The German aircraft development during the closing stages of the war was certainly advanced with some very inventive machines taking to the air. Often plagued by production, resource or simply time issues, they did not see a huge deal of active service. One machine that certainly fits the “unique” description is the impressive push-pull fighter the Dornier Do 335.
This design drew inspiration form as far back as WWI where Dornier had started trialling the push-pull design for their flying boats. This approach to twin engined aircraft removed complications such as asymmetric thrust in the event of engine failure as well as increasing roll rate. This particular design started life in 1942, though delays due to changing requirements from the government meant that the prototype was not ready until 1943, flying in October. There were many problems on this first flight, both with the landing gear and the engines. Various versions of the machine were trialed before production was committed to in 1944. It was planned that more than 2,000 of the type were to be constructed by 1946, had the war lasted that long.
Despite efforts to speed up the production of this new twin design, various set backs, including the allied bombing of the main production site, meant that in the end only 22 examples of the type ever flew, all of which were pre-production. Some of those machines were pressed into service before the end of the war however, with even high speed designs such as the British tempest, unable to keep up with this design.
Post war, examples were sent to the RAF and US Navy for evaluation, with only the American test machine surviving through the years. This example was the second pre-production aircraft, originally captured in April 1945. Following flight testing and time in storage, the airframe was given to the Smithsonian in 1961. Sadly much of it’s early storage had been outside and as a result it was in need of restoration, when it was sent to Germany for work in 1976. Following restoration the airframe remained on display in Munich until 1988. Now back in the United States it remains an impressive part of the Luftwaffe display in the incredible Udvar Hazy centre. The sheer scale of this impressive machine, even amongst aviation giants is incredible. It’s great to have an excuse to share some more pictures of this machine with this post.