Dornier Do 217
|BOMBER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / Germany / Dornier|
First flown in August 1938, the Do 217 was a development of the Do 17 and remained in production until the latter part of 1943. The first production version was the Do 217E, which was used during 1940 and 1941 as a bomber and for attacks on convoys. It was powered by two BMW 801A engines and armed with one fixed MG 151 and one flexible MG 151 machine-gun in the nose; one MG 131 in a manually operated dorsal turret; one MG 131 in a lower rear-firing position; and two MG 15s in lateral-firing positions.
The E-2 sub-version was similar but had an electrically operated turret, while the E-5 had attachments under the outer wings for two Hs 293 glider bombs for attacking convoys - special equipment for controlling these bombs was installed in the fuselage.
The Do 217J was a night fighter developed from the E, to which it was structurally similar but for having a redesigned solid armoured nose fitted with four 20mm MG FF cannon and four 7.92mm MG 17 machine-guns; the upper and lower rear guns of the E-2 were retained. Special night-flying equipment was installed and for some time Js were the standard Luftwaffe night fighter.
The Do 217K was a further development of the E, the distinguishing feature of this version being a redesigned deeper and more rounded nose. The Do 217K-1 was a bomber; but the K-2 with 24.4 m wings was equipped to carry two FX 1400 Fritz X radio-controlled armour-piercing bombs for attacking armoured ships. Another novelty in the K was the fitting of a battery of four fixed rearward-firing MG 81 machine-guns in the tail-cone. Like the E and J, the K had BMW 801 engines.
A change of power plant to the Daimler-Benz DB 603 led to the Do 217M, which was otherwise similar to the K and was the latest version of the Do 217 in service at the time of Germany's capitulation. The Do 217N was a night-fighter variant of the M, with armament that could include two or four fixed upward-firing guns.
The final variant of the Do 217 was the P, developed as a very high-altitude bomber and reconnaissance aircraft with a pressurised cabin for the crew of four. First flown in June 1942, this version failed to enter production, as did the further developed Do 317. In total about 1,700 Do 217s were constructed for the Luftwaffe and a few Do 217J night fighters also served with Italy.