Ernst Heinkel was born in Grunbach, Germany, in 1888. Working for the Albatros Aviation Company, Heinkel designed the Albatros B-II, a reconnaissance aircraft used during the early stages of the First World War. After leaving the Albatros, Heinkel designed several seaplanes for the Hansa-Brandenburg company.
In 1922 Heinkel established the Heinkel-Flugzeugwerke company at Warnemunde. After Adolf Hitler came to power, Heinkel's designs formed a vital part of the Luffwaffe's growing strength in the years leading up to the Second World War. This included the Heinkel He59, the Heinkel He115 and the Heinkel He111.
The Heinkel He111 was used extensively in air raids over England in 1940. However, it was found to be vulnerable to artillery-fire and was redeployed as a mine-layer. This was replaced by the Heinkel He177 and over 1,100 were purchased by the German government during the war.
Heinkel was a critic of Hitler's regime and in 1942 the government took control of his factories. At the end of the war Heinkel was arrested by the Allies but evidence of anti-Hitler activities led to his acquittal and he was allowed to re-establish his aviation company in Germany. Ernst Heinkel died in 1958.