The Dornier Museum
When the Dornier Metal Works in Friedrichshafen were founded in 1922, it was the right time & place for an aircraft manufacturer to start a firm in Germany: the Allied ban on producing civilian aircraft would be lifted in May, and moving forbidden product lines to the Swiss side of Lake Constance was not too difficult. Dornier’s earliest successful product was the Do J Wal (‘Whale’), a flying boat introduced in November 1922. Over 250 were made between 1923 & 1936, initially in Italy, where it was okay to build military-purpose planes, and from 1931 in Germany as well. The Do B Merkur (‘Mercury’), a passenger plane that first flew in 1925, was considered the most economical aircraft in its class, and by 1928 the Luft Hansa aviation company had sixteen of them flying around. Production really took off after the Nazis seized power in 1933, and Dornier became a major manufacturer of bombers. The two most popular ones — the Do 17, nicknamed ‘the flying pencil’, and its successor, the Do 217 — were built by the thousands.
The Dornier Museum in Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance shows how Claude Dornier’s business evolved from a department of the Zeppelin airship factory into a major aerospace company, until it finally dissolved, through a series of mergers, into what is now the Airbus corporation. Highlights include replicas of a Whale used by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen for his 1925 expedition to the North Pole, and Luft Hansa’s Mercury Silberfuchs (1927). The the Do X (1929), the legendary colossal twelve-engine flying boat, gets a fair bit of attention; among more recent exhibits are a Do 31 VTOL cargo aircraft (1967), a 1970s Alpha Jet produced by Dassault & Dornier, and a Do 328 commuter airliner (1991), which was the last aircraft designed in Friedrichshafen. The historical exhibition proudly presents Dornier’s technical achievements, and reminds visitors of the devastating effects of strategic bombing. The final section of the exhibition shows products in fields less relevant to the company, such as space technology.dorniermuseum.de