I’ve always thought the Do 335 has to take the prize for “oddest looking military aircraft,” but then its performance more than made up for its unusual appearance.
The Dornier Do 335 Pfeil (“Arrow”) started out in the late 1930’s as a design for a fast bomber, yet hit so many political roadblocks and politically-driven redesigns that it was only beginning production as a fighter aircraft when World War II wrapped up in 1945. The Do 335’s unusual look comes from its designer’s approach to packing two engines into a minimum-drag configuration — in a push / pull or centerline thrust arrangement.
This scheme was effective enough that the Do 335 could outrun any other propeller-driven aircraft of its time — it would have proven a lethal adversary had it ever flown in numbers. When the U.S. Army overran its factory in April of 1945, only 11 Do 335 fighters and two trainers had been built, while 15 more were in final assembly. Today the sole remaining example of this aircraft is the one in these pictures (the second preproduction aircraft), taken at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.