Restored Dornier Do-335 Pfeil

Restored Dornier Do-335A-0 Pfeil (Arrow) Werknummer 240102 Stammkennzeichen (Factory Radio Code) VG+PH on the apron at Oberpfaffenhofen Fleugplatz (Airport) 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Munich. The Dornier 335 was a multirole heavy fighter and the fastest piston-engined aircraft flown in World War II. It was not built in enough numbers to affect the war, but it could outrun every Allied fighter available in 1944-1945. Only 35 examples were built before the war ended. 102 was built at Dornier's Oberpfaffenhofen factory between July and October 1944. The second of ten preproduction Dornier 335s, 102 operated in test flights with Erprobungskommando 335 at Oberpfaffenhofen. The plane was captured by advancing American forces on April 22, 1945. "Watson's Whizzers," the American intelligence unit tasked with securing German aircraft, took possession of 102. Because Oberpfaffenhofen's runways were cratered, the Do-335 could not take off with a full load of fuel so a short ferry flight was made to a grass runway at Oberweisenfeld. Dornier's civlian test pilot Hans Padell flew off 102 to Cherbourg, leaving his North American P-51 Mustang escorts 45 minutes behind. 102, with another Dornier 335 (FE-1012) destined for Freeman Field in Indiana, was placed aboard HMS Reaper, an escort carrier ferrying German aircraft to the United States for testing. 102 was given to the United States Navy for flight testing at Patuxet River Naval Air Station. 102 remained in operation from December 1945 to 1948. She sat in the open for the next 26 years; first at Norfolk Naval Air Station and then the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum's Silver hill facility in Maryland. In 1974, Dornier offered to renovate the aircraft, and 102 was flown via cargo plane back to Oberpfaffenhofen. The Dornier restoration team included several people who had built 102 in 1944. They discovered the explosive bolts used to jettison the tail were still live; Watson's team had problems with the operation of the explosive bolts and lost one Do-335 in 1945 by accidentally triggering them. After a year of restoration, 102 was shown at an airshow in Hanover; the swastika visible in this view was removed to comply with German law. After that, 102 was exhibited at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In 1986 102 returned to the United States, where it was placed back in storage until it was recently exhibited at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Dornier Flugzeugwerke
Date Photographed: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1975