Heinkel’s He 51 was Nazi Germany’s first significant fighter design. Malcolm V Lowe examines this biplane’s development and service career
HEINKEL He 51
Germany’s massive re-armament, which took place following the Nazi accession to power during early 1933, led directly to the major expansion and re-organisation of naval, land and air power. Under Adolf Hitler, the ‘new’ Luftwaffe was officially ‘announced’ during March 1935, but was already being organised and enlarged prior to then. One of the most important warplanes to find prominence during the early years of the Third Reich was Heinkel’s single-engine He 51, which was operated in combat even before World War Two began.