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The Dornier Do 17 was a medium bomber and night fighter that was used by Germany and some of her allies during World War II.



The Do-17 began life as a civil transport, built in response to a 1933 Deutsche Lufthansa (DLH) requirement for a high speed mail-plane, which was also capable of carrying six passengers. The first of three prototypes, the Do-17 V1, made its first flight in the autumn of 1934, and was joined by the end of the year by the second (Do-17 V2) and third (Do-17 V3) prototypes. All three, powered by BMW VI engines, were handed over to DLH in early 1935, where evaluation by the company revealed that the type was impractical for passenger use, as the slim fuselage resulted in the passenger compartments being cramped and difficult to get in and out of.[N 1]

Following the decision to abandon development of the Do-17 as a passenger transport, the three prototypes were placed in a hanger at Lowenthal, where they were discovered by Flugkaptain Untucht, a former Dornier employee who later served as star pilot of DLH, before joining the staff at RLM to supervise the commercial transport development department, Untchut decided to fly one of the prototypes and, praising the type's flying characteristics, stated that with additional keel surface, the Do-17 would make an excellent high speed bomber. This led the RLM to order a number of further prototypes for bomber evaluation, starting with the Do-17V4, which retained the engines of the transport prototypes, but had the single fin and rudder replaced with end-plate fins and rudders.[3]

This aircraft was used for the military test flight programme which started in the summer of 1935, together with the Hispano Suiza 12ybrs powered Do 17V5 and BMW VI powered D0 17 V6. These were followed by the D0 17V7, which featured a fairing above the fuselage for a single machine gun, together with a glazed nose cap for the bomb aimer. This led to the Do 17V8, which was retained by the company as a development aircraft, and the Do 17V9, which served as the prototype of the first production model, the Do 17E-1, which featured extra glazing and refinements to the fuselage and tail.[2]

Operational Service

The Do 17E-1 first became available in early 1937, initially equipping I./KG 153 and I./KG 155. Later that year the type was allocated to II./KG 153, III./KG 153, II./KG 155 and III./KG 155, the last of these eventually being redesignated KG 158. The Do-17 also equipped KG 252 and KG 255.[2]


The first model in the Dornier Do 17 series was the Dornier Do 17E-1. This model had dual BMW Bramo Engines capable of propelling the bomber at a maximum speed of up to 426.4 km/h. Armament consisted of two 7.9mm MGs mounted in defensive positions and up to 997 kg of ordnance. 

The type was later developed into the similar Dornier Do 215.[4]

Other users

  • Croatia - Bomber crews from the Croat Air Force were assigned to KG 3 on the Eastern Front in October 1941, operating 15 Do-17Zs from Vitebsk, Vyazma and Rzhev as 10. and 15./KG 3. By January 1942 their low level attacks had resulted in the loss of six aircraft and four crews. The survivors were transferred back to Croatia after 370 sorties.[5] In June 1942 another group of Croat airmen operated 13 German owned Do-17Zs as 15./KG 53, until they were withdrawn in October 1942 at the request of the Croat government.[6]
  • Finland - Received 15 war weary Do 17Z-2s from Herman Goering, which began operating on the Eastern Front with PLeLv46 from April 1942.[7]
  • Spain



  1. The slimness of the fuselage resulted in the type's usual nickname of 'Flying Pencil'.[2]


  1. Kay, Antony L and J R Smith. German Aircraft of the Second World War. Putnam Aeronautical Books. 2002. ISBN 0 85177 920 4
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 892 Sheet 25 (A-Z of Aircraft:D - Dornier Do 13 and Do 23 (cont.) to Dornier Do 18)
  3. Green, William. Famous Bombers of the Second World War. Purnell Book Services. 1975. Pages 248/249
  4. Gunston, Bill. Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Salamander Books. 1988. ISBN 0-86101-390-5 Pages 336 to 339
  5. Neulen, Hans Werner. In the Skies of Europe - Air Forces allied to the Luftwaffe 1939-1945. The Crowood Press. 2000. ISBN 1-86126-326-0 Page 172
  6. Neulen, Hans Werner. Pages 172-173
  7. Gunston, Bill. St Michael Aircraft of World War 2. Octopus Books. 1982. ISBN 0-86273-014-7 Page 60.

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