Ernst Heinkel
Dr. Ernst Heinkel was a German
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 aircraft designer, manufacturer, Wehrwirtschaftführer in the Third Reich, and member of the Nazi party. His company Heinkel Flugzeugwerke
Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight.-History:...

 produced the Heinkel He 178
Heinkel He 178
|-See also:*List of firsts in aviation-Bibliography:* Warsitz, Lutz: The First Jet Pilot - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009, ISBN 9781844158188.-External links:...

, the world's first turbojet aircraft and jet plane, and the Heinkel He 176, the first rocket aircraft. He was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science
German National Prize for Art and Science
The German National Prize for Art and Science was an award created by Adolf Hitler in 1937 as a replacement for the Nobel Prize . The award was designed by Müller-Erfurt and created in the form of a pendant studded with diamonds...

 in 1938.

Early life

He was born in Grunbach
Grünbach may refer to the following places:*Grünbach, Saxony, in the Vogtlandkreis, Saxony, Germany*Grünbach, Upper Austria, in the district of Freistadt, Upper Austria, Austria*Grünbach am Schneeberg, in the district of Neunkirchen, Lower Austria, Austria...

 and as a young man became an apprentice machinist
A machinist is a person who uses machine tools to make or modify parts, primarily metal parts, a process known as machining. This is accomplished by using machine tools to cut away excess material much as a woodcarver cuts away excess wood to produce his work. In addition to metal, the parts may...

 at a foundry
A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold, and removing the mold material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron...

. Heinkel studied at the Technical Academy in Stuttgart, where he initially became interested in aviation through a fascination with Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

s, and in 1909 attended an international airshow in Frankfurt am Main. He determined flight was the future of transportation, and the following year, he built his first aircraft, working from a set of plans by Henri Farman. Heinkel crashed the plane in 1911 and suffered severe injuries.

Albatros Flugzeugwerke

Soon afterwards, he gained employment at Luft-Verkehrs Gesellschaft (LVG), who were building Farman aircraft. From there, he went to Albatros
Albatros Flugzeugwerke
Albatros-Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturer best known for supplying the German airforces during World War I.The company was based in Johannisthal, Berlin, where it was founded by Walter Huth and Otto Wiener on December 20, 1909. It produced some of the most capable fighter aircraft...

, where Heinkel designed the Albatros B-II, a reconnaissance aircraft used during the early stages of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. His planes were used by the Austro-Hungarian army and German navy during the war. After leaving the Albatros, Heinkel designed several land- and seaplanes for the Hansa-Brandenburg
Hansa und Brandenburgische Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company that operated during World War I. It was created in May 1914 by the purchase of Brandenburgische Flugzeugwerke by Camillo Castiglioni, who relocated the factory from Libau to Brandenburg am Havel...

 company starting in 1914.


In 1921
1921 in aviation
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1921:- Events :* Bessie Coleman attends flying school in France and became the first licensed African-American female pilot.* Mexicana de Aviación begins service....

, Heinkel was appointed head designer of the recently re-established Caspar-Werke
The Caspar-Werke was a German aircraft manufacturer of the early 20th century. It was founded in 1911 by Karl Caspar under the name Zentrale für Aviatik in Fuhlsbüttel. In its early years, the firm built Etrich and Rumpler types under licence, and was dissolved following World War I.In 1921, Caspar...

, but soon left after a dispute over ownership of a design. In 1922 he established the Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke
Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight.-History:...

 company at Warnemünde
Warnemünde is a sea resort and northmost district of Rostock in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, situated on the Baltic Sea in the northeast of Germany at the estuary of the river Warnow.- History :...

. Due to the restrictions placed on German aircraft manufacturing by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, Heinkel looked overseas for contracts, with some seaplane designs being licence-built in Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and working on catapult
A catapult is a device used to throw or hurl a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices—particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines. Although the catapult has been used since ancient times, it has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms during...

-launched seaplanes for the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

. He installed a similar catapult on the ocean liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

SS Bremen (1929)
The SS Bremen was a German-built ocean liner constructed for the Norddeutscher Lloyd line to work the transatlantic sea route. The Bremen was notable for her bulbous bow construction, high-speed engines, and low, streamlined profile. At the time of her construction, she and her sister ship were...

 for launching mail planes.

Versailles Treaty violations

Between 1921-1924, the Japanese government placed several orders with Heinkel's company, and helped him skirt the Versailles Treaty, which banned the construction of military aircraft in Germany, by informing the company of facility inspections by allied commissions in advance. Japan was part of the inspection commission. Heinkel hid his aircraft in dune
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...

s behind his plant and were never discovered during inspections. Heinkel noted in his memoirs that his company's relationship with Japan in the 1920s led to decades of cooperation.


After Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 came to power, designs by Heinkel's firm formed a vital part of the Luftwaffe's
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 growing strength in the years leading up to the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. This included the Heinkel He 59
Heinkel He 59
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Green, William.War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Six: Floatplanes. London: Macdonald, 1962.* Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 0-385-05782-2....

, the Heinkel He 115
Heinkel He 115
The Heinkel He 115 was a World War II Luftwaffe seaplane with three seats. It was used as a torpedo bomber and performed general seaplane duties, such as reconnaissance and minelaying. The plane was powered by two 720 kW BMW 132K nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engines...

 and the Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

. He was designated a Wehrwirtschaftführer (~ defence industry leader) by the German government for his commitment to rearmament.

Heinkel was passionate about high-speed flight
High-speed flight
In high-speed flight the assumptions of incompressibility of the air used in low-speed aerodynamics no longer apply. In subsonic aerodynamics, the theory of lift is based upon the forces generated on a body and a moving gas in which it is immersed...

, and was keen on exploring alternative forms of aircraft propulsion. He donated aircraft to Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 who was investigating rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 propulsion for aircraft, as well as sponsoring the research of Hans von Ohain
Hans von Ohain
Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain was a German engineer, one of the inventors of jet propulsion.Frank Whittle, who patented in 1930 in the United Kingdom, and Hans von Ohain, who patented in 1936 in Germany, developed the concept independently during the late 1930s...

 into turbojet engines, leading to the flight of the Heinkel He 178
Heinkel He 178
|-See also:*List of firsts in aviation-Bibliography:* Warsitz, Lutz: The First Jet Pilot - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009, ISBN 9781844158188.-External links:...

, the first aircraft to fly solely under turbojet power by Erich Warsitz
Erich Warsitz
Erich Warsitz was a German test pilot of the 1930s. He held the rank of Flight-Captain in the Luftwaffe and was selected by the Reich Air Ministry as chief test pilot at Peenemünde West...

 on August 27, 1939.

Heinkel had been a critic of Hitler's regime concerning being forced to fire Jewish designers and staff in 1933, however, he was a member of the Nazi party, awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science
German National Prize for Art and Science
The German National Prize for Art and Science was an award created by Adolf Hitler in 1937 as a replacement for the Nobel Prize . The award was designed by Müller-Erfurt and created in the form of a pendant studded with diamonds...

 in 1938, one of the rarest honors of the German government, and he used forced Jewish labor starting in 1941, in which his company was considered a "model for slave labor."

In 1942 the government "nationalised" the Heinkel works. In practice, this meant that Heinkel was detained until he sold his controlling interest in his factories to Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

. Heinkel moved to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and started a new design bureau there, working on the Heinkel He 274
Heinkel He 274
The Heinkel He 274 was a German Luftwaffe heavy bomber developed during World War II, purpose-designed for high-altitude bombing with pressurized crew accommodation.- He 177 ancestry :...

 design until the war ended.

At the end of the war Heinkel was arrested by the Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 but evidence of anti-Hitler activities and his treatment by the regime led to his acquittal.


With Germany forbidden from manufacturing aircraft by the Allies, Heinkel used his company's facilities to build private transportation. In 1953 Heinkel began production of the Tourist
Heinkel Tourist
The Heinkel Tourist is a motor scooter made by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke from 1953 to 1965. More than 100,000 were manufactured and sold.The Tourist was sold as an upscale scooter. It was more expensive than a Vespa or a Lambretta, and was generally heavier, more comfortable, and more stable...

Scooter (motorcycle)
A scooter is a motorcycle with step-through frame and a platform for the operator's feet. Elements of scooter design have been present in some of the earliest motorcycles, and motorcycles identifiable as scooters have been made from 1914 or earlier...

, followed by the Perle moped
Mopeds are a type of low-powered motorcycle designed to provide economical and relatively safe transport with minimal licensing requirements.Mopeds were once all equipped with bicycle-like pedals , but moped has been increasingly applied by governments to vehicles without pedals, based on their...

 in 1954. In 1956 he introduced the Heinkel Kabine
Heinkel Kabine
The Heinkel Kabine was a microcar designed by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke and built by them from 1956 to 1958. Production was transferred under licence to Dundalk Engineering Company in Ireland in 1958 but the licence was withdrawn shortly afterward due to poor quality control Production restarted in...

 bubble car
Bubble car
Bubble car is a subjective term used for some small, economical automobiles, usually produced in the 1950s and 1960s.- Varieties :The Messerschmitt KR175 and KR200, and the FMR Tg500, had aircraft-style bubble canopies, giving rise to the term bubble car to refer to all these post-war microcars...

. Bubble car and moped production ceased shortly after the restriction on aircraft manufacture was lifted, but scooter production continued until 1965. In 1959, Heinkel's company was sued by Edmund Bartl for being enriched by slave labor during World War II, however, the German Supreme Court dismissed his claims for filing too late and ordered Bartl to pay court costs and attorney's fees.


Ernst Heinkel died in 1958 in Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. His autobiography, Stürmisches Leben was published in 1956 and translated into English as He1000 in its British edition and Stormy Life: Memoirs of a Pioneer of the Air Age in its US edition.

External links

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