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Dornier Do 23 - Nazi Germany, 1934

Detailing the development and operational history of the Dornier Do 23 Medium Bomber.

 Entry last updated on 3/20/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Dornier Do 23  
Picture of Dornier Do 23

The Dornier Do 23 led a short service life with the German Luftwaffe before being replaced by the capable Heinkel He 111.

During the 1930s rearmament period for Germany, the country furthered many projects that went clearly against the Treaty of Versailles that appeared after World War 1 (1914-1918). The Luftwaffe bomber force ultimately received some attention and several designs were put forth including the Dornier Do 23. The Do 23 was a follow-up design to the Do 11 heavy bomber of 1932 because of persistent inherent issues in the earlier mark. The same period also saw the short-lived Do 13 model emerge but the Do 23 was the much more extensively modified form and managed to fix some of the problems.

The aircraft carried a straight high-wing monoplane planform with a conventional tail unit (single vertical fin, low-set planes), a fixed tail-dragger undercarriage (with spatted main wheels), and leading edge engine nacelles (one per wing). The fuselage featured slab sides and housed the cockpit at front, crew positions along its length and the internal bomb bay. 3 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine guns were fitted as defensive armament - one at the nose, another at a dorsal gun position and the final gun at a ventral position. The aircraft was cleared to carry up to 2,200 pounds of conventional drop stores. The typical crew arrangement numbered four.

The powerplant of choice became 2 x BMW VIU V12 liquid-cooled engines of 750 horsepower each. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 160 miles per hour, a range out to 930 miles and a service ceiling of 13,780 feet. Empty weight was 12,345 pounds against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 20,282 pounds. Dimensions were a length of 18.8 meters, a wingspan of 25.6 meters and a height of 5.4 meters.

A prototype Do 23 saw its first flight during 1934 and brought along some improvements in handling though performance was clearly lacking for a bomber platform. Nevertheless, the type was ordered into serial production and managed a healthy pre-war total of 282 aircraft before the end of its run. Initial production models were designated as "Do 23F" and an improved version with better engines (featuring glycol cooling) appeared as the "Do 23G".

Despite their rather obsolete status at the start of World War 2 in September of 1939, the aircraft was still in circulation in some number and fell to the Luftwaffe arm of Czechoslovakia during the early phases. Some of the German fleet was also passed on to the Hungarian Air Force. By and large, the bomber was wholly outclassed by the time the war went into full swing and it was superseded in the Germany inventory by more appropriate players such as the Heinkel He 111, the Junkers Ju 88 and Dornier's own Do 17 - all detailed elsewhere on this site.

Dornier Do 23G Specifications

Service Year: 1934
Type: Medium Bomber
National Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer(s): Dornier-Werke GmbH - Nazi Germany
Total Production: 282

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 4
Overall Length: 61.68 feet (18.8 meters)
Overall Width: 83.99 feet (25.60 meters)
Overall Height: 17.72 feet (5.40 meters)

Weight (Empty): 12,346 lb (5,600 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 20,283 lb (9,200 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x BMW VIU liquid-cooled V12 engines developing 750 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 140 knots (162 mph; 260 kph)
Maximum Range: 810 nautical miles (932 miles; 1,500 km)
Service Ceiling: 13,780 feet (4,200 meters; 2.61 miles)

Armament / Mission Payload

1 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun in nose position
1 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun in dorsal position
1 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun in ventral position

Up to 2,200lbs of internal stores.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Czechoslovakia; Hungary; Nazi Germany

Model Variants

Do 23F - Initial Production Mark
Do 23G - Improved Do 23; fitted with 2 x BMW VIU series piston engines with glycol cooling.

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