Warplanes / Germany
Dornier Do 217

Dornier Do 217

In the normal process of design evolution it was recognised that, culminating from a design compromise, the Dornier Do 17 could at best represent a stopgap for three or four years in Luftwaffe service, and in 1937, as that aircraft was entering operational units, the manufacturer proposed a slightly larger and dedicated development, the Dornier Do 217.

Powered by 1,075-hp (802-kW) DB 601A engines, the prototype Do 217 VI was flown in August 1938 but at once showed that many of the excellent handling qualities of the earlier aircraft had disappeared; indeed, the prototype soon crashed, Several further prototypes followed with various modifications, including enlarged tail surfaces to overcome directional instability, but none received altogether favourable response from Luftwaffe pilots.

Eventual recourse was made to greatly increased engine power, and after limited production of the Do 217A reconnaissance aircraft and Do 217C bomber, a standard for full production settled upon the Do 217E, powered by two 1,550-hp (1156-kW) BMW 80IMA radiais. Pre-production Do 217E-O aircraft appeared in 1940, and service Do 217E-1 bombers early in 1941; the latter carried a bombload of 2000 kg (4,409 lb), a crew of four or five, and a defensive armament of five MG 15 machine-guns and a 15-mm MG 151 cannon.

First to receive the Do 217E bomber, in March 1941, was II/KG 40 for antishipping duties over the Atlantic, followed by all three Gruppen of KG 2. A large number of sub-variants and Rüstsätze (field conversion kits) existed, including provision to carry two Henschel Hs 293 missiles, increased armour protection and armament progressively increased to seven MG 15s and a 20-mm cannon. The Do 217E-2, for example, introduced an electrically operated dorsal turret mounting a single 13-mm (0.51-in) MG 131 heavy machine-gun. Dormer Do 217Es of KG 2 constituted a large part of the Luftwaffe bomber force sent against British towns and cities in the so-called 'Baedeker raids' of April and May 1942.

During the autumn of that year a new version, the Do 217K, joined KG 2; powered by 1,700-hp (1268-kW) BMW 80ID radiais, this version was in effect a more powerful counterpart of the Do 217E series and could accommodate all the Rüstsätze previously applied; it also eliminated the windscreen 'step' by introducing a completely new and bulbous nose profile. Produced almost simultaneously was the Do 217M, which was similar to the Do 217K series but with 1,750-hp (1306-kW) DaimlerBenz DB 603A liquid-cooled inverted V-12 engines.
These two versions continued in service up to the end of the war, frequently being employed to deliver such weapons as the Hs 293A and Fritz-X both against ships and key land targets. However, no more than 1,730 Do 217s of all versions were produced, of which almost half were reconnaissance aircraft and night-fighters.

Specification Dornier Do 217M-1

Type: four-seat bomber
Powerplant: two 1,750-hp (1306-kW) Daimler-Benz DB 603A inverted V-12 piston engines
Performance: maximum speed 600 km/h (348 mph) at 5700 m (18,700 ft); initial climb rate 210 m (690 ft) per minute; service ceiling 9500 m (31,180 ft); range 2500 km (1,555 miles)
Weights: empty 9065 kg (19,985 lb); maximum take-off 16700 kg (36,817 lb)
Dimensions: span 19,00 m (62 ft 4 in); length 17,00 m (55 ft 9% in); height 4.96 m (16 ft 3 in); wing area 57.00 m2 (613.54 sq ft)
Armament: eight 7,92-mm (0.31-in) MG 81 and two 13-mm (0.51-in) MG 131 machine-guns, plus up to 4000 kg (8,818 lb) of bombs
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