early 1930s at Heinkel Flugzeugwerke. Because it was disguised as a cargo plane it has been called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” because it’s purpose was to build a fast medium bomber for the future Luftwaffe. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germany from having an air force and also banned the development of bombers.
Due to the distinctive extensively glazed “greenhouse” nose which was used on the later versions of the HE 111 it was the best best-recognised German bomber of the war.
It performed well until the Battle of Britain when the weak defensive armament, poor maneuverability, and relatively low speed became apparent. However, it still proved capable of sustaining heavy damage and remain airborne.
The HE 111 was used in a multitude of roles all over the European Theater. From a strategic bomber in the Battle of Britain to a torpedo bomber in the Battle of the Atlantic. On all fronts it served as a medium bomber and transport aircraft.
Despite frequent upgrades, the He 111 became obsolete towards the end of the war. It was to be replaced by the Bomber B project but that was never able to produce a workable replacement. Thus having nothing better the Luftwaffe was forced to continue to use it until the very end.
After the war, the Heinkel design was still in use, the Spanish-built CASA 2.111 was a licence-built version which differed significantly in powerplant only. The Heinkel’s descendant continued in service until 1973.