He-51 Heinkel's Biplane Fighter and Trautloft of the Condor
Legion Article & Plans
1963 American Modeler
Heinkel He-1 first appeared on the flight lines of German in 1933,
six years before Hitler's forces invaded Poland and began World
War II. Its 750 hp BMW engine dragged it along at a respectable
205 mph - a respectable speed for a biplane in that era. The
range was 242 miles, which is only 121 out and back, so an auxiliary
tank was fitted to extend it to 430 miles. The model in this article
from a 1963 edition of American Modeler is based on a version
of the He-1 that was used in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
With a 35" wingspan, this fully built-up control-line biplane is
powered by a Fox .35 engine. The airframe is very robust - typical
of the era - and the original was covered in silk and dope. Really
nice plans and a drawing of the assembled airframe are included.
He-51 Heinkel's Biplane Fighter and Trautloft of the Condor Legion
By Walter A. Musciano
by many to be one of the "classics" in fighter plane design, along
with the Hawker "Fury" and Curtiss P-6E "Hawk," the Heinkel He-51
was the German Luftwaffe's first fighter. This clean biplane appeared
in 1933 when the prototype underwent tests which were so successful
that the craft was ordered in quantity. By 1935 it had become the
standard Luftwaffe single-seat fighter. Jagdgeschwader Richthofen
and Jagdgeschwader Horst Wessel were the first wings to be equipped
with the He-51.
Powered by a B.M.W. twelve cylinder,
Vee type, liquid cooled engine of 750 horsepower the bipe had a
maximum speed of 205 miles per hour. Normal range was 242 miles,
ceiling was 25,356 feet. The He-51 scaled 4,180 pounds fully loaded.
All Luftwaffe Heinkels were painted silvery-gray overall.
The He-51 spearheaded the German forces in the Spanish Civil
War and became part of Jagdgruppe 88 which finally consisted of
thirty six Heinkels. When hundreds of Russian "Rata" and "Mosca"
fighters which could out-perform the He-51 made their appearance
the Heinkel was shifted to ground support duties. The Messerschmitt
109 assumed the fighter role in Spain for the Germans during the
spring of 1937. When the He-51 was flown as a fighter by Hannes
Trautloft it sported a silver gray color scheme. When used by Adolf
Galland (see August 1961 American Modeler) as a ground attack weapon
his Heinkel was covered with mottled camouflage. Combat experience
in Spain dictated the use of an external auxiliary fuel tank which
boosted range to 430 miles.
Our plans show the markings
which appeared on the He-51 flown by Hannes Trautloft in the Spanish
Civil War. In addition to this we have included the Luftwaffe colors
as used by one of the Heinkels with the Geschwader Richthofen should
the reader want German instead of Spanish markings.
glow plug engine size .29 to .49 can be installed in this one inch
to the foot scale biplane. The wing area is an ample 292 square
inches, so we do not worry much about excessive weight forward.
Unless an extremely heavy engine is used with a short crankshaft
the model balances tail heavy when completed. Screw lead weights
to forward section of engine mounts or cowl interior. It is advisable
to use light balsa for the tail surfaces.
Begin construction by tracing and cutting fuselage bulkheads and
fuselage sides. Bevel inside rear of sides and join with plenty
of cement. Fit in bulkheads, cement well to sides. Use clamps or
rubber bands to hold the sides against bulkheads until cement dries.
Slip in engine mounts followed by landing gear platform - use lotsa
cement. Add bellcrank mount.
Condor Legion He-51 was nosed over by Spanish pilot during landing.
Insignia is a "black ball."
Line-up of "Richthofen Geschwader" in German Luftwaffe Heinkels.
Alternate color scheme is suggested for modelers flying more
than one He-51 in a club.
Bend landing gear struts, join
the two with solder after binding joint with soft fine wire. Install
gear with "J" bolts, cement around installation.
lead-out wires to bellcrank, bend control rod. Pass rod through
fuselage, slip end through bellcrank hole. Bolt bellcrank to mount,
pass lead-out wires through fuselage holes.
Cut tail surfaces,
sand to streamline section after cementing elevator halves to hardwood
spar. Add control horn. Hinge elevator assembly to stab. Cement
stab in cut-out atop fuselage sides. Connect rod to control horn,
solder washer to both ends to hold rod in place.
is strapped in place, or wedged with balsa, then well cemented.
Add plastic fuel line extensions - tape ends to keep out dust.
Cut lower wing ribs, cement to leading and trailing edges-
lower wing can be built over plan. Cut leading edge from one solid
piece of balsa for maximum strength. Cover center section with 1/16"
sheet balsa; laminate tips. Cement tips and plywood strut supports
to wing. Scale rib spacing enhances model's appearance and imparts
Carve and sandpaper wing tips, leading edge, and
trailing edge to shape; re-cement all rib joints. Cover lower wing
with silk then apply four coats of clear dope. Sand lightly with
Cement lower wing to fuselage with zero
incidence by fitting it into fuselage side cut-outs. When installation
is dry plank fuselage top and bottom. Taper and bevel strips for
good fit, use ample cement to hold strips to bulkheads and each
other. Rough carve cowl block and hollow to clear engine mounts.
Cement block to bulkhead. When dry, carve cowl and fuselage to sections
shown. Sand smooth. Add fin and rudder; offset rudder. Fillet lower
wing and tail with several coats of cement.
are optional. Some Heinkel Staffels often flew without them. Cut
landing gear- fairing from 1/4" sheet balsa, cement in place. Carve
radiator, attach to fuselage between landing gear fairings. Fillet
with several coats of cement. Apply three coats of Filler Coat to
all wood parts then sand well.
hardwood cabane struts then sand to streamlined section. Sharpen
ends, mark locations on fuselage. Pierce the fuselage until struts
are in place. Remove, cement, replace. Add several cement coats
around strut attachments. Add Balsa Filler Coat to the fuselage
and tail. While each coat is drying work on upper wing.
Unlike lower one, upper wing has dihedral so three-section leading
edge is cemented to plywood joiner. When dry cement in ribs. Construction
continues as for lower wing except a lead weight is firmly cemented
in outboard tip. Dope four coats of clear over silk covering.
When wood surfaces of fuselage and tail have been well sealed,
sand smooth with 10/0 Flex-I-Grit. Upper wing is attached. Its main
supports are 1/16" music wire struts. Bend accurately with small
loops on ends for screws. Cut a small section of silk on upper surfaces
of both wings to reach plywood strut supports. Attach wire to lower
wing with round head wood screws. Mark off cabane strut locations
on underside of upper wing. Make holes to receive sharpened ends
of cabane struts.
Additional construction data appears
on Hobby Helpers' plans.
of Mr. A. E. Ferko and his extensive knowledge of military aviation
history was indispensable in the preparation of this article and
is sincerely appreciated by the author.
Heinkel He-1 Biplane Assembly Drawing
<click for larger
Heinkel He-1 Biplane Plans
<click for larger
Trautloft of the Condor Region
When the government of Spain fell into the hands of Communists,
Francisco Franco launched a military revolution from Morocco in
an attempt to seize control of the country. This civil war action
expanded into international proportions as the then Fascist nations
of Germany and Italy supported the revolution and Communist Russia
helped the Loyalist government. The three parties poured men and
machines into Spain on a "voluntary" basis. Thus the Spanish Civil
War became the testing ground for military equipment and tactical
theory of three major European powers.
As was to be expected
much secrecy surrounded the movement of foreign soldiers into Spain.
Luftwaffe personnel drafted for service in Spain were sent to Special
Branch "W" in Berlin where they were given civilian clothes, papers,
and Spanish money. Upon their arrival in Spain they were issued
olive brown uniforms which resembled the outfits worn by the insurgents.
All mail to these men was addressed to "Max Winkler, Berlin S.W.
68" then secretly forwarded to German bases in Spain. Length of
service in the combat area was three to six months. Many Luftwaffe
leaders such as Galland, Moelders, Lutzow, and Trautloft received
"for real" training while aiding General Franco. It was the German
policy to send only their most promising officers to Spain. When
these battle veterans returned home they became combat instructors
The German "voluntary" contingent in
Spain was called the "Condor Legion," aircraft and pilots were its
most important part. On August 7, 1936 the freighter "Usaramo' from
Hamburg steamed into the harbor at Cadiz with the first German pilots
of the "Condor Legion." Also aboard were six crated Heinkel He-51
fighter planes of the new Luftwaffe. In addition the "Usararno"
carried spare parts for Junkers transports (flown to Spain via Italy).
As the six pilots went ashore they were identified as Leutnants
von Houwald, Hester, and Kleine, and Oberleutnants Eberhard, Knuppel
and Trautloft. The last was destined for fame.
Trautloft was born on March 3, 1912 in Thuringia, a large expanse
of fertile farmland known as the "Green Heart" of Germany. After
attending high school and technical school he joined the army. Hannes
soon transferred to the secret Luftwaffe which was being organized
despite World War One treaties. By the time Hitler revealed his
new air force to the world, Trautloft had reached the rank of Oberleutnant.
Then he was sent to Spain for combat experience.
the comman dof Eberhard the six man air force went into action on
August 25. On this day Trautloft scored his "team's" first kill
by shooting down a Breguet. The staffers leader also scored during
this encounter. On the following day two more Loyalists were downed
by these "Condor Legion" pilots. From August through October 1936
these six Germans plus a handful of poorly trained and equipped
Spaniards bore the brunt of the aerial fighting for General Franco's
revolutionary government. Five days after going into combat Trautloft
was forced to bail out of his Heinkel. Two days later, back in action
with another He-51, he destroyed a Nieuport fighter.
The arrival in Spain of scores of new Russian "Mosca" and "Rata"
fighters spelled the doom of the Heinkel He-51.
December 9 the first Messerschmitt 109B arrived in Spain and was
assigned to Trautloft. He promptly had his mechanic paint a green
heart on its fuselage as symbolic of his native Thuringia. This
new type Messerschmitt was plagued by many mechanical malfunctions
but Trautloft patiently tested the craft on combat patrols. His
reports paved the way for the 109's later success. He returned to
Germany in Spring 1937 to resume his work in the Luftwaffe. It was
at this time that the Messerschmitt appeared in Spain in substantial
Trautloft was commanding Gruppe III of Geschwader
No. 51 at the outbreak of World War Two. His unit saw extensive
action throughout the campaign in the low countries and the defeat
of France. During one encounter Trautloft's Gruppe III destroyed
seven Boulton-Paul Defiants and the myth about the effectiveness
of these battle planes.
Trautloft was advanced to the command
of his own Geschwader and became the Kommodore of Jg-54 on August
25, 1940. After serving through the "Battle of Britain," he and
his Geschwader moved to the Eastern Front for the attack on Russia.
The unit was equipped with Messerschmitt 109F fighters; each plane
sported a green heart with a white outline painted on its fuselage
under the cockpit. When the signal to attack was given on June 22,
1941 the, "Green Hearts" were the first to cross the border at 3
:00 A.M. By late afternoon many missions had been flown and the
Kommodore had bagged his first Russian bomber. During the first
four days of battle 500 Russian planes were destroyed. By September
17 the "Green Hearts" destroyed 1,300 Red planes and by April 1942,
2,000. Trautloft had been awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron
Cross on July 27, 1941 after his twentieth victory.
Under Major Trautloft's leadership Jg-54 continued its phenomenal
record and attained four thousand victories by February 1943. Hans
Phillip with 205 victories and Walter Nowotny with 258 enemy planes
destroyed were among the high scorers of Jg-54. The "Green Hearts"
had shot down 9,200 opposition aircraft by the end of the war; they
were second only to Jg-77.
In Fall 1943 Oberst Trautloft
had been promoted to the office of "Inspector of Fighters East."
Along with General Galland and Major Lutzow he tried everything
to stem the tide of destructive Allied bombings which were increasing
daily. During this period Trautloft was able to do little combat
flying but he did fly on inspection patrols with Gen. Galland. Early
in 1945 the three leaders were aghast at the manner in which Hermann
Goering and Hitler took charge of Germany's fighter force mismanaging
the entire aerial defense operation.
When Hitler and
Goering assigned the Messerschmitt 262 Jet Fighter to bombing duties
the trio protested vigorously in what was called the "mutiny of
the fighters". Result was that Galland, Lutzow and Trautloft were
removed from their posts by Goering.
from the conflict with 53 official victories. Today Gen. Hannes
Trautloft, Inspector General of the West German Air Force, is applying
his skill - for the third time in three decades - against the threat
of Communist air armadas!
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