Heinkel, Ernst

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b. 24 January 1888 Grünbach, Remstal, Germany
d. 30 January 1958 Stuttgart, Germany
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German aeroplane designer who was responsible for the first jet aeroplane to fly.
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The son of a coppersmith, as a young man Ernst Heinkel was much affected by seeing the Zeppelin LZ 4 crash and burn out at Echterdringen, near Stuttgart. After studying engineering, in 1910 he designed his first aeroplane, but it crashed; he was more successful the following year when he made a flight in it, with an engine on hire from the Daimler company. After a period working for a firm near Munich and for LVG at Johannisthal, near Berlin, he moved to the Albatros Company of Berlin with a monthly salary of 425 marks. In May 1913 he moved to Lake Constance to work on the design of sea-planes and in May 1914 he moved again, this time to the Brandenburg Company, where he remained as a designer until 1922, when he founded his own company, Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke. Following the First World War, German companies were not allowed to build military aircraft, which was frustrating for Heinkel whose main interest was high-speed aircraft. His sleek He 70 airliner, built for Lufthansa, was designed to carry four passengers at high speeds: indeed it broke many records in 1933. Lufthansa decided it needed a larger version capable of carrying ten passengers, so Heinkel produced his most famous aeroplane, the He 111. Although it was designed as a twin-engined airliner on the surface, secretly Heinkel was producing a bomber. The airliner version first flew on Lufthansa routes in 1936, and by 1939 almost 1,000 bombers were in service with the Luftwaffe. A larger four-engined bomber, the He 177, ran into development problems and it did not see service until late in the Second World War. Heinkel's quest for speed led to the He 176 rocket-powered research aeroplane which flew on 20 June 1939, but Hitler and Goering were not impressed. The He 178, with Dr Hans von Ohain's jet engine, made its historic first flight a few weeks later on 27 August 1939; this was almost two years before the maiden flight in Britain of the Gloster E 28/39, powered by Whittle's jet engine. This project was a private venture by Heinkel and was carried out in great secrecy, so the world's first jet aircraft went almost unnoticed. Heinkel's jet fighters, the He 280 and the He 162, were never fully operational. After the war, Heinkel in 1950 set up a new company which made bicycles, motor cycles and "bubble" cars.
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Bibliography
1956, He 1000, trans. M.Savill, London: Hutchinson (the English edition of his autobiography).
Further Reading
J.Stroud, 1966, European Transport Aircraft since 1910, London.
Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, London: Jane's; reprinted 1989.
P. St J.Turner, 1970, Heinkel: An Aircraft Album, London.
H.J.Nowarra, 1975, Heinkel und seine Flugzeuge, Munich (a comprehensive record of his aircraft).
JDS / IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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