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The Dornier Do 335 Pfeil ("Arrow"), unofficially also Ameisenbär ("anteater"), was a World War II heavy fighter built by the Dornier company. The Pfeil s performance was much better than that of other twin-engine designs due to its unique "push-pull" layout. The Luftwaffe was desperate to get the design into operational use, but delays in engine deliveries meant only a handful were delivered before the war ended.


The origins of the Do 335 trace back to World War I when Claudius Dornier designed a number of flying boats featuring remotely-driven propellers and later, due to problems with the drive shafts, tandem engines. Tandem engines were used on most of the multi-engine Dornier flying boats that followed, including the highly successful Do J and the gigantic Do X. The remote propeller drive, intended to eliminate parasitic drag from the engine entirely, was tried in the innovative but unsuccessful Do 14, and elongated drive shafts as later used in the Do 335 saw use in the rear engines of the four-engined, twinned tandem-layout Do 26 flying boat.

There are many advantages to this design over the more traditional system of placing one engine on each wing, the most important being power from two engines with the frontal area (and thus drag) of a single-engine design, allowing for higher performance. It also keeps the weight of the twin powerplants near, or on, the aircraft centerline, increasing the roll rate compared to a traditional twin. In addition, a single engine failure does not lead to asymmetric thrust, and in normal flight there is no net torque so the plane is easy to handle. The choice of a full "four-surface" set of cruciform tail surfaces in the Do 335's design, allowed the ventral vertical fin/rudder assembly to project downwards from the extreme rear of the fuselage, in order to protect the rear propeller from an accidental ground strike on takeoff.

In 1939, Dornier was busy working on the P.59 high-speed bomber project, which featured the tandem engine layout. In 1940, he commissioned a test aircraft to validate his concept for turning the rear pusher propeller with an engine located far away from it and using a long driveshaft. This aircraft, the Göppingen Gö 9 showed no unforeseen difficulties with this arrangement, but work on the P.59 was stopped in early 1940 when Hermann Göring ordered the cancellation of all projects which would not be completed within a year or so.

In May 1942, Dornier submitted an updated version with a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombload as the P.231, in response to a requirement for a single seat high-speed bomber/intruder (other entries included the Blohm & Voss BV 155). P.231 was selected as the winner after beating rival designs from Arado and Junkers, and a development contract was awarded as the Do 335. In autumn 1942, Dornier was told that the Do 335 was no longer required, and instead a multi-role fighter based on the same general layout would be accepted. This delayed the prototype delivery as it was modified for the new role.

Fitted with DB 603A engines delivering 1,750 PS (1,287 kW, 1,726 hp) at takeoff, the Do 335 V1 first prototype, bearing the Stammkennzeichen (factory radio code) of CP+UA, flew in October 1943. The pilots were surprised at the speed, acceleration, turning circle, and general handling of the type; it was a twin that flew like a single. The only sore spots they found were the poor rearward visibility and weak landing gear. V2 and V3 incorporated several minor changes; the oil cooler under the nose was incorporated into the annular engine cowling, blisters were added to the canopy with small rear-view mirrors, and the main undercarriage doors were redesigned.

On 23 May 1944, Hitler, as part of the Jägernotprogramm directive, ordered maximum priority to be given to Do 335 production. The main production line was intended to be at Manzel, but a bombing raid in March destroyed the tooling and forced Dornier to set up a new line at Oberpfaffenhofen. The decision was made, along with the rapid shut-down of many other military aircraft development programs, to cancel the Heinkel He 219 night fighter, and use its production facilities for the Do 335 as well. However, Ernst Heinkel managed to delay, and eventually ignore, its implementation.

Flight tests

Do 335 tested in the USA

The first 10 Do 335A-0s were delivered for testing in May. By late 1944, the Do 335A-1 was on the production line. This was similar to the A-0 but with the uprated DB 603E-1 engines and two underwing hardpoints for additional bombs, drop tanks or guns. Capable of a maximum speed of 763 km/h (474 mph) at 6,500 m (21,300 ft) with MW 50 boost, or 686 km/h (426 mph) without boost, and able to climb to 8,000 m (26,250 ft) in under 15 minutes, the Do 335A-1 could easily outrun any Allied fighters it encountered. Even with one engine out, it could reach about 563 km/h (350 mph).

Delivery commenced in January 1945. When the United States Army overran the Oberpfaffenhofen factory in late April 1945, only 11 Do 335A-1 single-seat fighter-bomber and two Do 335A-12 trainer had been completed.

French ace Pierre Clostermann claimed the first Allied combat encounter with a Pfeil in April 1945. Leading a flight of four Hawker Tempests from No. 3 Squadron RAF over northern Germany, he intercepted a lone Do 335 flying at maximum speed at treetop level. Detecting the British aircraft, the German pilot reversed course to evade. Despite the Tempest's considerable speed, the RAF fighters were not able to catch up or even get into firing position.


  • Do 335A-0 : 10 pre-production aircraft.
  • Do 335A-1 : Single-seat fighter-bomber aircraft.
  • Do 435 : Proposed Two-seat night fighter version. Not built.
  • Do 535 :Proposed turbojet-powered version. Not built.
  • Do 635 : Proposed long-range reconnaissance version. Not built.


Only one Do 335 survives today. The aircraft was the second preproduction Do 335A-0, designated A-02, with construction number (Werknummer) 240102, and factory radio code registration, or Stammkennzeichen, of VG+PH. The aircraft was assembled at Dornier's plant in Oberpfaffenhofen (southern Germanymarker) on 16 April 1945. It was captured by allied forces at the plant on 22 April 1945. The aircraft was test flown from a grass runway at Oberwiesenfeld, near Munichmarker, to Cherbourg, Francemarker while escorted by two P-51s. The Do 335 was easily able to out distance the escorting Mustangs and arrived at Cherbourg 45 minutes before the P-51s. VG+PH was one of two Do 335s to be shipped to the United States aboard the Royal Navy ship , along with other captured German aircraft, to be used for testing and evaluation under a USAAF program called "Operation Sea Horse". One Do 335 (registration FE-1012) went to the USAAF and was tested in early 1946 at Freeman Field, Indianamarker. Its fate is not recorded.

VG+PH went to the Navy for evaluation and was sent to the Test and Evaluation Center, Patuxent River Naval Air Stationmarker, Marylandmarker. Following testing from 1945 to 1948, the aircraft languished in outside storage at Naval Air Station Norfolkmarker. In 1961, it was donated to the Smithsonian's National Air Museum, though it remained in deteriorating condition at Norfolk for several more years before being moved the National Air & Space Museummarker's storage facility in Suitland, Marylandmarker. In October 1974, VG+PH was returned to the Dornier plant in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany (then building the Alpha Jet) for a complete restoration. In 1975, the aircraft was restored by Dornier employees, many of whom had worked on the airplane originally. They were amazed to find that the explosive charges built into the aircraft to blow off the tail fin and rear propeller in the event of an emergency were still on the aircraft and active 30 years later.

Following restoration the completed Do 335 was displayed at the Hanover, Germanymarker Airshow from 1 May to 9 May 1976. After the air show, the aircraft was lent to the Deutsches Museummarker in Munichmarker where it was on display, without a swastika on the dorsal vertical tail in accordance with German law until 1986, when it was shipped back to Silver Hill, Marylandmarker. VG+PH can be seen today in the Steven F.marker Udvar-Hazy Centermarker of the National Air & Space Museummarker alongside other unique late-war German aircraft such as the only known example of the Arado Ar 234B-2 Blitz jet recon-bomber, and the only surviving Heinkel He 219A Uhu (Eagle-Owl) (currently only the fuselage is on display, the wings are still undergoing restoration as of Oct 2009).

Specifications (Do 335 A-0)

See also


  1. In his book The Big Show

External links

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