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Dornier Do 217 Medium-Heavy Bomber / Night-Fighter / Reconnaissance / Multirole Aircraft (1942)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/31/2012

The Dornier Do 217 was a strong weapons platform overall, though not excelling in any one role.

The Dornier Do 217 was a multi-faceted performer for the German Luftwaffe that ended up fulfilling various roles from bomber to reconnaissance aircraft, aerial test bed to torpedo bomber. The twin-engine 4-man aircraft appeared in prototype form by 1938 and would see several variants exist before the end of the war. The Do 217 was more suited to bomber and reconnaissance duties as the design did not match up well against Allied fighters of most types and succeeded the Dornier Do 215 light bomber / reconnaissance aircraft in the company's production schedule.

Design of the Do 217 followed along the same lines of earlier Dornier bomber designs. The cockpit and crew areas were situated towards the front of the aircraft resulting in a pencil-type fuselage shape. Engines were mounted on a high-wing monoplane and the vertical tail surface was split in a traditional "T" design. Armament consisted of 2 x 13mm machine guns of MG131 type and a collection of 6 x 7.92mm MG81 machine guns - some held in the noticeable gondola under the fuselage. The Do 217 was capable of carrying an external and internal bombload not exceeding 8,810lbs.

The Do 217 was initially conceived of as a reconnaissance platform and appeared as such in the Do 217A model version with Daimler-Benz series DB 601 engines. Though limited to just eight production examples, the A model was succeeded by the E model which featured more powerful engines of the BMW brand. This particular model series became a multirole platform, utilized for various reconnaissance and bomber roles including that of torpedo bomber for anti-ship duty and compatible with the Henschel Hs 293 missile. The Do 217K series was later introduced in 1942 and would be the platform designed to carry the Fritz X missile system. A nightfighter derivative was also conceived, complete with radar and an additional four guns angled up and forwards for interception duty. Though a promising design in and of itself, it was hardly capable of going toe-to-toe with contemporary fighters in a straight-up dogfight.

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Specifications for the
Dornier Do 217
Medium-Heavy Bomber / Night-Fighter / Reconnaissance / Multirole Aircraft

Focus Model: Dornier Do 217M-1
Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: Dornier - Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1942
Production: 1,730

Crew: 4

Length: 56.30 ft (17.16 m)
Width: 63.29 ft (19.29 m)
Height: 16.70ft (5.09 m)
Weight (Empty): 19,471 lb (8,832 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 36,784 lb (16,685 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB 603A V12 engines delivering 1,750hp each.

Maximum Speed: 348 mph (560kmh; 302 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,335 miles (2,148km)
Service Ceiling: 31,699 ft (9,662 m; 6.0 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)

Hardpoints: 4
Armament Suite:
2 x 13mm MG131 machine guns
6 x 7.92mm MG81 machine guns

An internal and external ordnance load of up to 8,810lbs.

Do 217 V1 - Prototype Model Designation; fitted with Daimler-Benz DB 601A engines; eventually lost in a crash.

Do 217A - Reconnaissance Variant; fitted with DB 601 series engines; production limited to 8 total examples.

Do 217C - Bomber Variant

Do 217E - Full Production Standard Model; fitted with 2 x 801 A/B BMW radial engines delivering 1,600hp each; produced as bomber, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance platforms.

Do 217E-0 - Pre-Production Aircraft Designation

Do 217E-1 - Initial Service Production Bombers

Do 217E-2 - Fitted with an electrically-operated dorsal turret with 1 x 13mm machine gun.

Do 217E-5 - Hs 295 missile compatible

Do 217J - Converted E series models; fitted with Lichtenstein radar in nose; 1 x 20mm MGFF cannon and 4 x 7.92mm MG17 machine guns.

Do 217K - Appeared in 1942; redesigned nose assembly; BMW 801 G/H engines at 1,730hp.

Do 217K-2 - Increased wingspan; Fritz X missile compatible.

Do 217M - Fitted with DB 603 series engines.

Do 217M-1

Do 217N - Converted M series models; nightfighter variant; fitted with radar and additional oblique-firing 4 x MG151/20.

Do 217P - High-Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft; fitted with DB 605 series engines.

Do 217R - Redesignated Do 317 prototypes for use as Henschel Hs 293 "motherships".

Nazi Germany; Italy; Switzerland