Claude Dornier's place in the ranks of aviation greats is secure.
The aircraft produced under the Dornier name over the decades range from the Zeppelin airship and flying boats like the RS I (the first all-metal flying boat) and the twelve-engine Do X (the world’s largest passenger aircraft at the time) to the vertical take-off and landing jet Do 31 and unmanned hovering platforms. This impressive list includes many milestones in the history of flight that took humankind to new heights and paved the way for enormous scientific progress.
The exhibition traces Dornier's conquest of the skies and features striking exhibits such as a Do 31, a Do 29, a Do 228, a Do 27, a Fiat G 91, a Br 1150 Breguet Atlantic, the Merkur and an Alpha Jet. Visitors can get a close-up look at all the planes – many of which are still airworthy – in the museum hangar.
The Dornier Merkur was the first aircraft to complete a scheduled flight for Deutsche Luft Hansa. First built in 1925, the single-engine, strut-braced high-wing monoplane had already set seven world records by June of 1926. The Merkur was a resounding technical and commercial success and was used extensively by Luft Hansa. It also flew for South American and Japanese airlines and was built under various international license agreements.
The “Switzerland”, a special model of the Merkur equipped with floats and a darkroom, was built for Swiss aviator and photographer Walter Mittelholzer. The “Switzerland” became famous when Mittelholzer landed it in Cape Town on February 20, 1927, 78 days after setting out from Zurich, after flying 20,000 kilometres with a flight time of 97 hours.
An exact replica of the Merkur built for the museum’s permanent exhibition,
with paintwork provided by Lufthansa Technik AG, has been on display at the Dornier Museum since July 24, 2009.
The first and only jet transport aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing ever built, the Do 31 made its first flight on February 10, 1967. An entirely new control system and special software and hardware had to be developed before this novel type of aircraft could move from the planning and development stages through production and testing to approval by the authorities.
The "systems approach" to applied technology that is Dornier's hallmark is widely regarded as having its roots in the experience gained working on the Do 31. The Do 31 has set a total of five world records.
The "Wal", or "Whale", was one of Claude Dornier's most famous designs. One of the most successful aircraft of its time – a total of 264 of these legendary flying boats were built in all – the Wal wrote aviation history in the 1920s and '30s. As Claude Dornier himself once summed it up: "The Wal made Dornier. It turned us from an experimental enterprise into an international aircraft manufacturer." Combining outstanding flight characteristics with excellent seaworthiness, the sturdy, reliable plane was used to complete various pioneering flights and set numerous records, which earned it and the man who designed it worldwide fame and acclaim.
Since the summer of 2010, a team of specialists has been working on the reconstruction of one of the most famous Wal flying boats, the N 25. Roald Amundsen set out with an N 25 and a Wal N 24 when he embarked on his expedition to the North Pole in 1925. However, engine problems forced the explorer and his crew to make an emergency landing on the ice about 250 km from the pole, where they remained stranded for three weeks before managing to take off from a runway they had fashioned themselves from the uneven ice.
The N 25 was the aircraft of choice on other famous expeditions, as well. Wolfgang von Gronau used an only slightly modified version of the flying boat to make the first east-to-west Atlantic crossing in 1930. The original propeller displayed in the Dornier Museum is all that has survived of Amundsen's Wal; the rest was destroyed in a fire in the Deutsches Museum during World War II.
As far as possible, original parts are being incorporated into the replica – in the cockpit, in particular – which is scheduled to be unveiled on July 25, 2012.
DORNIER MUSEUM FRIEDRICHSHAFEN
Claude-Dornier-Platz 1 (next to the airport) | 88046 Friedrichshafen | +49 7541 487 36 00 | firstname.lastname@example.org