Though a serviceable flying boat with a successful pedigree, the Dornier Do 18 was highly outclassed and outdated at the start of World War 2 and was subsequently used in limited numbers, relegated mostly to air and sea rescue operations and the like. Based on the Dornier Do 15 series of mail-carrying flying boats, the Do 18 inherited all of the preceding design's benefits but was outfitted for a militarized role with improved engines and defensive armament. Too many shortcomings in the lumbering design made the reach of such a machine unpractical in the changing face of warfare throughout the conflict though the system would still hold on to some distance records for a time regardless.
One of the most unusual features of the design of the Do 18 was in the implementation of the engines. The aircraft housed two engines in a single nacelle mounted above the fuselage. Generally, the overall look of the aircraft quite attractive, featuring smooth lines and a slim shape. The characteristic boat hull was highly visible on the underside of the fuselage. The large wing elements were high mounted through the raised engine nacelle though not supported at the ends by floats. Instead, the wing elements were supported closer to the wing roots thanks to a smallish structure jutting out from either side of the fuselage. This support was effectively the stabilizing sponsons for water landings and surface idling. Defensive armament found in this militarized variant consisted of a single 7.92mm machine gun mounted in an open-air bow position and an open-air dorsal position. The G-series model incorporated improved armament consisting of a single 13mm machine gun at the bow and a power-operated dorsal turret housing a potent 20mm cannon. Power was derived from a series of Junkers and BMW brand engines throughout the production lifetime of the aircraft and differed slightly in horsepower output.
The Do 18 holds the distinction of being the first German craft to fall to British gun fire. This occurred on September 26th in 1939 in which a Do 18 was felled by a Blackburn Skua. The Do 18 crew landed safely in the water but were rounded up by British naval personnel as prisoners. Once aboard the British ship, the Do 18 was subsequently destroyed.
A dedicated air and sea variant existed as the Do 18N-1 while a dual-control Do 18H was used for pilot training. The Do 18 was replaced in service by the favorable Blohm & Voss 138 series by 1942.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
[ 100 Units ] : Dornier - Germany
Nazi Germany (retired)
- Navy / Maritime
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
63.55 ft (19.37 m)
77.76 ft (23.7 m)
17.45 ft (5.32 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Dornier Do 18G-1 production model)
13,184 lb (5,980 kg)
23,810 lb (10,800 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Dornier Do 18G-1 production model)
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Dornier Do 18G-1 production model)
165 mph (266 kph; 144 kts)
13,780 feet (4,200 m; 2.61 miles)
2,175 miles (3,500 km; 1,890 nm)
468 ft/min (143 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Dornier Do 18G-1 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 13mm MG 131 machine gun in bow position.
1 x 20mm MG 151 cannon in dorsal turret.
4 x 110 lb (50kg) of conventional drop bombs.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Dornier Do 18G-1 production model)
Do 18A - Prototype Designation
Do 18E - Fitted with Junkers Jumo 205C engines of 600 horsepower each; four produced.
Do 18F - Later redesignated to Do 18L name.
Do 18L - Redesignation of Do 18F when refitted with BMW 132N engines of 880 horsepower each.
Do 18D-1 - Initial Militarized Version; 2 x Junkers Jumo 205C engines; implementation of 7.92mm MG15 machine guns in bow and dorsal positions.
Do 18D-2 - Do 18D subvariant
Do 18D-3 - Do 18D subvariant
Do 18G-1 - "Improved" Do 18; fitted with Junkers Juno 205D engines of 880 horsepower each; 1 x MG131 13mm machine gun in bow position; 1 x MG151 20mm cannon in power-operated turret.
Do 18H - Trainer with dual-controls sans armament.
Do 18N-1 - Dedicated Air & Sea Rescue Variant; sans armament.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (165mph).
Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
Dornier Do 18G-1 operational range when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
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