Heinkel He 51

Designed in secret under the guise of being a civil transport, the He 51 was revealed to Europe in 1935 as the first fighter plane of the newly formed Luftwaffe. Although of moderate performance, the plane formed the backbone of the early German air force, and in 1936 was sent with German units to support the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. As its weaknesses were revealed by the I-15 and more advanced fighters, the He 51 began serving in the dive-bombing and close support roles. By the beginning of WWII, the He 51 was a second-line aircraft, and served mostly as a trainer.

The He 51 has a crew of one. It could be fitted with a 13.2-gallon drop tank to increase range from 354 miles to 460 miles. As the plane changed roles, it was fitted with external bomb racks for six 22-lb. bombs. The He 51 burns 28 gallons of aviation fuel per hour at routine usage. A full load of fuel and ammo costs $18.80 (+$2.64 for the drop tank).


Heinkel He 51B-1

Subassemblies: Light Fighter chassis +3; Recon Fighter wings with Biplane option +2; 3 fixed wheels +0.

Powertrain: 559-kW HP gasoline engine with 559-kW prop and 44-gallon fuel tank [Body].

Occ.: 1 XCS Body

Cargo: 10 Body


Armor F RL B T U

Body: 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C

Wings: 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C 2/2C

Wheels: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3



2xAircraft LMG/7.92 mm MG 17 [Body:F] (500 rounds each).*




Body: Medium radio transmitter and receiver, 13.2 gallon drop tank. Wings: Six 22-lb. of hardpoints.



Size: 28'x36'x11' Payload: 0.48 tons Lwt.: 2.09 tons

Volume: 144 Maint.: 82 hours Cost: $5,965

HT: 7. HPs: 50 Body, 100 each Wing, 5 each Wheel.

aSpeed: 205 aAccel: 7 aDecel: 17 aMR: 4.5 aSR: 1

Stall Speed: 52 mph. Take-Off Run 208 yards. Landing Run 270 yards.

gSpeed: 262 gAccel: 13 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2

Ground Pressure: Very High. 1/8 Off-Road Speed.


Design Notes:

Historical wing area was 293 sf. A 45-gallon main tank and 15-gallon drop tank were purchased; the historical capacities are shown. The weight, cost and HPs of the wings were doubled to increase design weight. The design Empty weight was within 1 lb. of the historical. The design uses a "modern" aerial propeller, but performance calculations are closer to historical using 2.5x thrust of an old prop, so aSpeed and aAccel were calculated in this way. aSpeed was reduced a further 6 mph to the historical. Design loaded weight was within 5% of the historical. All performance calculations were based on historical values for wing area and loaded weight.



The He 49a, -b, and -c were all prototypes leading up to the -d, which was then designated the He 51. Work on the He 49 series progressed from 1932 to 1935.

The He 51A-1 (1935) was the initial production model. 150 built. The -B was a single floatplane conversion.

The He 51B-2 was a floatplane version. 46 built.

The He 51C was the dedicated ground attack version with bomb racks. 79 built for the Spanish Nationalists and 21 for German coastal defense.


From the Aerodrome for GURPS

2008 by Jim Antonicic