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Dornier Do P.256 (Project 256)

Nazi Germany (1946)
Picture of Dornier Do P.256 (Project 256) Night-Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft Proposal

The Dornier Project 256 jet-powered night-fighter held little to recommend itself when presented to the German Air Ministry in the latter stages of World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Dornier Do P.256 (Project 256) Night-Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft Proposal.  Entry last updated on 1/6/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Dornier of World War 2 Germany was forced by the Air Ministry to focus its production strength on bomber types, namely its important Do 17 and Do 217 lines as well as several flying boat types. However, this did not stop the company from attempting to sell the Luftwaffe on a few fighter designs of which the most important became the Do 335 "Arrow". This aircraft became one of the more unique of the war, a heavy fighter with a twin-engine (propeller-driven) arrangement in which the nose held one of the powerplants and the tail fitted the other. The fighter had the potential to be one of the war's best based on its presented speed and firepower but production issues limited output to just 37 examples by war's end in 1945.

Another late-war fighter design attempt by the company became "Project 256" - or "P.256". This was centered around a February 1945 RLM requirement for a twin-engined, jet-powered all-weather/night fighter intended to remedy the situation in the air war and wrestle superiority away from the enemy before ground forces could swoop in an claim vital German facilities and force an end to the war. The P.256 could be broadly considered a jet-powered form of the prop-driven Do 335 for it used various elements first encountered with that design though, by and large, it was its own unique fighter offering.

Since the turbojet pairing would be contained in underwing nacelles, the nose was clear to bring the cockpit forward and provide for better pilot vision. The empennage was made up of a conventional tail unit showcasing a large-area vertical fin as well as low-set horizontal planes. The low-wing mainplanes were left unswept - though there was some sweepback of the leading edges. The members were fitted at midships and each held an underslung engine pod along their midway point. A tricycle undercarriage rounded out the design's key physical qualities - a feature seen in the Do 335. The engine of choice became 2 x Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojets outputting 2,865 pounds of thrust each.

Internally, it was thought that the aircraft would be crewed by three due to the systems required for the night-fighting role. Hence there would be a pilot, navigator and radar operator positioned in a pressurized cabin. The pilot shared the cockpit with the radar operator in a side-by-side seating arrangement while the navigator was set further aft in his own workspace facing aft. Survivability was enhanced some by way of cockpit armoring and bullet-resistant glass panels. Aft sections would be left largely unprotected and no defensive armament fitted - the thought being that the jet could simply out-fly any trailing interceptors at will.
As a "night stalker", the P.256 was proposed with 4 x MK 108 cannons in its nose assembly and a further 2 x MK 108 cannons fitted within the fuselage. The latter pairing would be angled in such a way as to be able to engage enemy bombers from their more vulnerable undersides - this known in the German inventory as the "Schrage Musik" oblique mount. A radar installation would allow the aircraft to be directed to incoming bomber formations in the dark of night, the P.256 holding all of the advantage against a target which lacked much in the way of detection facilities. Despite its primary role of night-fighter, the P.256 was also fashioned with two underwing hardpoints for carrying up to 2,200 pounds of conventional drop stores. In this way, it could double as a fighter-bomber in daylight hours.

All told, the design was given an overall length of 44.6 feet, a wingspan of 50.8 feet and a height of 18 feet. Estimated performance specifications were an absolute maximum speed of 550 miles per hour with ranges out to 875 miles. A service ceiling of 29,600 feet necessitated onboard oxygen supplies and cabin pressurization for the crew. Rate-of-climb was to be a useful 2,200 feet per minute.

After review, the P.256 submission was found wanting for it lacked key sought-after qualities found in competing designs. The unswept wing mainplanes were a detriment to speed and high-performance envelopes where jet fighters were concerned and the podded engine arrangement served only to add drag and further reduce performance (as proven in the Me 262).The large-area tail fin was another drag-inducing feature that added to the project's woes.

Since the P.256 submission held little to recommend itself, it was discarded from contention, forcing Dornier back to its production of bombers for the Luftwaffe. As such, the design became nothing more than another abandoned German jet project of the war and progressed little beyond its paper form.

Such was the fate of many late-war jet-powered platforms.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (548mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Dornier Do P.256's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: Nazi Germany
Year: 1946
Type: Night-Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft Proposal
Manufacturer(s): Dornier Flugzeugwerke - Nazi Germany
Production: 0
Global Operators:
Nazi Germany
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Dornier Do P.256 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
44.62 ft


Meters
13.6 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
50.69 ft


Meters
15.45 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
18.04 ft


Meters
5.5 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
15,124 lb


Kilograms
6,860 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
24,912 lb


Kilograms
11,300 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines developing 2,860 lb of thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
548 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
882 kph


Knots
476 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
870 mi


Kilometers
1,400 km


Nautical Miles
756 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
29,593 ft


Meters
9,020 m


Miles
5.60 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,205 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
672 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

PROPOSED (standard):
4 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in nose
2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in fuselage (Schrage Musik oblique gun arrangement).

PROPOSED (optional):
Provision for 2 x 1,100 pound bombs.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• P.256 (Project 256) - Base Proposal Designation