Caudron G.4, 1915 - (scan - 1996)

One of the first bombers, the French-built Caudron G.4 had a 56 foot wingspan and used two Le Rh\164ne rotary engines developing 80 hp each.

Direct development of single-engine G-3 recon plane, designed by Gaston and Rene Caudron. Was a singularly unattractive plane with seemingly endless 56-ft-span wings sandwiching a small nacelle and two well-cowled engines. Forest of struts connected wings and engines; affixed to this was wicker framework of bamboo running back to tailplane that had 4 vertical surfaces festooned across horizontal stabilizer. Germans called it Gitterschwanz, or "lattice tail". Wings used warping instead of ailerons for lateral control. Used 2 control sticks--one for wing warping and other for elevators. Flew very well and was used by French, British, Italian, Belgium, and American air services. Wwas manufactured in France, England, and Italy. A G-4 became one of the first of 80 kills credited to famous "Red Baron," Manfred von Richthofen. G-4 had a bite of its own, however, and a French pilot became an ace flying the G-4. He must have been good; the observer in the forward nacelle could hardly shoot backwards because of the pilot, and the 2 engine nacelles made deadly blind spots on the flank. Also, he was within a worrisome 12 inches of the propeller tips. Introduced as a reconnaisance bomber, successful use encouraged French to make a series of long-distance raids against German armament effort in the heart of the Rhineland. Early bombing raids virtually unopposed but had a widespread effect on morale, just as Zeppelin raids had on London; nevertheless, Germans devised a defensive system against them. This, coupled with German fighter defense, forced use of the G-4 in night bombing raids or action against relatively quiet sectors of the front. Bombs were dropped by the observer through metal trapdoor shaped like door of a rolltop desk. Observer, using the "oculaire" or eyeball technique, could ease the door back to take pictures or drop 3 slender bombs that were hung on leather straps in the cockpit. A G-4 was sent to the US. for evaluation and possible manufacture here. Was already considered obsolete, de Havilland DH-4 was built instead.

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