Thursday, November 24, 2011

Germany - 1918 Halberstadt CL.IV

The Most Effective Ground Attack Aircraft of WWW I

The holidays have thrown my posting schedule for a loop. In the US we have been celebrating Thanksgiving. A day of feasting on large flightless birds and tables groaning under the weight of side dishes. I have recuperated from digestive torpor in time to post today. I am into my early 6 weeks of doing full time charity work to bring food and Christmas gifts to those who are unable to provide for them self.

I decided to post some of my new profiles of one of my favorite planes of the war. I will post a few more when I get the time.

This striking example was the aircraft flown by the CO of Schlachtstaffel 21 in the Battle of Chateau Thierry in mid-July of 1918. The white fuselage with white strikes made it a high priority on my profile list. The wings are standard five color lozenge fabric, while the tail plane is white.

The color scheme of this plane is a matter of conjecture. Most show it as varnished wood over-painted with the black and white design. Other references show it as a blue gray under surface with the black and white markings. In all the examples the wings were covered in German five color lozenge cloth. None of the sources had any information on what unit it served in or the identity of the flight crew.

The fuselage on this example is painted in a four color camouflage pattern, The diagonal stripe has a thin black stripe separating th red and yellow areas. The skull and crossbones is a favorite marking used by many nations. I assume it was a personal marking and not a unit identifier. The black number on the rudder is somewhat common, however most still bore the numbers on the fuselage.

The Halberstadt CL.IV was one of the most effective ground attack aircraft of World War I, relying on its good maneuverability to avoid ground fire. It appeared on the Western Front towards the end of the German offensives in 1918. Karl Thies, chief designer of the Halberstädter Flugzeugwerke, G.m.b.H., designed the CL.IV as a replacement for the CL.II, which was very successful in harassing Allied troops. Purpose of an improved version was to create a superior ground attack aircraft.

The new CL.IV featured a shorter, strengthened fuselage and a horizontal stabilizer of greater span and higher aspect ratio than that of the CL.II. These changes, along with a one-piece, horn-balanced elevator, gave the CL.IV much greater maneuverability than the CL.II. After tests were completed of the prototype in April 1918, at least 450 were ordered from Halberstadt, and an additional 250 aircraft from a subcontractor, LFG (Roland).

As with the CL.II, the CL.IV was powered by a single 160 hp (120 kW), 6 cylinder in-line, water cooled Mercedes aircraft engine. The aircraft was armed with a fixed forward-firing 0.312 in (7.92 mm) LMG 08/15 “Spandau” synchronized machine gun, and a single trainable 0.312 in (7.92 mm) “Parabellum” MG14 machine gun, on a ring mount in the observer's cockpit.

Flights of four to six CL.IVs flew close support missions, at an altitude of less than one hundred feet, suppressing enemy infantry and artillery fire just ahead of the advancing German troops. After these late German offensives stalled, Halberstadt CL.IVs were used to disrupt advancing Allied offensives by striking at enemy troop assembly points and night sorties were also made against Allied airfields and interception missions against Allied bombers as they returned from their missions.


  1. From Wikipedia Halberstadt CL.IV, ""

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