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Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI

Страна: Германия

Год: 1917

Multi-engined giant bomber

Zeppelin-Staaken - VGO.III / R.IV / R.VII - 1916 - Германия<– –>Zeppelin-Staaken - R.XIV/R.XV - 1917 - Германия

В.Кондратьев Самолеты первой мировой войны

"Цеппелин-Штаакен" R-VI. Первая серийная модификация. Построено 18 экземпляров, из них только один - на фирме Цеппелина, 6 - на фирме Авиатик, 7 - на фирме Шютте-Ланц и 4 - на предприятии Остдойч Альбатрос Верк (OAW). R-VI - четырехмоторный аэроплан с двигателями "Майбах" Mb.IV по 245 л.с. или "Мерседес" D.IVa по 260 л.с. в двух тандемах.
   Конструкция смешанная с преобладанием древесины. Фюзеляж обшит фанерой, мотогондолы - дюралем, крылья и оперение - полотном. Самолет оборудован радиостанцией, электрообогревом кабин и внутренним переговорным устройством. Экипаж - 7 человек (штурман-бомбардир, он же - носовой стрелок, 2 пилота, радист, 2 механика, размещавшихся в мотогондолах, хвостовой стрелок).
   Защитное вооружение - от трех до шести пулеметов "Парабеллум". В фюзеляжном бомбовом отсеке помещалось 18 бомб по 100 кг, а максимальная бомбовая нагрузка превышала 2 тонны, рекордный показатель для самолетов Первой Мировой войны.
   С июня 1917-го и до лета следующего года "Цеппелины" совместно с "Готами" регулярно бомбили Лондон, Дувр, Фолкстон и другие города юго-восточной Англии. За все это время английской ПВО удалось сбить только один четырехмоторный бомбардировщик.
   В феврале R-VI сбросил на пригород Лондона 1000-килограммовую бомбу, самый тяжелый авиационный боеприпас, примененный в Первой Мировой. В последние месяцы войны немецкие гиганты действовали главным образом над территориями Франции и Бельгии.
   Размах, м 42,2
   Длина, м 22,5
   Площадь крыла, кв.м 334,0
   Сухой вес, кг 7680
   Взлетный вес, кг 11460
   Скорость максимальная, км/ч 130
   Дальность полета, км 800
   Время набора высоты, мин/м 43/3000
   Потолок, м 3800

O.Thetford, P.Gray German Aircraft of the First World War (Putnam)

Zeppelin Staaken R VI

   Without doubt the most remarkable aircraft built by the Germans during the First World War were the "R" (Riesenflugzeug) type giant machines with four, five or six engines. The eventual degree of reliability that was attained was a noteworthy achievement when it is considered that everything connected with these unique aircraft had to be developed and produced from scratch. There was no previous experience in the design of aircraft of such gargantuan proportions. As an example of just one of the many difficulties, which had to be faced, that of engine failure may be instanced. Many of the first engines fitted in the Giants had been used with excellent reliability in airships, but in the aircraft they blew up (often literally) with monotonous regularity. This failure was eventually discovered to be due to the fact that the engines were called upon to produce upwards of 1,200 r.p.m. for considerable periods on take-off and climb, whereas in airship installation they were never-or rarely-called upon for more than a steady 800 r.p.m.
   Undercarriage problems too were a constant headache, again due to there being no previous material of this size to draw upon and the fact that stressing problems were not fully understood. However, mainly trial and error and "guestimated" experiments brought a degree of reliability. A.E.G., D.F.W., Linke-Hofmann, S.S.W. and Zeppelin Staaken all built original designs, but it was only the latter firm's machine that was developed into a series production type, this being the R VI. All others remained prototypes, but the majority of these also saw operational service in varying degrees.
   The Zeppelin Staaken R types had been developed, with varying engine permutations, from the V.G.O. I, which first flew in April 1915, to the R VI, in which production version it had four 245 h.p. Maybach or 260 h.p. Mercedes engines mounted in tandem pairs. The Zeppelin Fluzeugbau had moved to Staaken, near Berlin, in the summer of 1916, having transferred from Gotha-Ost, and it was there the majority of the building and development work was carried out.
   Of the eighteen R.VIs completed (R 25-39 and R 52-54), six were built by Aviatik, seven by Schutte Lanz and four by O.A.W. All except R 30, which was an experimental supercharged model, saw operational service with Riesenflugzeugabteilungen 500 and 501 on the Western Front and operated from the Ghent area.
   Construction of these monster machines, which spanned almost 140 ft., was a complicated and lengthy process, and the total number of man-hours must have been prodigious. A brief technical description follows, but for truly comprehensive coverage of these aircraft the serious student is referred to The German Giants, by Haddow and Grosz.
   The fuselage was of wooden construction and basically a fabric-covered, braced, box-girder. The upper longerons were in a horizontal plane on a level with the airscrew axis for almost the whole of their length. The lower longerons were parallel as far back as the gun position, where they swept up in a straight taper to join the upper longerons in a horizontal knife-edge. A gun position was provided in the extreme nose, and in this cockpit the bomb- release gear was located. Aft of this position the two pilots sat side by side with dual wheel controls, followed by the radio operator's and navigator's compartments. On a level with the leading edges of the wings, provision was made for a mechanic, who was mainly responsible for controlling the emptying of the eight cylindrical fuel tanks so that trim was not upset. The spacious dorsal cockpit accommodated two gunners, who were also able to fire below the fuselage through a ventral position in the floor. The section of space for stowage of eighteen 100 kg. bombs with a through passageway in order to communicate with the fore part of the fuselage.
   Of vast proportions, the wings were otherwise of orthodox construction and based on two main spars, which were of double box-girder section. The center panel of both wings extended as far as the engine nacelles and was without dihedral, as was the whole of the upper wing. The outer panels of the lower wing had marked dihedral. Taper on the wings was slight and on the leading edges only. Steel-tube compression members were positioned at interplane strut locations. The ribs were closely spaced and built-up lattice-girder structures, with top and bottom spruce flanges held together by double-lath web strips disposed zig-zag fashion. Ailerons were of steel-tube framework and, being unbalanced, must have demanded considerable muscle power-small wonder two pilots were required. All wing surfaces were fabric covered.
   Streamlined engine nacelles of alloy stringers and panels were supported by twin "A" frames of steel tube located at the spar stations, to which, in turn, the engine bearers were attached by a complex frame of sheet steel and wood. The tandem-mounted engines were fitted with gear-boxes, and the airscrews of the rear engines were driven through extension shafts. A small cockpit was located between the engines wherein the flight mechanic endured his lonely vigil. All struts were of circular-section steel tube faired off with three-ply sheet.
   An unusual feature of the Zeppelin Staaken R.VI was the wide use of aluminum in the construction of the tail. This was a huge biplane structure, the size of a single-seat fighter, with a swept leading edge to the tailplanes and inverse taper at the tips of the unbalanced elevators. The tailplane section was of a reverse camber. The triple rudders were the only control surfaces to be balanced, and all were fitted with fixed fin surfaces.
   Although no less than eighteen wheels were used in the undercarriage, all three chassis were relatively simple vee-type structures. The axles of the main chassis, located immediately under the engine nacelles, were thicker than those of a railway wagon and supported two pairs of twin wheels each end, which must have caused considerable drag. Axles were bound to the steel-tube vees with elastic cord. The tailskid was a conventional component fabricated from a single piece of ash and shod with steel.
   June 1917 saw the delivery of the first Staaken R.VI "R 25", soon to be followed by "R 26" in July. Many and varied were the sorties made by these Giant aeroplanes, including a considerable number of attacks on England, the first being on 17th September 1917, and even a raid on Le Havre, which involved a round trip of some 800 km. For a raid of this length a reduced bomb load was carried, probably in the nature of 750 kg. All bomb loads were in direct proportion to the fuel carried, which again was related to the range required. For raids of short duration 2,000 kg. of bombs could be carried, but the average load for a long-range sortie was about half that weight. The 100 kg. bombs were stowed internally, but the larger 300 and 1,000 kg. bombs (which were the largest bombs to be dropped from any aeroplane during the First World War) were carried under the belly, only partially enclosed.
   The R 25, the first of the Staaken R.VIs to be supplied, made an intrepid solo raid upon London during the night of 17th/ 1 8th February 1918, and with considerable skill scored a direct hit upon St. Pancras railway station. R 26 succeeded in making no less than twenty varied sorties, during which a total of some 26,000 kg. of bombs was dropped.
   The R.VI, R 39, was one of five Giants raiding England on the night of 16th - 17th February and dropped the first 1,000 kg. bomb on Britain, hitting the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. The same aircraft dropped the second 1,000 kg. bomb on the night of 7th - 8th March 1918, destroying houses in Warrington Crescent, Maida Vale.
   Rfa 501 made a total of eleven raids on England between 18th December 1917 and 20th May 1918. They dropped 27,190 kg. of bombs (compared with 84,745 kg. dropped by Gothas in twenty-two raids) and lost no aircraft due to Allied action.
   A seaplane variant of the R.VI was built for the Navy.
Description: Multi-engined giant bomber. Crew of seven.
Manufacturers: Zeppelin Werke Staaken G.m.b.H. Staaken bei Berlin (Staak.).
Sub-contractors: Automobil und Aviatik A.G., Leipzig-Heiterblick
   Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke G.m.b.H.,
   Schneidemuhl Luftfahrzeugbau Schutte-Lanz, Mannheim.
Power Plant: Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb IV 6-cylinder in-line water-cooled engines.
   Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa, 6-cylinder in-line water-cooled engines.
   Span 42.2 m. (138 ft. 5 5/8 in.)
   Length 22.1 m. (72 ft. 6 1/4 in.)
   Height 6.3m. (20 ft. 8 in.)
   Area 332 sq.m. (3,595 sq.ft.)
   Empty 7,921 kg. (17,426 lb.)
   Loaded 11,848 kg. (26,066 lb.)
   Max speed 135 km.hr. (84.35 m.p.h.)
   Climb 3,000 m. (9,840 ft.) 43 min
   Ceiling 4,320 m. (14,170 ft.)
   Duration 7-10 hr.
Armament: Four manually operated Parabellum machine-guns in nose,
   dorsal and ventral positions.
   Various bomb loads carried to suit tactical or strategic requirement.

Zeppelin-Staaken Type "L" Seaplane
   This machine, which was allocated the Naval No. 1432, was virtually an R VI type mounted upon massive duralumin floats some 13 m. (42 ft. 7 7/8 in.) in length, divided into twelve water-tight compartments. The aircraft was wrecked during trials. Engines, four 260 h.p. Mercedes D IVa. Span, 42.2 m. (135 ft. 5 5/8 in.). Length, 22.2 m. (72 ft. 10 3/8 in.). Height, 7.38 m. (24 ft. 2 5/8 in.). Area, 360 sq.m. (3,888 sq.ft.). Weights: Empty, 8,400 kg. (18,480 lb.). Loaded, 11,800 kg. (25,960 lb.). Speed, 125 km.hr. (78.125 m.p.h.). Climb, 1,780 m. (5,839 ft.), in 60 min. Ceiling, 2,500 m. (8,200 ft.). Duration, 10 hr. Armament, four machine-guns.

G.Haddow, P.Grosz The German Giants (Putnam)

Staaken R.VI

   The development cycle of the Staaken R-planes reached its first plateau with the introduction of the Staaken R.VI. This aircraft was not only the largest aircraft to go into quantity production during World War I but it was also the best known of all the German R-planes. In all, a total of eighteen R.VI machines were constructed (excluding the seaplane versions), but only six of these were actually produced by the parent company. The remainder were manufactured under licence by the following firms: Automobil & Aviatik A.G., Leipzig-Heiterblick; Luftschiffbau Schutte-Lanz, Zeesen and the Ostdeutsche Albatroswerke G.m.b.H., Schneidemuhl.
   As one would expect, the design of the R.VI drew heavily on the earlier Staaken types, with the exception that the fuselage-mounted engine or engines were discarded in favour of four tandem push-pull engines installed in the nacelles. This configuration had not been tested in any Staaken machine prior to the R.VI, but the change was dictated by operational experience.
   The large-diameter nose propeller required a fairly high landing gear, which in turn increased the chances of nosing over during hard landings on rough terrain. Furthermore, the nose engine was thought to increase the danger of fire due to the proximity of the fuel in the fuselage.
   From a military standpoint, it was imperative that R-plane construction be accelerated. For this reason, it was decided to eliminate the complex and costly gear-box-coupled engine arrangement, which had not proved entirely reliable and required highly-trained crews to operate. Expert maintenance was responsible for the successful operation of the coupled system in the R.IV, but with the installation of higher-powered engines, the mechanical reliability dropped appreciably. Consequently, a simple push-pull tandem engine arrangement was chosen which became a standard fixture on subsequent Staaken aircraft.
   By the middle of 1916 exhaustive tests on the efficiency of tandem propeller arrangements had been completed by the Zeppelin-Werke Lindau (Dornier), and test results showed that tandem propellers were almost as efficient as propellers operating alone. This information was undoubtedly passed on to the Staaken branch of the Zeppelin combine and played its part in the development of the R.VI.
   The first R.VI, the R.25, was probably completed during the latter half of 1916 and was extensively test-flown by Staaken and Army engineers before being delivered to the air service on 8 June 1917. It was followed closely by the R.26, which was delivered on 20 July 1917. The success of the trials led to the awarding of licence contracts to Aviatik, Schutte-Lanz and Ostdeutsche Albatroswerke during the winter of 1916 and the spring of 1917.
   Because the construction particulars of the Staaken R.VI are common to most of the Staaken aircraft, they are described in greater detail in this section. The R.VI was powered either by four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines or four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Judging from company records, the R.25 to R.38 were initially powered by Mercedes engines, but several of these machines were later fitted with Maybach Mb.IVa engines. The latter was one of the first "overcompressed" engines developed by the Germans for altitude use. The Mb.IVa had finished tests in the special high-altitude chamber at the Maybach factory in August 1916 and was offered to the Government in October 1916. The engine was designed to give full power at 2000 metres altitude by increasing the cylinder bore and the length of the piston, which raised its compression ratio. The Mb.IVa could not be run at full power below 2000 metres due to premature ignition of the fuel mixture, which resulted in harmful overheating of the engine. Its power output of 2000 metres was rated at 245 h.p., which would be equivalent to the output of a standard 300 h.p. engine at that altitude. A special stop prevented unintentional opening of the throttle at lower altitudes. The reason that the Mb.IVa was designated as a 260 h.p. engine in many official records has been explained as follows: "The 260 h.p" designation was applied to the 245 h.p. Mb.IVa so that it would not, as a new engine, appear inferior in horse-power to the older 260 h.p. engines which it replaced."
   The engines were mounted in the front and rear of each nacelle and independently drove a single propeller through a reduction gear-box and short transmission shaft. The rear engine shaft was longer than the front to place the pusher propellers clear of the trailing edges of the wing. The engine was separated from the gear-box by a combination leather-metal knuckle coupling to absorb vibrations and misalignments. Gear-box oil was cooled by a small semicircular cooler which extended into the slipstream below the nacelle.
   Four radiators were mounted on struts above the nacelles and, as on previous machines, the rear radiator was located higher than the front. The radiators used on the R.VI varied, and included those built by Windhoff, N.I.W, and Daimler.
   The engines were equipped with self-starting mechanism because "swinging the propeller" by hand was obviously impractical. The Mercedes engines were fitted with a simple Bosch electric starter powered by an accumulator. The Maybach engine were equipped with a novel self-starting device unique to that engine. The procedure consisted of pulling a lever which simultaneously lifted exhaust and intake valves and closed a shutter in the exhaust manifold. By action of a large hand suction pump connected to the exhaust manifold, fuel was drawn into the cylinders from the carburettor. When the engine was primed the valves were returned to their original position, and ignition was then effected by means of a Bosch hand-starter magneto. At a later date a field modification made by the R-plane squadrons was the addition of the Staaken hand-cranking device to facilitate the drawing of fuel into the cylinder.
   The engine nacelles were fashioned from U-shaped aluminium stringers and covered with aluminium panels held in place by hinges and leather straps. A small cockpit for the flight mechanic was situated between the engines. The nacelles were supported in the wing gap by two inverted V-struts, the ends of which were attached to the lower and upper wing spars. At about one-third of its height the inverted V was joined by a transverse box girder of welded steel to form an elongated A to which the engine bearers, which spanned the entire length of the nacelle, were attached. The bearers consisted of ash planks sandwiched between two layers of heavy plywood. Additional struts ran from the lower wing spars to the ends of the engine bearers to provide extra support for the gear-boxes.
   In most instances the propellers were supplied by Garuda. They were built of spruce and ash laminations and then covered with a thin sheathing of plywood. Large blunt spinners were fitted to the propellers of the Aviatik-built R.VI machines.
   Eight (and on some machines ten) cylindrical fuel tank were installed in the central fuselage section, each with a capacity of 245 litres. The tanks were suspended by steel bands attached to the upper fuselage frames, which were, at this section, reinforced by a welded steel tube structure. A gangway between the tanks allowed the crew to inspect them and to pass between. Fuel was pumped to a 155 litre gravity tank by two propeller-driven pumps mounted either on the fuselage decking or at the fuselage sides near the wing root. The streamlined gravity tank was located under the upper wing between the cabane struts. In an emergency the fuel in each main tank could be jettisoned by a quick-emptying valve. A fuel attendant governed the level of the individual fuel tanks so that the trim of the aircraft was not disturbed during flight.
   In form and construction the four-bay wings were almost identical to those on the earlier Staaken R-planes. Both upper and lower wings had equal span and outline, swept-back leading edges and lower wing dihedral. Each wing consisted of three parts, a centre section and two outer panels. The wings were built around two main spars built-up from seven ash (upper wing) and spruce (lower wing) mouldings to form a double-box cross-section. Ash was utilized in the upper wing because of its higher compressive strength, whereas spruce was used in the lower wing for its superior tensile strength and lighter weight. The individual spar mouldings were glued together and reinforced with ash tongue-and-groove joints. The whole spar length was then covered on two sides by a 2•5 mm. layer of glued plywood. Finally, the spars were wrapped in glue-soaked cotton cloth. The outer wing panels were joined to the centre section with steel collars and bolts.
   The wing ribs were fabricated from spruce, and the rib spacing varied throughout the span, the distance between ribs being less where the stress was greatest. False ribs running from leading edge to front spar maintained correct rib profile at the leading edges.
   Steel compression tube were fastened between the spar at all strut attachment points. The wing was internally braced by two sets of cables; one set crossed between adjoining compression tubes; the other ran from the compression tubes to double ribs which were spaced midway between strut attachment points. The wing struts consisted of faired steel tubing, the diameter of which decreased with increasing span. External wing bracing was composed of double cables throughout. The wing were rigged with slight negative stagger and a rather pronounced incidence, which gradually decreased towards the wingtips.
   The unbalanced ailerons were fitted to the top wings only, and they conformed to the outline of the wing. The steel-tube, fabric-covered ailerons were hinged to false spars in the wing and actuated by cables running from bell-cranks down through the lower wing. The Aviatik-built machines (R.52-R.54) had ailerons with extended balancing areas, and the R.30 was equipped with R.XIV pattern ailerons.
   Initially, the single-bay biplane tail assembly was identical to that of the Staaken R.V: however, at a later date a central fin and rudder were added to counter the control losses due to fuselage twisting. The tailplanes, similar in construction to the wing, used spruce ribs and spars and aluminium tubing for the compression members. The tailplanes were flat on top, cambered underneath, and they were set at an unusually large angle of incidence of 6 degrees. Elevators were fitted to both tailplanes. The interplane struts formed the king-post supports for the characteristic Staaken fin and balanced rudder. All tail surfaces, with exception of the tailplanes, were built of aluminium and covered with fabric.
   The steel-tube undercarriage was a simple robust structure considerably shorter than earlier Staaken types. The massive axles were generally equipped with four wheels at each end, although a few R.VI machines had only two wheels of larger diameter at each axle end. Rubber shock cords were employed in most cases, but later aircraft used bundles of coil springs. A short twin-wheel auxiliary undercarriage was mounted on the nose of all R.VI machines, but it was used only on touch-down. Contrary to the earlier Staaken machines, the normal ground attitude of the R.VI was for the machine to rest on its tail skid.
   The fuselage was basically a lattice-girder structure composed of mixed wood and steel tube construction. The two upper longerons were spruce and the lower ash, fabric-wrapped for their entire length. The frames were welded steel tubing, and those in the rear of the fuselage were of rectangular form, while at the centre-section and nose they were reinforced by diagonal tubes, forming a triangular structure. The forward fuselage was encased in plywood and the remainder was covered with fabric.
   The control cabin, inside and out, was quite modern in appearance for those days. The cabin was fully enclosed, with sliding windows that extended back to the leading edge of the wings. Black shades could be drawn across the windows to avoid dazzle. Two pilots sat on each side of the cabin behind two massive automobile-type steering wheels. The engine throttle controls were located between their seats within each reach, and were grouped in such a fashion that they could be manipulated singly or in unison. The all-important master ignition switch was located immediately behind the throttles, protected by a safety cover. The timely short-circuiting of engines and electrical circuits was responsible for saving several R-planes from destruction by fire after crash landing.
   Initially, a standard gimbal-mounted floating compass, built by Ludolph and adapted from airships, was mounted directly in front of the throttle levers. Its weight and unreliable operation led to the development of a large drum-type compass for R-planes. However, this compass did not perform as desired due to the lack of suitable magnetic alloys. Furthermore, its installation presented certain difficulties, particularly if its magnetic field were placed near steel frames, electric circuits and tachometers. The large drum compass was discarded in favour of two small drum compasses mounted outboard of the pilots' seats The final solution was not achieved until the Bamberg repeater compass was installed in the rear of the fuselage. The course could be set with a flexible shaft, while an electric repeater indicated every variation from the set course. The aircraft commander was supplied with a charting compass for use on his navigating table and a bearing compass for taking visual bearings. Astronomical navigation was attempted, but the shortage of personnel precluded greater use of the technique and forced the development of wireless position-fixing techniques.
   Instruments installed in the pilots' cabin included direct-reading and recording altimeters, a variometer for measuring rate of climb, four electric tachometer, a clock, two air-speed indicators (one for each pilot), a thermo-electric engine-temperature indicator with a switch for reading ten stations and a fluid inclinometer. The final piece of equipment for the pilots was the artificial horizon. Earlier R-planes, R.VI included, were fitted with the Anschutz gyro inclinometer or artificial horizon, which could indicate bank and fore-and-aft inclination. However, the gyro used in the Anschutz system was not free of centrifugal effects and required some 10-15 minutes to reach its operating speed, which meant it could not be used during take-off due to the electrical system involved. To correct the first shortcoming, the weight of the gyro was raised to some 40 kg., which made its use almost prohibitive from a weight standpoint. During mid 1917 the Drexler bank-indicator was introduced. It was a lightweight (5 kg.), greatly simplified gyro device that operated on the precession principle. It reached running speed in less than a minute and was powered by a small propeller-driven generator.
   The electrical machine telegraph by which pilots and mechanics communicated was fixed to the roof of the cabin. Twenty or more commands could be transmitted by mean of preset words indicated by light bulb.
   The wireless sending and receiving equipment was located on the port side, behind the pilot. The commander's navigation table was situated in close proximity across the gangway. The wireless equipment was powered by a 2•5 h.p. Bosch petrol-driven generator which supplied 1000 watt . During wireless silence the Bosch generator could provide electricity for heating the flying suits of seven men and charge the batteries which provided electricity for the lighting system. The lighting could be controlled by the pilots to achieve any degree of illumination. Interior lights were covered with blue glass to reduce glare and danger of being spotted. It was customary to install a battery of six landing light under the fuselage. In addition, two lamps were installed behind the landing gear to throw its shadow on the ground to provide a means for judging height while landing.
   An observation post was located in the extreme nose, with provisions to mount a machine-gun. It was from this position that the aircraft commander directed the bomb run, and this is where the bomb sight was mounted. The dorsal position was equipped with two flexible machine-guns, and the ventral machine-gun was mounted on a small ramp that could be lowered slightly. Two R.VI machines, possibly several others, were equipped with upper-wing mounted guns in the manner of the Staaken R.IV. They differed by having their undersides faired and instead of sliding panels, folding trap-doors provided some protection from the slipstream when lowered. The official German Equipment Tables for R-planes specified three Lewis machine-guns as the normal armament to be carried by the R.VI. These guns were considered by all the combatants to be a superior weapon in the air, as its extreme lightness made it an ideal free gun.
   The bomb load was carried internally in the central section of the fuselage underneath the fuel tanks. Bomb racks for eighteen 100 kg. bombs in three rows of six each were provided, but the 300 kg. and 1000 kg. bombs had to be carried semi-externally. The bomb load varied according to the distance travelled, i.e. the amount of fuel carried. For short distances a bomb load up to 2000 kg. could be lifted, but for long ranges a load of 1000-1200 kg. was more normal.
   The usual flight duration of the R.VI was about 7 hours, which could be stretched to 10 hours if additional fuel tanks were installed. The machines generally flew non-stop from Doberitz to airfields in the Ghent area, some 740 km., on their delivery flights. The longest operational raids were those flown against Le Havre, when a total distance of 800 km. was covered. The maximum range was 900 km. on 3200 litres of fuel and carrying a bomb load of 750 kg.
   The crew varied according to the mission, but generally the complement was seven men, consisting of the commander/navigator and two pilots (of these three, two were usually commissioned officers), a wireless operator, two flight mechanics and a fuel attendant. For additional protection one or two gunners could be accommodated, but this was the exception rather than the rule.
   The Staaken R.VI formed the backbone of the German R-plane squadrons on the Western Front, and carried the brunt of the attack up to the end of the war, but not without severe losses. Out of the eighteen Staaken R.VI machines built, eleven aircraft (possibly more) are known to have been destroyed in the war. Of the eleven, seven made crash landings (R.26, R.27, R.29, R.32, R.34, R.36, R.38); one was lost due to engine failure at take-off (R.28); two were shot down (R.31, R.37) and one crashed as a result of extreme flight manoeuvres (R.52). The effects of weather and the danger of making an emergency landing at night were the chief threats to the operational R.VI bombers. Only two R.VI were definitely shot down by defence forces; the R.37 by anti-aircraft fire near Betz while returning from a raid on Paris and the R.31 by a 151 Squadron night fighter.
   The R.VI was joined by more powerful Staaken types which began to reach the Front in late 1918. Yet the R.VI remained in operational service until the end of the war, and several machines that survived were used in civil ventures in post-war Germany. An engine nacelle identified by the engine serial numbers as belonging to the R.35 is on view at the Polish Air Museum in Krakow.

Colour Scheme and Markings

   Most of the R.VI aircraft were covered with printed camouflage fabric, the pattern used varied according to the manufacturer. The fuselage fabric of the Staaken-built R.VI machines was painted in a dark colour consisting of an undercoating of colourless acetate dope covered by pigmented dope, coloured blue by a mixture of Prussian blue and ultramarine blue.
   National markings were painted on the wingtips, fuselage and tail in the style authorized at the particular period. The Patee crosses of the first Aviatik-built series were represented by white outlines only.
   Some R.VI had serial numbers painted in large white figures on the rear fuselage sides, a practice fairly common in late 1918.

Notes all individual Staaken R. VI Aircraft

   R.25. Staaken built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Built late 1916. Accepted 6 June 1917. Sent to Rfa 500 for trials on Eastern Front. On 28 July completed a 6 1/2 hour test flight with combat load. Flown to Cologne on 5 August. Operational with Rfa 501. Executed the successful lone attack on St Pancras Station 17/18 February 1918. Commanded by Lt. Max Borchers.
   R.26. Staaken built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Accepted 24 July 1917. Operational with Rfa 501. Commanded by Oblt. Fritz Pfeiffer, piloted by Lt. Wilhelm Pier. Crash landed in fog and burnt at Scheldewindeke 9/10 May 1918.
   R.27. Schutte-Lanz built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Acceptance flights in October 1917. Flown from Doberitz to Rfa 501 on 23 January 1918. Commanded by Hptm. Schoeller on England raids. Crash-landed due to frozen fuel lines in Belgium, 7/8 March 1918. Crew uninjured, engines and instruments salvaged, remains destroyed by enemy gunfire.
   R.28. Schutte-Lanz built. Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Completed late 1917, accepted 12 February 1918. Flew from Zeesen to Cologne on 5 June 1918. Operational with Rfa 500. Commanded by Hptm. Schoeller. Crashed 15/16 September 1918 as a result of engine failure.
   R.29. Schutte-Lanz built. Initially four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Ready for first flight in February 1918. Four 245 Maybach Mb.IVa engines installed and other modifications made in March-April 1918. Fitted with upper-wing gun position. Accepted on 1 May 1918. Flew to Rfa 501 on 3 May 1918. Crashed into trees while landing in fog at Scheldewindeke 9/l0 May 1918.
   R.30. Staaken built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Acceptance flights in October 1917. The constant need for higher performance led to the development of several types of turbosuperchargers. The R.30 became the test-bed for a centrifugal supercharger built to the designs of Dipl.-Ing. W. G. Noack by Brown-Boveri & Co. of Mannheim. A 120 h.p..Mercedes D.II engine, located behind the starboard pilot, drove the supercharger which provided air to the carburetters via conduits passing internally through the wing and into the nacelles. In September 1918 the R.30 was also equipped with Helix adjustable-pitch propellers designed by Prof. H. J. Reissner. The pitch could be adjusted in flight by means of slotted cams that turned the metal sleeves into which the wooden propeller blades were fitted. The modified R.30 made its first test flight on 23 March 1918 and on 24 April attained an altitude of 19.357 feet, a remarkable improvement over the 12,500 foot ceiling of standard R.VI machines. The maximum speed was raised to 160 km.h., an increase of 30 km.h. over standard machines.
   On 24 May 1918 the R.30 was performing some test for Idflieg over Berlin. Hptm. Krupp and Lt. Offermann were at the controls; Dipl.-Ing Noack and five other crew members were also aboard. At 3300 metres altitude a wrist pin seized, which caused the connecting-rod to break and the piston to burst through the engine housing. This accident was later traced back to improper cooling of the crankcase oil due to modifications required by the supercharged Mercedes engine. A fire started which spread to the lower wing, but by descending rapidly it was possible to blowout these flames. However, long ribbons of fire continued to spew from the nacelle. Noack climbed over the lower wing to the burning nacelle and extinguished the blaze with a portable fire extinguisher. The R.30 landed safely.
   In the early post-war period the R.30 was used for civil work with the name "Fletcher's World" painted on each side of the nose and rear fuselage. .
   R.31. Staaken built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engine. Accepted January 1918. Operational with Rfa 500. Crashed in flames at Beugny 15/16 September 1918, as a result of enemy action. The British RAF War Diary ha the following statement concerning the loss of the R.31. "Lt. S. C. Broome, 151 Squadron, saw a giant enemy machine held in our searchlights which he attacked firing 500 rounds altogether. The enemy aircraft burst into flames and fell on our side of the lines." Seeing that the aircraft was on fire, the commander. Lt. Wohlgemuht, ran through the aircraft and ordered the crew to bailout. Of the nine, only Lt. Wohlgemuht and one other person were saved by parachute.
   R.32. Staaken built. Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Acceptance flight on 24 January 1918. Delivered to Rfa 501 on 2 April 1918. Crash-landed in fog at Scheldewindeke and was destroyed when its bombs exploded 9/10 May 1918.
   R.33. Aviatik built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Accepted October 1917. Operational with Rfa 501. Crashed 15 October 1918.
   R.34. Aviatik built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Completed December 1917. At Altenburg airfield in January 1918 awaiting delivery to Front. Operationa1 with Rfa 501. Crashed near the Front on 21 April 1918, possibly as a result of enemy action. Seven crew killed. Commanded by Oblt. Leistner.
   R.35. Aviatik built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engine. Acceptance flight on 26 February 1918. Flown to Staaken to be fitted with turbo-supercharger. First test flights in June-July 1918. Weight increased to 9300 kg. empty and 12,875 kg. loaded. Further details are lacking.
   R.36. Albatros built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. R.36 "several weeks away from completion" on 9 July 1917. Accepted in October 1917. Operational with Rfa 501 and believed dismantled after emergency landing on 7/8 March 1918.
   R.37. Albatros built. Initially four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Acceptance flight on 3 February 1918. In March 1918 radio-telephone experiment were conducted between a ground station and the R.37. Clear transmission of words, numbers and music was attained over a distance of 30 km. using a 500 watt transmission tube. R.37 trailed a 100 metre antenna. In April 1918 Schutte-Lanz installed four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Flew to Rfa 500 on 28 May 1918. Forced to land near Betz after hit by French anti-aircraft fire 1/2 June 1918. R.37 was returning from raid on Paris in company with another R-plane. Burned but not fully destroyed by crew, who escaped (later captured ?). Subject to widespread attention by Allied Press at the first R-plane to be inspected by the Allies.
   R.38. Albatros built. Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines. Accepted 27 March 1918. After losing course over Ruhr on delivery flight from Doberitz to Cologne to join Rfa 500, it crashed on an attempted emergency landing at Heisingen on 6 May 1918.
   R.39. Staaken built. Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Completed 18 July 1917. Accepted 9 August 1917. Operational with Rfa 501. Crew consisted of Hptm. von Bentivegni commander and squadron leader; Lt. Frhr. von Lenz, first pilot, Lt. Buth, second pilot; Unteroffiziere Matern and Walter, engine mechanics; Klickermann, wireless operator; W. Teichert, machine-gunner and a fuel attendant (name Jacking).
   The greatest total bombs carried by any R-plane during its operational career is unknown, but the R.39 was probably champion, having dropped a total of 26,000 kg. in twenty bombing raids as painted on the nose of the machine after the war. (For some reason this list did not tally with official records. The raid of 22/23 December 1917, during which the R.39 bombed the Thames estuary, is not included, possibly because it was not a success. According to available records, the R.39 bombed Dunkirk (the alternate target) instead of Dover (the intended target) on 9 May 1918.)
   28 or 29 September 1917 Sheerness 26 May 1918 Abbeville
   6 December 1917 Margate 28 May 1918 Abbeville
   25 December 1917 Boulogne 31 May 1918 Etaples
   28 or 29 January 1918 London 30 June 1918 Amiens
   16 February 1918 London 11 July 1918 Doullens
   7 March 1918 London 13 July 1918 Arras
   1 April 1918 Boulogne 15 July 1918 Rouen
   21 April 1918 St. Omer 16 August 1918 Rouen
   9 May 1918 Dover 24 August 1918 Gravelines
   19 May 1918 Chelmsford 22 (?) 1918 Poperinghe
   The only three 1000 kg. bombs dropped on England were carried by the R.39.
   R.52. Aviatik built. Initially four 300 h.p. Basse & Selve BuS.IVa engines. Completed May 1918. Ground tests on 7 May 1918 showed Basse & Selve engines not fully reliable. Four 245 Maybach Mb.IVa engines were installed. Acceptance flight on 5 June 1918. Delivered to Rfa 500 on 20 June 1918 with acceptance guaranteed on 28 June provided certain defects were corrected. At least one, but possibly all, of the second Aviatik-built R.VI series had modified fuselages. The cockpit was raised, moved farther to the rear and remained open. The front gun position was raised to the level of the upper longerons. Operational with Rfa 500. Crashed and burned on 11/12 August 1918 at Villers la Tour. Hptm. Erich Schilling and four members of the crew perished in the crash.
   R.53. Aviatik built. Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Completed July 1918. Assigned to Rea Cologne as trainer, owing to insufficient performance, September 1918.
   R.54. Aviatik built. Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines. Expected delivery in October 1918 pending decision whether to install a fifth Maybach engine in the nose. Probably never completed and scrapped in 1919.


Type: Staaken R.VI Staaken R.VI Staaken R.VI 30/16
   Manufacturer: Flugzeugwerft G.m.b.H., Staaken, Berlin
   Engines: Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines Four 245 h.p. Maybach Mb.IVa engines Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.YIa engines
   - - One 120 h.p. Mercedes D.II to drive Brown-Boveri supercharger
   Span, 42•2 m. (138 ft. 5 1/2 in.)
   Chord inner, 4•6 m. (15 ft. 1 in.)
   Chord outer, 3•6 m. (11 ft. 10 in.)
   Gap inner, 4•6 m. (15 ft. 1 in.)
   Gap outer, 3•8 m. (12 ft. 5 1/2 in.)
   Incidence inner, 3 1/2 degrees
   Incidence outer, 2 degrees
   Dihedral upper, none
   Dihedral lower, 1 1/2 degrees
   Back stagger, 0-4 m. (l ft. 3 1/2 in.)
   Length, 22•1 m. (72 ft. 6 in.)
   Height, 6•3 m. (20 ft. 8 in.)
   Tail span, 9•0 m. (29 ft. 6 in.)
   gap, 2•0 m. (6 ft. 6t in.)
   Propeller centres, 8•0 m. (26 ft. 3 in.)
   Tractor propellers diameter, 4•26 m. (14 ft.)
   Pusher propeller diameter, 4•3 m. (14 ft. 1 in.)
   Wheel diameter, 1•02 m. (3 ft. 4 in.)
   Areas: Wings, 332 sq. m. (3572 sq. ft.)
   Wings, 2,050 kg.
   Fuselage, 1,450 kg.
   Tail unit, 400 kg.
   Undercarriage, 800 kg.
   Accessories, 250 kg.
   Engines and transmission, 2,730 kg.
   Empty, 7,680 kg. (16,934 lb.) 7921 kg. (17,465 lb.) 8600 kg. (18,963 lb.)
   Fuel, 1,980 kg. (4,366 lb.)
   Disposable load, 1,800 kg. (3,969 lb.)
   Loaded, 11,460 kg. (25,269 lb.) 11,848 kg. (26,125 lb.) 11,590 kg. (25,556 lb.)
   Wing Loading: 34•5 kg./sq. m. (7'1 lb./sq. ft.) 35•7 kg./sq. m. (7,3 lb./sq. ft.) 35•0 kg. sq. m. (7,2 lb./sq. ft.)
   Maximum speed, 130 km.h. (80'8 m.p.h.) 135 km.h. (83'9 m.p.h.) 160 km.h. (99-4 m.p.h.)
   1000 m. (3281 ft.) in 11 mins. in 10 mins. in 10 mins.
   2000 m. (6562 ft.) in 27 mins. in 23 mins. in 24 mins.
   3000 m. (9843 ft.) in 55 mins. in 43 mins. in 35 mins.
   Ceiling, 3800 m. (12,467 ft.) in 150 mins. 4320 m. (14,174 ft.) in 146 mins. 5900 m. (19,357 ft.) in 102 mins.
   Duration, 7-8 hrs. 7-10 hrs. -
   Fuel: 2115 litres (465 Imp. Gals.) 3000 litres (660 Imp. Gal.) -
   Armament: Provision for nose, dorsal, ventral and upper-wing machine-gun positions
   Service Use: Western Front with Rfa 500 and Rfa 501, 1917 - November 1918 Western Front with Rfa 500 and Rfa 501, 1917 - November 1918 None

Staaken L

   The German Navy's interest in R-planes did not wane with the destruction of its RML.1; on the contrary, Naval authorities actively continued to pursue the development of R-planes for use in naval warfare. As early as December 1916, Rear Admiral Philipp, Befehlshaber der Luftstreikrafte (Chief of Air Forces), had outlined future naval requirements and had established preliminary specifications as guidelines for aircraft manufacturers.
   The reason for the increased emphasis on R-seaplanes was that English aircraft were very successful in attacking German airships. This resulted in a standing order that airships were to remain above 13,000 feet, which precluded their use as low-level submarine, shipping and mine spotters. Taking this into account, Admiral Philipp recommended the development and evaluation of less-vulnerable R-seaplanes of the flying-boat and floatplane category. Admiral Philipp listed the R-planes' advantages over the airship, as follows: they could fly faster, carry greater defensive armament, did not require huge hangars, could be readied for flight in a fraction of the time, used less personnel and were cheaper to build. The preliminary specifications for three classes of giant seaplanes were outlined in Admiral Philipp's memorandum of 26 December 1916:
   I. Reconnaissance Aircraft
   (a) 1200 h.p. (four engines).
   (b) Five crew, four machine-guns, wireless equipment, 100 kg. bombs, 10-12 hours duration.
   (c) Rapid climb not required.
   (d) Slow climb with one engine stopped, must maintain altitude on two engines.
   (e) Take-off capability required in dead calm, wind and sea.
   Take off in "Seegang 3" (wave height 3/4-2 metres, wind force 4)
   Landing in "Seegang 6" (wave height 5-7 metres, wind force 7-8)
   II. Bomber Aircraft (four engines)
   (a) Five crew, five machine-guns, wireless equipment, 1000-1800 kg. bombs, 5 hours duration.
   (b) Minimum speed 130 km.h.
   (e) Good climb.
   (d) As in I(d).
   (e) As in I(e).
   III. Torpedo Aircraft (four engines)
   (a) Five crew, two machine-guns, wireless equipment, one G-Torpedo (1020 kg.), 8 hours duration.
   (b) Maximum speed 130 km.h., minimum speed 80 km.h.
   (e) Rapid climb not required.
   (d) Slow climb with one engine cut. Must maintain altitude on two engines after torpedo has been dropped and with 2 hours fuel aboard.
   (e) As in I(e)
   Admiral Philipp went on to say: "Most urgent is the development of the reconnaissance R-plane." This statement was supported by a fair number of letters and notes in which high-ranking naval officers pressed for the immediate development of large reconnaissance aircraft for low-altitude spotting duties which the airship could no longer fulfil.
   In a document dated 10 February 1917 Philipp defines more precisely the future role of the R-seaplane. Because the R-seaplane will be required to fly but 500 metres over the water, Philipp said, it must be endowed with greater reliability than any other type of aircraft, as a slight mechanical failure could force it down far out at sea. The projected task was low-level reconnaissance, primarily for mine-spotting, shipping control and anti-submarine duties.
   On 26 December 1916 a report of Oberlt. z. S. Mans, who had just returned from an inspection of the Dornier R-flying-boat, ends with the comment that Luftschiffbau Zeppelin is to present a new proposal to meet the above-mentioned reconnaissance requirements. It should be noted that during the war only two companies, Staaken and Dornier, both part of the Zeppelin combine, delivered R-seaplanes to the Navy.
   Staaken proposed a floatplane version of the Staaken R.VI, designated Staaken L, which was ordered by the German Navy on 15 February 1917 and assigned Navy number 1432. Upon completion in August 1917, the Staaken L, fitted with a standard R.VI wheeled undercarriage, was flown to the company's seaplane testing site at Potsdam where floats were mounted. On 5 September 1917 it was launched for the first time and promptly made two short flights. Modifications made during flight testing included replacing the narrow four-bladed pusher propellers by standard two-bladed ones, adding a central fin to increase directional stability and reinforcing the float structure with extra struts. On 12 November 1917, the Staaken L left Potsdam on a cross-country delivery flight but owing to failure of one engine, was forced to land at Saaler Bodden, some 40 km east of Warnemunde. After repairs were made, the Staaken L was delivered to the Navy on 14 November 1917.
   Apart from its floats, the Staaken L differed little from the standard Staaken R.VI. Minor changes included a 1 1/2 degree sweepback starting at the centre line. The ailerons were aerodynamically balanced by large overhanging areas at the wingtips, and their chord was increased to counteract the lateral resistance of the floats. The total wing area, including ailerons, was increased to 360 square metres, and the fuselage bomb-bay fairing of the Staaken R.VI machines was eliminated.
   The large all-duraluminium floats were extensively compartmented, so that in the event of springing a leak or receiving bullet holes, they would retain their buoyancy. The floats were attached by steel struts to the wing below the engine nacelles, and the absence of cross-bracing between the floats suggests the possibility that the area under the fuselage was left clear to provide means for evaluating the Staaken L as a bombing or torpedo plane at some later date. Indeed, the aircraft is classified as a bomber in official Navy documents.
   Fourteen 245 litre fuel tanks in the fuselage, two 150 litre tanks in each engine nacelle and a 155 litre overhead gravity tank provided sufficient fuel for 10 hours cruising on all engines. During evaluation tests a technique was developed to extend the range by cruising on only three engines, provided enough fuel had been consumed to reduce the machine's weight.
   The Staaken L was equipped with Navy-developed transmitting and receiving gear, which was powered by a propeller-driven generator mounted above the wireless operator's compartment in contrast to the Army wireless equipment, which required a motor-driven generator. The aircraft was assigned to the Seeflugzeug-Versuchs-Kommando (Seaplane Testing Command) in Warnemunde for extensive tests and evaluation over a wide range of sea and weather conditions.
   A special wooden hangar was designed and constructed by Firma Carl Tuchscherer in 1917 to house the Staaken L. Built on piles over the water, the hangar was unique in that the door was only 27•5 metres wide. A larger door capable of withstanding high seas and winds would have been difficult to install and maintain. Therefore, to keep the door small, it was decided to bring the aircraft into the hangar sideways, using a novel technique. Experiments had proved the impracticability of bringing an aircraft into a hangar sideways under even the slightest wind and wave conditions. Consequently, Tuchscherer proposed and built a pivoted, floating pier extending at right angles from one side of the hangar opening. The aircraft's left float was secured to the floating pier. Then the pier was swung around, its pivoted end turning the aircraft sideways through the opening into the hangar as it completed a 180 degree arc. The hangar trusses were capable of supporting a 12,000 kg. load, permitting the Staaken L to be lifted for repairs to the floats. A second, much larger hangar capable of housing four R-planes was under construction at the close of the war.
   The Staaken L crashed over Warnemunde on 3 June 1918 killing the pilot, Lt. Haller and the crew. (The Report of the Aircraft Section of the Allied Naval Armistice Commission states: "The 1432 crashed on its trials at Warnemunde owing to the engines failing whilst over the land, and the crew including Kapt. Lt. Kirsch, who was in charge of wireless experimental work, were killed.") Very little is known regarding the outcome of the Staaken L evaluation tests. It was not as stable on the water as the Dornier R-flying-boat . The wing tips would touch the water at a 7 degree heel, whereas the flying-boat required a 14 degree heel. Nevertheless, it was a proven design that Staaken had built in quantity, and it could be produced in less time than the all-metal Dornier flying-boats. Six further Staaken R-seaplanes based on the Staaken L were ordered by the Navy.

Colour Scheme and Markings

   The Staaken L was finished overall in a light colour and carried the Patee cross insignia outlined in white on wings, fuselage and tail. Contrary to usual Naval practice, the serial number was not painted on the fuselage. At Potsdam the Staaken L was named "Lisbet" and this name was painted in black capital on both sides of the fuselage.


Type: Staaken L
   Manufacturer: Flugzeugwerft G.m.b.H., Staaken, Berlin
   Engines: Four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.IVa engines
   Span, 42•2 m. (138 ft. 5 1/2 in.)
   Maximum Chord, 4•53 m. (14 ft. 10 in.)
   Maximum Gap, 4•55 m. (14 ft. 11 in.)
   Length, 22•2 m. (72 ft. 10 in.)
   Height, 7•38 m. (24 ft. 2 1/2 in.)
   Propeller diameter, 4-4 m. (14 ft. 5 in.)
   Propeller centres, 8 m. (26 ft. 3 in.)
   Float length, 12 m. (39 ft. 4 1/2 in.)
   Areas: Wings, 360 sq. m. (3874 sq. ft.)
   Empty, 8400 kg. (18,522 lb.)
   Loaded, 11,800 kg. (26,019 lb.)
   Floats, 600 kg. (1323 lb.)
   Fuel, 2445 kg. (5391 lb.)
   Wing Loading: 32.77 kg./sq. m. (6'7 lb./sq. ft.)
   Maximum speed, 125 km.h. (77,7 m.p.h.)
   Landing speed, 85 km.h. (52'8 m.p.h.)
   Climb with full load,
   1000 m. (3281 ft.) in 23•7 mins.
   1780 m. (5840 ft.) in 60 mins.
   Ceiling, 2500 m. (8202 ft.)
   Duration, 10 hrs.
   3395 litres (747 Imp. Gals.)
   Oil, 320 litres (70-4 Imp. Gals.)
   Armament: Provisions for nose, dorsal and ventral machine-gun positions
   Service Use: None

Журнал Flight

Flight, November 28, 1918.

[Issued by Technical Department (Aircraft Production), Ministry of Munitions.]
(Continued from page 1322.)

   THERE are known to be a number of different types of giant bomb-carrying aeroplanes, distinguished by the four, five, or six engines with which they are fitted.
   Examples of f our-engined and five-engined aeroplanes have been brought down, but unfortunately, in all cases, in such a damaged condition that complete reconstruction is impossible.
   The following particulars relate to a four-engined machine which landed near Betz on the night of June 1st.
   It was almost completely burnt by its occupants, and the metal parts alone remain, together with a few fragments of the body work.
   The general arrangement of this aeroplane, together with the principal dimensions, is given in the accompanying drawings (Figs. 42, 43, 44 and 45).
   In contradistinction to the two-engined machine, there is considerably more steel in the construction, and this material is used in place of wood for the rear portion of the fuselage.
   The principal point of interest is the mounting of the four engines, all of which are of the 260 h.p. Maybach type, six cylinders in a line; the horse-power has been forced up to 300, giving 1,200 h.p. in all. They are placed end to end, as shown in Fig. 46, and each drives a separate screw.
   In order to bring the centre of gravity of the machine sufficiently far forward, the weight of the two engines is massed towards the leading edge of the main plane; by driving the screws through shafts and reduction gears, the necessity of cutting away large sections from the planes to give room for the rear propellers has been avoided.
   The arrangement of the engine unit on each side of the fuselage is diagrammatically shown in Fig. 46, from which it will be seen that the two engines are placed close together, and that the rear motor is some little distance away from its screw. The forward engine is, however, mounted close up to the tractor screw.
   The employment of shafts and reduction gears necessitates fly wheels on the engines. These are 4 metre in diameter, and made of cast iron. The tubular driving shafts between the fly wheel and the gear box are furnished with flexible leather couplings. These are of a novel type, and consist of a male and female drum, each furnished with circumferential notches, between which are interposed a series of flat leather strips. The female drum forms part of the fly wheel.
   The gear box consists of a casing of aluminium, provided with cooling fins, which may be seen in Figs. 47 and 48.
   Beneath each gear case is a small radiator for cooling the lubricating oil circulated through the engine. This radiator can be seen in Fig. 47, and consists apparently of a flat semicircular tank, fitted with numerous transverse tubes of fairly large diameter (about 20 mm.) in a manner similar to that of a honeycomb radiator. A pump mounted at the base of the radiator is also furnished with an electrical thermometer, giving a reading on a dial in the cockpit.
   Each engine is fitted with a self-starting arrangement of the type usually fitted to Maybach motors. The exhaust pipe may be closed by means of a shutter, and all the cylinders can be filled with gas from the carburettor by means of a large hand-pump, for which purpose all the valves are held open. When these valves are closed, and the starting magneto operated, the engine fires and continues running. Each engine has its own radiator (Fig. 49), which is mounted directly above it, and supported by struts and stay wires at a point about half-way between the top and bottom planes. These radiators are of the type usually fitted to D.F.W. machines. They are rectangular in shape, with their greater length placed horizontally, and the radiating surface consists of a series of zig-zag tubes placed vertically.
   The engine bearers consist of stout ash spars, reinforced with multi-ply wood. Owing to the burnt condition of the machine no information could be obtained as to the engine controls and the screws were also too badly damaged to yield definite information as to dimension and construction, though they appear to be made chiefly of ash and covered with a thin veneer.

Wing Construction.
   The spars are shown in Fig. 50, built up very elaborately in sections, and consisting of no less than seven sections of spruce, reinforced with multi-ply on each side, and finally carefully bound with doped fabric.
   The spars of the lower wings are continuous, that is to say, they run right across the centre section of the fuselage, to the longerons of which they are secured, contrary to the usual practice, in which special compression members, forming part of the fuselage construction, are employed. The wing surface, both upper and lower, is divided into three sections of which the middle section extends to the engine mountings on each side. The spars in this section are both at right angles to the axis of the fuselage. At each side of the middle section the leading edge of the wings is boldly swept back as well as tapered. The rear spars of the wings, together with those of the centre section, form a straight line from wing-tip to wing-tip, but the front spars are swept back.
   The ribs, of which a detail drawing is given in Fig. 51, are built up, and of girder form.
   Between the leading edge and the leading spar, numerous extra ribs occur in addition to the main ribs. Internal bracing against drag takes the form of steel tubular compression members and steel cables, the former being placed at a point coincident with the attachment of each interplane strut. An additional bracing is installed, of which the compression member consists of a double rib placed half-way between the struts. In each case the bracing wires pass obliquely right through the spars.
   The ribs are mounted parallel to the line of flight.
   The disposal of the spars is as follows :-

Top Plane. -
   Leading edge to centre of leading spar 1 ft. 9 1/2 ins.
   Distance between centres of spars 5 ft. 7 1/2 in.
   Trailing edge to centre of rear main spar 5 ft.
Bottom Plane.-
   Leading edge to centre of leading spar 1 ft. 7 1/2 ins.
   Distances between centres of main spars 5 ft. 1 in.
   Trailing edge to centre of rear main spar 5 ft. (approx.)

   The trailing edge of this aeroplane was too badly damaged to permit of this measurement being given accurately.
   Between the interplane struts the rear spars are thinned down in width, but their depth remains practically constant from root to tip. Such tapering as exists is so arranged as to promote a decided wash-out of the angle of incidence near the tip. This is done by tapering the front spar on its upper edge, and the rear spar on its lower edge.

   These are on the top planes only, and are provided with a framework of steel tubing. They are not balanced, and the controls are led in the usual manner through the bottom plane from the aileron lever.
   The span of each aileron is 22 ft. 5 ins., and the chord 3 f t . 4 ins.

Inter-plane Struts
   These are of large-diameter steel tube, covered in with a streamline fairing consisting of three-ply mounted on a light rib-work of wood.

   The attachment of the bracing cables to the spars is somewhat similar to the bracing of the Fokker fuselage; that is to say, the wires, instead of being anchored at each end to an eyebolt, are double, and are looped round the spar, to which is fixed a grooved channel-piece for the reception of the cable. It is difficult to see that any advantage is gained by this arrangement.

Tail Unit
   A biplane tail, somewhat similar to that of the Handley-Page, is fitted. The fixed tail planes, the angle of incidence of which can be adjusted through small limits, are of wooden construction, and have the following dimensions :-

Span each side of fuselage 12 ft. 4 ins.
Chord (average) 4 ft. 10 ins.
Gap 6 ft. 9 1/2 ins.

   These are fitted to both the top and bottom tail planes, and are of aluminium construction, the ribs, being of girder form, somewhat similar in construction to the ribs of the main planes. The elevators are not balanced ; the top and bottom elevators are fitted with independent control levers, but are presumably operated together from the control stick. Their dimensions are as follows :-

Span 28 ft. 6 ins.
Chord at tip 2 ft. 4 ins.
Chord at centre 1 ft. 6 ins.

   There are three fins; two outer ones forming interplane struts, and an inner central one of triangular shape.

   The framework of these organs is built up of aluminium in the manner set forth in detail in Fig. 52. This also shows the quadrant at the foot of the rudder posts by means of which they are operated; each rudder post is fitted with ball bearings, both top and bottom.

   Beneath each engine section is an undercarriage consisting of a massive axle fitted with four wheels at each end. This isle is attached by india-rubber shock absorbers to the tubular steel V-struts which form extensions of the engine bearer struts. A third undercarriage is mounted under the forward part of the fuselage, and consists of an axle with one pair of wheels.

   Only two gun mountings were found in the wreckage; they were fitted to a revolving turret in the gunner's cockpit. The mountings are of the fork type, and are situated on opposite sides of the circle. No arrangements for firing under the tail were found, nor was there evidence of a forward gun mounting.

Bomb Gear
   Two steel tubular frameworks are fitted, one on either side of the fuselage. They are apparently adapted to carry very large bombs, probably of 1,000 kg. each, The release gear appears to be similar to that used on the Friedrichshafen , and already reported upon.

Flight, September 11, 1919.


The Aviatik, Type R (Riesenflugzeug)
   was a four-engined machine, following more on the lines of the Staaken type. It was built towards the end of 1918, and was fitted with four Benz engines, the two front ones being of the 200 h.p. six-cylindered type, and the two pushers of the 500 h.p. twelve-cylindered Vee type, fitted with reduction gearing. As will be seen from the photograph, this machine was of very large dimensions, with its engines placed end to end in nacelles between the planes. It had a biplane tail.

J.Herris - Development of German Warplanes in WWI /Centennial Perspective/
Staaken R.VI R27/16 was camouflaged in dark night colors for night bombing missions over the UK. Interestingly, the large engine nacelles were left in natural metal rather than being painted a dark color. The camouflage was apparently applied at the factory because the national insignia are white outlines applied over the camouflage. The R.VI was the main production R-plane, with 18 being built by Staaken and three other manufacturers. Most were powered by four 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa engines, but some used the 245 hp Maybach Mb.IVa. Most were armed with four machine guns, but some had two additional guns in gun positions on the upper wing; mechanics climbed ladders to reach these. Span was 42.2 meters (138.5 feet).
В.Кондратьев - Самолеты первой мировой войны
Zeppelin Staaken R-VI (27/16), 501 авиаотряд самолетов-гигантов ВВС Германии, 1918г.
В.Кондратьев - Самолеты первой мировой войны
Zeppelin Staaken R-VI (52/17), 500 авиаотряд самолетов-гигантов ВВС Германии, 1918г.
В.Обухович, А.Никифоров - Самолеты Первой Мировой войны
Цеппелин-Штаакен R VI
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI 25/16.
O.Thetford, P.Gray - German Aircraft of the First World War /Putnam/
First flown in mid-1917, the Zeppelin-Staaken R VI, with 18 examples built, was to be by far the most numerous of the giant, long ranged R-planes. Powered either by four 245hp Maybach Mb IVs, or four 260hp Mercedes D IVa engines, mounted back to back in twin nacelles to drive two pusher and two tractor propellers, the R VI's top level speed was 84.4mph, while its normal range with a 2,200lb bomb load was around 550 miles. Delivered to Rf Abt 501, by now transferred to the Western Front, the RVIs sometimes operated alongside their smaller G type bretheren in raids against the English mainland and more distant French ports and cities. The Navy operated a sole, float-equipped example of this bomber under the designation Zeppelin-Staaken Type L, serialled 1432.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI 26/16 experimentally fitted with four-bladed propellers.
Сайт - Pilots-and-planes /WWW/
Сайт - Pilots-and-planes /WWW/
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Schul) 27/16
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Schul) 27/16 Photo dated 17 October 1917.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Schul) 27/16.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI(Schul) 28/16. Although eight-wheeled undercarriages were deemed adequate for hard surfaces, operation on sandy airfields required doubling the number of wheels to sixteen. Photo dated 5 February 1918.
J.Herris - Development of German Warplanes in WWI /Centennial Perspective/
Staaken R.VI (Schul) 28/16. Fitted with upper wing gun position. Photo dated 18 May 1918.
The huge Staaken R.VI was the most widely-produced giant aircraft and was used to bomb Britain by night. Four 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa engines powered most R.VI aircraft.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI 30/16.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI 30/16 prepared for flight. Before installation of supercharger. Oberleutnant Meyer is the pilot.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI 30/16 being fitted with supercharger in the Staaken airship hangar. In the background is the Staaken R.XIV 43/17.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Interior view of the R.30, showing the supercharger and its petrol driven engine.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Upper wing gun position on the R.30.
A.Imrie - German Bombers /Arms & Armour/
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.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
The Staaken R.VI 30/16, in civil guise after the war. The airship overhead is the Bodensee.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Av) 33/16.
Сайт - Pilots-and-planes /WWW/
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R. VI(Av) 33/16 being inspected by an Idflieg acceptance team at Leipzig.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Hptm. Schilling with officers of Rfa 500 in front of Staaken R.VI(Av) 33/16.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
The Staaken R.VI (Av) 33/16 under construction.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Av) 34/16.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI(Av) of Rfa 500.
J.Herris - German Aircraft of Minor Manufacturers in WW1. Volume I /Centennial Perspective/
The Hergt Monoplane photographed next to a Staaken R.VI emphasizes the difference in sizes. The aircraft may have been intended to validate Hergt's structural design for the later NFW E.I he designed. Sunlight shines through the Hergt's fabric-covered ailerons.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI(Albs) 36/16, and R. VI(Av) 33/16 of Rfa 500 being prepared for flight.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
The same two aircraft lined up. The balanced ailerons and central fin of R.36, the nearest machine shows this to be a later model than its companion.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
The Staaken R.VI 39/16, taking on bombs prior to a raid.
A.Imrie - German Bombers /Arms & Armour/
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.
K.Delve - World War One in the Air /Crowood/
The Staaken RVI was the most prolific of the giant R planes with 18 built. They saw service on the Western Front from mid 1917, the first raid against England being on 17 September.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919 /Jane's/
The Zeppelin R.VI production Four-engined Biplane in Flight. (4-250 h.p. Maybach engines.)
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
A Staaken R.VI in flight.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Av) 52/17.
Журнал - Flight за 1919 г.
The Aviatik, Type R.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI(Av) 52/16 during a test flight over Leipzig.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken L fitted with a wheeled undercarriage for delivery from Staaken to the company seaplane facility at Potsdam.
M.Schmeelke - Zeppelin-Lindau Aircraft of WW1 /Centennial Perspective/
Staaken L on floats and carrying the nickname "Lisbet" in the Staaken hangar at Potsdam.
The Zeppelin-Staaken L, Naval number 1432, in the Potsdam airship hall with the mounted dural floats.
M.Schmeelke - Zeppelin-Lindau Aircraft of WW1 /Centennial Perspective/
The Staaken L photographed at Warnemunde test centre on 13 February 1918.
The Zeppelin-Staaken L was a floatplane conversion of the R.VI with modifications for long-range maritime reconnaissance. It was intended as an interim type pending arrival of Dornier's metal flying boats.
M.Schmeelke - Zeppelin-Lindau Aircraft of WW1 /Centennial Perspective/
Aluminum float production for the Zeppelin R-aircraft in Lindau in 1918.
Сайт - Pilots-and-planes /WWW/
Пилотская кабина R VI. Широкие окна предоставляли хороший обзор. Впереди виден лаз в носовую открытую площадку, на которой размещалась пулеметная установка.
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
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 upper photo. Note the two barographs that recorded height against time on a clockworkdriven paper cylinder, the carriage of these being a normal requirement on all German military aircraft. The dual flying controls with the throttle levers on the pedestal and the tail trim wheel at the rear is a layout that has not changed in principle over 70 years. The hand-operated drum for the trailing wireless aerial can be seen on the left and two mouthpieces and speaking tubes are draped over the navigator's table on the right. Prominently positioned in the centre of the forward windscreen (note stowed curtain at right vertical member for excluding searchlight glare) is the Drexler bank indicator, which used a front view of the aeroplane on a moving card stabilized by a gyroscope revolving at 20,000rpm powered by three-phase current provided by a windmill generator, thus being independent of the aircraft's electrical system.
A.Imrie - German Bombers /Arms & Armour/
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).
A.Imrie - German Bombers /Arms & Armour/
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.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 47. - Gear box and oil radiator of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 48. - Gear-box anf shaft of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 49. - Radiator of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 53. - Flywheel and female clutch of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 54. - Empennage of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 55. - Empennage of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 56. - Undercarriage of four-englned giant.
Fig. 57. - Axles and wheels of four-engined type.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 58. - General view of wreckage of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 59. - Rear end of fuselage and tail-skid of four-engined giant.
Fig. 60. - Power plant of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 61. - Main planes and ailerons of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 62. - Attachment of struts and compression tube on four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 63. - Bomb carrier of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 64. - General view of wreckage of four-engined giant.
A.Imrie - German Bombers /Arms & Armour/
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.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919 /Jane's/
Sketch of the Method of Fastening the Bracing Wires on the Wing-spars of the Zeppelin Four-engined Biplane.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919 /Jane's/
Details of Ribs and Spars. Wings of Four-engined Zeppelin Biplane.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 46. - Engine mounting of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 50. - Spar sections of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 51. - Rib of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 52. - Rudder of four-engined giant.
Журнал - Flight за 1918 г.
Fig. 42. - General arrangement drawings of the four-engined giant.
Fig. 43. - Front elevation of four-engined giant.
Fig. 44. - Side elevation of four-engined giant.
Fig. 45. - Plan view (probable construction) of four-engined giant.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919 /Jane's/
Front View of the Four-engined Zeppelin Biplane.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919 /Jane's/
Scale Drawings of the Four-engined Zeppelin Biplane.
O.Thetford, P.Gray - German Aircraft of the First World War /Putnam/
Сайт - Pilots-and-planes /WWW/
Сайт - Pilots-and-planes /WWW/
В.Кондратьев - Самолеты первой мировой войны
"Цеппелин-Штаакен" R-VI
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI (Schul)
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken R.VI
G.Haddow, P.Grosz - The German Giants /Putnam/
Staaken 'L' seaplane