When Dornier Aircraft was owned by Deutsche Aerospace, the company saw market potential for a new 30-seat turboprop commuter aircraft. Its speed was to be the main selling point. Therefore a lot was done ro reduce drag. Apart from the streamlined nose, the wing-fuselage connection is covered by a long streamline body on top of the fuselage, that starts above the cockpit. The aircraft also has a large vertical stabiliser and associated dorsal fin, with two bents in the curved leading edge like on the ATR42. Other characteristics are the short landing gear, retracting in pods underneath the fuselage, ventral fins and the pointed tail cone. The latter is also a characteristic of the bigger ATR42, with which the Dornier 328 can be confused.
When the first regional jets appeared, Dornier quickly responded with a jet version of the 328, marketed as 328JET. Apart from the jet engines on the wings, the jet version is externally the same as the turboprop version.
The different versions of the Dornier 328 can mainly be recognised by the type of engines, turboprop or jet.
Dornier 328-100, -110, -120 & -130
These are the turboprop versions of the 328. Externally they are the same, they only differ in performances.
The US Air Force has acquired secondhand aircraft for its Special Operations Command that are designated C-146A Wolfhound.
Dornier 328JET (Dornier 328-300) & Envoy 3
Instead of turboprop engines the Dornier 328-300 has jet engines in nacelles hanging under the wings. The Envoy 3 was the corporate jet version of the aircraft with a luxury interior.
Confusion possible with
In the 1990s Lockheed-Martin converted a Do328JET with an all composite fuselage and tail, to study the use of advanced materials in a small cargo aircraft. The resulting X-55 has a revised rear fuselage compared to the original aircraft, without cabin windows. The forward fuselage, wings and engines are original. (photo: NASA/DFRC/Carla Thomas/WikiMedia)
The L-610 can be regarded as a crossover between a small ATR42 and the L-410, with about the same size as the Do328. It has six cockpit windows and single nose wheel, rectangular cabin windows like the ATR, but a much shorter tail cone. (photo Aldo Bidini/WikiMedia)
The aircraft that looks most like the prop version is the ATR42. It has a similar pointed tail cone, although somewhat more blunt. The short landing gear and tail are also quite similar. The ATR has rectangular cabin windows though, and six instead of four cockpit windows. It has no streamline body on top of the fuselage like the Dornier.
The N250 looks most like an ATR42 than an Dornier 328, alhough it has oval cabin windows. It has six cockpit windows though and is bigger. (photo Eka viation/WikiMedia)
While being of the same size and basic configuration as the Dornier, the Dash 8 series 100/200 can be easily recognised by longer engine nacelles, in which the long main landing gear retracts.
This aircraft could be confused with the Do328JET, because it has the same basic configuration, although it is much larger than the Dornier.
Another potential source for a mix-up with the 328JET is the C-390. This is a military transport aircraft with few cabin windows. Also it has six cockpit windows, a tandem main gear and a refuelling probe above the cockpit.