3D interactive: The last Dornier bomber

The 3D model on this story is only available on desktops or laptops. It can be viewed on tablets and some smartphones if you enable WebGL in your browser.

As the last Dornier bomber is raised from the sea bed, find out about one of Germany's key aircraft from World War II; its role in the Battle of Britain and what it was like to fly, by exploring the model below.


Dornier Do 17Z flying low over the countryside

The Do-17 was one of the three main twin-engined, medium-range bombers used by the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain - the other two being the Heinkel He-111 and Junker Ju-88.

The plane that is being salvaged is a Do-17z-2. It had two powerful Bramo 'Fafnir' 323P engines giving it a top speed of 263mph (424km/h) at altitude when fully loaded.

When first produced, the Dornier's speed and agility allowed it to act as a ‘Schnellbomber’ – a fast bomber that could out-pace, or outmanoeuver, some of the fighters sent to intercept it.


Factory with Dornier Do 17Z fuselages

The Dornier Do-17's twin tail fins and narrow fuselage gave it a distinctive silhouette and earned it the nickname the 'flying pencil'.

It had an all-metal construction of mostly aluminium – at a time when wood and fabric were still used in some aircraft – and it weighed around five tonnes.

More than 1,500 Dornier 17 bombers were built, though by the middle of 1940 production had switched to the newer Do-217 that carried a larger bomb load and had a greater range.


Pilot in the cockpit of a Dornier Do 17

The glass canopy and nose of the cockpit provided good visibility to the four crew members: the pilot, observer, wireless operator and bombardier.

To defend themselves against enemy fighters the crew had between six and eight 7.92mm MG-15 machine guns. When in combat, the crew members – other than the pilot - would have to move around the cockpit to man the different gun positions.

Nearly 200 Do-17s were destroyed between August and November 1940, when they came up against British fighters like the Hawker Hurricane.


Dornier Do 17 dropping bombs on a target

The aircraft could carry a maximum bomb load of about 2,200lbs (1,000kg).

The plane's agility at low altitudes – for a bomber - saw it take part in some of the Luftwaffe's most audacious bombing raids.

These included the attacks on the airfields around London that nearly put the RAF’s fighter squadrons out of action.

Over 400 Dornier 17 bombers were flown across the English Channel during the Battle of Britain.

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Production by Tian Yuan, George Spencer, Paul Sargeant and Mark Bryson.

When the aircraft lying on the Goodwin Sands was salvaged, the extent of the corrosion could be seen as it was lifted from the water.

The twisted fuselage was held in place only by a strut inserted by the salvage team. The engines had come adrift and will be recovered separately.

Image showing the raised wreck of the Dornier bomber against the 3D image.

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