Dornier Do 31

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Do 31
Dornier Do 31 in 1968.jpg
Dornier Do 31 in 1968
Role VTOL transport
Manufacturer Dornier Flugzeugwerke
First flight 10 February 1967
Status Project cancelled April 1970
Primary user German Air Force
Number built 3

The Dornier Do 31 was a West German experimental VTOL jet transport built by Dornier. The Do 31 was designed to meet a NATO specification (NBMR-4) for a tactical support aircraft for the EWR VJ 101 VTOL strike aircraft designed under the NATO contract of BMR-3.[1] The project was cancelled in 1970 owing to high costs, technical problems and a change of requirement.

Design and development[edit]

In the early 1960s, the German Air Force became increasingly concerned that its airfields were vulnerable to air attack from Eastern Bloc forces and actively researched the possibility of dispersed operations which included flying from Autobahnen but required aircraft with STOVL capabilities. Part of these trials involved the modification of German F-104 Starfighters to be rocket-launched from stationary ramps in what became known as the ZELL program. The Starfighters were to be recovered to short strips using aircraft carrier-type arresting gear. The Do 31 was intended to use the same strips as forward operating bases.[2]

When the high cost, technical and logistical difficulties were realized, the German Air Force ceased trials involving VTOL aircraft such as the Do 31, VJ101, and the later VFW VAK 191B which resulted in the cancellation of these projects and further use of these aircraft was limited to research purposes only.

Initial designs incorporated a Bristol Pegasus[note 1] vectored-thrust turbofan in each of the two inboard nacelles and four Rolls-Royce RB162 lift engines in each of the outer nacelles. It was planned to dispense with the outer nacelles and their engines when larger RB153 turbofans (of approximately 5,000 lbf (22 kN) thrust) became available. By mounting the engines in pods, the fuselage could provide a capacious hold with a rear loading ramp.

In all, three test prototypes were built, these being E1, E2 and E3 - the "E" indicating Experimentell (Experimental). E1 was powered only by the Pegasus engines, and was designed to test horizontal flight. E2 was a static test airframe, and did not fly. E3 had both Pegasus and RB162 lift engines installed, and was designed to test the vertical flight mode. The first prototype (E1) first flew on 10 February 1967 with just the two Pegasus engines. The third prototype (E3) flew in July 1967 with all ten engines fitted. The first hovering flight took place on 22 November 1967. Full forward and backward transitions were made in December 1967.

The Do 31 established several Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) world records during its ferry flight to the 1969 Paris Air Show.[3][4][5][6][7]

Do131

It was the first, and so far only, vertical takeoff jet transport ever built. The project was cancelled in April 1970, although it made its final public flight on 4 May 1970 during the ILA in Hanover. One of the factors that led to the cancellation was the large drag and weight of the lift engine pods which reduced the useful payload and range compared to conventional transport aircraft.

To cope with the complex and fast computations necessary for vertical takeoff, the Do 31 was equipped with a Dornier DO-960 hybrid computer.

A development of the Do 31, called Do 131 with twelve or fourteen liftjets, was explored, but no prototype was built.[8]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Do 31 E3 on display at the Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim

Both flying prototypes have been preserved in Germany, but the fate and current location of the non-flying testbed (E2) is not known.

Operators[edit]

Artist drawing
 Germany

Specifications (Do 31E)[edit]

Flight deck of the Do 31

Data from Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1969–70[11], The Observers Book of Aircraft[12]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 36 fully-equipped troops / 24 stretchers / 3,000–5,000 kg (6,600–11,000 lb) payload
  • Length: 20.88 m (68 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 18.06 m (59 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 8.53 m (28 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 57 m2 (610 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 64A412.5; tip: NACA 64A410[13]
  • Empty weight: 49,500 kg (109,129 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 60,500 kg (133,380 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 8,000 l (2,100 US gal; 1,800 imp gal) in five integral wing tanks
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce BE.53/2 Pegasus 5-2 vectored thrust turbofans, 69 kN (15,500 lbf) thrust each in underwing pods
  • Powerplant: 8 × Rolls-Royce RB.162-4D turbojet engines, 20 kN (4,400 lbf) thrust each vertically mounted in optional wing-tip pods

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 730 km/h (454 mph; 394 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 650 km/h (404 mph; 351 kn) at 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
  • Range: 1,800 km (1,118 mi; 972 nmi) with maximum payload
  • Service ceiling: 10,700 m (35,100 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 26.667 m/s (5,249.4 ft/min) all engines
19.2 m/s (63 ft/s) Pegasus engines only

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ By the time of the first flight, Rolls-Royce had taken over Bristol Engines.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, 1976. p. 143.
  2. ^ Jackson, 1976. p.29.
  3. ^ "FAI Record ID #5536 - Speed over a recognized course, München - Paris. Class H (VTOL aircraft)" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Record date 27 May 1969. Accessed: 4 October 2015.
  4. ^ "FAI Record ID #15153 - Speed, München - Paris. Class H (VTOL aircraft)" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Record date 27 May 1969. Accessed: 4 October 2015.
  5. ^ "FAI Record ID #15151 - Altitude, München - Paris. Class H (VTOL aircraft)" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Record date 27 May 1969. Accessed: 4 October 2015.
  6. ^ "FAI Record ID #15152 - Duration, München - Paris. Class H (VTOL aircraft)" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Record date 27 May 1969. Accessed: 4 October 2015.
  7. ^ "FAI Record ID #6370 - Distance, München - Paris. Class H (VTOL aircraft)" Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Record date 27 May 1969. Accessed: 4 October 2015.
  8. ^ Dornier: die Chronik des ältesten deutschen Flugzeugwerks. Dornier GmbH (Friedrichshafen).Aviatic-Verlag, 1985
  9. ^ Dornier Museum press release (German language) Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 9 August 2009
  10. ^ Deutsches Museum, Do 31 www.deutsches-museum.de Retrieved: 5 April 2010
  11. ^ Taylor, John W.R., ed. (1969). Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1969–70 (60th ed.). London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company. pp. 90–92.
  12. ^ Green, William (1968). The Observer's Book of Aircraft. London: Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. p. 88.
  13. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". m-selig.ae.illinois.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

Further reading[edit]