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Paul Vanderzee
Paul Vanderzee

The Dornier Do 17: A Comprehensive Guide to its Development, Design, and Operations



Free ebooks download epub Dornier Do 17 Units of World War II




The Dornier Do 17 was a twin-engined light bomber produced by Dornier Flugzeugwerke for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. Designed in the early 1930s as a Schnellbomber ("fast bomber") intended to be fast enough to outrun opposing aircraft, the lightly built craft had a twin tail and "shoulder wing". Sometimes referred to as the Fliegender Bleistift ("flying pencil"), it was popular among its crews due to its handling, especially at low altitude, which made the Do 17 harder to hit than other German bombers.




Free ebooks download epub Dornier Do 17 Units of



The Do 17 made its combat debut in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, operating in the Condor Legion in various roles. Along with the Heinkel He 111 it was the main bomber type of the German air arm in 19391940. The Dornier was used throughout the early war, and saw action in significant numbers in every major campaign theatre as a front line aircraft until the end of 1941, when its effectiveness and usage was curtailed as its bomb load and range were limited. Production of the Dornier ended in mid-1940, in favour of the newer and more powerful Junkers Ju 88. The successor of the Do 17 was the much more powerful Dornier Do 217, which started to appear in strength in 1942.


In this article, we will explore the development, design, operational history, survivors, and legacy of this remarkable aircraft. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can download free ebooks in epub format from various online sources.


Development and Design




The origin of the Do 17 can be traced back to a specification issued by the German Ministry of Aviation in 1932 for a high-speed passenger and mail plane for Lufthansa. The factory at Friedrichshafen began work on a design that featured a slender fuselage with two engines mounted on a shoulder wing. The first prototype flew on November 23, 1934, and achieved a speed of over 400 km/h (250 mph), which impressed both Lufthansa and military officials.


However, Lufthansa rejected the design as it had too little passenger space, while military officials wanted more defensive armament and bomb capacity. Dornier modified its design to meet the requirements of both parties, resulting in the Do 17 V3 prototype, which had a longer and wider fuselage, a twin tail, and a glazed nose. The V3 also had a bomb bay and a retractable landing gear. The V3 was accepted by the Luftwaffe as the Do 17 E-1 bomber and the Do 17 F-1 reconnaissance aircraft.


The main features of the Do 17 were its slim fuselage, which reduced drag and increased speed, its shoulder wing, which gave it good stability and maneuverability, and its twin tail, which improved directional control and reduced the size of the vertical stabilizers. The Do 17 had a crew of four: a pilot, a navigator/bombardier, a radio operator/gunner, and a rear gunner. The Do 17 could carry up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of bombs in its internal bomb bay or on external racks.


The Do 17 had several variants, each with different engines, armament, and equipment. The most common variant was the Do 17 Z, which had more powerful Bramo 323 radial engines, a redesigned nose with a larger cockpit and more guns, and additional fuel tanks. The Do 17 Z could reach a maximum speed of 410 km/h (255 mph) and had a range of 1,210 km (750 mi). Other variants included the Do 17 M and P, which had inline engines instead of radials, the Do 17 K, which was built under license in Yugoslavia with different engines and armament, and the Do 17 S and U, which were modified for high-altitude reconnaissance and night fighting.


The Do 17 was one of the fastest bombers of its time, and could outrun many fighters in level flight. It also had good handling characteristics and could perform evasive maneuvers at low altitude. However, the Do 17 also had some drawbacks, such as its limited bomb load and range, its weak defensive armament (especially in the early variants), its vulnerability to head-on attacks due to its narrow fuselage, and its lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks.


Operational History




Spanish Civil War




The Do 17's baptism of fire came during the Spanish Civil War (193639), where it outpaced most enemy fighters and performed well. The Spanish nicknamed the Dornier the Bacalao ("Codfish"). In early 1937, mass production began on the Do 17E and Do 17F series. The Do 17 F-1 was to replace the Heinkel He 70 as a high-flying fast reconnaissance aircraft, while the Do 17 E-1 was to supplant the Legion Condor's aging Heinkel He 111B bomber.


Among the units committed to Franco's cause was Hauptmann Rudolf Freiherr Von Moreau's 4.K/88. On January 6, 1937, it was decided by Erhard Milch, Albert Kesselring and Ernst Udet that the Legion should have more modern aircraft. Soon 12 Do 17 E-1s, as well as He 111B-1s and Ju 86D-1s were dispatched to serve in Spain. The unit was named VB/88 (Versuchsbomben Staffel, meaning Experimental Bomber Squadron).


VB/88s Dorniers were involved in a strike around Guernica, but that particular unit's objective was a bridge, rather than civilian areas. VB/88 dropped eight tonnes (nine tons) of bombs, while K/88 added 37 tonnes (41 tons) over the city itself causing the deaths of about 1,500 people. The bombing of VB/88 straddled the bridge. The only other target hit by the German bombers that day was the rail station.


On July 8, 1937, the Dorniers flew multiple sorties to protect Nationalist forces now threatening the capital, Madrid. They also supported ground operations during the Battle of Brunete. On August 2425, 1937 they attacked Republican shipping off Santander. On September 67 they bombed Bilbao. The Dorniers also participated in raids on Valencia and Barcelona.


The Dorniers proved to be reliable and effective in Spain. They suffered few losses from enemy action, mostly from anti-aircraft fire. They also demonstrated their versatility by performing various roles such as bombing, reconnaissance, transport, and even glider towing. By the end of the war in April 1939, VB/88 had flown over 1,100 missions with their Dorniers.


Blitzkrieg Campaigns




Battle of Britain and Night Bombing




The Do 17 was also one of the main bomber types of the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940. The Do 17 was assigned to several Kampfgeschwader (bomber wings), such as KG 2, KG 3, KG 76, and KG 77, and participated in attacks on British airfields, radar stations, ports, and cities. The Do 17 was often escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters, but still faced fierce opposition from the Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters, such as the Spitfire and Hurricane.


The Do 17 proved to be a difficult target for the RAF fighters due to its high speed and agility at low altitude. However, it also suffered from its limited bomb load and range, which reduced its impact on the British infrastructure and morale. Moreover, it was vulnerable to head-on attacks due to its narrow fuselage and weak nose armament. The Do 17 also lacked armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, which made it prone to catching fire or exploding when hit.


The Do 17's losses in the Battle of Britain are given as between 132 and 171, the lowest losses as a ratio of the three German bomber types. With the introduction of the Junkers Ju 88 and the new Dornier Do 217 entering production, the Do 17's days were numbered, and production ceased in mid-1940. Some of the surviving Do 17s were converted into night fighters or reconnaissance aircraft, while others were transferred to other theatres of war.


The Do 17 was also used as a night bomber during the Blitz, the German bombing campaign against Britain from September 1940 to May 1941. The Do 17 was equipped with various devices to aid navigation and bombing at night, such as radio beacons, flares, and bombsights. The Do 17 also carried incendiary bombs to start fires and high-explosive bombs to cause damage. The Do 17 targeted industrial cities such as London, Coventry, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester.


The Do 17 faced less opposition at night than during the day, as the RAF had fewer night fighters and radar systems. However, the Do 17 still had to contend with anti-aircraft fire, searchlights, barrage balloons, and bad weather. The Do 17 also had difficulty finding and hitting its targets in the dark, and often missed or dropped its bombs on civilian areas. The Do 17's night bombing missions had little effect on the British war effort or morale, but caused many civilian casualties and damage.


Other Theatres of War




The Do 17 was also used in other theatres of war, such as the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Eastern Front. The Do 17 participated in the invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941, bombing targets such as Belgrade, Athens, and Crete. The Do 17 also supported the German and Italian forces in North Africa and the Middle East, attacking British bases and supply lines in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Malta.


The Do 17 also took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, flying alongside the He 111 and Ju 88 as part of the Luftwaffe's bomber force. The Do 17 bombed Soviet airfields, railways, factories, and cities, such as Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad. The Do 17 also faced fierce resistance from Soviet fighters and anti-aircraft guns, as well as harsh weather conditions and long distances. The Do 17's most notable action on the Eastern Front occurred on June 2324 at Grodno, where it helped to destroy a large concentration of Soviet troops and tanks.


The Do 17 was gradually phased out from frontline service as newer and more capable bombers became available, such as the Ju 88 and the Do 217. The Do 17 was also converted into other roles, such as night fighter, glider tug, trainer, and research aircraft. Some of the Do 17s were also sent to other Axis nations, such as Finland, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, and Bulgaria.


Survivors and Legacy




The Do 17 was one of the most widely used bombers of the Luftwaffe, but few of them survived the war. Most of them were destroyed by enemy action, scrapped for metal, or abandoned in remote locations. According to some sources, only two complete Do 17s remain today, one in Finland and one in England.


The Finnish Do 17 Z-3 (serial number 1160) was captured from the Soviet Air Force in 1942, after it had been forced to land on a frozen lake due to engine failure. The Finnish Air Force repaired and operated the Do 17 until 1952, when it was retired and stored at Tampere. In 1977, it was donated to the Finnish Aviation Museum, where it is currently on display.


The English Do 17 Z-2 (serial number 2361) was shot down by RAF fighters on September 15, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. The pilot, Robert Zehbe, managed to bail out but died later from his wounds. The Do 17 crashed into the sea near Goodwin Sands, Kent, where it remained submerged for over 70 years. In 2008, it was discovered by divers and identified by its markings. In 2013, it was salvaged by the RAF Museum and transported to Cosford for conservation and restoration. It is the only known intact Do 17 in the world.


The Do 17 was a significant aircraft in the history of aviation and warfare. It was one of the first fast bombers designed to outrun enemy fighters, and it proved its effectiveness in various roles and theatres of war. It also influenced later aircraft designs, such as the Dornier Do 217 and Do 335. The Do 17 is a rare and valuable artifact that deserves preservation and appreciation.


Conclusion




In this article, we have explored the development, design, operational history, survivors, and legacy of the Dornier Do 17, a twin-engined light bomber produced by Dornier Flugzeugwerke for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. We have learned that:



  • The Do 17 originated from a civilian aircraft designed for Lufthansa in 1932.



  • The Do 17 had a slim fuselage, a shoulder wing, and a twin tail, which gave it high speed and agility.



  • The Do 17 made its combat debut in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, where it performed well as a bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.



  • The Do 17 was one of the main bomber types of the Luftwaffe during the Blitzkrieg campaigns of 1939-1940, where it bombed targets in Poland, France, Britain, and other countries.



  • The Do 17 also participated in the Battle of Britain and the night bombing missions against Britain in 1940-1941, where it faced fierce opposition from RAF fighters and anti-aircraft fire.



  • The Do 17 also served in other theatres of war, such as the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Eastern Front, where it supported German and Italian ground forces.



  • The Do 17 was gradually phased out from frontline service as newer and more capable bombers became available, such as the Ju 88 and the Do 217.



  • The Do 17 was also converted into other roles, such as night fighter, glider tug, trainer, and research aircraft.



  • The Do 17 was also sent to other Axis nations, such as Finland, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, and Bulgaria.



  • The Do 17 was one of the most widely used bombers of the Luftwaffe, but few of them survived the war.



  • The only two complete Do 17s remaining today are one in Finland and one in England.



  • The Do 17 was a significant aircraft in the history of aviation and warfare, and influenced later aircraft designs.



If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I'll finish the article with some recommendations for further reading or resources. Here is the final section: you can download free ebooks in epub format from various online sources. Some of the books that cover the topic of the Dornier Do 17 are:



  • Dornier Do 17: The 'Flying Pencil' in Luftwaffe Service - 1936-1945 by Chris Goss. This book provides a comprehensive history of the development and operation of the aircraft throughout its long career with the Luftwaffe and other Axis air forces that operated the type. Heavily illustrated throughout with photos and artworks.



  • Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 by Chris Goss and Chris Davey. This book examines the Do 17's combat performance in various theatres of war, from Spain to the Soviet Union. Illustrated throughout with detailed artwork and photographs.



  • The Dornier Do 217: A Combat and Photographic Record in Luftwaffe Service 1941-1945 by John Vasco. This book covers the successor of the Do 17, the much more powerful Dornier Do 217, which started to appear in strength in 1942. It features over 400 photographs and documents the aircraft's service history and variants.



We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new about the Dornier Do 17, a remarkable aircraft that played a significant role in World War II. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below.


FAQs





  • What was the top speed and range of the Do 17?



The top speed and range of the Do 17 varied depending on the variant and the load. The most common variant, the Do 17 Z, could reach a maximum speed of 410 km/h (255 mph) and had a range of 1,210 km (750 mi).


  • How many crew members and bombs could the Do 17 carry?



The Do 17 had a crew of four: a pilot, a navigator/bombardier, a radio operator/gunner, and a rear gunner. The Do 17 could carry up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of bombs in its internal bomb bay or on external racks.


  • What were the main strengths and weaknesses of the Do 17?



The main strengths of the Do 17 were its high speed and agility at low altitude, which made it difficult to intercept by enemy fighters. It also had good handling characteristics and could perform evasive maneuvers. The main weaknesses of the Do 17 were its limited bomb load and range, which reduced its impact on the enemy targets. It also had weak defensive armament (especially in the early variants), and lacked armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, which made it vulnerable to enemy fire.


  • Which countries operated the Do 17 besides Germany?



The Do 17 was also operated by other Axis nations, such as Finland, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, and Bulgaria. Some of them were captured from the Soviet Air Force or supplied by Germany.


  • How many Do 17s were produced and how many were lost in combat?



A total of 2,139 Do 17s were produced between 1934 and 1940. The exact number of Do 17s lost in combat is unknown, but it is estimated that around half of them were destroyed by enemy action or accidents.


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