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Weapons of World War Two

The Surrender of the Italian Fleet (Sep 1943)

Dornier Do 217

Version depicted: Do 217K-2

Dornier 217K-2

The origins of the Dornier 217 date back to 1937 when a bomber aircraft, obtained by the transformation of a civil aircraft, was presented for taking part in the aeronautical competition of the Alps Circuit. Built by the Dornier company, the Dornier 17, as it was denominated, was soon nicknamed as "flying pencil" because of its slender and sharp line. The aircraft gave such a good result that it was immediately ordered by a good number of countries for being used as a light bomber. Meanwhile the Spanish Civil War had arrived, and the Dornier 17, as many other German aircraft, was sent to support the Nationalist Army of General Franco within the ranks of the Condor Legion. During this conflict the bomber aircraft began to show its first defects. It was still fast enough (we should recall that in Zurich it had beaten almost all of the other aircraft regarding their speed), but it demonstrated to possess numerous blind spots through which it could be attacked. Because of this its nose was modified and its armament was enhanced, being so improved its characteristics. But in these frantic years time ran very fast for the armaments, causing a premature aging. A bomber aircraft which until a few years before could have remained in active service for a certain time, now saw its operational life reduced to a third part, because of the continuous innovations of the aeronautical technology. The Luftwaffe soon requested from the Dornier technicians an aircraft of the same type than the Dornier 17 but of improved characteristics. The company wisely thought of using the old structure of the bomber aircraft to obtain a new one by adding radical modifications. This way it was born the Dornier 217, which was used in every front in the most diverse roles: altitude and dive bomber, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, night fighter, and liaison and fast transportation aircraft. Let us now examine one of the first models. It was a twin-engine bomber aircraft of high wing and entirely made of metal. Being an aircraft of enlarged dimensions in respect of its predecessor, it had a more spacious cockpit, and the armament, both the offensive and the defensive one, had been enhanced. A characteristic caudal appendage hid an "umbrella" aerodynamic brake for being used during dive bombing, but it would be soon removed because it was so effective at braking that it caused serious accidents. In some versions, such as the K-2, four 7.92-millimeter machine guns firing backward were installed in the tail after the brake was removed. In the night fighter version the armament comprised four 20-millimeter cannons and four machine guns, and the aircraft was equipped with a Lichtenstein FuG 202 radar. Some exemplars would be equipped with "Schraege Musik" ("Oblique Music"), which consisted of a pair of cannons installed in the fuselage and firing obliquely upward. In turn, the K version, with a notably increased wingspan (from 19 to 24.50 meters), would be assigned to the utilization of the special bombs FX-1400 (glider) and Hs-293 (rocket-propelled). One of these would be the last Dornier 217 which entered combat, by attacking the bridges over the Oder with Hs-293 bombs the 12th April 1945.

Dornier 217K-2
Entry into service: 1943

Wingspan: 24.50 meters

Wing area: 67 square meters

Length: 17.00 meters

Height: 5.00 meters

Full load/Empty weight: 16580/8900 kilograms

Payload/Crew: 7680 kilograms/4

Engines: Two BMW 801 D of 1700 horsepower each

Time to reach 1000 meters of altitude: 3 minutes 30 seconds

Cruising speed: 460 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed: 515 kilometers/hour

Service ceiling: 8200 meters

Defensive armament: Two MG 131 13-millimeter machine guns and eight-ten MG 81 7.92-millimeter machine guns

Drop armament: 4000 kilograms of bombs or two glider/rocket-propelled bombs under the wings

Operational range: 2300 kilometers

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