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Caproni Ca.3 Heavy Bomber (1917)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/7/2012

The Ca.36 was the definitive Italian bomber design by the end of World War 1.

The Caproni Ca.36 represented the definitive model in the C-bomber series debuted in 1914 as the C.31. The Ca.36 was a tremendous asset to allied operations against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and were put into action as quickly as Italy declared war. Surprisingly, the system survived in limited numbers long enough to be used for a time by Mussolini in the opening salvos of Italian involvement in World War 2.

At its core, the Ca.36 was a three-engine biplane bomber of wood and fabric construction. The 1914 Ca.31 appeared with 3 x Gnome rotary type engines with the improved Ca.32 following a year later. The Ca.32 sported three FIAT brand engines of 100 horsepower and were of the water-cooled in-line variety. These particular models were pressed into action almost immediately against Austrian targets. As the was progressed, Gianni Caproni produced an improved C-bomber in the form of the Ca.33 which featured Isotta-Fraschini powerplants. The Ca.34 and Ca.35 were proposed but never produced variants that tried to seat the pilots in tandem in a central nacelle position.

The culmination of the C-series came about with the arrival of the Ca.36 which featured a sectioned wing assembly that could be taken apart into five pieces for easier storage. Armament of this type consisted of 2 x FIAT-Revelli machine guns of 6.5mm or 7.7mm caliber. As a heavy bomber, the Ca.36 could carry an impressive payload of up to 1,764 pounds of ordnance. The Ca.36S represented an air ambulance conversion model while the Ca.36M (or "mod") was a model designed to simplify wartime production.

Operators - as well as producers - of the bomber included Italy, the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America. Other proposed or slightly developed variants of the C-series included the Ca.37 prototype of a two-seat dedicated ground attack bomber, a seaplane derivative in the Ca.39 and the Ca.56a - which were remanufactured wartime Ca.3 bombers for use as civilian passenger transports.

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Specifications for the
Caproni Ca.3
Heavy Bomber

Focus Model: Caproni Ca.3 (Ca.36)
Country of Origin: Italy
Manufacturer: Caproni - Italy
Initial Year of Service: 1917
Production Total: 275

Crew: 4

Length: 36.25 ft (11.05 m)
Width: 74.61 ft (22.74 m)
Height: 12.14ft (3.70 m)
Weight (Empty): 5,071 lb (2,300 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 8,378 lb (3,800 kg)

Powerplant: 3 x Isotta-Fraschini V.4B engine delivering 150 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 85 mph (137 kmh; 74 kts)
Maximum Range: 372 miles (599 km)
Service Ceiling: 15,892 ft (4,844 m; 3.0 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 413 feet-per-minute (126 m/min)

Hardpoints: 8
Armament Suite:
2 x 6.5mm OR 7.7mm FIAT-Revelli machine guns

Up to 1,764lbs of bombs

Ca.34 - Proposed Production Model; pilots in tandem seating.

Ca.35 - Proposed Production Model; pilots in tandem seating.

Ca.36 - Removable wing portions for improved storage of system.

Ca.36M - Post-War Model; refined production techniques.

Ca.36 mod - Post-War Model; refined production techniques.

Ca.36S - Air Ambulance Model

Ca.37 - Single Prototype Ground Attack Model; seating for two personnel.

Ca.39 - Proposed Seaplane Variant

Ca.56a - Civilian Passenger Transport Airliner Conversion Models.

Italy, France, United Kingdom and the United States of America.