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 campaigns.
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.
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.