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Weapons of World War Two

Dornier Do 217

Version depicted: Do 217K-2

Dornier 217K-2

The origins of the Dornier 217 date back to 1937 when it was presented, to participate in the aeronautical competition of the Alps Circuit, a bomber aircraft obtained by the transformation of a civil aircraft. Built by the company Dornier, the Dornier 17, as it was called, was soon nicknamed "Flying Pencil" because of its slender line. The aircraft gave such a good result that it was immediately ordered by a good number of countries as 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 in the ranks of the Condor Legion.

During this conflict the bomber started to show its first defects. It was still fast enough (think that in Zurich it had beated in speed almost all the other aircraft), but it demonstrated to have numerous blind spots on which it could be attacked. Because of this its nose was modified and its armament enhanced, being improved so its characteristics. But in these frantic years the time ran very fast for the armaments, causing a premature aging. A bomber that until few years before could have remained in active service for a certain time, saw now its operative life reduced to a third, because of the continuous innovations of the aeronautical technique.

The Luftwaffe soon requested from the technicians at Dornier an aircraft of the same type than the Dornier 17 but of improved characteristics. The company thought wisely to use the old structure of the bomber to obtain a new one by adding radical modifications. It was born so the Dornier 217, which was used in every front in the most diverse roles: altitude and dive bombing, torpedo bombing, reconnaissance, night fight, liaison and fast transport. Let us examine now one of the first models.

It was a twin-engined bomber of high wing entirely built in metal. Of enlarged dimensions in respect of its antecessor, it had a more spacious cabin, and the armament, both offensive and defensive, had been enhanced. A characteristic caudal appendage hid an "umbrella" aerodynamic brake to be used during dive bombing, but soon it would be removed because it was so effective during braking that it caused serious accidents. In some versions, such as the K-2, when removing the brake were installed on the tail four 7.92-millimeter machine guns which fired backwards.

In the version used as night fighter the armament comprised four 20-millimeter cannons and four machine guns, and the aircraft was equipped with a radar Lichtenstein FuG 202. Some exemplars would be equipped with "Schraege Musik" (Oblique Music), which was a pair of cannons installed in the fuselage, which fired obliquely in vertical direction. The version K, in turn, with notably increased wingspan (from 19 to 24.50 meters), would be destined to operate with the special bombs FX-1400 (glider) and Hs-293 (rocket-propelled). One of these would be the the last Dornier 217 that entered combat, attacking the bridges over the Oder with bombs Hs-293 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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