The Do-217 N-2: Oblique music?

Hi! I’m Kamerad Andreas, a new member of TAP team, I will mostly be posting historical articles regarding aircraft and tanks. I can only hope you will enjoy my posts, as they’re made for you, the reader, to read and to enjoy
My ultimate goal is for you to gain a little bit more historical knowledge regarding a certain topic after a good read.


Today we’re going to take a look at a rather unusual aircraft of the Luftwaffe, the Dornier 217 N-2.


The N series of the Do-217 were built as an evolution of the J series, which marked the beginning of the night fighter role for the said aircraft
Just like its predecessor, it had the same offensive armament: four forward firing 2 cm MG FF cannons and four 7.92 mm machine guns, except that there’s a twist:
This model entailed mounting four to six MG 151/20 guns in the centre of the fuselage. At Technisches Amt, two Do 217s, one with four and the other with six MG/151/20 cannon were ready for inspection on 5 August 1942 and testing in September. The idea of the upward firing cannon had originally come from an engineer, Dr. Poppendieck, in June 1942 by the suggestion of Hauptmann Rudolf Schoenert of III./Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (Night fighter wing).

the bomber could approach from below a British bomber and avoid exposure to its powerful powered turrets guarding its tail, nose and upper fuselage by attacking from behind or head-on. Unlike the B-17 Flying Fortress, the British bombers did not have a Ball turret, and the new Dornier design attempted to take advantage.

After testing was satisfied the two variants, the N-1 and N-2, which had two sub-variants, were fitted with FuG 202 (search radar), which can be seen mounted on the nose of the aircraft, near the offensive armament.asasaunknownTo kill the excessive weight that had plagued earlier types, the bomb bay, its doors and the bomb release gears were removed, and changes were made to the control panels. The gaps were replaced by lighter wood parts which reduced weight, thus allowing heavier armour protection for the crew, therefore making it the most heavily armoured of the Dornier variants.

The improvements reduced the total weight from 15,000 kilograms (33,000 lb) down to 12,500 (27,600 lb) kilograms, which allowed the plane to reach a ceiling height of 9,500 metres (31,200 ft) and a max speed of 525 km/h (283kn)

Schräge Musik produced devastating results, with its most successful deployment in the winter of 1943–1944. This was a time when Bomber Command losses became unsupportable: the RAF lost 78 of 823 bombers that attacked Leipzig on 19 February, and 96 of the 795 bombers that attacked Nuremberg on 30-31 March 1944. RAF Bomber Command was slow to react to the threat from Schräge Musik, with no reports from shot-down crews reporting the new tactic; the sudden increase in bomber losses had often been attributed to flak. Reports from air gunners, of German night fighters stalking their prey from below had appeared as early as 1943 but had been discounted. A myth developed among RAF Bomber Command crews that “scarecrow shells” were encountered over Germany. The phenomenon was thought to be “AA shells simulating an exploding four-engined bomber and designed to damage morale. In many cases these were actual ‘kills’ by Luftwaffe night fighters… It was not for many months that evidence of these deadly attacks was accepted.”

“We had dropped our bombs on a synthetic-oil plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany the night of June 12/13, 1944 and were headed for base. In the tail gun turret I was searching in the dark for any enemy fighters who might be following us out of the target area. Suddenly I heard cannons barking loudly and saw lights flashing directly below. What the hell was that? I didn’t see the fighter – just the flashing. We took evasive action and that was it.  ~Air Gunner Leonard J. Isaacson.


As a bonus, here’s a video of a Do-217 taking off, followed by a routine flight:


12 thoughts on “The Do-217 N-2: Oblique music?

  1. Ayyy, a new guy in TAP, welcome Camerad. Judging from your first article, you’ll provide us with some interesting historical articles to read. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Luftwaffe’s name for the installation of sloped guns firing at an upward angle was “Jazz Music” or
    Schräge Musik, which translates literally into English as oblique music.

    The reason for attacking from below was not due to the absence of ball turrets on RAF bombers, it was more a question of visibility at night and night fighter performance.

    Radar would bring a night fighter to within attack distance of a bomber in the darkness but the target had to be acquired visually before being attacked by the fighter’s guns.
    Heavy bombers would only venture into enemy airspace on moonless nights to reduce the risk of being spotted.
    Airmen on both sides soon realised that at night under blackout conditions that the earth was a much darker background than the sky, which on the blackest night was always somewhat lighter than the ground.
    Consequently a rear gunner had more chance of seeing an approaching fighter if it was level or above and silhouetted against the sky. If the fighter was below, it became all but invisible, a black shape against the black earth.
    Conversely by coming up from below the fighter could see the bomber outlined against the lighter sky, perhaps obscuring an occasional star as it passed.

    Before Jazz Music, after being guided by radar a fighter would attempt to approach a bomber from behind and below, seeing it against the lighter sky.
    At optimum range the pilot would pull up into a shallow climb to bring his fixed forward firing guns onto target and open fire, but carrying heavy armament, multiple crew and held back by the drag of its external radar aerials the night fighters were operating at the limit of their performance. The climb and recoil of its guns would cause a near stall and cause the fighter to fall away and lose its target.

    If it survived the initial attack the bomber stood some chance of survival by “corkscrewing”, which was a violent evasive manoeuvre that had evolved in order to throw a night fighter off its tail.

    A Schräge Musik installation allowed the fighter to maintain its firing position in level flight, allowing a longer and more accurate destructive burst of fire.


  3. Great first article, looking forward to more. IMO TAP really needs more historical articles (haven’t seen a lot for some time)


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