Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bombers of the Western Front - 1915

Three Visions of Bomber Design.

On the Eastern Front, Russia and Italy had a head start in the race to develop effective Bomber aircraft. On the Western Front, practical bombers did not appear until 1915. Germany, Britain and France all approached the design problem in completely different ways. In spite of the radically different design philosophies involved; all three proved to be effective in their role as a bomber aircraft.

Germany - 1915 Gotha Ursinus G.I

Gotha G.I - 1915
Gotha G.I - 1915

The Gotha G.I was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during early years of World War I.

Ursinus was conscripted into the army on 1 August 1914 and little over a week later, presented his commanding officer, Major Helmut Friedel, with the seaplane design adapted into a Kampfflugzeug ("battle aircraft") intended for ground attack duties. Apart from the aerodynamic benefits claimed by Ursinus, the aircraft's unorthodox layout provided excellent views for the three crewmen and broad fields of fire for the gunner. The design also matched the specifications that the Idflieg had issued in March that year for a "Type III" large military aircraft, and Friedel ordered the construction of a prototype.

Britain - 1915 Short Bomber

Short Bomber - 1915
Short Bomber - 1915

The Short Bomber was a British two-seat long-range reconnaissance, bombing and torpedo carrying aircraft designed by Short Brothers as a land-based development of the very successful Short Type 184 (of which more than 900 were built and many exported).

The Bomber was a three-bay biplane of wooden structure with fabric covering, originally developed from the Short 184 seaplane's fuselage combined with wings developed from those on the Short Admiralty Type 166 seaplane. The fuselage was of box section with curved upper decking mounted on the lower wing. The tailplane included a split elevator with a single fin and rudder. The undercarriage consisted of a four-wheeled assembly under the nose and a skid under the tail.

France - 1915 Caudron G.IV

Caudron G.IV - 1915
Caudron G.IV - 1915

The Caudron G.4 was a French biplane with twin engines, widely used during World War I as a bomber aircraft. It was designed by René and Gaston Caudron as an improvement over their Caudron G.3. The aircraft was no delight for the eye with its massive, open construction. The aircraft employed wing warping for banking. The first G.4 was manufactured in 1915, both in France, England and in Italy.

Following several production delays, the Caudron G.4 entered service with the French Aviation militarie in 1915 and was soon in use by the British, Russian and Italian air services. In 1916 and early 1917, the G.4 was extensively used by the Royal Flying Corps to bomb the German seaplane and Zeppelin bases in Belgium. Despite its lack of defensive armament, the twin-engine biplane quickly established a reputation as a reliable performer with a good rate of climb.

While the Caudron G.3 was a reliable reconnaissance aircraft, it could not carry a useful bomb load, and owing to its design, was difficult to fit with useful defensive armament. In order to solve these problems, the Caudron G4 was designed as a twin engined development of the G.3, first flying in March 1915. While the G.4 had a similar pod and boom layout to the G.3, it has two Le Rhône rotary or Anzani 10 radial engines mounted on struts between the wings instead of a single similar engine at the front of the crew nacelle, while wingspan was increased and the tailplane had four rudders instead of two. This allowed an observer/gunner position to be fitted in the nose of the nacelle, while the additional power allowed it to carry a bombload of 100 kg.

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