Flying Germany’s incredible V/STOL Dornier Do 31 airlifter

German jet innovation resumed post-war, and with a vengeance. The Dornier Do 31 V/STOL transport was a remarkable achievement — we talked to the test pilot who was instrumental in this ground-breaking project

What goes around comes around. At once the US military is introducing the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, an aircraft with a lift engine for vertical flight, and the tilt-rotor Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey as its new carrier on-board delivery platform.

Yet more than 50 years ago there flew for the first time a design that combined attributes of the two. Operating in much the same manner as the F-35B, it could have brought to the COD role a turn of speed out of the Osprey’s reach. Sadly, for the Dornier Do 31, destined perhaps forever to remain the world’s only vertical/short take-off and landing jet transport, it was not to be.

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