Established in Warnemünde,
Germany by Ernst Heinkel in 1922 for the production
of airplanes, at the time being restricted in
what it could manufacture by the Treaty of Versailles.
Heinkel managed to obtain the services of 3 leading
aeronautical engineers, Heinrich Hertel and brothers
Siegfried and Walter Günter. Jointly developing
the Heinkel He 70 Blitz airliner for Deutsche
Luft Hansa in 1932, their first effort would
break several air speed records. Spurred on by
its success, the twin engined He 111 Doppel-Blitz
would soon follow. Heinkel was selected by the
rapidly expanding Luftwaffe to adapt the He 70
and He 111 for military use as bombers, the latter
becoming the mainstay of later German bombing
The company would go on to develop
the He 177, the largest bomber to join the Luftwaffe
arsenal, although it was never deployed in significant
numbers. For a time Heinkel courted the Reich
Aviation Ministry (RLM) with fighter plane designs,
however those from rival manufacturer Messerschmitt
were chosen. The He 219 night-fighter was produced,
but in very limited numbers, it remaining a victim
to the political machinations of the Ministry.
In 1941 the company was merged with engine manufacturer
Hirth, allowing the newly formed Heinkel-Hirth
to manufacture an end-to-end product incorporating
their own engines.
The company would be involved
with pioneering efforts in jet aircraft manufacture,
having their He 280 developed to operational
prototype stage, only to have the RLM again favor
Messerschmitt with their iteration the Me 262.
For accuracy’s sake we should mention that
the Heinkel He 162 jet aircraft did manage to
get airborne before the war was over. At wars
end Heinkel was prohibited from manufacturing
aircraft, instead turning to the manufacture
of bicycles and motor scooters as a means of
providing work for thousands.
In 1954 Ernst Heinkel
himself would design the now highly collectable
3-wheeler, following the success of the Messerschmitt
KR 175 and the Isetta. After only 4 years of
production the design was sold to Dundalk engineering
in the Irish republic, it later undergoing some
mechanical improvements and being sold as a Trojan.
As for Heinkel, the company would return to building
aircraft , this time F-104 Starfighters for the
West German Luftwaffe. In 1965 the company was
absorbed by Vereinigte Flugtetechnische Werke
(VFW), they in turn absorbed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm
in 1980. Heinkel’s foray into car manufacture
was brief, and made under adverse conditions,
which is what makes them so highly prized today.