What was the fastest airplane in World War II
Dornier Do 335 "Anteater" - the fastest propeller hunter of the war
The genesis of the fastest propeller fighter of the Second World War still offers a few surprises. With the revolutionary design of a fighter aircraft with two engines in tandem and a pulling and pushing propeller, Dornier succeeded in bringing the performance of conventional machines to the limit of what is feasible. Shortly before the end of the war in 1945, unusual projects were proposed as further developments.
In an extra feature we look into the cockpit of the unusual hunter.
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The Do 335 is finally being built
It was not until the Luftwaffe was looking for a high-speed bomber in 1942 that Dornier submitted his draft, updated as P 231. Two years had passed since the first presentation with no progress. In the meantime, however, the RLM looked strongly at the new jet planes as a bearer of hope. The most modern technology should stand up to the Allied superiority in the air. Adolf Hitler himself intervened in the armaments discussions at the end of 1942 in favor of the Do 335. A complete switch to jet propulsion was too risky for him. At least he wanted to have a few conventional aircraft up his sleeve in case the optimistic expectations of the jet engines were not fulfilled. He found an advocate for this attitude in General Aircraft Master Erhard Milch, who is responsible for procurement at the RLM.
In early 1943, a test series of eight Do 335 aircraft was commissioned. The machine should be used as a high-speed bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, fighter and night fighter. Then everything went very quickly, the prototype CP + UA took off on its maiden flight on October 16, 1943. A total of 22 test aircraft were ultimately built. Then the pre-series Do 335 A-0 started. Some of these pre-series machines were tested for suitability for use by the EK 335 test team. The test association of the High Command of the Air Force tested the Do 335 V3 as a reconnaissance aircraft in the first season. Here the machine had the registration number T9 + ZH. Use of a machine in the JG7 jet fighter squadron, as was occasionally claimed in the 1970s, can, however, be ruled out. There is also no evidence that the Do 335 was armed. The French fighter pilot Pierre Clostermann described only one encounter with Allied aircraft. While on patrol with the Royal Air Force Tempest, he saw a strange airplane with a propeller front and rear. When his machine turned on the enemy, the plane went low and disappeared.
At the end of the war, the first series A-1 aircraft were under construction, as well as training planes and night fighters, as well as the first examples of the heavily armed destroyer B-2. The victorious powers each looked for airworthy specimens of the "anteater" for testing. The flight performance of this piston / propeller aircraft was impressive. A prototype of the night fighter fell into the hands of the Soviet troops near Oranienburg. But it was clear to all aerospace engineers: The era of the propellers was over!
Free download service:
The correct Dornier patent for Do 335, PDF
Report "Schnellbomber Do 335 with special engine" abstract for the U.S. Air Force (excerpt) PDF
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