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Rumpler C.IV

Reconnaissance Biplane / Light Bomber Aircraft

Rumpler C.IV

Reconnaissance Biplane / Light Bomber Aircraft


The Rumpler C.IV found value with several world air forces for its time with production handled by both Rumpler and Pfalz during World War 1.
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ORIGIN: Imperial Germany
YEAR: 1917
MANUFACTURER(S): Rumpler Flugzeugwerke / Pfalz Flugzeugwerke - Imperial Germany
OPERATORS: Belgium (post-war); Imperial Germany; Switzerland; Ottoman Empire (Turkey); Yugoslavia (post-war)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Rumpler C.IV model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 27.59 feet (8.41 meters)
WIDTH: 41.54 feet (12.66 meters)
HEIGHT: 10.66 feet (3.25 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 2,381 pounds (1,080 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 3,373 pounds (1,530 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Mercedes D.IVa water-cooled inline engine developing 260 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 106 miles-per-hour (171 kilometers-per-hour; 92 knots)
CEILING: 20,997 feet (6,400 meters; 3.98 miles)


1 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine gun in fixed, forward-firing mounting synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
1 x Parabellum MG14 machine gun on trainable (ring) mounting at rear cockpit position.

Up to 220lb of externally-held, conventional drop stores.

Series Model Variants
• C.IV - Base Military Designation
• Pfalz C.I - Rumpler C.IVs produced by Pfalz Flugzeugwerke.
• 6B-2 - Single-Seat Floatplane Fighter for German Navy; fitted with Mercedes D.III series engine of 160 horsepower.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Rumpler C.IV Reconnaissance Biplane / Light Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 11/2/2016. Authored by Dan Alex. Content ©
Taking the C.III two-seat reconnaissance biplane of 1916 as a starting point, Rumpler Flugzeugwerke engineers developed an improved form of 1917 that became the Rumpler C.IV to fulfill the same over-battlefield role. Design was led by Dr. Edmund Rumpler and the primary operator became the German Empire though the Ottoman Air Force also relied on the type during the war years and post-war operators became Belgium, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.

Compared to the C.III, the C.IV was given a new Mercedes C.IVa engine and revised tail surfaces. This gave the modified aircraft good speed and an excellent service ceiling while at the same time providing the needed endurance for reconnaissance sorties. Its value to the Germans was such that it survived the whole of the war in its given role despite more modern offerings on hand. In practice there were few Allied warplanes that could intercept the C.IV which gave Rumpler aircrews a considerable advantage.

The aircraft was given a conventional biplane wings (over and under) with parallel struts creating a twin-bay arrangement. The engine, driving a two-bladed wooden propeller at the nose, was seated at the forward section of the aircraft just ahead of the pilot. The pilot sat under the upper wing mainplane with the observer / rear gunner in a cockpit just aft of the pilot. Both crewman were given open-air cockpits which meant environmental temperatures at high altitude could reach as low as -50C (-58F). Couple this with missions lasting between four and six hours and one can imagine the hardships endured by these flying men. The undercarriage was of a "tail-dragger" arrangement with the main legs wheeled. The tail unit sported a small-area, rounded vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes.

Performance from the Mercedes D.IVa water-cooled inline piston engine (260 horsepower) included a maximum speed of 107 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 21,000 feet.

Armament centered on 1 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing position over the nose, synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blade and operated by the pilot. The rear gunner managed a 7.92mm Parabellum MG14 on a trainable (ring) mounting to help protect the aircraft's vulnerable "six" from trailing threats. In addition to the gun armament, the airframe was also cleared to carry 220lb of conventional drop stores allowing the biplane to take on Targets of Opportunity (ToO).

Early production models were fielded with large spinners at the propeller hub. This physical feature was deleted in later arrivals which improved drag qualities some and furthered performance even more. Manufacture was by both Rumpler and competitor Pfalz to which the latter variant was designated as "Pfalz C.I" (later "Rumpler C.IV (Pfal)") and carried different ailerons. Some 300 examples were produced by Pfalz for the war effort.

Beyond its service over the Western Front, the Rumpler C.IV series was deployed over the Italian Front and in the Middle East for its part in the war. The Rumpler 6B-2 was a floatplane (detailed elsewhere on this site) offshoot of the land-based C.IV series.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (106mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
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Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue