Dornier Do 335 Pfeil
the fastest piston engine fighter of WW2
Models by Bjørn Jacobsen
In 1944, the Luftwaffe, in spite of continuous bombing of factories day and night, managed to produce fighters as least as good as the Allied.
Their biggest problem was lack of fuel and experienced pilots
The British and Americans, however, had heavy fighter bombers, like the P-47 and the Hawker Tempest. which the Luftwaffe could not match. Germany desperately needed a tough heavy hitting fighter or fighter bomber.
And they had one - better than anything the Allied could produce:
The revolutionary Dornier Do 335 Pfeil.
This powerful new twin-engines fighter was preparing to enter service with the Luftwaffe late in 1944.
The unique configuration of this aircraft gave it a phenomenal performance, which completely eclipsed all other piston-engine fighter at that time.
The Do335 had two powerful engines, mounted fore-and-aft in tandem. The obvious benefits of this layout are reduced frontal area, an aerodynamically clean wing and the elimination of the asymmetry problems associated with engine failure.
Fitted with Daimler-Benz DB603A-2 engines of 1750hp at take-off, the Do 335 flew for the first time on October 1943
The main production line was intended to be at Manzel, but a bombing raid in March 1944 destroyed much of the production tooling and forced Dornier to set up a new line at Oberpfaffenhofen.
In May 1944, with an Allied invasion of France expected at any time, Hitler ordered maximum priority to be given to the Do 335 production.
Ten Do 335A-0 fighter-bombers were produced and used by Erprobungskommando 335 (EK335), formed in September 1944
In late 1944, the Do 335A-1 superseded the A-0 on the production line and delivery commenced in January 1945.
Heavily armed and capable of a maximum speed of 753kmt (474mph) at 6.500m (21,325 ft) and able to climb to 6.500m in only 14.5 minutes, the Do 335A-1 could easily outpace any Allied fighters it encountered. And it could carry bomb load of 1000 kg (2200 lb) for 1.450km (900 miles)
As the war situation continued to deteriorate, development effort switched from the A-series fighter-bomber to the more heavily armed B-series heavy fighter.
Plagued by mechanical problems and lack of aviation fuel, the operational career of the Do 335 is rather obscure
Do 335A-0 and A-1 aircraft are thought to have flown a number of operational missions with EK335.
Some were also used by III/KG2 in the spring of 1945.
French fighter ace Pierre Clostermann’s book ‘The Big Show’ mentions an encounter with a Do 335 in April 1945, during which the German aircraft easily outpaced the pursuing Hawker Tempests and escaped. Such events were very rare, so it seems likely that most operations were high speed interdiction missions – many taking place at night.
When the Allies overran the Dornier factory at Oberpfaffenhofen in late April 1945, some 37 Pfeils had been completed, with about 70 others awaiting final assembly and the arrival of components.
After the war, two of the surviving A-0 single seats were shipped back to the USA, for detailed evaluation by the US Navy and USAAF. An airworthy A-12 two seater was flown to Britain and flight tested at RAF Farnborough.
A Do335 A-1 force-landed in France on its delivery flight and together with two B-series prototypes it was sized and evaluated by the CEV in France.
One interest of note was that the "Pfeil" was equipped with an ejection seat. The upper tailfin and the rear propeller were equipped with explosive bolts to separate them from the fuselage to avoid impacting the pilot in the case of ejection.
Technically innovative, heavily armed and possessing a performance which no other piston-engine aircraft has ever achieved or surpassed, the Do 335 possessed great potential as a combat aircraft, but never got the chance to prove itself.
The Arrow or the AntEater?
The official name for the Do335 was The Arrow (Pfeil), but the pilots immediately nicknamed it The AntEater (Ameisenbär) because of its heavy body and long nose.
This picture gives a good idea how big this fighter really was
Do335s captured by the Americans
A Do335 captured by the British
The Do335 at the Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport, Virginia, USA
Building the Do 335A
The kit is a 1:48 from Tamiya and is built right out of the box.
The fit is perfect and it needed no filler and very little sanding
The first layer of paint was of aluminum which is useful when shipping the camouflage paint.
The camouflage paint was RLM 81 (Braun Violet), RLM 82 (Light Green) and RLM 65 (Light Blue).
I was very careful to add white to the colors to compensate for the scale effect. Too many model builders use the paint directly from the box which gives too strong colors and looks quite wrong when you look at the model.
The weathering was mad by chipping parts of the camouflage paint, dry brushing the exhausts stains and wear on the wings left by the ground crew.
As always, I flattened the huge low-pressure main wheel by using a hot iron.
Initially I painted the model with the wheel doors locked to better give some realistic pictures of the plane in flight.
I lubricated the propeller shaft and made the propeller spin by using hairdryers to blow at them.
Too late for active service
Luckily, the situation in the picture above never took place -
but the Do335 could have meant a lot of trouble for the heavy bombers over Germany
The "American" Do 335 Pfeil
The Do 335 was a fascinating and exiting aircraft to the Allied forces, and the British and the American Air Forces quickly took all the Do 335 they could get their hands on. Among others, the Americans got hold of the VG+PH.
The first they did was to overpaint the German symbols and painted the USAAF iinsignia – and started testing the aircraft.
This particular aircraft, the VG+PH is today the sole remaining example of the Do 335 in the world and is on display at the Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport, Virginia, USA.
In 1945, after testing it in Europe, it was shipped to the US Navy’s Patuxent River Test Centre for more testing.
After the trial period, the Do 335 languished in open storage for 27 years.
In October 1974 the decaying airframe was flown back to Munich, for a complete restoration by Dornier Aircraft Plant.
The restored aircraft was first displayed at the in 1976 and then loaned to the Deutsches Museum, Munich, before returning to the NASM.
I hope you enjoyed this website! Thank you for visiting!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments
The picture above was taken in 1945.
Just for fun, I placed the model in the same situation and took a b/w photo to see how close the model was from the real thing. Picture below.