Heinkel He 59 was a German biplane designed in 1930 resulting from a
requirement for a torpedo bomber and
reconnaissance aircraft able
to operate with equal facility on wheeled landing gear or
In 1930, Ernst Heinkel
developing an aircraft for the Reichsmarine
. To conceal the true
military intentions, the aircraft was officially a civil aircraft.
The He 59B
was the first to fly, an event that took
place in September 1931, but it was the He 59A
prototype that paved the way
for the He 59B initial production model, of which 142 were
delivered in three variants. The Heinkel He 59 was a pleasant
aircraft to fly; deficiencies noted were the weak engine, the
limited range, the small load capability and insufficient
The aircraft was of a mixed-material construction. The wings were
made of a two-beam wooden frame, where the front was covered with
and the rest of the wing was covered
with fabric. The box-shaped fuselage
fabric-covered steel frame. The tail section was covered with
lightweight metal sheets.
The keels of the floats were used as fuel
- each one holding 900 L (238 US gal) of fuel.
Together with the internal fuel tank, the aircraft could hold a
total of 2,700 L (713 US gal) of fuel. Two fuel tanks
could also be placed in the bomb bay
bringing the total fuel capacity up to 3,200 L (845 US
gal). The propeller was fixed-pitch with four blades.
During the first months of World War
, the He 59 was used as a torpedo- and minelaying
aircraft. Between 1940 and 1941 the
aircraft was used as a reconnaissance aircraft, and in 1941-42 as a
transport, air-sea rescue
aircraft. The trainer
models survived slightly longer in service than operational models,
but all had been retired or destroyed by 1944. Some aircraft were
operated by the Condor Legion in
Spain during the Spanish
Civil War in 1936 as coastal reconnaissance and torpedo floatplanes.
As the air-sea rescue aircraft, despite carrying Red Cross
markings, were being used for reconnaissance the British Air
Ministry declared from July 1940 they were targets. Even before
then some had been forced down by British aircraft.
Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air
Force) rented four aircraft from Germany in August
These were used to ferry long-range reconnaissance
patrols behind enemy lines. They were returned to Germany four
- He 59a : first prototype.
- He 59b : second prototype.
- He 59A : test and evaluation aircraft. 14
- He 59B-1 : 16 pre-production aircraft.
- He 59B-2 : improved version.
- He 59B-3 : reconnaissance aircraft.
- He 59C-1 : unarmed trainer
- He 59C-2 : air-sea rescue model
- He 59D-1 : combined trainer and air-sea rescue
- He 59E-1 : torpedo bomber trainer
- He 59E-2 : reconnaissance trainer
- He 59N : navigation trainer produced as He
Specifications (He 59)
- Green 1962, p.68
- Nesbitt, The Battle of Britain
- Green, William.War Planes of the Second World War: Volume
Six: Floatplanes. London: Macdonald, 192.
- Kalevi Keskinen, Kari Stenman, Klaus Niska:
Meritoimintakoneet - Suomen ilmavoimien historia 15, Apali
Oy, Tampere 1995, ISBN 952-5026-03-5