The Dornier Do X
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The Dornier Do X

The Dornier Do X, Dornier Do X: A Massive Flying Boat

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Way back in the 1920s aviation was still in its infancy despite remarkable developments undertaken after the first flight of the first powered man carrying aircraft as demonstrated by the Wright Brothers in 1903. Two decades hence the world’s great minds had gone far beyond to have benefitted from the basic “science of flight” partially answered and everyone else with the resources and the daring were able to focus their ingenuity by modifying the concept and seeking further useful applications for it.

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Claudius Dornier (also Claude Honoré Desiré Dornier) was one of Germany’s innovative aircraft designers who could very well be compared in the likes of Willy Messerschmitt, Ernst Heinkel and the Horten Brothers. His aircraft designs stood out even before the outbreak of World War II, most notable of which concerned a series of flying boats. One of his flying boat designs which caught the world and challenged the concept of commuter flights during the period following its introduction in 1929 was the Dornier Do X. As the model name imply, the Do X was an experimental passenger flying boat (owing to the “X” designation just like in the X- planes) but its size and capabilities were simply too big and too advanced during its time.

It has a length of 131 ft. 2 inches (40.05 m), height of 33 ft. 1 inch (10.10 m) and a wing span of 157 ft 5 inches (48 m) powered by 12 nine cylinder engines set in pairs (one behind the other) turning a tractor propeller on the front and a pusher propeller on the rear, the six pairs of engines were mounted on top of the wings. By the looks of it, it was more of a boat modified to fly contrary to the concept of an airplane with a capability to land and float on the water. Its physical features were so massive that it drew crowds of sightseers during its lone attempt to fly across the Atlantic on 3 November 1930 from Friedrichshafen, Germany which owing to its limited range of 1, 370 miles (2,200 km) require stages of stop-over in Amsterdam, England, France, Spain, Portugal, West Africa, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) for refuelling before a sensational welcome in New York on August 1931.

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Caught by the effects of the Great Depression, the Do X remained in the US until May 1932 as the engines were overhauled and other mechanical issues were addressed. It took off from New York on the 21st of May 1932 via Newfoundland and Azores before its final landing in Müggelsee, Berlin on the 24th of May 1932. The aircraft was turned over to Lufthansa but it was deemed commercially unfeasible (comparing operational costs to expected profits) and found its place in a museum in Germany before being destroyed during World War II.

Rear view of the aircraft after a water landing

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The Aviation Factfile: Concept Aircraft by Jim Winchester

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Comments (10)

Wow! That's something!

Another great article on airplanes,job well done as always Will.

Fascinating article Will. I just can't believe that ever got into the air, it looks so heavy and cumbersome.

Well, you finally did it, you've manage to write about an aircraft that I had absolutely no knowledge about.

Yes this plane was very heavy at 72, 040 lbs (empty weight) allowing it just a service ceiling of 4,100 ft with a snail pace climb to 1,000 m that takes 14 minutes. Thanks for the reaction always, Charlene, Ron, Lisa.

It's my first time to encounter the origin of the modern airplane that can land on water.

Love that battery of propellers on top.

Looking at the thing one almost wonders how it got into the air.

Expertly done, as always. This looks like a Mack truck with wings. Amazing. Voted and appreciated.

Thanks for the info on the Dornier Do X