Книги

Arms & Armour
A.Imrie
German Bombers
70

A.Imrie - German Bombers /Arms & Armour/

At various times during the war single-seat fighters undertook bombing operations. Shown here is Captain F. O. Soden of No 41 Squadron, RAF, with Leutnant Auer's Jagdstaffel 40 Fokker D VII which he forced to land at Ooteghen on 28 October 1918. This aircraft was fitted with wooden shelf racks on either side of the fuselage enabling eight Wurfgranaten 15 to be carried. These were suspended upside down by a length of wire through their noses, as was normal on CL category machines used by the Schlachtstaffeln. Withdrawal of the wires released the grenades which had ordinary percussion fuses.
In mid-1915 Feldflieger Abteilung 42 received AEG G 7/15 and during the next six months this machine underwent various modifications to improve its use as a bomber. Here it already has an improved front gun position for the LMG 08, which is fed from the angular container on the right side of the gun; a canvas tube leading into a funnel on the other side collects the empty cartridge cases, thus preventing them from causing damage to the propellers. Note the completely uncowled 150hp six-cylinder Benz engines topped by massive radiators. The aircraft is seen on 12 September 1915 before taking off to attack Nancy and Luneville.
The same aeroplane after major modifications made by the Armee Flug Park (Army Aviation Supply Depot) at Strassburg. A streamlined nose has been fitted and two outrigger rudders installed on the tailplane. Placing these in the propeller slipstreams gave better directional control and improved the aircraft's performance in the event of an engine failure. AEG were on the right track in this respect but reverted to single aerodynamically balanced rudders on the majority of their subsequent designs, only returning to the 'rudder in slipstream' concept after indepth evaluation some two years later proved its undoubted superiority.
By mid-1916 crews of Feldflieger Abteilung 42 were experienced twin-engined fliers and received AEG G III 216/15 which was operated in conjunction with the Rumpler C I two-seaters of Kagohl II from Frescaty aerodrome at Metz. Despite damage to this interesting print, it shows the machine being refulled on 16 June 1916, and is one of a series showing preparation for a typical Kagohl operation. The front gunner (Vzfw. Schadt) is manning the wobble pump, while petrol is loaded into the fuselage tank. Note the twin LMG 14 armament, guns being fed via funnel-shaped chutes from fuselage cartridge magazines.
As evening shadows lengthen, the crew don warm clothing for the night's operation that would result in bombs being dropped on Bar-le-Duc, Dombasle, Einville and Luneville, all military concentrations south and west of Verdun. The purpose of the big AEG's presence on this occasion was that of protection for the bombing two-seaters, a common Kagohl practice at the time.
The touring car, a 30hp Benz 'Runabout', its bonnet marked with Kampfstaffel 7 OHL, about to pull the AEG to the take-off position by means of a wheeled towbar under the tailskid. It also provides transport for the aircrew, already attired in flying kit. The fuel containers and pump previously shown now lie abandoned in the foreground.
The big AEG joins the Rumpler two-seaters ready for take-off. Twenty-five aircraft can be seen, and due to the varied nature of the evening's targets, seventeen machines have probably already departed, since Kagohl bombing operations invariably utilized the 6 Kampfstaffeln at full strength of 42 aeroplanes. Unserviceability of aircraft did not normally reduce this force as reserve machines were always available so that the planned weight of high-explosive could be delivered as planned.
The equipping of three Kampfstaffeln of Kagohl I with the AEG G III, and the unit previously mentioned with Gotha G IIs and G IIIs in September 1916 for use in the Balkans, marked a major change in the development of the heavy bomber units. (From April 1917 Kasta 20 of Kagohl IV became Kasta 1.) Kagohl I was the first formation to be completely equipped with twin-engined aircraft of the G category for the sole purpose of bombing. It set the scene that would be adopted by the other Kagohl. By the end of February 1917 there were 22 AEG G IIIs at the Front, most of them serving in Macedonia. Shown here against a mountainous backdrop on Hudowa aerodrome are the seven AEG G IIIs of Kampfstaffel 5.
Returning to Frescaty in the dark, the big AEG overran the landing area, a not uncommon occurrence at the time when aerodrome illumination left much to be desired. The machine turned upside down in the rough, without injury to the aircrew, and this was the sorry sight the aircraft presented in the early morning of 17 June 1916.
Although the twin-engined Kampfflugzeug (fighting aeroplane) designed by Oskar Ursinus, the Editor of Flugsport magazine, in association with Major Friedel, was not originally intended for bombing duties, it was used at the Front in this role early in 1915 and thus became the first German twin-engined bomber. Since the G category had not yet been introduced, the Friedel-Ursinus was designated B 1092/14. It is seen in flight with experimental aerodynamically balanced ailerons. Improved versions were manufactured by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik and by the end of 1915 six machines were operational, the first of the twin-engined Gothas.
"Гота" G-I. Хорошо виден "бомбопровод" и контейнер для мелких бомб под нижним крылом.
The curious configuration of the Gotha G I stemmed from fears that continued flight might not be possible if one engine failed. Because the engines were mounted close together for this eventuality, the fuselage had to be raised and this provided an ideal field of fire for the machine-gunner. The streamlined container under the centre of the bottom wing carried vertically suspended Carbonit bombs, while the cage tube allowed additional bombs carried in the fuselage to be discharged without fear of hitting the propellers. Note the use of 'handed' propellers to counter the effect of torque.
A small production batch of Gotha G II bombers was completed in 1916 and partially equipped Kasta 20 of Kagohl IV which served on the South-East Front, becoming a component of Kagohl I. Despite the unreliability of its 220hp Mercedes DIV engines, this particular Gotha G II (207/16), flown by Leutnant Frommherz with Leutnant Lohr as his observer and Unteroffizier Reese as machine-gunner, took part in the many of the successful Kagohl I operations in this theatre. These included attacks on railway yards in Bucharest and the Cernavoda railway bridge over the Danube when based on Razgrad aerodrome in Bulgaria, and Vertekop railway station and camps and dumps in Salonika when operating from Hudowa in Macedonia.
Gotha G IV 409/16 of Kasta 13, Kagohl III, on its nose after an emergency landing in a ploughed field, 10 May 1917. The frail nose structure could not stand up to this sort of thing and was one of the reasons why the nose cockpit was unmanned during take-offs and landings. The Gotha auxiliary landing gear of the 'stossfahrgestell' (shockundercarriage) type would have prevented damage such as this, but it was not introduced to production aircraft until over a year later. The unfused bombs show that the aircraft was on a practice flight. Other points of interest are the mudguards behind each undercarriage wheel to prevent mud and stones being flung off the tyres into the pusher propellers, and the recess of the well-known Gotha tunnel of the rear fuselage which allowed the rear gunner to fire aft and down into what was previously considered a blind spot.
Leutnant Scharffenberg of Kasta 13, Kagohl III, in the front cockpit (in flying kit) with the crew of his Gotha G IV 625/16. The steel retaining bands for the P.u.W. bombs in the racks under the fuselage and the provision for the forward carriage of bombs under the nose to alleviate the extreme tail-heaviness of this aeroplane can clearly be seen. Also visible under the nose is the streamlined fairing for the prism and mounting gimbals of the Goerz telescope bombsight. With bombs and most of the fuel gone, the Gotha G IV was almost unmanageably tailheavy, a factor that was responsible for a large number of landing accidents.
Due to limited fuel and the prevailing westerly wind, Kagohl III used the naval aerodrome at Nieumunster on the Belgian coast as a refuelling point for early raids against south-east England. The first mass attack against London was planned for 18 May 1917 and the Gotha G IVs positioned to Nieumunster; however, the wind remained stronger than forecast and late in the day the aircraft flew back to their main base at Ghent. On 25 May wind conditions were acceptable and again fuelling was undertaken at Nieumunster. In the event cloud obscured London and the 21-aircraft formation dropped 5,200kg of high-explosive on alternative targets in Ashford, Folkestone and Dover. Two Gothas were lost, one over the Channel and one near Brugge on return. It has not been possible to determine which of these dates this photograph of Kagohl III Gotha G IVs at Nieumunster in May 1917 depicts.
There was no category for Riesenflugzeug (Giant aeroplane) when this large Siemens-Schuckert machine was ordered and it was initially known as a G type, but was given the designation R I 1/15 in November 1915. It was powered by three 150hp Benz BzIII engines in the fuselage driving two large-diameter tractor propellers via a gearbox and clutches to transmission shafts and bevel gears at the well braced outrigger propeller shafts between the wings. This machine was on the Eastern Front for evaluation late in 1915 but was not used operationally. However, it paved the way for an order for six aircraft of similar type.
The landing lights built into the top wing leading edges of this Friedrichshafen G III (271/17) used low-resistance bulbs, fed by a battery of 12-volt accumulators, and they could illuminate the ground for a distance of 50m ahead from a height of 4m. The aerodrome lighting did not always provide the necessary reference to allow the pilot to place his aeroplane in the correct landing attitude at the right height, and the nosewheel undercarriage was used to lessen the risk of damage by flying into the ground.
Staffelfuehrer's Friedrichshafen G III 367/18 of Bosta 25, Bogohl VIII. Rittmeister Freiherr von Beckmann is in the observer's front cockpit: the Staffelfuehrer, Oberleutnant Freiherr von Crailsheim (with signal flares in his top pocket), and Leutnant Freiherr von Polnitz in the pilot's cockpit. The non-optical Goerz bombsight on the nose was more suitable for use at night than the 'bombing telescope'. It consisted of a fixed foresight at the apex of the triangular frame and an illuminated backsight at the top which was set with height and groundspeed; when the target entered the crosswires on the backsight, and lined up with the foresight, the bombs were released.
Two Friedrichshafen G III machines on a training aerodrome in Germany, probably the Geschwaderschule at Paderborn, in April 1918. The nearest aircraft (G 347/17) has the box tail unit that became standard on the G IIIa; it also has the four-bay wing cellule that was the hallmark of the G IV, and is possibly one of the prototype aircaft used to introduce these features, brought to Paderborn for demonstration purposes. Pilots were converted to twin-engined types at this school. After flying solo, flights were made with increasing amounts of ballast up to maximum weight, by both day and night. Cross-country flights were undertaken during which specified periods had to be spent above a height of 2,000m. The final requirements included day and night exercises on the bombing range. Duration of courses varied but could take up to eight weeks.
Friedrichshafen G IIIa (Daim.) 779/18. This view of a sub-contract machine built by Daimler shows the Flettner balances mounted ahead of the aileron hinges on outriggers and details of the tail unit. Not only were twin-engined aircraft of the time unable to maintain height on one engine, but full power on the good engine caused the loss of directional control. During 1918 much experimental work resulted in the 'box tail unit' being adopted by AEG, Friedrichshafen and Gotha. The main asset was the placing of the rudder in the propeller slipstream where it benefitted from increased airflow, allowing straight ahead flight at full power on one engine, the rate of descent being considerably reduced. The biplane configuration of the tail unit was merely the best way to produce a braced structure strong enough to support the vertical tail surfaces.
Friedrichshafen G IIIa of Bosta 26. Bogohl VIII, with a 1,000kg bomb in its rack. This machine, probably the best G type to reach the Front in quantity, was actually capable of carrying a 1,500kg bombload with fuel for 6 hours. The already excellent undercarriage was further strengthened for heavy work by doubling the number of wheels originally fitted. Two hefty streamlined-section steel tubes filled with wood extended from the wing spars to a steel girder that supported the axles; shock-absorption was by coiled steel springs, this assembly being covered by a fabric bag to prevent the ingress of mud, etc. The nose wheel shock struts also used steel springs in compression. All undercarriage assemblies had drift bracing of streamlined steel tube; that on the main wheels precluded the use of bomb racks on the wing undersurfaces of the centresection.
Close-up of the 1,000kg P.u.W. bomb on its simple rack showing the nose safety pin in place. This weapon was first dropped experimentally in December 1917, had two fuses and was thin-walled to obtain the maximum blast effect from its 680kg of high-explosive. The angled tail fins imparted a rotary motion to the bomb during its fall which stabilized its trajectory. The centrifugal force generated was used to arm the bomb by causing three brass segments to move clear of the firing pistol, and needed a fall of 1,600m to operate. First live drops were made in January 1918 and 710 bombs of this type had been dropped on enemy targets by the end of the war.
Oberleutnant Freiherr Marschall von Bieberstein, Staffelfuehrer of Bosta II in Bogohl I, with his pilot, Leutnant Nieber, in front of their Friedrichshafen G IIIa 836/18. One of the most resolute bomber commanders, von Bieberstein, for whom the heaviest anti-aircraft fire held no terrors, rejoiced in the nickname of 'Emir - enemy of the infidels'. The decorative laurel wreath on the nose of his aircraft is in celebration of his return from his 250th operational flight.
On the crew state board (at caption No 72) Oberleutnant Karl lletzel had just reported to Bogohl VIII. Possibly because of his rank and the fact that Bosta 25 was below the established pilot strength, he was assigned to Bosta 25, taking over Leutnant Reinlein's crew: Leutnant Wetzlar, observer, and Vizefeldwebel Christl, machinegunner. He is seen here flying Friedrichshafen G IIIa 826/18 with these crew members on a practice flight which involved dropping parachute stores from the bottom hatch of the gunner's cockpit. This photograph, which is one of a sequence, was taken by Leutnant Woyl in the vicinity of Bolchen in Lothringen in October 1918.
Staaken R VI 30/16. Engine mechanic leaving his nacelle cockpit in flight, to mount the ladder that led to a bulged fairing on the upper wing surface fitted with a machinegun. Not all machines of the type had these installations which utilized captured Lewis guns because of their light weight and ease of portability, but they increased the defensive armament considerably and had better fields of fire than the other gun positions on the aircraft.
Staaken R VI 39/16. Eighteen machines of this type were built and they formed the backbone of the equipment of the two Riesenflugzeug-Abteilungen. In just over 12 months' operational service with Rfa 501 from August 1917, R39/16 dropped some 26,000kg of bombs, including three of 1,000kg size, on the UK. While the bombload is being readied in the foreground, the mechanic in the pilot's seat is watching the mechanic in the port nacelle cockpit between the engines as he runs up the two 260hp Maybach Mb IVa to check their serviceability.
On the giant bombers of the R category electrically operated bomb releases were used. Shown is the bomb selector panel on Staaken R VI 30/16. Bombs could be released as required or in sequence, but there was also a salvo or jettison override that allowed all bombs to be dropped at the same time. Each selector switch had an adjacent light which was illuminated by contacts that closed once a bomb had left its rack. The instrument at upper right is an altimeter suspended by three coil springs to prevent errors due to vibration; its dial is calibrated in hundreds of metres, maximum scale being 5km (16,400ft).
Pilots' cockpit of Staaken R VI 31/16. The apparent deficiency in the number of instruments is explained by the fact that engine indicators were situated in the mechanics' cockpits in the engine nacelles, whence they kept the commander informed of the condition of their charges by a signalling system, whose battery of lights and switches can be seen in the roof panel in the photo.
Hauptmann Schilling, Kommandeur of Rfa 501, and four members of his crew were killed when Staaken R VI 52/17 crashed into a house south-east of Chimay near Villers la Tour early in the morning of 12 August 1918; they were returning from a short-range operation against Beauvais. Unfamiliar with the more aft position of the pilot's seat compared with previous types and the increased weight of the newly assigned R52, the handling pilot became disorientated when flying blind and lost control. By this time machines of the R category were fitted with quite sophisticated instruments including artificial horizons, but the art of blind flying would not be understood for some years to come.
Aviatik B type biplanes of BAO on Allenstein aerodrome on the Eastern Front in April 1915 before taking off for Lomza. Completely mobile, housed in special railway trains, the BAO could be easily moved to different parts of the Front as required. The aeroplanes were often flown solo, allowing the weight of the observers to be used for increased fuel and bombloads. The effect of this force led to the creation of a second Brieftauben Abteilung at Metz, which additionally included aerial fighting in its duties. To differentiate between this unit and BAO, it was known as Brieftauben Abteilung Metz (BAM). These two formations formed the nucleus of the German bomber arm.
The crew of an Aviatik B category machine from Feldflieger Abteilung 9b at Colmar, well wrapped up against the elements and about to leave on a reconnaissance flight during Winter 1915, show their 25cm hand-held camera and the two 4.5kg Carbonit bombs to be dropped on targets of opportunity. These will be carried by the observer in the front seat, hung by their carrying handles on any suitable projection. He will then have to undo the safety wires, remove the pins, and either hand the bombs to the pilot for release or lean precariously aft out of his cockpit as he throws them over the side.
The belly of this crashed Aviatik B II from Feldflieger Abteilung 34 shows the two bomb chute exits and the celluloid-covered downwards viewing panel immediately ahead. Two 10kg Carbonit bombs were suspended in the chutes in the pilot's cockpit beside his knees. On a bombing run the pilot rested his head on the crash pad and viewed the ground through the transparent panel; he used an intersection of fuselage bracing wires as a sight, unhooking the bombs at the appropriate moment.
The Ago C I twin-boom pusher had an auxiliary double wheel landing gear approximately under the observer's front seat, but Hauptmann Hailer of Flieger Abteilung 9b had this removed from his unit's machines so that a simple rack could be installed to carry Carbonit bombs. Some pilots in other units devised means of carrying bombs under their aeroplanes by removing the claw brake usually fitted to the undercarriage spreader bar, but a number of minor accidents because of this resulted in an order forbidding 'unauthorized modifications'.
Vertical cage rack for 10kg Carbonit bomb on an Albatros B II of Feldflieger Abteilung 32; the release wire leading into the pilot's cockpit can clearly be seen. Due the limited room for these racks on fuselage sides between the side radiator and elevator operating bellcrank, they were often fitted below the fuselage. However, regardless of their position they created a great deal of drag which seriously reduced the aircraft's speed and rate of climb, especially when loaded.
When Major Thomsen became the Feldflugchef (Chief of Field Aviation) in March 1915, he constantly reminded all units that he expected every German aeroplane that crossed the frontline, regardless of its operational assignment, to carry some bombs to drop on towns or military installations in the enemy rear areas which were out of artillery range. Even if the only result was a few broken windows, the effect on the enemy's morale was considered a good enough reason. It was an unpopular instruction and not always acted upon. The observer of this Albatros C I would appear to be an adherent as he accepts a 10kg Carbonit bomb for delivery.
With the advent of the C category two-seater which placed the observer in the rear cockpit, there was no longer any need for improvised bomb chutes and bombs could simply be dropped over the side in the manner shown here by the observer of this well armed Albatros C I. Apart from the Parabellum LMG 14 on the pivot of the rotatable gun ring, this aircraft carries a Madsen (known as 'Die Muskete' in the service) firing forward over the tips of the propeller, and for good measure a '98 Carabine is strapped to the side of the fuselage. The claw brake pivoted on the centre of the undercarriage spreader bar was a standard fitting on all two-seaters.
Observer's cockpit of Albatros C X 6303/16 (licence-built by Linke-Hoffmann) showing the standard bomb release lever on the starboard cockpit wall. Linked via a ratchet free-wheel and cables to the camshaft on the P.u.W. bombrack, five pulls of the lever were needed to release the four bombs; the first pull was a safety measure that positioned the first cam to the release position. The lever operated over an angular segment and had to be moved forward between each selection. Other equipment includes the handpump for pressurizing fuel system, the trailing aerial reel and, in front of the bomb release, the lever for engaging and disengaging the clutch of the AC generator which supplied the power for the Telefunken wireless transmitter.
At various periods some Kasta used a number of C category two-seaters to augment their normal establishment of six twin-engined bombers, employing them on short-range day and night operations. The most used machine for this purpose was the DFW C V, over 1,000 of which were at the Front by the end of August 1917; shown here is an aircraft of this type from Kasta 8, Kagohl II. During 1918 in order to provide a low-altitude day bombing force (also used in the Schlachtstaffel role) - for which the large twin-engined machines were unsuitable - Kogenluft increased the establishment of each Bosta to include three C type aircraft with a further three held in reserve.
Four early 10kg Carbonit bombs suspended from release hooks under the fuselage of an LVG B I. The safety pins to prevent windvane rotation had to be tied with wire or string to the release hooks, the operation of which withdrew the pins and allowed arming of the fuse. Later a disc was spring-loaded against the windvanes to prevent rotation. After release, air pressure forced the disc clear of the windvanes and the bomb was then armed in the usual way. The four-bladed windmill operated air pump for pressurizing the fuel system can be seen on the port front undercarriage leg.
This LVG B I of Feldflieger Abteilung 16 on the Eastern Front, depicted during winter of 1914/15, has been fitted with an oblique wire cage chute so that bombs, carried in the front (observer's) cockpit, will not foul the bottom wing during release. Usually two 4.5kg Carbonit bombs comprised the bombload. The safety wire and pin that prevented inadvertent rotation of the windvane-armed fuse had to be completely removed before placing the bomb in the chute. The issue bomb chutes were of varied design to suit different aircraft types but improvised examples were also made in the field by unit personnel.
BAO returned to the Western Front in mid-1915 and was equipped with armed aircraft of the C category. Some of its LVG C II machines, in a variety of finishes, are seen here on Ghistelles aerodrome in December. Shortly afterwards BAO's designation was changed to Kampfgeschwader der Obersten Heeresleitung (Kagohl) (Fighting Squadron of the Army High Command) I and its aircraft were reorganized into six Kampfstaffeln (Fighting sections) - Kasta 1 to 6 - each having a strength of seven aeroplanes. At the same time BAM became Kagohl II with Kasta 7 to 12. Both formations were to have been used in the offensive against Verdun, in concentrated bombing attacks on targets behind the French lines, but this plan suffered attrition because the aircraft were used instead on fighting patrol work.
On 20, 21 and 22 May 1916 Kagohl I and III mounted concentrated attacks against Dunkirk. Shown are Kampfstaffeln of Kagohl I, equipped in the main with LVG C II two-seaters (Rumpler C I machines of Kasta II in the foreground) and assembled in take-off order on Ghistelles aerodrome, near Ostend, on 21 May. A strict count-down procedure was maintained; all engines of a Kampfstaffel were started at the same time and machines were broght into line at the edge of the manoeuvring area before the previous unit had taken off. As soon as the last aircraft was airborne, the leader of the following Kasta started his take-off run, the other six machines following within a few seconds of each other. It was thus possible to get the whole Kagohl away in landing was achieved with similar despatch, and surprisingly few accidents accompanied these high-density movements.
This aerial view of the same scene shows the specially prepared take-off area, to combat the Flanders mud, that allowed the heavily laden machines of each Kasta to depart in rapid succession. Once airborne, individual aircraft formed up easily on their leader's machine, which flew at reduced speed in a specified direction. Units then adopted their prearranged position in the 40-aircraft-strong formation, and climbed to operating height (generally above 10,000ft) before setting course for the target.
Such was the faith in the Kampfgeschwader concept that a further five units were formed in 1916 (Kagohl III to VII), thus creating another 30 Kampfstaffeln. These pilots and observers in front of the seven Rumpler C I machines of Kasta 14, Kagohl III. are seen shortly after that unit's formation. Completely mobile, and capable of being moved rapidly to specially prepared aerodromes on any front, their duties were two-fold: they could be operated in strength on bombing attacks or used in a pure air-fighting capacity. The Kagohl were the kernel of German air might and were seen as the key that would ensure aerial supremacy.
On 20, 21 and 22 May 1916 Kagohl I and III mounted concentrated attacks against Dunkirk. Shown are Kampfstaffeln of Kagohl I, equipped in the main with LVG C II two-seaters (Rumpler C I machines of Kasta II in the foreground) and assembled in take-off order on Ghistelles aerodrome, near Ostend, on 21 May. A strict count-down procedure was maintained; all engines of a Kampfstaffel were started at the same time and machines were broght into line at the edge of the manoeuvring area before the previous unit had taken off. As soon as the last aircraft was airborne, the leader of the following Kasta started his take-off run, the other six machines following within a few seconds of each other. It was thus possible to get the whole Kagohl away in landing was achieved with similar despatch, and surprisingly few accidents accompanied these high-density movements.
This aerial view of the same scene shows the specially prepared take-off area, to combat the Flanders mud, that allowed the heavily laden machines of each Kasta to depart in rapid succession. Once airborne, individual aircraft formed up easily on their leader's machine, which flew at reduced speed in a specified direction. Units then adopted their prearranged position in the 40-aircraft-strong formation, and climbed to operating height (generally above 10,000ft) before setting course for the target.
The big AEG joins the Rumpler two-seaters ready for take-off. Twenty-five aircraft can be seen, and due to the varied nature of the evening's targets, seventeen machines have probably already departed, since Kagohl bombing operations invariably utilized the 6 Kampfstaffeln at full strength of 42 aeroplanes. Unserviceability of aircraft did not normally reduce this force as reserve machines were always available so that the planned weight of high-explosive could be delivered as planned.
Gunner of a Halberstadt CL II of Schlachtstaffel 27 taking on trench mortar fragmentation bombs (Wurfgranaten 15) to augment the ten 'potatomasher' stick grenades carried on the external fuselage rack. From the very low altitudes at which these aircraft operated in attacks on enemy troops and trenches, they were ideally equipped with these slightly modified infantry weapons. The bandolier across the fuselage decking contains signal flares for communicating with German troops. A total of 750 machines of the CL category was operational at the end of April 1918.
Albatros G II of Kasta 7, Kagohl II, flown by Leutnant Graf von Guerard with Leutnant Meye as observer, crashed on Neuflize aerodrome near Le Chatelet in April 1917 on return from an operational flight. This aircraft type was produced only in small numbers and from the maximum of nine at the Front, achieved at the end of April, some were also used by Kagohl IV. The magazine rack for the horizontal stowage of six P.u.W. 12.5kg bombs can be seen attached to the fuselage in front of the port bottom wing root. Magazines of this type were also installed internally. Bombs could be dropped individually, six movements of the bomb release being required to empty the rack; each selection released the lowermost bomb, but a salvo selection was also possible so that all the bombs could be released at the same time.
The Friedrichshafen G IV was a four-bay version of the G IIIa. The increased wing area allowed it to fly on one engine for 70-90 minutes from a height of 3,000m until it reached the ground, which was a great improvement on other types in use. Further attempts to improve single-engine performance produced the Friedrichshafen G V; by shortening the fuselage nose, the engines could be placed closer together, thus reducing their asymmetric moment. This is the G V prototype with a centre fin added to its biplane tail unit during a modification programme. The aircraft had a payload of 2,100kg but had not been placed into production before the Armistice.
Major Siegert, Kommandeur of the Fliegerstation at Metz, began night flying training for his pilots in February 1913. Although the practice was officially frowned upon, Siegert showed that the pilots lost any apprehension they might have had once they were introduced to night flying, and on 23 April he even held night manoeuvres when ten aircraft flew without incident, in co-operation with searchlights. In this early night flying scene at a military aerodrome an Aviatik biplane (whose rudder has suffered from retouching) is being put into the hangar. The aircraft in the foreground is a dual-control Otto-built Farman copy powered by a 100hp Argus engine.
Because of their heavy defensive armament, the Kagohl's first twin-engined G types of aircraft were used singly for reconnaissance duties, and when accompanying a number of smaller two-seaters on a bombing raid the inclusion of a G type guaranteed that enemy fighters would concentrate on the big machine, leaving the main bomb-carrying force almost unmolested. But a hot reception awaited the attackers. This Rumpler G II (107/15) is seen over the Eastern Front, operating with Kagohl II from Kowel aerodrome in 1916.
The success of the Rumpler G II at the Front during 1916 led to the development of the Rumpler G III powered by two Mercedes D IVa 260hp engines, but the aircraft had constructional shortcomings and could not compete with the designs of AEG, Friedrichshafen and Gotha, the main suppliers of twin-engined G types. From a limited production batch, the Rumpler G III was used only in small numbers by the Kagohl, reaching a maximum at the Front of ten machines at the end of October 1917.
The first German bombs intended for aerial use were the Artillerie-Pruefungs-Kommission (APK) weapons of the 1912/13 period; the blast effect of these cast steel spherical bombs was not great and their trajectories were unpredictable. Elongated bombs (but still fin-less) are visible in the vertical wire 'cages' under the fuselage of Leutnant Canter's Rumpler Taube during the 1913 Kaiser Manoeuvres. Alongside the observer in the front cockpit can be seen the five levers which operated the bombs' release via Bowden cable.
First London night bomber. Flying an aircraft of this type (Albatros C V), Offizierstellvertreter Klimke and his observer. Oberleutnant Leon, from Flieger Abteilung 19 based on Handzaeme aerodrome in Belgium, undertook a voluntary attack on the capital during the night of 6/7 May 1917, dropping five 12.5kg P.u.W. bombs which fell in a line from Hackney to Holloway. Despite their offensive spirit, a severe reprimand was forthcoming, since Kagohl III was being readied for just such work at this time, and it was considered that the Klimke/Leon action had unnecessarily alerted the British defences to such a possibility. They were transferred to Kagohl III and took part in several raids against Britain flying the unwieldy Gotha G IV, which was, as Klimke later said 'not as much fun as our own effort!'
Using the standard racks for the P.u.W. bombs, the composition of bombload could easily be varied. Under the centre-section of this Gotha G V can be seen five 50kg and two 100kg bombs. Aircraft of this type seldom carried more than a maximum of 500kg bomb-load even on short-range operations. Care of the precious rubber tyres is shown by the use of small trestles under the undercarriage vees, with load-spreading boards to prevent the trestles sinking into the earthen floor of the hangar.
The small but highly effective Elektron incendiary bomb produced early in 1918 weighed only 1kg and could not be extinguished with water. It measured 14in long and was 2in in diameter, was filled with compressed thermite, and its three straight fins terminating in a circular tail ring made it almost identical to the weapon used by the Luftwaffe in World War Two. The intended use of the bomb against centres of population was prohibited on humanitarian grounds. However, in March 1918 largescale incendiary attacks using these bombs were planned, to be carried out by Bogohl III against London, and Bogohl I, II, V and VII against Paris. Each aircraft could carry 500 bombs of this type, and in round-the-clock operation by both day and night it was considered that the number of fires started would swamp the fire protection services. (Fire-storm properties were understood at this time.) The German High Command (under whose auspices the Bogohl operated) must have issued the attack instructions, but they were countermanded (it is said by the Kaiser himself) only 30 minutes before the first aeroplane was due to take off. Forty Elektron bombs are shown here in special racks under the nose of a Gotha G V, while others are visible in the vertical magazine exits.
Mechanics of Kasta 14, Kagohl III, give scale to the range of P.u.W. bombs, 12.5, 50, 100 and 300kg, The smaller sizes were in use from mid-1916, but the 100kg and 300kg P.u.W. bombs did not appear until over twelve months later, the first examples being dropped on St Omer by Kagohl I on 23 August 1917.
Mechanics of Kagohl III filling the containers of the Ahrendt and Heylandt breathing equipment with liquid oxygen. This was done shortly before take-off and the containers were sealed. Although the speed of vapourization varied, the pressure in the containers increased with the passage of time and a safety valve was necessary, but this had the effect of reducing the amount of oxygen available with increase of altitude. Later a barometric valve was fitted to similar equipment made by Fluessige Case (Liquid Gas) of Kiel and this automatically regulated the oxygen supply for altitude, and was more economical in use.
Gotha G Vb 935/18 showing the auxiliary landing gear angled well forward to prevent the machine touching the ground with the fuselage nose, especially during night take-offs and landings. This 'stossfahrgestell' revived the feature first used on the prototype Gotha G II and patented in 1916, whereby the powerplant, including a section of the bottom wing, could be completely disconnected from the airframe and wheeled away on the undercarriage assembly while the aircraft was trestled into flying position and supported at the appropriate wing tip. A replacement unit could than be moved into place and coupled up, thus greatly simplifying the procedure used in engine changes. The Flettner tabs can be seen hinged directly to the aileron trailing edges and not carried on outriggers as on Friedrichshafen and AEG designs.
An observer in the front cockpit of a Gotha G V of Kagohl III demonstrates the use of oxygen supplied via the bladder to the breathing tube fitted with a mouthpiece. The oxygen produced by vapourization was extremely cold and uncomfortable to breathe and experiments were made to heat the supply tube by various means such as engine exhaust gases, radiator water and electrical elements. Despite the shortcomings of the basic Ahrendt and Heylandt equipment good results were reported.
Major Siegert, Kommandeur of the Fliegerstation at Metz, began night flying training for his pilots in February 1913. Although the practice was officially frowned upon, Siegert showed that the pilots lost any apprehension they might have had once they were introduced to night flying, and on 23 April he even held night manoeuvres when ten aircraft flew without incident, in co-operation with searchlights. In this early night flying scene at a military aerodrome an Aviatik biplane (whose rudder has suffered from retouching) is being put into the hangar. The aircraft in the foreground is a dual-control Otto-built Farman copy powered by a 100hp Argus engine.
The good results achieved by C class two-seaters at night led to the development of night bombing versions with increased wing area and capable of carrying heavy loads on short-range operations. Although the AEG N 1 was slow and took 50 minutes to reach an altitude of 1,800m, it was capable of very short take-off and landing runs and could carry six 50kg P.u.W. bombs on its wing racks. Note external additional span-wise bracing on the top wing centre-section, the exhaust pipe extension flame-damper and landing lights in the top wing leading edge. Thirty-seven machines of this type were with the front-line units at the end of February 1918, but the ever-improving performance of the twin-engined G types caused further experiments with the N category to be abandoned in May 1918.
AEG G V 625/18. The outrigger hinged aileron tab was attached by a rod to the aileron operating linkage. When the control surface was actuated, the tab moved in the opposite direction and partially balanced the aileron movement, making it easier to operate. It was thus not a true servo tab; its patented name was Flettner Hilfsruder (assisted rudder). It made the aircraft of the G class less tiring to fly and was in use in a variety of forms on the late models of twin-engined bombers. (British Air Ministry technical reports of 1919 indicate complete ignorance of the aerodynamic properties employed!)
There was disbelief about the relatively small numbers of machines in use when bombers of the Bogohl were handed over to the Allies after the war, and this is surely the highest tribute that could be paid to the devotion to duty of the Bogohl commanders and their crews. This AEG G V (635/18) is shown at Avere aerodrome after the Armistice with a Gotha G Vb in the background. All the machines at this aerodrome were of the latest types, having the aerodynamic refinements that have already been mentioned, but in a last defiant gesture all the bombers had been damaged in various ways to prevent them from flying again.
Siemens-Schuckert-Werke R VI 6/15 in flight. The rear fuselage consisted of two tapering triangular-section booms, which with the highmounted tailplane provided a good field of fire for the aft beam guns. Increased wing area by the insertion of an extra bay and other modifications allowed the carriage of some 500kg of bombs. This aircraft in company with R4, R5 and R7, all machines of similar type, served operationally on the Eastern Front in Riesenflugzeug-Abteilung (Rfa) 501 until mid-1917.