The prototype He 60a (D-2325) first flew in 1933. It was designed by Reinhold Mewes, who had also been responsible for the He 59. The prototype was fitted with a 492kW / 660-hp BMW VI V-type engine and a twin-float undercarriage, and was used primarily for testing the floats. A second prototype, the He 60b, was powered by an uprated 750-hp engine, but this proved to be little more effective than the previous powerplant and the 660-hp version was reinstated in the third prototype and all subsequent production aircraft. The third prototype, the He 60c, was used for ship-board catapult launching trials and was the first post-1919 aircraft to be delivered to the German navy. In April 1933 the first of the initial pre-production batch of 21 He 60A machines was flown. They were to be used as land-based trainers, but two were later modified with the addition of catapult equipment.
Still considered by the Heinkel company capable of carrying greater weights if given a more powerful engine, one He 60 was fitted with a 900-hp Daimler-Benz DB 600, which increased the top speed by 45 km/h (28 mph), and was given the designation He 60B-3. Many trials were made with this aircraft but production never materialized. The main He 60C series were delivered to the German navy from late 1934 onwards. They were fitted with catapult hooks and armed with one movable 7.9-mm (0.311-in) MG 15 machine-gun in the observer's rear cockpit. Two were kept by Heinkel as test aircraft and eventually went to a training school. The D series which followed were fitted with improved radio and a forward-firing 7.9-mm (0.311-in) MG 17 gun, but were later converted to unarmed trainers.
All production C and D series (totalling 200 aircraft) were built by the Arado and Weser companies. Following Heinkel practice the airframe was of steel-tube and wood con-struction with fabric covering. Floats and engine cowling were of aluminium. A crew of two was carried in tandem open cockpits.
Before the Second World War, He 60s were deployed aboard every major warship of the German navy, but by 1939 had been replaced in the shipboard role by the Arado Ar 196. They were retained in shore-based service in the North Sea, Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean until as late as 1943, and were eventually used for communication and training.
Engine: 2 x BMW VI 6.0 ZU, 485kW
Span: 12.9 m / 42ft 3.75 in
Length: 11.5 m / 37 ft 8.75 in
Max take-off weight: 3400 kg / 7496 lb
Empty weight: 2730 kg / 6019 lb
Max. speed: 225 km/h / 140 mph
Cruise speed: 215 km/h / 134 mph
Ceiling: 5000 m / 16400 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 900 km / 559 miles
Armament: 1 x 7.92mm machine-guns