Dornier Do J: Wikis


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Do J "Wal"
Spanish Dornier Do J
Role Flying boat
Manufacturer Dornier Flugzeugwerke
First flight 6 November 1922
Introduced 1923
Retired 1950
Primary user Spain
Number built > 250

The Dornier Do J was a twin-engine German flying boat of the 1920s designed by Dornier Flugzeugwerke.


Design and development

The Dornier Do J (later designated Do 16 by the Reich Air Ministry) was better known as the Wal ("whale").

The Do J was a fairly modern (compared to World War I types) flying boat with a high-mounted strut-braced monoplane wing. Two piston engines were mounted in tandem in a nacelle above the wing and in line with the hull; one engine drove a tractor propeller and the other drove a pusher propeller. The Do J made its maiden flight on 6 November 1922. The flight, as well as most of the production until 1932, took place in Italy because a lot of aviation activity in Germany was prohibited after World War I under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Dornier started producing Whales in Germany in 1931, with the production lasting to 1936.

In the military version, a crew of two to four rode in an open cockpit near the nose of the hull. There were one MG-position in the bow in front of the cockpit and one to two amidships. Beginning with Spain, military versions were delivered to Argentina, Chile, the Netherlands for use in their colonies, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and to the end of the production Italy and Germany. The main military users, Spain and the Netherlands, manufactured their own versions under licence. Several countries, notably Italy, Norway, Portugal, Urugay, Great Britain and Germany, used the Wal for military raids.

The civil version (Kabinenwal) had a cabin in the nose, offering space for up to 12 passengers, while the open cockpit was moved further aft. Main users of this version were Germany, Italy, Brazil, Colombia.

The Do J was first powered by two 265 kW (355 hp) Rolls-Royce Eagle IX engines. Later versions used nearly every available engine on the market from makers like Hispano-Suiza, Napier Lion, Lorraine-Dietrich, BMW, and even the Liberty Engine. The 10 to-Whales used by Lufthansa for their mail service across the South Atlantic fom 1934 to 1938 had a range of 3,600 km (2,240 mi), and a ceiling of 3,500 m (11,480 ft).

Operational history

Amundsen's Dornier Do J flying over the Oslofjord.
Lufthansa Dornier Do J II f Bos, D-AFAR "Samum" in Bathhurst, Western Africa (1938)

The Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen accompanied by Lincoln Ellsworth, pilot Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen, and three other team members used two Dornier seaplanes in his unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole in 1925. His two aircraft, N-24 and N-25, landed at 87° 44' north. It was the northernmost latitude reached by any aircraft up to that time. The planes landed a few miles apart without radio contact, yet the crews managed to reunite. One of the aircraft, the N-24 was damaged. Amundsen and his crew worked for over three weeks to clean up an airstrip to take off from ice. They shoveled 600 tons of ice while consuming only one pound (400 g) of daily food rations. In the end, six crew members were packed into the N-25. In a remarkable feat, Riiser-Larsen took off, and they barely became airborne over the cracking ice. They returned triumphant when everyone thought they had been lost forever.

In 1926 Ramón Franco became a national Spanish hero when he piloted the Dornier Plus Ultra on a trans-Atlantic flight. His co-pilot was Julio Ruiz de Alda Miqueleiz; the other crew members were Teniente de Navio (Navy Lieutenant) Juan Manuel Duran and the mechanic Pablo Rada. The Plus Ultra departed from Palos de la Frontera, in Huelva, Spain on 22 January and arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 26 January. It stopped over at Gran Canaria, Cape Verde, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. The 10,270 km journey was completed in 59 hours and 39 minutes.

The event appeared in most of the major newspapers world wide, though some of them underlining the fact that the airplane itself plus the technical expertise were foreign. Throughout the Spanish-speaking world the Spanish aviators were glamorously acclaimed, particularly in Argentina and Spain where thousands gathered at Plaza de Colón in Madrid. (Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plus Ultra - see below.)

In 1929 Franco attempted another trans-Atlantic flight, this time crashing the airplane to the sea near the Azores. The crew was rescued days later by the aircraft carrier Eagle of the British Royal Navy.

The Portuguese military aviator Sarmento de Beires and his crew made the first night aerial crossing of the South Atlantic in a Dornier J named Argos. The crossing was made on the night of 17 March 1927 from Portuguese Guinea to Brazil.

Two Dornier Wals (named Passat and Boreas) also played an important role in the Third German Antarctic Expedition of 1939.

Over 250 Wals were built by CMASA and Piaggio in Italy, CASA in Spain, Kawasaki in Japan, Aviolanda in the Netherlands, and Dornier in Germany.

The Colombian Air Force used Dornier Wals in the Colombia-Peru War in 1932-1933.


Specifications Dornier Do J Wal

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Capacity: 8-10 passengers
  • Length: 17.25 m (56´ 7`` ft)
  • Wingspan: 22,50 m (73´10´´ ft)
  • Height: 5.20 m (17´ft)
  • Wing area: 96,00 m² ()
  • Empty weight: 3.630 kg (8000 lb.)
  • Max takeoff weight: 5.500 - 7.000 kg (12.570 -15.400 lb)
  • Powerplant:Rolls-Royce Eagle IX V 12-engine, 265 kW (360 hp) each


Note and References



  • M. Michiel van der Mey: "Dornier Wal a Light coming over the Sea". LoGisma editore, 2005, English, ISBN 88-87621-51-9
  • M. Michiel van der Mey: "Dornier Wal Vliegboot". 1986, Dutch, ISBN 90-9001445-4
  • M. Michiel van der Mey: "Der Einsatz der Heinkel Katapulte". 2002, German

External links


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