Dornier Do 17, The Luftwaffe's 'Flying Pencil'... Air War Archive title from Frontline Books/Pen and Sword


Title: Dornier Do 17, The Luftwaffe's 'Flying Pencil'

Author: Chris Goss

Publisher: Frontline Books

ISBN: 978-1-84832-471-8

A new title from Frontline Books in their Air War Archive series of photo histories by author Chris Goss and another excellent addition to the series.  A pre-war design, the early versions of the Dornier Do 17 got its' nickname of the 'Flying Pencil' thanks to its' long, thin fuselage.  Only the later versions had the enlarged, fully glazed nose.  The original design made it very fast for the time they were first built, though rather like some of the RAF twin-engine bombers in service at the same time, it quickly proved to be obsolete in the early years of WW2, and was to be confined mostly to second line duties after 1941, a story well illustrated in the book.

It opens with an introduction that gives the background to the design and operation of the Do 17 and this is followed by 5 chapters that chart the service history of the type.  The first section of photos take us through Early Development and Pre-War Deployment before moving on to The Attack on Poland, followed by The War in the West before getting to the largest section of the book, looking at The Battle of Britain and the Blitz.  That leaves the final section, After the Blitz, 1941 and Beyond.

The book is packed with a fine collection of wartime archive photos, and the majority of which I had not seen before, and all with well detailed captions.  There are many pictures showing the aircraft both in flight and on their home airfields.  It is interesting to see how camouflage was often for daylight operations, but as experience showed their vulnerability, it changed to more night colours.  A large number of the photos though show crashed aircraft, some from basic accidents, but most as the result of combat.  With a number of these their captions reveal the outcome for their crew members, sometimes injury and/or capture and all too often death.  Combat flying was and is a dangerous undertaking.

The subject of the Dornier 17 is interesting in itself, though I suspect that it will hold a special attraction for all those who with an interest in the aircraft involved in the Battle of Britain.  So plenty in here for the WW2 aviation historian and a lot of super detail for modellers, along with many ideas for potential diorama scenes to recreate.  A welcome addition to this Air War Archive series which is growing very nicely and deservedly popular.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.