Book Review
Do 17 Units of World War 2
Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Modelers will find this an exceptional resource for detailing Do 17s due to the number of high-quality photographs of active or captured Do 17s – crashed aircraft can reveal more interior and structural views than prosaic maintenance scenes. The color profiles and narratives about colors and markings are exceptionally useful as well. Whether modelers model because of what they read, or seek history inspired by their models, this book is a must-have for enthusiasts of the Dornier bomber family, Luftwaffe bombers, and German bomber operations of the first half of the war.

Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 from Osprey Publishing LTD is the 129th title in their series Combat Aircraft. This new book is authored by Chris Goss and illustrated by Chris Davey, who created 30 color profiles that enhance the value of this 96-page book. Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 is catalogued with the Osprey short code COM 129, and as ISBN 9781472829634. Osprey introduces the book thusly;
    Initially designed as a high-speed mail aeroplane and airliner, the Do 17 first made an appearance as a military aircraft in the Spanish Civil War, both as a bomber and in reconnaissance roles. In the early stages of World War II, it, together with the Heinkel He 111, formed the backbone of the German bomber arm over Poland, France, Belgium and the Low Countries, and saw action in almost every major campaign in this period. However, by the start of the Battle of Britain, the Do 17's limited range and small bomb load meant that it was ripe for replacement by the Ju 88. Though it performed well at lower altitudes, the model suffered heavy losses during raids, particularly during the Blitz and were increasingly phased out. This fully illustrated study uses detailed full-colour artwork and authoritative text from an expert author to tell the full operation story of one of Nazi Germany's best light bombers from the early years of World War II.

One of my very first models was Monogram's Do 17Z "Flying Pencil" and I have always favored the lithe Luftwaffe warrior. Now I have the new Airfix Do 17Z and this book has already inspired the camouflage and markings I intend to use. Let's get into the text.

Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 is told through 96 pages with six chapters, and several supporting sections:
    1. Design, Development and Into Action
    2. Poland and ’Sitzkrieg’
    3. Battle of France
    4. Battle of Britain
    5. Blitz
    6. New Horizons
Supporting the chapters is an appendices, Color Plate Commentary, and index.

Mr. Goss does a good job of telling the story of the Do 17, in his words as well as those of others. A surprising number of Do 17 crews survived the war, fortunate enough to have been shot down during 1939-41, when they became POWs of the Western Allies, thus avoiding the Götterdämmerung of the Eastern Front and western offensives of 1943-1945. Their stories enrich this book. Many of the recollections are combat and shoot-down events, including a recount by both a Do 17 crewman and the RAF pilot who shot them down;
    ’He [Werner Borner] grabbed his MG 15 and opened fire. His bright tracers came darting towards me and I remember thinking “It’s too early to fire”. I had to get closer. Then I pressed the tit and things warmed up in the Dornier. “Pieces of metal and other fragments were flying everywhere” said Werner. One of the ammunition drums was hit and bounced onto Werner’s knees. Then Leutnant Bornschein, on the starboard rear gun, was hit in the head and fell on the floor of the cabin. A second later Feldwebel Lohrer collapsed on top of him… ‘Only Werner was left to shoot it out with me. As he reached for a new drum of ammunition, there was a violent explosion just above his head and he saw three fragments whip past Genzow’s head, missing it by a fraction and smashing into the windscreen.’
Another pilot described being crippled by Spitfires and seeking escape in a cloud, only to have a midair collision with a Staffel mate;
    My aeroplane went into a spin and we were fast spiraling down. None of the usual maneuvers could get the aeroplane out of the spin and I decided to try one last resort – putting the bomber on its back. I didn’t have to worry because the aeroplane then broke up. I later gathered that the tail broke off, letting the fuselage flip upside down. My Beobachter broke through the cockpit roof and I must have go out the same way after my seatbelt had broken.
A great deal of research went into this book. For example, perhaps half of the bombers mentioned have their crewmembers identified by name. Bomb loads and even the number of bombs of different sizes per raid are frequently presented. Often, campaigns are covered day by day.

The story of the Do 17 commences with seven pages of Design, Development and Into Action, beginning with the public presentation of the Dornier Do 17 V1 in October, 1935. It continues with the development of the aircraft as a fast commercial airliner and the subsequent interest that trait generated in the Luftwaffe, which developed the Do 17 into a warplane. The first war Do 17s were the Do 17E and Do 17F versions, entering service in early 1937. Their service in Spain with the Legion Condor is discussed, as well as improving the aircraft.

Next, Poland and ’Sitzkrieg’ is reviewed. Do 17s were exclusively employed surprising tactics over Poland and their losses are discussed. They were surprisingly tough aircraft as photographic evidence shows. Further first-hand accounts enhance the narrative;
    ...I was photographing shipping at an altitude of 30,500 ft when five Spitfires attacked me. To make matters worse, a flight of French Moranes then attacked me at 16,000 ft. I crash-landed near Saint-Omer with 312 hits in my aircraft and was taken prisoner.
Ten pages later Battle of France details the intensifying war for the Do 17 units. This chapter hosts several detailed photographs of downed or damaged Dorniers. It also introduces the first use of the Do 17 as a nightfighter.

Chapter Battle of Britain recounts the main event for the Do 17, through three pages less than the proceeding three chapters combined. Again, first-hand recollections of both British and German crewmen enhance the Do 17 narrative. Retold in detail is the infamous August low-altitude attack on RAF Kenley, well-known due to the large group of photographers and war correspondents that tagged along. Eleven pages of Blitz continues the Battle of Britain story with missions flown after September 15, 1940. This covers the new tactics of codename Opernball, low-level low-light attacks on Bomber Command airfields. It also presents the night intruder missions flown by modified Do 17s to shoot down British aircraft over England.

Dornier's Do 17 was approaching obsolescence but had some fight left in it, as covered in New Horizons. The Balkans, Crete, Greece, and Russia skies saw Do 17 missions as the type was phased out. The last hurrah for the Do 17 was the so-called Baedeker Blitz. This chapter concludes with rear echelon duties as the Do 17 ran out the war.

The chapter ends with the story of the 2008 uncovering of a Do 17 wreck, and its 2013 recovery from the sea.

Photographs, Artwork, and Graphics
An extraordinary gallery of black-and-white photographs supports the text. Each is explained with captions. Except for a couple portraits of commanding officers, the Do 17 is the subject. These include aircraft (flying and on the ground), aircraft and crews (staged and casual), whole aircraft and wrecks, inside and outside of the cockpit. As previously mentioned, the numerous crashed aircraft offer fascinating looks at battle damage and into parts of the aircraft not seen in maintenance scenes. Diorama ideas galore - especially a scene of a panzer next to a force-landed Dornier! There are several detailed images of cockpit interiors, excellent sources for modelers who want to detail their crew compartment beyond what is offered in a kit. Except for a few images, the quality of the photos - focus, illumination, contrast, resolution, etc. - is exceptional.

The 30 color profiles by artist Chris Davey are also high-quality. Each plate has a short description of the subject. Each aircraft also has an expanded description in Color Plate Commentary, which provides information about the subject including markings and colors, crews, and combat fate.

Several tables present Major Do 17 Combat Units with unit, type of Do 17, home base, and commanding officer:
    1. 1 September 1939 (invasion of Poland
    2. 10 May 1940 (Blitzkrieg in the West)
    3. 13 August 1940 (Eagle Day)
    4. Other Battle of Britain Do 17 Units
    5. 5 April 1941 (invasion of Yugoslavia)
    6. 21 June 1941 (Barbarossa - invasion of the Soviet Union)
    7. Do 17 Kampfflieger Ritterkreuz Recipients

Those features of the book should make it highly appreciated by modelers.

The Do 17 is a favorite of mine and I am highly satisfied with Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 from Osprey. It revealed an expanded combat history that I did not know. The gallery of artwork and photographs will enhance my ability to build a satisfying Do 17 model. Mr. Goss' informative text is concise yet erudite and it was easy for me to keep turning to the next page. The first-hand accounts by German and Allied crewmen who fought with and against Do 17s is the highlight of this book for me.

I have no meaningful criticism of this book, accepting that it is constrained by the 96-page format. Thus, I heartily recommend this book as a must-have for enthusiasts of the Dornier bomber family, Luftwaffe bombers, and German bomber operations of the first half of the war.

Please remember to mention to retailers and Osprey that you saw this product here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: Excellent gallery of artwork and photographs. Informative text and fascinating first-hand accounts.
Lows: No meaningful criticism.
Verdict: I heartily recommend this book as a must-have for enthusiasts of the Dornier bomber family, Luftwaffe bombers, and German bomber operations of the first half of the war.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: COM129, 9781472829
  PUBLISHED: Jan 04, 2020

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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