The Do 217 retained much of its visual similarities from the Do 17 bomber including the distinct "pencil" like fuselage. Engines were of inline design powering three-blade propellers and fitted to nacelles under each wing. Wings were mid-mounted monoplanes with rounded edges. The crew compartment was held in the extreme forward portion of the fuselage, complete with extensive glazing around the canopy. Conditions, no doubt, were cramped for the crew of four, consisting of the pilot, bombardier and two machine gunners. The streamlined design ended in a conventional empennage sporting twin vertical surfaces. Armament for the series varied by model type with early forms the aircraft sporting 4 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine guns then later upgrading these to six. The night-fighter version coupled the firepower of 4 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns with 2 x 20mm MG FF cannons all held in the nose. The Do 215 could sustain an internal payload of up to 2,200lbs in the bombing role. In the reconnaissance role, the aircraft would be fitted with a series of photo graphic cameras in the bomb bay as needed.
Performance of the base Do 215 B-1 models was supplied by twin Daimler-Benz DB 601Ba Vee 12-cylinder inline piston engines with an output of 1,159 horsepower each. These powerplants, combined with the slim and streamlined airframe, allowed for maximum speeds of up to 292 miles per hour, a normal range of about 1,522 miles and a service ceiling nearing 29,500 feet.
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