Rare Aircraft – Dornier Do-27A-4, D-EFSC

By me
All photos naturally me

The village show is back in town again! ๐Ÿ™‚ The Septemberly Luฤko airshow has returned again this year, though – as is apparently the norm – in a weaker and bleaker showing than former years. Despite visitor attendance being significantly higher than last year (guesstimate using the Mk. I eyeball), the aircraft lineup had left a lot to be desired. The mix of resident Cessnas and Pipers – with the occasional gems like the Seawind 3000 and Cessna 177RG mentioned here earlier – wasn’t overly exciting, but one visitor from neighboring Slovenia saved the day for me. Yesterday, I saw my first Dornier Do-27! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Do-27 was the first German civil aircraft to be produced after WW2, with the design first flying in 1955. Nowadays, they are very, very rare and airworthy examples number in the low dozens. Designed as a pure STOL hauler – it’s written all over the thing – the Do-27 immediately leaves a firm impression of quality, solidity and purposefulness. Renowned for being able to get in anywhere anytime, in modern times they’re mostly used for skydive flights, having been replaced in their bush and military roles by more modern aircraft such as the Cessna 206 and 208 and the PC-6 (itself, ironically, starting life in a similar piston form as the Do-27).

Our example here, D-EFSC, is an early A-4 model, manufactured in 1961 – though after a detailed inspection in and out, I was ready to believe it could have been made in 2001. The thing is beautifully maintained and works and sounds like a true Made in Germany product. Though wearing a German registration, the aircraft is permanently based at Cerklje airbase, a stone’s throw from Zagreb across the border (must visit there sometimes). Running the reg through the Airliners.net database, the last photos show it at a German airfield (forgot which) way back in 2002, so clearly some catching up was in order :).

Imposing and regal at the same time. Shot in B&W for that period feeling (48 years old this this is)

Imposing. Shot in B&W for that period feeling (48 years old this this is)

Terrain clearance? No problem :)

Got ground clearance? ๐Ÿ™‚

The Do-27 looks awesome from any angle, but from down here it's just wicked!

The Do-27 looks awesome from any angle, but from down here it's just wicked!

No runway? No problem! A fixed slat running along the entire leading edge considerably cut the takeoff and landing rolls

No runway? No problem! A fixed slat running along the entire leading edge considerably cuts the takeoff and landing rolls

Out back we have split slotted ailerons which droop along with the flaps. This thing is really an oversized Fiesler Storch :)

Out back we have split slotted ailerons which droop along with the flaps. This thing is really an oversized Fiesler Storch ๐Ÿ™‚

The rough-'n-tough main landing gear. Primarily intended to give the prop adequate ground clearance, like in the Storch it produces significant drag, which in turn allows steep descent rates

The rough-'n-tough main landing gear. Primarily intended to give the prop adequate ground clearance, like in the Storch it produces significant drag, which in turn allows steep descent rates

Your M5 can now go and cower in the corner :). Actually a licence built version of Lycoming's geared GO-485 engine, this hefty bundle produces 275 HP for takeoff and 245 continuous

Your M5 can now go and cower in the corner :). Actually a licence built version of Lycoming's geared GO-485 engine, this hefty bundle produces 275 HP for takeoff and 245 continuous

The prop - not spinning here :) - is a two-blade constant speed unit. Given that these tend to be louder than three-blade prop - and being spun by an engine running at 3000-3400 RPM - most Do-27s are fitted with dual mufflers, which are really effective

The prop - not spinning here ๐Ÿ™‚ - is a two-blade constant speed unit. Given that is being spun by an engine running at 3000-3400 RPM, most Do-27s are fitted with dual mufflers, which are really effective

The cockpit is relatively simple - with a number of original gauges - but incredibly spacious and airy. And, because you site quite high up, you have an enviable commanding view

The cockpit is relatively simple - with a number of original gauges - but incredibly spacious and airy. And, because you sit quite high up, you have an enviable and commanding view

A view from the back seat. D-EFSC was configured in a four-seat club arrangement which, in combination with the extensively glazed rear doors, would make this a fantastic aircraft for panoramic and photographic flights (indeed, the pilots told me that you can actually lift the floor covers and install a downward facing camera)

A view from the back seat. D-EFSC was configured in a four-seat club arrangement which, in combination with the extensively glazed rear doors, would make this a fantastic aircraft for panoramic and photographic flights (indeed, the pilots told me that you can actually lift the floor covers and install a downward facing camera)

Firing up for its display. Like the PC-6, the Do-27 is most impressive when flying near minimum speed. You could almost overtake it on a bicycle :)

Firing up for its display. Like the PC-6, the Do-27 is most impressive when flying near minimum speed. You could almost overtake it on a bicycle ๐Ÿ™‚

Having a cantilever wing, the Do-27 does away with draggy wing struts. However, this requries a robust centre wing structure, hence the "hump" above the cabin

Having a cantilever wing, the Do-27 does away with draggy wing struts. However, this requries a robust centre wing structure, hence the "hump" above the cabin

Though not the most elegant aircraft ever made, the Do-27's purposefulness and no-nonsense design give it a strong visual appeal

Though not the most elegant aircraft ever made, the Do-27's purposefulness and no-nonsense design give it a strong visual appeal

Transitioning into slow flight. Note droop progressively lowering droop of the trailing edge surfaces toward the wingtip. This gives the maximum lift over the entire wing without the danger of stalling the tips

Transitioning into slow flight. Note the progressively lowering droop of the trailing edge surfaces toward the wingtip. This gives the maximum lift over the entire wing without the danger of stalling the tips

Rolling back home. One of the Do-27's interesting features is the tight cowling and bulging canopy sides that allow forward visibility to be maintained on the ground despite the high nose (avoiding the need to do excessive S turns which are a pain on an aircraft with a freely castoring rear wheel)

Rolling back home. One of the Do-27's interesting features is the tight cowling and bulging canopy sides that allow forward visibility to be maintained on the ground despite the high nose (avoiding the need to do excessive S turns which are a pain on an aircraft with a freely castoring rear wheel)

Out back. Another interesting feature - though I'm not sure if it is specific to this Do-27 - is the beacon light which, unlike standard ones that blink, actually rotates much like a police beacon

Out back. Another interesting feature - though I'm not sure if it is specific to this Do-27 - is the beacon light which, unlike standard ones that blink, actually rotates much like a police beacon

It definitely is hard to mistake the Do-27 for any other aircraft!

It definitely is hard to mistake the Do-27 for any other aircraft!

2 thoughts on “Rare Aircraft – Dornier Do-27A-4, D-EFSC

  1. Hello again! I flew one of these in 1965 in Lesotho, Africa. Its best features were its extraordinary visibility, especially straight ahead even with the tail down. This is gold to a bush pilot because you can see bad things on the ground, rocks and holes, before you hit them. It had the best control feel of any STOL airplane I ever flew.
    However, because of the free swiveling tail wheel and very long stroke of the main gear oleos it could be a nightmare taxiing in a strong wind. Once you got it airborne though it was about perfect.
    The passenger cabin has a glass roof and I have heard that at some stage a passenger, ( un- belted, in severe turbulence) was thrown through it and died.
    There were issues with the geared Lycoming engine in South Africa and the Do 27 fleet there was grounded for some years.

    • Unfortunately, I’ve never been in one in flight, but from a ground walkaround, it sure does seem to be a fine machine. There are still quite a few operating in Germany (one part of the EADS historic flight), Spain and even one on Iceland – but here they’re very rare. Last I heard, this example was sold, but don’t know to who. Despite the German reg, it had been based in Slovenia (just a couple of dozen miles from where I live).

      Former Yugoslavia does however have a history with the later Do-28. The Serbian AF for example still used one for aerial photography and cartography; and one (9A-ISC) was donated to Croatia by the diaspora during the 90s civil war. Unfortunately, it is in long-term storage near Zagreb and I believe it hasn’t flown for 20 years (though from the outside it looks rather good).

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