Notes from the Past

Dornier DO-X
Time to Spare? Travel by Air!

Count von Zeppelin first proposed a giant flying boat for transatlantic air travel before World War I.  However, it was not until 1925 that Dr. Claude Dornier undertook the design of the DO-X which was to be a giant flying boat with twelve engines.

Because of the treaty of Versailles construction had to be done in Altenrhein, Switzerland.  The first flight took place on July 12, 1929, from Lake Constance.  Another test flight on October 21, 1929, carried a record 169 passengers.

On November 5, 1930, the DO-X departed Lake Constance on her first and only transatlantic flight with 80 passengers and a crew of 4.  Typical of the DO-X flights, this flight took a round-about route via Amsterdam, Netherlands; Calshot, England; La Rochelle and Bordeaux, France; Santander and La Coruna, Spain; and thence to Lisbon arriving on November 27.  Unfortunately, a fire in Lisbon destroyed the fabric on the left wing.  The flight was delayed two months while repairs were made.

Winter weather conditions led to a decision to fly an easier southern route across the Atlantic.  The DO-X departed Lisbon on January 31, 1931.  Further problems were encountered in Africa.  Repairs and weight reductions were required in Bolama, Portuguese Guinea, before the flight across the Atlantic.  Among the weight reductions was removal of cabin furnishings which were shipped across the Atlantic by steamer and reinstalled in Natal, Brazil.  The DO-X arrived in Rio de Janeiro on June 20, 1931.  Finally, on August 27, 1931, the DO-X reached New York City.  Dornier hoped for an order for the flying boat from Pan American Airways but it did not materialize.

The DO-X spent the winter at Glenn Curtiss Airport at North Beach, Queens, and then departed for Germany on May 19, 1932.  The DO-X arrived in Berlin five days later.  European flights were conducted accompanied by delays for repairs until the final DO-X flight on September 5, 1933.

The American Air Mail Catalogue lists 22 basic flight covers with many postmark and cachet variants for the DO-X flights.

Posted June 13, 2000

Editor's Note:  I am indebted to the American Air Mail Catalogue Volume Five fifth edition published by the American Air Mail Society in 1985 for the source material contained herein.

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