|Andrés Erdös, e-mail, 08.04.2015 05:56|
When the Heinkel He 49a single seat biplane made its first flight in November 1932 it was ostensibly a civilian advanced trainer. However, its BMW VI engine gave it a top speed of almost 199 mph (320 km /h), which was in keeping with its true role as the forerunner of the first fighter to serve with the Luftwaffe upon its official formation in April 1935. Two more prototypes were built, the He 49b flown in February 1933 with a fuselage lengthened by 1 ft 3 3 /4 in (0.40 m), and the He 49e with faired landing gear. The type was ordered as the He 51, the initial He 51A-O pre-production example being flown for the first time in May 1933; eight more were built to this standard and were unarmed. Of all-metal construction, with fabric covering, the He 51 was a single-bay biplane, armed with two 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 17 machine guns mounted above the engine. Deliveries of the initial He 51A-1 production version began in July 1934, and in April 1935 some of them equipped the Luftwaffe's first fighter unit, the Jagdgeschwader 'Richthofen'.