enter image description here

Possibly from around 1935, possibly involving one of the two airplane-supplying-powers in the Spanish Civil war.

(Seen in a documentary about the 20th century inter-war era...it's only onscreen for a few frames.)

(It looks like one of the fantastical, almost-plausible air vehicles seen in Ghibli films!)

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    $\begingroup$ BTW those relatively inexpensively-made documentaries tend to just shove in any-old bits of stock footage or other odds and ends of footage they find: the images often don't precisely relate to the topic the narrator is going on about, so, the milieu info mentioned is not a lock. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ What documentary was this shown on? Do you know the title of the series? $\endgroup$
    – Freiheit
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Freiheit , sure - look simply at the top of the TV screen in the photo !! Of the streaminmg services, "Amazon Prime" I believe. you can get the time mark from the thermometer at bottom. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Fattie I have changed the title because "Bloke" is a colloqualism, which may well be unclear to international users. I think this title better reflects what you're asking and helps with correct indexing should someone else be searching for something similar. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ For what its worth I think the change in title is a good move. I only clicked on the question because "Whats this type with a bloke in the nose" made no sense and I was curious as to what the question actually was. I'm a native English speaker (UK) and the meaning was not clear at all. $\endgroup$
    – JNB
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


I believe this is a Dornier Do 18 flying boat / patrol bomber. The cockpit with its central piece of glass is quite distinctive. It entered service in 1938, and doesn't appear to have been involved in the Spanish Civil War.

There is a short film on YouTube which has the same sequence as the documentary you saw. Looks like it was part of a movie which featured the Do.18; the cockpit fills with smoke and the "bloke in the nose" (the gunner) starts to look for somewhere to land is what I think is going on.

The Dornier 18 has the distinction of being the first German aircraft to fall to British gunfire in WW2: on September 26th 1939 a Do.18 was felled by a Blackburn Skua.

Since there is some astonishment at the position of the forward position, it's worth noting that it was extremely common for inter-war military flying boats to allow someone to be stationed up front in this manner, for both reconnaissance and gunnery, and for ropes and other maritime uses. For instance most of the designs for medium and large seaplanes from Short Brothers and Supermarine have such a front station in this period.

There are too many to list, but since you mention Studio Ghibli you may want to reference Italian seaplane designs by CANT (e.g. Model 25, Z.501), Macchi (e.g. M.18, M.24) and Savoia-Marchetti (e.g. SM.62, SM.78) from where a lot of inspiration was derived.

I took a look at the documentary you saw, the aircraft registration is 6L+E05. So this was a Do 18D-1 which entered service in June 1938 in Travemünde and ended its days two years later in Putzig (Puck, Poland) after an engine fire on takeoff.

enter image description here source

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks !! My God, what a place to ride during water landing/takeoff. Does anyone know if the "bloke" could actually move within the aircraft - some sort of passage? Or did he just climb up in there before takeoff ... and that's it? $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ This schematic airwar.ru/image/idop/sww2/do18/do18-3.gif seems to indicate that there was a door to a passage that led to the crew compartment. Most flying boats do have such a thing; the bow compartment is where the anchor is stowed. To drop anchor, a crewmember passes through the bulkhead door to get there. In Grummans, for instance, you would crawl through doors at the pilots' feet. $\endgroup$
    – Dave-CFII
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ Personally I think it would be absolutely fantastic to have a go up front. (Although possibly not in the Baltic where a number of Do.18s were stationed.) $\endgroup$
    – Party Ark
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ The PBY also has a nose gunner there, it's enclosed unless the gun is in use, then the gunner has to open the front window and roof to mount and man the gun (fully enclosed gun turrets were introduced later in the aircraft's service). $\endgroup$
    – Davidw
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ The flaming-roll-of-toilet-paper heraldry really gilds the lily. $\endgroup$
    – Roger
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 15:03

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