Dornier constructed a number of aircraft thatwere later to be dubbed the "Flying Pencils" due mainly to the long thinoutline of the fuselage. probably the most famous, and the one that wasto take part in the Battle of Britain period was the Dornier 17. Becauseof the fuselage shape, it was highly improbable that the aircraft was originallydesigned as a passenger aircraft for the Lufthansa Airline. More than likelythe designers hoped that it would be accepted as a transport although manybelieve that the aircraft was destined to become a mailplane that couldalso carry four to six passengers.
The first flight of the Dornier was onNovember 23rd 1934, and was rejected by Lufthansa and the prototypes wereleft in a hangar, only to be discovered a few years later by Robert Untuchtwho was the air ministry liaison officer, and a test pilot with Lufthansa.he tested the Dornier, and believed that with modifications, the aircraftwould more than handle the role of a bomber in the military arena.
The original Do17 had a pair of 750 hpBMW engines that propelled the aircraft at 225 mph, but after Robert Untuchtmade the first modifications and by the time the Do17 had reached version4, the BMW engines were retained, but the tailplane section had been redesigneddoing away with the single tailfin, and replacing it with double tailfinsand rudders. In an effort to increase speed even further, the version 5,designated Do17Z V5 was equipped with Hispano engines, and although heavierit managed to give the Dornier a top speed of 245 mph, which at the time,was far greater than any fighter, and this was proven in 1937 when theDo17 saw service in Spain, and outpaced all of the Republican fighter aircraft.
Modifications continued, the Do17Z V8 wastied with the Daimler Benz DB 600A engines that were producing 1,000 horsepower., the Do17E was the first production bomber to see service with the Luftwaffeand the designers reverted back to the 750 hp BMW V1 engines at the sacrificeof a lower top speed. The Do17M was equipped with 1,000 hp Bramo 323A engines,but otherwise stayed the same as the Do17E. With more powerful enginescoming out of a number of factories in Germany, the Do17K of which a numberwere bought by Yugoslovia were powered by Gnome-Rhône 14N enginesand were amongst the fastest of the Dorniers by attaining a top speed of259 mph.
The Spanish Civil War was to be the toughesttest yet on the Do17 bomber. It proved to be fast, in fact was fast enoughto outpace any enemy fighter, although it could not match Germany's ownBf109, but one important lesson was learnt. It was vulnerable to enemygunfire, especially in the forward section. The nose had been shortenedon the Do17E and the Do17F variants, but the firing arc of the forwardgunner was restricted somewhat and the narrow diameter of the fuselageof the Do17 which was how it became known as the "Flying Pencil" meantcramped conditions for the cockpit area of the aircraft.
These lessons learnt, were applied to theDo17U. The nose was severely cut down and the forward machine gun positionedso that it had a complete arc of fire. An enlarged forward fuselage notonly gave existing crew more room, but allowed for an additional crew memberif required. All these modifications were to prove successful, and theywere put into the Do17Z in 1939. It was this variant that was to see servicethroughout the battle of Britain and in operations during 1940 and 1941.One of the Do17 variants, was modified as a night fighter and had a nosesection of a Ju88C fitted complete with cannon and machine guns. Additionalto that was the installation of a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) detector,said to be the worlds first. The first success of the use of the FLIR detectorwas the shooting down of a Wellington bomber of RAF Bomber Command on thenight of October 16th/17th 1940 over the French-German border.
Dornier 17Z Specifications
|Type||Medium Range Medium Bomber/NightBomber/Reconnaissence|
|Crew||Five (sometimes four, dependingon variant)|
|Power Plant||2 x Bramo 323A 1,000 hpradial engines|
|Fuel Capacity||1,550 litres (2,445 litreswith additional fuel tank)|
|Unladen weight||11,484 lbs |
|Laden weight||18,931 lbs|
|Max Speed (16,500 ft)||265 mph |
|Cruising Speed (14,500 ft)||236 mph|
|Max range (Normal Load)||745 miles |
|Max range (with tanks)||1,860 miles (with normalload)|
|Service Ceiling||26,740 ft |
|Armament ||1 x 20mm MG FF Cannon (onsome versions)|
1 x 13mm MG 131 MachineGun (on some versions)
6 x 7.9mm MG 15 and/or MG81Machine Guns
2,200 lb bombload (carriedinternally) or
1,100lb bombload plus maxfuel (all carried internally)
|Length||53ft 5½in |
|Height||15ft 9in |
|Wing Area||592 sq ft |