Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Dornier Do 217

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A Fritz X bomb fired from a Do 217 speeds toward the Italian battleship Roma

The Dornier Do 217 was a development of the pre-war Do 17, commonly known as the fliegender bleistift or “flying pencil”.  

In response to their ejection from the continent of Africa, the Luftwaffe established a new bomber command (Fernkampffuehrer Luftflotte 2) to control all long-range bombers based in Sicily, Italy, and southern France. The bulk of these aircraft were Ju 88s, although Dornier Do 217s and Heinkel He 111s rounded out the order of battle. Allied strikes on airfields in close proximity to the front line meant that these units were largely unable to concentrate for decisive effect during the Battle of Sicily.  

In summer 1943, the Germans deployed a new weapon that would make concentration a mute point. Flying from bases in southern France, Do 217s from III Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 100 ushered in the age of precision aircraft-fired munitions. They deployed the Fritz X glide bomb over Sicily in July, but the first successful strike with the weapon did not occur until September.  In the wake of the armistice with the Allies, the Italian battleship Roma was sailing for Allied ports. Six III/KG 100 Dorniers attacked and sunk the battleship using Fritz X glide bombs. They flew the K-2 model, featuring an extended wingspan with Kehl radio gear (for guiding the bombs) to carry Fritz X bombs on underwing racks.


Specifications (Do 217M-1)

Type: four-seat heavy bomber

Powerplant: two 1287kW (1726hp) Daimler-Benz DB 603A 12-cylinder inverted-vee engines

Performance: maximum speed 557km/h (347mph); climb rate 210m (688ft) per minute; ceiling 7370m (24,180ft); range 2145km (1332 miles)

Weights: empty 9100kg (20,062lb); maximum take-off 16,700kg (36,817lb)

Wingspan: 19m (62ft 4in)

Length: 17m (55ft 9in)

Height: 4.96m (16ft 4in)

Armament: four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81 machine guns in nose and lateral positions;
two 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns in dorsal and ventral positions; max bomb load 4000kg (8800lb) internally & externally; max internal load 3000kg (6600 lb)


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The following Luftflotte 2 units flew the Dornier Do 217 during Operation HUSKY:

Bombers (Ju 88, Do 117 & He 111)

  • Part of I/Lehrgeschwader (LG) 1
  • Kampfgeschwader (KG) 1
    • Gruppenstab KG 1
    • I/KG 1
    • II/KG 1
  • KG 6
    • Gruppenstab KG 6
    • I/KG 6
    • III/KG 6
  • KG 26
    • Gruppenstab KG 26
    • I/KG 26
    • III/KG 26
  • KG 30
    • III/KG 30
  • KG 54
    • III/KG 54
  • KG 76
    • Gruppenstab KG 76
    • I/KG 76
    • II/KG 76
  • KG 77
    • II/KG 77
  • KG 100
    • Gruppenstab KG 100
    • II/KG 100
    • III/KG 100
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Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Dewoitine D.520

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A Dewoitine D.520 tangles with a Messerschmitt Bf 109E during the Battle of France (Image: QuentinR.deviantart.com on @DeviantArt)

This French fighter was one of few aircraft to serve on both sides during the Second World War. The Dewoitine D.520 first entered service in early 1940, before the German Blitzkrieg rampaged across France. After the fall of France, the fighter served both the Vichy French and Free French air forces. When Vichy French forces in North Africa sided with the Allies in late 1942, a number of these aircraft served briefly in Tunisia. The Allies quickly phased these out in favour of types like the Spitfire and P-39 Aircobra.

The Regia Aeronautica also employed some captured D.520s in the defence of Italy. Its 20mm cannon made it a decent gun platform to take on large American daylight bombers like the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator. Unfortunately, the French-built cannons were not compatible with Italian-built ammunition, meaning the Italians were dependent on French depots for their supply. After the 8 September 1943 Italian armistice, both the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force and the German-backed Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana used the type.   


Specifications (D.520C.1)

Type: single-seat fighter

Powerplant: one 930hp (693kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 12-cylinder Vee engine

Performance: maximum speed 540km/h (336mph); climb to 4000m (13,125ft) in 5 minutes 49 seconds; service ceiling 11,000m (36,090ft); range 1540km (957 miles)

Weights: empty 2125kg (4685lb); maximum take-off 2790kg (6151lb)

Wingspan: 10.2m (33ft 6in)

Length: 8.76m (28ft 9in)

Height: 2.57m (8ft 5in)

Armament: one 20mm (0.79in) fixed forward-firing cannon in the nose, and four 7.5mm (0.29in) fixed forward-firing machine guns in the leading edges of the wing


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The following Regia Aeronautica units used the Dewoitine D.520 in the defence of Sicily and southern Italy:

  • 161 Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre
    • 162 Squadriglia
    • 164 Squadriglia
    • 371 Squadriglia