In addition to his interest in airships, Count von Zeppelin also felt that large bombers would be needed in the future war effort. Working in the hanger of the Gotha factory, he created the Versuchsbau Gotha-Ost (VGO). After working through three prototypes, the factory moved to the Berlin suburb of Staaken in 1916, and refined the design into the Riesenfluzeug (giant airplane) IV, or R.IV. After two more versions, the R.VI was chosen for production, and 18 aircraft were built.
The plane entered service in 1917, and flew 30 sorties over Britain between September 1917 and May 1918, dropping 30 tons of bombs. None were lost in combat over Great Britain, but two crashed during landing. Raids took place on moonlit nights, with the bombers flying individually to their targets with radio-aided navigation.
The plane had a crew of seven: commander, pilot, co pilot, radio operator, fuel attendant, and two mechanics. The crew was seated in the cockpit, with the exception of the two mechanics who were seated in the nacelles between the two engines. The engines were mounted at either end of the nacelles, in a dual tractor-pusher configuration. For defense, the plane mounted a pair of MGs in the nose, another pair in the dorsal cockpit, and a single MG in the rear. The plane could also carry a single 2,205-lb. bomb in a semi-recessed position rather than multiple smaller bombs.
The plane has an endurance of 7 to 10 hours and a range of 500 miles. It burns 38.8 gallons of aviation fuel per hour at routine usage. A full load of fuel and ordnance costs $8,927. In 1917, the plane cost 557,000 Marks.
Subassemblies: Medium Fighter-Bomber chassis +4; Large Bomber wings with Biplane option +4; two Large Weapon engine pods +2; 5 fixed wheels +1.
Powertrain: Four 194-kW HP gasoline engines [Pods] with four 194-kW old props and 420-gallon fuel tank [Body].
Occ.: 5 XCS Body, 2 NCS Pods
Cargo: 2 Body
Armor F RL B T U
Body: 2/2W 2/2W 2/2W 2/2W 2/2W
Wings: 1/2C 1/2C 1/2C 1/2C 1/2C
Wheels: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3
2xAircraft LMG/7.92mm Parabellum [Body:F] (500 rounds each).*
2xAircraft LMG/7.92mm Parabellum [Body:T] (500 rounds each).*
Aircraft LMG/7.92mm Parabellum [Body:B] (500 rounds).
21x210-lb. or 1x2,205-lb. bombs [Body:U].
Size: 73'x138'x21' Payload: 4.3 tons Lwt.: 13.1 tons
Volume: 448 Maint.: 32 hours Cost: $39,959
HT: 7. HPs: 210 Body, 1,000 each Wing, 120 each Pod, 12 each Wheel.
aSpeed: 84 aAccel: 2 aDecel: 28 aMR: 7 aSR: 1
Stall Speed: 38 mph. Take-Off Run 241 yards. Landing Run 144 yards.
gSpeed: 123 gAccel: 6 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2
Ground Pressure: Extremely High. No Off-Road Speed.
Historical wing area was 3,574 sf. MG load outs are a guess. Design payload matches the historical; loaded weight was reduced by 6%. Design aSpeed was 84.5 mph. Performance calculations were based on historical values for wing area and loaded weight. The weight, cost, and HPs of the wings were reduced by ½ to reduced design weight.
The VGO.I (1915) was the initial version, which established the layout for future bombers of this size. It featured three 179-kW engines. The VGO.II was similar.
The VGO.III featured six 119-kW engines.
The next plane, the R.IV was essentially a VGO.III with 164-kW engines.
The R.V reduced the engines to five of 179-kW.
The R.XIV (1918) and R.XV both had five engines. 3 built of each model.
The Type L was a seaplane version.
The E.4/20 was to be a high-wing monoplane capable of carrying 18 passengers; it was banned by the Allied Control Commission and scrapped.
From the Aerodrome for GURPS
© 2008 by Jim Antonicic