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Dornier Do 217 E-2 medium twin-engine bomber An all-metal cantilever monoplane with a twin-fin tail and a retractable landing gear system with a tail wheel. The bomber was created in the design bureau of the Dornier Flugzeugwerke company under the direction of Claude Dornier. In 1937, the German Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) put forward an initiative to create a new, improved variant of the Do 17Z bomber. The new machine would have an increased bomb capacity and a larger fuel supply and would be able to drop bombs when diving. The aircraft was at first developed as an upgrade of the Do 17Z design, but such novel ideas were introduced during the redesign that the result was a fundamentally new design with practically nothing in common with its predecessor. The Do 217 V1 prototype was test-flown in August 1938. Full-scale production of the Do 217 E-1, the first production version, was launched in late 1940. The power unit of the Do 217 E-2 aircraft consisted of two BMW 801 ML fourteen-cylinder, radial air-cooled engines with a takeoff power of 1,580 hp. In comparison with the Do 17Z, the Do 217 E-2's defensive armament was significantly improved. The planes were equipped with an upper DL 131 electric turret containing a 13 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 131 belt-fed machine gun with 500 rounds. The turret had 360-degree horizontal rotation, with its vertical guidance angle ranging from 0 to 85 degrees. In addition to the DL 131 turret, the aircraft's defensive armament included one 15 mm (or 20 mm) Mauser MG 151/15 cannon with 250 rounds in a nose-mounted fixed turret (designed for firing at surface targets) and one 7.92 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 15 machine gun (with 750 rounds) in a nose-mounted mobile turret. A large-calibre 13 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 131 machine gun was installed in a lower lens turret, and each of the two cockpit side blisters had one 7.92 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 15 machine gun. The Do 217 E-2 could be fitted with an R23 field modification kit, consisting of two fixed twin 7.92 mm Mauser MG 81Z machine guns, with 350 rounds each, in the tail section of the fuselage. The pilot fired from them using a RF2C periscope and a PV1B sight, but the fire from this turret had more of a psychological than a real effect. The aircraft could carry up to 4,000 kg of bombs, with 2,517 kg suspended in the internal bomb bay. The standard bomb capacity included four 500 kg or eight 250 kg bombs. Other combat load variations were also possible; for example, two LMA aerial non-contact sea mines or one LTF5b torpedo. A combined total of 185 Do 217 E-2s were built.