The Do 27 was notable for being the first mass-produced aircraft in Germany after World War II. It was appreciated for its relatively wide, comfortable cabin and excellent short-field performance.
After the end of World War II, the Allied occupying powers were not keen on the idea of a restored German arms industry and placed limits on what could be built in Germany, one limit being a ban on military aircraft. Claude Dornier was no stranger to such circumstances, having had considerable experience in working around similar bans after World War I, and accordingly set up an "Oficinas Tecnicas Dornier" in Spain in 1949, the office working closely with the Spanish CASA aviation firm.
The first major project taken on by the Dornier office in Spain was a single-engine short takeoff / landing (STOL) utility aircraft for the Spanish Air Ministry, the Dornier "Do 25", the first of two prototypes performing its initial flight at Seville on 25 June 1954 with CASA test pilot Ernesto Nienhuisen at the controls. The Do 25, also known by its Spanish military designation of "XL-9", had a configuration generally along the lines of the classic Fieseler Storch STOL utility aircraft, being a high-wing tailwheel monoplane though it differed from the Storch in deleting wing bracing and being larger, with seating for four. The first prototype was powered by the Spanish Elizalde / ENMA Tigre G-1V-B four-cylinder air-cooled inverted inline engine with 112 kW (150 HP). The second prototype was originally flown with the same engine, but in the spring of 1955, it was refitted with a US-built Continental O-470-J flat-six air-cooled engine with 170 kW (225 HP).
Dornier Do 25
With the Cold War coming into its own in the early 1950s, a degree of German re-armament seemed like a good idea after all, and so restrictions on German military production were relaxed. In mid-1955 Dornier was able to re-open its production facilities in Germany, with the Do 25 prototype design being enhanced for a production derivative, the Dornier "Do 27", with the prototype performing its initial flight, in Spain, on 17 June 1955, followed by two more developmental machines. The first flight of a production machine, in Germany, was on 17 October 1956. The German Air Force and German Army ordered a total of 428 of the Do 27A and Do 27B (with dual controls).
In addition to the military operators in Germany and Spain, Portugal received 40 new-build and 106 ex-German aircraft. The Portuguese Air Force used these extensively in the colonial war in Portuguese Africa during the 1960s–70s. In Portuguese Guinea, in April 1973, two Do 27s were shot down by SAM-7 Grail shoulder-launched AAMs.
The Do 27 was made famous by the Academy Award winning film maker and environmental activist Bernhard Grzimek in his 1959 documentary wildlife-film “Serengeti darf nicht sterben” (Serengeti Shall Not Die) which was developed with significant cooperation by his son Michael. Soon after the filming Michael was tragically killed in a crash while flying his famous zebra-patterned Dornier Do 27 (D-ENTE), he a bird-strike with a Vulture and lost control of the aircraft.
A feature movie was later made about the life of Bernhard and Michael Grzimek, the SA Based Dornier Do 27 (ZU-LLU) belonging to Rodney Benn was used for the filming and was painted in the familiar Zebra pattern.
Rodney Benn and his son Ivan
LULU as she is affectionately known is a later model Do 27B that has quite a of her own. She arrived on African shores when she was purchased by the Ugandan Airforce but unfortunately suffered major damage on delivery and was then returned to Germany for a total rebuild. She was rebuilt and stayed in storage in Germany until she was purchased by a German pilot who later sold her to a South African owner.
On her ferry to South Africa her African cures continued and she was significantly damaged in a taxi incident with an airliner necessitating yet another re-build.
An American found her and brought her to South Africa and while he was training for his PPL he wondered into Mozambican airspace, unsure of where he was, he decided to land causing a major uproar. Mozambique became her home for the next few years.
South African antique car collector and avid pilot, Dawie Wille found her and managed to buy her for R25000-00, she had finally found a happy home in the Lowveld, Dawie sold her to Tom Burge and Tracy Robb where she reached her 1000th flying hour. Henri Wasterman purchased her in 2011 and then later sold her to the current owner.
Dornier Do27 Specifications
Propulsion 1 Piston Engine
Engine Model Lycoming GO-480-B1A6
Engine Power 201 kW 270 hp
max. Cruise Speed 241 km/h 30 kts 150 mph
max. Speed (vne) 333 km/h 180 kts 207 mph
Service Ceiling 11.000 ft 3.353 m
Range 594 NM 684 mi 1.100 km
Empty Weight 1.200 kg 2646 lbs
max. Takeoff Weight 1.850 kg 4.079 lbs
Wing Span 12,00 m 39 ft 4 in
Wing Area 19,4 m² 209 ft²
Length 9,60 m 31 ft 6 in
Height 3,50 m 11 ft 6 in
Production Range 1956-1965
Total Production 624
Developed from Do 25
ICAO Code DO27