Dornier Do 17
|BOMBER, RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT||Virtual Aircraft Museum / Germany / Dornier|
The Do 17 was less important to the Luftwaffe during World War II than other later types of medium bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, but nevertheless served in one role or another throughout the war. Although originally configured as a commercial high-performance mail and passenger-carrying aircraft for Deutsche Luft-Hansa, it was as a replacement for the stop-gap Junkers Ju 52/3m bomber/transport that the Do 17 "Flying Pencil" is best remembered, and for being the first type of German aircraft shot down by an RAF single-seat fighter during the war (a Hurricane of No 1 Squadron on 30 October 1939).
The first prototype Do 17 made its maiden flight in 1934 and this and later prototypes were tested by Lufthansa, which rejected them because of their cramped accommodation. Following evaluation and development as a bomber, Dornier put the aircraft into production for the Luftwaffe as the Do 17E bomber and F reconnaissance aircraft, each powered by two BMW VI engines and becoming operational from 1937. Within a year both models were flying missions in Spain.
The E and F were followed into production by the Do 17M bomber and P reconnaissance developments with Bramo 323A-1 and BMW 132N engines respectively. A number of Do 17P were sent to Spain to supplement the slower and more vulnerable Do 17F flying with Nationalist forces. A Do 17 version (essentially similar to the Do 17M) was also exported to Yugoslavia. Following small numbers of Do 17S reconnaissance and Do 17U pathfinder aircraft with Daimler-Benz DB600A engines, the final version appeared as the Do 17Z powered by Bramo 323.
At the outbreak of World War II the Luftwaffe had about 550 Do 17 in operational condition and the type was immediately used in attacking Poland. On 3 September 1939 the Luftwaffe lost 22 aircraft (four of which were Do 17), but the overwhelming superiority of the German forces brought a swift end to the campaign. During the Battle of France, French fighters gained a number of important victories over escorted Do 17, but it was during the Battle of Britain that the Dornier's lack of armour and fire-power was most clearly demonstrated. Although engaged on the Eastern Front, by 1942 most Luftwaffe bomber units had given up their Do 17 and many were thereafter employed on other duties including glider-towing.