Design, Development, & HistoryEdit
When production models of a properly functioning FuG 202 Lichtenstein B/C airborne radar appeared, Do 217 J-2 variant night fighters began to be constructed.
Planes of the J-2 variant differed from the J-1 in their lack of a rear bomb bay, which had finally been removed, and in the characteristic «whiskers» of their radar antennas which had appeared in the nose section.
The new fighter failed to eliminate the main disadvantages of its predecessor. It was also notable for its low speed and poor manoeuvrability. After radar antennas were installed, the aircraft's aerodynamic resistance was significantly increased, which reduced its already low maximum speed. But now the presence of an airborne radar enabled the fighter crew to detect enemy planes on their own and prepare for an attack in advance.
In addition to the radar, the plane's radio electronic equipment included a FuG 10 short-wave radio set and a radio altimeter of a FuG 101 (with a height measurement range of 0 to 1,500 m) or FuG 101A (0 to 750 m) type. The aircraft also had a Peil G V radio navigation system with a Peil Z 5A or Z 6A automatic radio direction finder and a FuBl 2 blind landing system.
When the British started to regularly actively jam night fighter control radio networks, the radio equipment was improved with the addition of a FuG 16 ultra-short-wave radio set, whose operating band was outside the jamming zone.
Although the 20 mm Oerlikon MG FF/M cannons mounted on the Do 217J had an insufficient rate of fire and poor ballistic characteristics, they were noted for their high reliability. So, the plane's battery of four of these cannons proved to be quite an effective weapon in combat. During firing tests, the cannons of one Do 217 J-2 made 125,000 shots without a single jam.
Not a single wing in the Luftwaffe's night fighter units was completely made up of Do 217s. The more lightweight and high-speed Bf 110 was operated along with the Dorniers.
The first combat use of Do 217 J-2 night fighters took place in the night of May 29, 1943, against British bombers performing a raid over Wuppertal. About 150 British aircraft were detected in the area covered by the II./NJG 1 night fighter wing. The wing deployed 13 Bf 110 fighters and 3 Do 217 J-2s, which managed to shoot down 11 bombers. Meanwhile, one Do 217 J-2 was brought down during takeoff by a British night fighter.