The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 5 No 3 - June 1981




With reference to my article ‘Myths of the Battle of Britain’ in Vol 5, No 1, I have had so many enquiries about my mention of the He 100, depicted in WW 11 recognition manuals as the He 113, and reported as seen in combat during the Battle of Britain, that further elucidation seems necessary.

The He 118, evolved in parallel with the He 112 single-seat fighter, was a dive-bomber initially allocat[e]d the type description He 113. Strong representation on the part of Ernst Heinkel, however, because he feared the effect that such a designation might have on the superstition of pilots who would fly his company’s aircraft, led to this number being rescinded and the aircraft being redesignated He 118, the He 113 becoming ‘the aircraft that never was'.

The description of the He 100 as the He 113 in recognition manuals came about as follows. The He 100 V2 established a speed record of 394,4 mph (635,5 km/h) on 6 June 1938, flown by Udet, and it was at this point that subterfuge (as in the case of the Me 109R (V1) and Bf 109) began. It continued to play a large part in the fighter’s subsequent career.

Anxious to promote the idea abroad that the He 112 was in production for the Luftwaffe, and thus to improve its chances in the export market (which would have been slim had it been generally known that this Heinkel fighter had been rejected, as it had) the record-breaking aircraft was announced as the He 112U - the U indicating Udet. To aid this deception, all clear photographs of the aircraft were witheld from production.

The British recognition manuals showed the He 100 and called it the He 113. The He 113s reported in the combat reports were Bf 109s in reality, as they bore a distant superficial likeness to the drawings of the He 100 in the manuals.

In fact, only 15 He 100s were produced. The three pre-production He 100D-0 aircraft were purchased by Japan, the intention being to produce the type, but the idea never reached fruition. Three 100D-1 aircraft were delivered to the Soviet Union for study purposes, and the nine produced for Germany ended their days as a factory defence force at Marienke, and never fired their guns in anger. The He 113 was therefore a mythical aircraft.

Maj D.P. Tidy


1. THE EARLY USE OF KHAKI In the December issue of the Journal there is a reference to British soldiers engaged in the battle of Laingsnek and in other battles of the period, making their uniforms less conspicuous by dis-colouring helmets and accoutrements with ‘mud, coffee and other mixtures!'*
[*Duxbury, G.R. The Battle of Laingsnek, 28 January 1881. Military History Journal, Vol 5, No 2, December 1980, p70.]

Indeed, it is but a short step to the question: when did the British Army first adopt khaki for field dress?

The earliest reference I have heard came from my late father who was born in 1857 and enlisted in the 9th Regt of Foot on 6 August 1875. He took part in the Jowaki, Peshawar and Kabul campaigns of 1877 to 1880. As a schoolboy of 15 (in 1925) I remember asking him if in these tough campaigns the troops wore scarlet tunics. His answer was ‘no’. The standard issue (in India of course) was tropical whites and that before the Jowaki campaign troops were ordered to dye whites and white leather accoutrements in a solution of camel dung. He added soon after that ‘we were issued with clothing and equipment dyed khaki’.

The 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders came from Afghanistan to form part of Colley’s force and must have been well aware of active service practices on the North West Frontier.

As a suitable dye stuff ‘reddish brown clay’ found in the neighbourhood seems a happier choice.

Patrick L. Gooderham


Editors reply to Question No. 1. ‘The early use of Khaki’. In his book Military Origins, Maj L.L. Gordon (1) confirms the information provided by Mr Gooderham’s late father. Maj Gordon states that the tribesmen of the North West Frontier used to dye their clothing by boiling it in water to which the juice of the little mazari palm, which grows in the foothills of the Hindu Kush, was added. The result of this treatment was that an artificially produced dirty colour was produced for the purposes of camouflage. The concept was adopted by Sir Harry Lumsden, founder of the Corps of Guides. It was subsequently adopted by the infantry of the Punjab Frontier Force in 1857. After the Indian Mutiny of 1857 khaki as a military device was anathematized. However, Lord Roberts was enthusiastic concerning its use, with the result that the khaki uniform for service was indeed worn for the 2nd Afghan War of 1878-80. Col G.R. Duxbury, in his article on the battle of Majuba (2) states that the 92nd Highlanders had arrived from the Afghan campaign, and were wearing khaki tunics and khaki covers for their white pith helmets. Maj P.E. Abbott (3) is of the opinion that experiments in khaki were first begun in the Kaffir War of 1851-53.

Whatever the disputed origins of khaki, there is agreement among military historians that khaki was worn in the Afghan War of 1878-80, as Mr Gooderham’s late father asserted.

The word khaki is derived from the Urdu khak, which signifies dusty, drab, or of colour.

Sources: works referred to in Editor’s Reply.
(1) Gordon, L.L. Military Origins; ed by J.B.R. Nicholson. London, Kay and Ward, 1971, p 216.
(2) Duxbury, G.R. The Battle of Laingsnek, 28 January 1881. Military History Journal, Vol 5, No 2, December 1980, p 70.
(3) Abbott, P. E. The Dress of the Royal Artillery. Tradition, Vol 111, No 18, pp 11-13. Reprinted from the Journal of Royal Artillery.

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