Thursday, 13 June 2013

Dornier Do X

 photo Behr_DornierDoX.jpg

Volker A. Behr, Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany, 2011, ISBN 978-3-613-03329-0. Illustrated, hardcover, published in German.

Cover image © by Motorbuch Verlag, 2011.

It's apparent both in content and design that the completion of this book was a labour of love. The author, Volker A. Behr, has spent decades compiling an extensive archive on the Do X, and his clearly very personal approach to the type is evident in the book's distinctive atmosphere. Moreover, Dornier Do X is not only an extensive technical and historical documentation but also a collection of related memorabilia. The result is exquisitely nice and very informative.

Dornier Do X opens with a description of Claude Dornier's visionary ideas at a time when civil aviation was still in its infancy. Concurrently, Behr sheds light on the economic and financial realities which provided the contemporary background to Dornier's projects. The text is accompanied by facsimile documents, photos, colour drawings, and the first of many useful tables, this one listing the costs for the construction and operation of the Do X.

Somewhat oddly, the chapter detailing the aircraft's first flight and trials precedes the substantial and very intriguing section on the Do X's technical background. Extensive text and numerous images depict the minutiae of the pioneering design and construction of the flying boat at Dornier's Altenrhein facility on the Swiss side of Lake Constance. This includes not only the famous first Do X (D-1929) but also the subsequent and lesser known Do X 2 and Do X 3. Included is a description of the challenges faced when selecting the aircraft's powerplants. Once again, scans of period documents complete the content.

A further section investigates the Do X's paint scheme, followed by a meticulous study of the flying boat's interior. The inclusion of colour images substantially enhances the appeal of this section, which even includes an in-depth look at the custom-designed porcelain tableware carried in the passenger cabin.

The second half of the book sees Behr chronicling the flight operations and promotional travel campaigns of the Do X, comprising radio broadcasts from the aircraft, Deutschlandflug and Swiss visit, European flight, Atlantic crossing, and much more. Portraits of significant individuals involved with the history of the Do X follow. Dornier Do X concludes with a look at the two Italian Do X flying boats, the Do X 1a's ill-fated landing on the Danube, and the display and subsequent destruction during the war of the Do X 1a at the Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung [German Aviation Collection] in Berlin. The final three pages provide a list of primary and secondary sources.

Volker A. Behr's Dornier Do X is an example of how a monograph should be made. It is an extremely comprehensive and engaging book, the illustrations are plentiful and diverse, and its layout is immaculate and utterly attractive.

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