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Dornier Do 217

The early models of the Do. 217's were made to be bombers and continued to evolve during World War II. The Dornier 217 E-5 was adapted from the Dornier 217 E-2/A-4 torpedo plane. Some Dornier 217 E-5's were modified to launch two early prototypes of specially designed secret weapons. In later versions, the Dornier Do. 217 K's, N's, and M's were not only developed as bombers, but were modified to be night fighters. For better self protection, the Do. 217 K's were equipped with two additional machine guns making a total of eight. The Do. 217 K's had a redesigned nose which was made for better target visibility in order to improve bombing accuracy. The Do. 217 K's total payload was 4,000 kg. Dornier 217's were manufactured in Germany by Dornier Werke Gmbk. Most Dornier Do. 217's had a speed of around 320 mph at 17,060 feet with a ceiling range of 24,600 feet. The crews of various Dornier Do.217's would range from 3 to 4 airmen. In 1942, some Do.217 K's were redesigned to carry two types of radio controlled missiles. One was equipped to launch the Fritz X anti-ship missile and others the Henschel Hs 293 glider missile. Both types of Do. 217's carried the missiles under their wings. The arming and guidance systems for these missiles were in the nose of the aircraft. What is so remarkable is the understanding that as early as 1939 the guidance system for this missile system was operated by the use of a single joystick. The Geschwader's II.Gruppe specialized with the use of the Henschel Hs 293's. Their base of operations was Cognac, France and Foggia, Italy.

The Dornier Do 217 was a direct development of the Do l 7 which first flew in 1934. Originally conceived as a commercial airliner, the Do 17 was redesigned as a medium bomber and long range reconnaissance aircraft. It was dubbed the "flying pencil" because of its long thin fuselage, and it became known as a reliable and effective aircraft. In 1 937, Dornier began work on an improved version of the aircraft which would have a larger payload capability, greater range, and increased performance. The Do 217 V1 prototype first flew in August 1938, and in early 1940, the Do 217A-0 reconnaissance variant became the first version to enter service with the Luftwaffe. The first production bomber version to become oper- ational was the Do 217E-1 which was developed from the Do 217 V9 prototype and Do 217E-0 pre-production aircraft. It featured a deeper fuselage that housed an enlarged bomb bay. The main bay was fourteen feet, ten inches in length, and it was enclosed by two sets of doors. But two additional doors at the aft end covered a five-foot, eight-inch extension that permitted a torpedo to be carried completely inside the fuselage. This was important, because the aircraft was often used in the anti- shipping role. Alternatively, the bomb bay could hold eight 551-pound bombs, four 1,102-pound bombs, or two 2,205-pound bombs. A single 15-mm MG151 can- non was mounted in the nose, and five 7.9-mm machine guns provided defensive armament. These proved to be less effective than might be imagined, because four of them had to be manned by the radio operator. The Do 217E-1s were followed by the Do 217E-2, the first version to have a gun turret in the aft cockpit. The similar Do 217E-3 and E-4 subsequently replaced the Do 217E-2 an the production lines.

German magazine Cover

Type: Heavy Bomber
Manufacturer: Dornier Werke GmbH

Type: four-seat night-fighter
Engine: two Daimler-Benz DB 603A 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engines, each rated at 1,850 hp
Max speed: 328 mph at 20,000 feet
Service ceiling: 27,560 feet
Range: 1,090 miles
Weight: empty equipped 30,203 lbs; loaded 43,607 lbs;
Dimensions: wingspan 62 feet, 4 inches; length 62 feet; height 16 feet, 5 inches
Armament: four forward-firing MG 15 7.9-mm machine-guns in nose; four forward-firing 20-mm MG 151 cannon in lower nose; four 20-mm MG 151 cannon in "schräge musik" installation