Warplanes / Germany
Dornier Do 17 and Do 215

Dornier Do 17

Much propaganda value was gained by the Luftwaffe during the years before World War II by the emphasis of speed on selected aircraft, The truth was that most were stripped-down quasi-commercial transports or mail carriers, and their record-breaking performance bore little resemblance to that of service versions.

Ordered in quantity production, the Dornier Do 17E-1 bomber and the Do 17F-1 reconnaissance aircraft saw service in the formative years of the Luftwaffe. The outbreak of war saw these models superseded by the primary version, the Do 17Z-1 and Do 17Z-2 bombers, and the lighter Do 17M-1 reconnaissance version, the last equipping many Fernaufklärungsgruppen by September 1939. The Dornier Do 17Z bombers equipped nine Kampfgruppen on the outbreak of war: I and II/KG 2 at Liegmtz; II and HI/KG 3 at Heiligenbeil; I and HI/KG 76 at Wels and Wiener-Neustadt; and I-III/KG 77 at Prague-Kbely, Olmutz and Brunn, numbering about 370 in total. Elements of these units provided much of the Luftwaffe's striking force when Poland was invaded on 1 September. Although not conspicuously fast, the Dormer Do 17Z could be handled much like a fighter, being very light on the controls: structurally it was tough, and it soon surprised its opponents by being able to evade attacks by wheeling into a wing-over and plummeting down in a dive often in excess of 610 km/h (380 mph). In Poland Do 17Z1s and Do 17Z-2s made many very lowlevel strikes on airfields and military installations.

Gradually superseded by the Junkers Ju 88A, the Dormer Do 17Z-2 (the variant built in the largest numbers) saw extensive service with Kampfgeschwader Nrn 2, 3 and 76 during the assault on the West in May 1940, in attacks on shipping off Dunkirk, during the massive raids of the summer of 1940 against England, and in the nocturnal Blitz of the autumn and winter of 1940. By the time of the Balkans campaign in April 1941, Do 17Z-2s served only with KG 2 and HI/KG 3, but continued in service in the fighting over Greece and Crete during the summer, before taking part in the Soviet campaign. Export versions saw service with the air forces of Finland and Yugoslavia. By November 1942 the type had been withdrawn from firstline units. Limited service was seen by the Do 215B series, which were powered by two 1,075-hp (802-kW) Daimler-Benz DB 601A-1 inverted V12 engines: built primarily for export, 112 Do 215Bs were produced, including small numbers of Do 215B-4 reconnaissance-bombers. Total production of Dormer Do 17Zs amounted to around 1,200.

Specification Dornier Do 17 Z-2

Type: five-seat medium bomber
 
Powerplant: two 1,000 hp (745 kW) Bramo Fafmr 323P radial piston engines
 
Performance: maximum speed 410km/h (255 mph) at 4000 m (13,125 ft); cruising speed 270 km/h (168 mph); service ceiling 8200 m (26,905 ft); maximum range 1500 km (932 miles)
 
Weights: empty 5200 kg (11,465 lb); maximum take-off 8590 kg (18,940 lb)
 
Dimensions: span 18,00 m (59 ft 1 in); length 15.80 m (51 ft 9% in); height 4.60 m (15 ft 1 in); wing area 55.00 m2 (592.0 sq ft)
 
Armament: four (later up to eight) 7,92 mm (0.31-in) MG 15 machine-guns in windscreen, nose, beam, ventral and dorsal stations, plus a bombload of 1,000 kg (2,205 lb)
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