Dornier Flugzeugwerke

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Dornier Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturer founded in Friedrichshafen in 1914 by Claudius Dornier. Over the course of its long lifespan, the company produced many notable designs for both the civil and military markets.

Contents

History

Originally Dornier Metallbau, Dornier Flugzeugwerke took over Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen production facilities (Weingarten, Warnemünde, and the former Zeppelin shed at Manzell) when it failed in 1923. Dornier rose to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s as a manufacturer of large, all-metal flying boats, including the 1924 Wal (English: Whale) and the Do X. Dornier also built a series of successful land planes, including the Komet (Comet) and Merkur (Mercury) that were used by Luft Hansa and other European carriers during the 1920s and early 30s. Dornier built its aircraft outside Germany during much of this period, in compliance with the restrictions placed on German aircraft manufacturers by the Treaty of Versailles. Foreign factories licence-building Dornier products included CMASA and Piaggio in Italy, CASA in Spain, Kawasaki in Japan, and Aviolanda in the Netherlands. Once the Nazi government came to power and abandoned the treaty's restrictions, Dornier resumed production in Germany.

Dornier's most significant military aircraft design before and during World War II was the Do 17, nicknamed The Flying Pencil. It was developed and first flown in 1934 as a commercial aircraft in competition for a Lufthansa contract. Due to its narrow fuselage (hence its nickname) it was not commercially attractive and was passed over by Lufthansa. Dornier then further developed it as a military aircraft with a prototype bomber first flying in 1935. It was employed by Rebel forces in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Production continued within Germany and this versatile two-engined aircraft was developed by the Luftwaffe into multiple combat variations. The medium bomber variant saw much service during the early part of World War II including extensive use in the Battle of Britain. It was later developed into an effective nightfighter to defend Germany from the RAF bomber offensive. Dornier developed the successful Do 217 based on the Do 17; ostensibly looking like its younger sibling, this larger and much heavier bomber was in fact a completely new design. Of note, Dornier also developed the fastest piston-engined fighter of the war, the two-engined Do 335, introduced too late to enter combat service.

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