The Dornier Do X was the biggest, heaviest, and most powerful flying boat in the world when it launched in 1929. It was also magnificent, weird, brashly ambitious, deeply flawed, and inevitably doomed—and, for those and unrelated reasons, my favorite plane of all time. We'll never be able to fly in one in real life (they're all long gone) but now we can get a sense of what it was like in Microsoft Flight Simulator, which just added the great flying boat as a new Local Legend.
The Do X was a massive beast, powered by 12 engines generating more than 7,200 horsepower. Even with all that juice propelling it, the sheer bulk of the plane meant that it generally flew low and slow, especially when carrying a full load of passengers. What it promised in place of haste was high-end luxury: Along with seating for 100 people, the passenger deck also had a dedicated lounge with a bar, a separate dining room, bathrooms, and storage facilities.
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The crew of 14 resided in the upper deck, which also housed the cockpit, engine control room, and radio room.
Sadly, for all its grandeur and elegance, the real-world Do X was not a success. They were difficult to fly, suffered from reliability issues and other troubles during their brief service careers, and never attracted significant commercial interest. Only three were built: Two of the planes were broken up for scrap in 1937, while the final survivor, which had become a museum exhibit after being heavily damaged during a botched landing, was destroyed in a bombing raid on Berlin during World War 2.
Appropriately, the Do X in Microsoft Flight Simulator is not a plane to be casually yanked and banked either. Microsoft said the in-game machine "was meticulously created using data from historical sources," and while it performs well for a plane of its size, flying it successfully "takes a delicate touch" and constant focus: It needs a lot of room to maneuver. Probably not one for newbies, then. The Dornier Do X is available now for $15.
She really was a beauty, wasn't she?