Author Topic: Dornier 17 Salvage  (Read 3688 times)

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Offline TheCommandTent

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Dornier 17 Salvage
« on: May 03, 2013, 06:46:34 AM »
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Work begins on Friday to raise a unique World War II aircraft from the floor of the English Channel just off the Kent coast. The Dornier 17 aircraft is the last of its kind, and lies in 50ft of water on the Goodwin Sands. The salvage is just the start of a two-year restoration project by the RAF Museum in Hendon.

Summer 1940 and Britain stands alone in Europe against seemingly unstoppable German military success.

For weeks on end, wave after wave of German aircraft cross the English coast, under orders to destroy the RAF and pave the way for a Nazi invasion.

The Dornier 17 is one of the mainstays of those German bomber fleets waging what the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, soon christened the Battle of Britain.

Originally designed as a fast reconnaissance aircraft, slim and manoeuvrable, it had been converted by the Luftwaffe in the mid-1930s into a medium bomber.

Today Gerhard Krems is the last man alive to have flown a Dornier. He was a much-decorated pilot who flew 250 bombing missions between 1940 and 1944 - 39 of them during the Battle of Britain.

Most of his service was in Heinkels, but he started out flying Dorniers. "Part of the far-reconnaissance training was low-altitude flying," he told me as we leafed through his photographs of the war in his flat in Berlin.

"And the Dornier 17 was the best plane for low flying. You could fly really close to the ground. That's me flying one. You can see how low I am. The tree-tops are above me."

He remembers the Dornier as a very fine plane.

"It made a fantastic impression on me in comparison to the other planes. It looked somehow different, and I only later realised why. It was agile, it was very slender and it was elegant, really elegant. But you only realised quite how elegant when you saw it in the sky. It quickly got a very suitable nickname, der fliegende bleistift - the flying pencil."

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The plane in question is believed to have crashed on 26 August 1940, brought down by an RAF fighter called the Boulton-Paul Defiant.

The stricken bomber flew south, rapidly losing power and height. The pilot tried to bring his plane down on the water. But when his wingtip touched the surface, he lost control and the plane apparently flipped, coming to rest on its back. The pilot and observer survived; the other two crew members died.

The plane - call sign Five Konrad-Anton-Richard - sank to the bottom where it was soon covered by the shifting sands.

Underwater footage of the wreck shows it largely intact. Some parts are missing - the bomb bay doors, the cockpit glazing, the undercarriage doors. Probably these were torn off during the forced landing. But the fuselage, the wings, the engines and propellers are still there. And so is the landing gear, complete with fully inflated tyres.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22380915
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Offline bob48

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 09:10:28 AM »
Incredible - thanks for posting that, 'Tent.
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Offline LongBlade

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 10:12:00 AM »
Thanks, Tent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_17

Some of those German twin props really look cool. I couldn't care less about their performance - there's just something neat about how they look. At some point I'm going to have to build a couple of models just have have them around.

Thanks for sharing. Interesting story. I hope they recover it in good shape.

Offline Jack Nastyface

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2013, 01:50:15 PM »
What is most remarkable is that his particular plane was shot down by a Boutlon-Paul Defiant, which due to it's rear-firing turret is perhaps the only fighter plane that could shoot down an enemy only by getting in front of the target plane.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 03:04:35 PM by Jack Nastyface »
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Offline Electric_Strawberry

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2013, 03:45:34 PM »
Great article. Still...you have to know it just isn't your day if you get shot down by a Defiant.

Offline steve58

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 04:37:26 PM »
Thanks for the post/link!  The English Channel must be a virtual treasure trove/graveyard of ships and planes. 
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Offline besilarius

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 05:25:07 PM »
Jack, I'm probably wrong, but I think the power turret on the Defiant did allow the gunner to fire upwards.  Kind of like the german Schrage Musik planes.
Might have been below the Dornier.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2013, 05:41:12 PM »
IIRC The turret could be turned all the way forward with guns set slightly upward and the pilot had an auxiliary firing switch.
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Offline bob48

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2013, 06:07:57 AM »
Looking at that first picture, and it seems to me (I may well be wrong) that its a Do.217 and not the 'Flying Pencil' Do.17.

I have the old 'Profile Publications' booklet on the Defiant, but it does not indicate what degree of elevation the turret guns were capable of.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2013, 06:27:39 AM »
The Do217 had engine nacelles that extended just past the wing trailing edge, the Do17's nacelles ended before the trailing edge. The sonar image does indeed look to be a Do17.

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Offline bob48

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2013, 06:33:40 AM »
Yeah, I think you're right Stagger, plus the 217 was originally planned as being an export model and was, I think, fitted with Gnome-Rhone engines, (or that may have been the Do215 variant).

Anyroadup. I concede the point.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2013, 06:36:28 AM »
^The export version was the 215. It was a stripped down airframe with no equipment. The buyers had to find their own engines and chose the Gnome-Rhone which turned out to be underpowered because the French manufacturer inflated the performance specs to make the sale.

The 217 was a slightly different beast:


Do17


Do217
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 06:41:54 AM by Staggerwing »
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Offline besilarius

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2013, 06:57:50 AM »
The funny thing about most of the early war german bombers with two engines, was they were developed as "airmail planes".
Since air force was banned by the Versailled treaty, all the plane development work was done under the guise of passenger planes (Focke-Wulf Condor), or for utility work.
How much airmail was there in 1930s Germany?  Didn't some lightbulb go off in Air Ministries in Europe that this was suspicious?
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along”.  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

Tallulah Bankhead: "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman." — Abraham Lincoln.

"I have enjoyed very warm relations with my two husbands."
"With your eyes closed?"
"That helped."  Lauren Bacall

Master Chiefs are sneaky, dastardly, and snarky miscreants who thrive on the tears of Ensigns and belly dancers.   Admiral Gerry Bogan.

Offline bob48

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 07:13:39 AM »
In fact both the FW200 Condor and Ju90 were designed and operated as passenger aircraft, but were 'adapted' to other roles during the war.
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Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Dornier 17 Salvage
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 07:28:31 AM »
EDIT: Bob beat me to it. ;)


How much airmail was there in 1930s Germany?  Didn't some lightbulb go off in Air Ministries in Europe that this was suspicious?

Well, to be fair, most of these planes were not built in any numbers until the war actually started. What the European observers most likely saw were a bunch of prototypes from various airframe designers which would make sense as there would be competition for the best choice for production. And, since airmail was more than just letters but also freight, it would make sense  as well that these planes would be made fast and robust in a way that would also be useful for light bombers consistent with the covert German bombing doctrine of the era.

The designs more advanced as far as production goes were actually passenger planes. Once Germany became bolder it could then ramp up production of these airliners (as well as the mail prototypes which, by now, had had extensive testing and were production models in all but name). The airliners were even tested in Spain during the Civil War there:

HE111:





The FW200 was also a passenger plane converted to a bomber and suffered from several design oversights that, among other things, caused it to break in half during rough landings.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 07:30:36 AM by Staggerwing »
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Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls and nothing's ever worth the cost...

"Don't you look at me that way..." -the Abyss
 
'When searching for a meaningful embrace, sometimes my self respect took second place' -Iggy Pop, Cry for Love

... this will go down on your permanent record... -the Violent Femmes, 'Kiss Off'-