Monday, April 4, 2011

Germany - 1917 Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI

German Giant Bomber

Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI - 1917
Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI - 1917

This is another recent project. I have been working on fleshing out my site's section on heavy bombers. When it comes to awesome aircraft the huge Riesenflugzeug class bombers are at the top of the list. I plan on doing some of the other examples of the Zeppelin-Staaken soon, but this profile will do for now. All in all it was an easy bird to draw once I decided which variant I wanted to draw.

In September 1914, at the start of World War I, Ferdinand von Zeppelin visualized the concept of a Riesenflugzeug R class bomber, to be larger than the Gotha G. Using engineers from the Robert Bosch GmbH, he created the Versuchsbau Gotha-Ost (VGO) consortium in a rented hangar at the Gotha factory. Alexander Baumann became his chief engineer, although later the team included other noted engineers including Zeppelin's associate Claudius Dornier, Hugo Junkers and Baumann's protogé Adolph Rohrbach. All of these Zeppelin-Staaken Riesenflugzeug designs used some variation of push-pull configuration in the setup, orientation and placement of their power plants.

With four engines in a tandem push-pull arrangement, the R.VI required none of the complex gearboxes of other R-types. Each bomber cost 557,000 marks and required the support of a 50-man ground crew. The R.VI required a complex 18-wheel undercarriage to support its weight, and carried two mechanics in flight, seated between the engines in open niches cut in the center of each nacelle. The bombs were carried in an internal bomb bay located under the central fuel tanks, with three racks each capable of holding seven bombs. The R.VI was capable of carrying the 1000 kg PuW bomb.

Although designed by Versuchsbau, because of the scope of the project, the production R.VI's were manufactured by other firms: seven by Schütte-Lanz using sheds at Flugzeugwerft GmbH Staaken, Berlin; six by Automobil und Aviatik A.G. (Aviatik) (the original order was for three); and three by Albatros Flugzeugwerke. 13 of the production models were commissioned into service before the armistice and saw action.

Four R.VI's were shot down in combat (one-third of the operational inventory), with six others destroyed in crashes, of the 13 commissioned during the war. Six of the 18 eventually built survived the war or were completed after the armistice.


  1. From Wikipedia Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI,
  2. Gray, P and Thetford, O German Aircraft of the First World War 1970 Putnam London 0 85177 809 7
  3. Haddow, George W. and Grosz, Peter M. The German Giants: The Story of the R-Planes 1914-1919, (1962, 3rd ed. 1988), ISBN 0-85177-812-7
  4. Wagner, Ray and Nowarra, Heinz, German Combat Planes, Doubleday, 1971.

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