Prior to and throughout World War II German ingenuity created one outstanding aircraft after another for the German Luftwaffe. The Dornier Do-335 "Arrow" or Pfeil as the Germans called it was no exception and was arguably the best piston aircraft of the time. The man behind it was Claude Dornier who took out a patent on his first push-pull design in 1937.
Early in 1942 the German Army was doing well and the politicians felt no need for such a radical airplane. By 1943 however, the tide was turning against the German Army and the order was finally given to build the Arrow. In just nine months the first prototype was built. The first flight was in Autumn of 1943. The flight testing phase went very well. The plane flew and handled better than expected. There were no structural problems at all, and only one crash occurred due to an overheated engine which caught fire. The first production version, the A-1 was delivered in November 1944. Luckily too few and too late to help the Third Reich. The Arrows armament included two fuselage mounted 20mm cannons, two wing mounted 15mm cannons, and if that weren't enough a 30mm engine mounted cannon. If production had been expedited from the start this heavily armed plane would have played serious havoc with the Allied bombing missions.
A total of ninety aircraft were rolled out including prototypes, test planes, and trainers. Due to critical delays in materials a mere total of thirty-eight production Do-355's were delivered to the Luftwaffe.
The Arrow had a number of unusual distinctions. It was the only military aircraft of the time to have a push-pull powerplant/airframe. It was one of the few aircraft of WWII to have an ejection seat. It was the only aircraft that had explosive bolts in the rear fuselage designed to separate the tail section in order to facilitate a successful bail-out if necessary. It was also the fastest piston powered aircraft, with a maximum speed of 417 mph at an altitude of 26,000 feet. Nothing in the Allied inventory could catch it. The ingenious German engineers who designed it envisioned it being a deadly figher, capable of shooting down invading B-17's with ease. Fortunately (for the Allies), Hitler himself, demanded that the Arrow be redesigned for a bombing role which stalled the program for almost two years. This prevented the Arrow from reaching it full potential as early as 1944.
Wingspan: 45' 4"
Length: 45' 6"
Height: 16' 4"
Weight empty: 16,314 lbs. (A-1), 16,975 lbs. (A-6)
Maximum weight: 25,800 lbs (both versions)
Maximum speed: 413 mph (sustained), 477 mph (emergency boost)
Service ceiling: 37,400 feet (A-1), 33,400 feet (A-6)
Maximum range: 1280 miles, 2330 with external drop fuel tanks