The Heinkel He 70 is a mail plane and fast passenger aircraft of the 1930s designed by German aeronautics firm Heinkel Flugzeugwerke, which was also used in auxiliary bomber and aerial reconnaissance roles. It had a relatively brief commercial career before it was replaced by types which could carry more passengers. The He 70 was a leading design for its day, setting eight world speed records by the beginning of 1933.
Luft Hansa operated He 70s between 1934 and 1937 for a fast flight service which connected Berlin with Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne, as well as on the Cologne/Hamburg route. He 70s were flown abroad from Stuttgart to Seville between 1934 and 1936. The route was part of the South America mail service provided by Luft Hansa that continued via Bathurst, The Gambia to Natal, Brazil, using Junkers Ju 52/3m and Dornier Wal flying boats.
Remaining aircraft were transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1937.
The Luftwaffe operated He 70s from 1935, initially as a light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. As soon s purpose built designs became available, it was relegated as a liaison and courier aircraft.
Twenty-eight aircraft were sent in the late 1930s to Spain with the German-manned Legion Condor, where they were used during the Spanish Civil War as fast reconnaissance aircraft. There they were known as the Rayo, Spanish for "lightning".
The main weakness of the He 70 in military use was that crews considered it a fire risk. Elements of the airframe were made out of an extremely flammable magnesium alloy called "Elektron", though the majority of the monocoque fuselage was Duralumin. Elektron is very light yet strong, but burns readily when ignited and is difficult to extinguish. Moreover, each wing contained a non-self-sealing 47-gallon fuel tank, which may have further added to the aircraft's reputation for catching fire. A single hit from a light machine gun is reputed to have often set the entire aircraft ablaze.
While the He 70 saw only limited service in training capacities during World War II, it was the Luftwaffe's first Schnellbomber and served as the antecedent for the majority of bombers involved in both the Battle of Britain and the attack on Pearl Harbor
The He 70 is known mainly as the direct ancestor of the Heinkel He 111, which had the distinctive elliptical wings and streamlined fuselage in a twin-engine configuration. One can also see the close similarity of the designs in the tail section and cockpit of the early He 111. The He 111, which began service with the Luftwaffe in 1936, went on to become the most numerous bomber type of the Luftwaffe – with just over 5,600 examples produced during the war in total – in the early years of World War II, before the growing numbers of Junkers Ju 88 bomber variants (the -A and -S subtypes) overtook it later in World War II.
The He 70 was exported to Japan for study and inspired the Aichi D3A ("Val") carrier-launched light bomber. This aircraft shared the He 70's distinctive low-mounted elliptical wing and was one of several collaborations between Heinkel and the Japanese aviation industry.
Model Scale 1:34