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Claude Dornier




1884 - 1969

Claude Dornier was born at Kempten, Germany, May 14, 1884. His early career as an engineer in metal construction and super-structures provided him an excellent background for his later involvement in aircraft construction.

After graduation from the Munich Institute of Technology in 1910, he served briefly with the Graf Zeppelin Company where he was introduced to aviation. Unable to persuade Zeppelin officials to diversify into airplanes, he formed his own company with his brother and enjoyed immediate success with flying boats and some of the world's earliest, large, all metal aircraft*.

Dornier's DO-X was the world's largest passenger plane in 1929. In the face of widespread skepticism concerning its practicality, the giant 12-engined craft flew from Germany to New York in 1931.

In 1932, Dornier turned his talents to military aircraft, developing two distinctive thin-fuselaged, twin-engined bombers, the DO-17 and the DO-217, which became mainstays of the Luftwaffe's bomber and reconnaissance fleet in World War II.

As a consequence of World War II, Dornier lost his business. In 1947, he moved to Zug, Switzerland where he consulted in aeronautical engineering until his death in 1969**.

Claude Dornier's vision coupled with his technological skills permitted him to lead the world in the advancement of metal aircraft.

Invested 1987 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame


*One of our website visitors, Mr. Marco Giannitrapani, elaborates on the "early success with flying boats and some of the world's earliest, large, all metal aircraft" occurred following the foundation by Claude Dornier of the CMASA factory in 1922 in the seaside town of Marina di Pisa.  The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 which banned construction of engine-powered aircraft for 15 years in Germany, forced Dornier to look abroad in order to continue their aircraft business...Most of the Dornier Vals flyingboats came out of CMASA, including the two that were purchased by Roald Amundsen for his 1925 Arctic expedition.  It is interesting to point out that the huge 'Savigliano' hangar, used for the production of the Vals and later for the recovery of the DO-X for major structural repairs, is still standing today in Marina di Pisa.

**According to Raphael Dornier, a member of the family, and the records of Daimler-Benz, the company that took over the Dornier GmbH company in 1985, Dornier Werke GmbH--Claude Dornier's company--was banned from producing aircraft in Germany from 1945-1955 under a general government ban on aircraft production.  However, the company continued to exist and was owned by Claude Dornier until his death in 1969.    The company was managed by his sons after his death.  Dornier moved to Spain and then to Switzerland due to the aircraft production prohibition.

Another website viewer, Mr. Gerry Frederics, sent the following:
Aside from the DO-X, he built the fastest piston driven aircraft of all time, bar none, the Dornier Pfeil. The execution of this design was interfered with by Hitler, so much so, that it never saw production. The Indian Air Force bought many Dornier aircraft in the 1960-s and '70's and the Dornier private jet was more than merely competitive with anything on the market. Also, Dornier designed one of the myriad of micro-cars in Germany, the Zuendapp Janus. This little car was extraordinary in every way, representing truly individualistic thinking only a man like Dornier could have designed.

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Updated: September 08, 2005