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Dornier Do 215 Reconnaissance / Light Bomber / Night-Fighter Aircraft (1939)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/21/2015

The Dornier Do 215 was originally a German product intended for export - the arrival of the World War 2 officially changed that.

The Dornier Do 215 was originally intended for export, beginning life as a redesignated version of the Dornier Do 17 light/medium bomber. Three prototypes were initially produced from the Do 17K - the V1, V2 and V3 - each with differing powerplants to showcase the aircrafts capabilities to foreign interest. The first was lost during testing while the third proved to be the winning combination. Eighteen completed aircraft were earmarked for use by the Swedish Air Force but the deteriorating political situation in Europe forced these systems to be reinstituted for use by the German Luftwaffe, whom modified three of the batch to suit their specific wartime needs. The remaining fifteen followed suit with new designations, becoming the Do 215B, with full production of the type beginning in December of 1939.

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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Specifications for the
Dornier Do 215
Reconnaissance / Light Bomber / Night-Fighter Aircraft

Focus Model: Dornier Do 215 B-1
Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: Dornier Werke GmbH - Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1939
Production Total: 105

Crew: 4

Length: 51.80 ft (15.79 m)
Width: 59.06 ft (18.00 m)
Height: 14.96ft (4.56 m)
Weight (Empty): 12,743 lb (5,780 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 19,401 lb (8,800 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB 601 Ba Vee 12-cylinder inline engines developing 1,160 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 292 mph (470 kmh; 254 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,522 miles (2,450 km)
Service Ceiling: 31,168 ft (9,500 m; 5.9 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
4 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine guns

6 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine guns

4 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns in nose
2 x 20mm MG FF cannnons in lower nose

Up to 2,200lbs of internal ordnance.

Do 215 V1 - Initial Prototype Model based on the Do 17 Z-0; lost to accident.

Do 215 V2 - Second Prototype Model; fitted with French Gnome-Rhone 14-cylinder radial engines.

Do 215 V3 - Third Prototype Model; fitted with 2 x Daimler-Benz DB 601Ba series inline piston engines.

Do 215 A-1 - Swedish Export Production Model Designation; 18 aircraft produced.

Do 215 B-0 - Bomber / Reconnaissance Variant; 3 x A-1 models with FuG 10; intended for Swedish export.

Do 215B - Base Designation of Standard Production Models.

Do 215 B-1 - Fifteen late production Swedish A-1 models redesignated for Luftwaffe use.

Do 215 B-2 - Reconnaissance Variant; 3 x Rb 50/30 series cameras in revised bomb bay.

Do 215 B-3 - Two Production Aircraft based on B-2 models; sold to Soviet Union.

Do 215 B-4 - Reconnaissance Variant based on the B-2 model; fitted with Rb 20/30 and Rb 50/30 series cameras.

Do 215 B-5 "Kauz III" - Dedicated Night-Fighter; 20 conversion aircraft from B-1 and B-4 models; IR searchlight in nose; FuG 202 navigation; 4 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns in nose; 2 x 20mm MG FF cannons in lower nose.

Nazi Germany; Hungary; Soviet Union