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Caproni Ca.4

Kingdom of Italy (1918)
Picture of Caproni Ca.4 Triple-Engine Heavy Bomber Triplane Aircraft

The Caproni Ca.4 triplane heavy bomber proved itself a heady performer for the Italians during World War 1.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Caproni Ca.4 Triple-Engine Heavy Bomber Triplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/31/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Giovanni Caproni was a prolific Italian aircraft designer of the 20th Century with his contributions seen throughout both World Wars. His initial venture was the Ca.1 experimental biplane of 1910 which led to the line of large aircraft seen in World War 1 (1914-1918) - the Ca.2, Ca.3 and Ca.4 heavy bombers all emerged during this time. The Ca.4 was a progressive development of the earlier, successful Ca.3 and led to production of some 50 or so aircraft. The product achieved a first flight in 1917 and was formally introduced during 1918, the last year of the war. It was eventually taken into service with the forces of Italy and Britain while United States evaluated three examples.

For its Ca.4 product, Caproni took the Ca.3 as a starting point and retained the twin-boom / center nacelle arrangement. The twin-boom configuration resulted in triple-rudders at the tail. Drive power was from a single engine installed at the rear of the center nacelle in a "pusher" setup while the forward sections of each boom structure housed an engine in a "puller" setup. All three engines were Liberty L-12 series V12 liquid-cooled powerplants of 400 horsepower output (each). The undercarriage, fixed during flight by a network of struts and cables, were multi-wheeled to help support the aircraft when on the ground. The crew numbered four and consisted of two pilots, a forward machine gunner and a rear machine gunner, the latter also doubling as an in-flight mechanic. Standard armament centered on four 6.5mm FIAT-Revelli machine guns while up to 3,200lb of conventional drop stores could be carried.

Unlike previous Caproni bombers, the Ca.4 was given a triple wing arrangement for improved lift and control.
The initial prototype was known under the company designation of Ca.40 and this was followed by the production-quality Ca.41 which numbered 41 total aircraft - these powered by FIAT A.12 inline engines of 280 horsepower (each). The Italian air service tested the platform during 1917 before formal operational service was granted in 1918. The heavy bombers were used along the Italian-Austro-Hungarian Front where it proved itself a relatively fast, robust and reliable product that held a considerable bomb load.

With its sound design and triple-engine layout, the aircraft could reach a maximum speed of 87 miles per hour and range out to 435 miles while flying at altitudes up to 9,845 feet. Rate-of-climb was listed at 410 feet-per-minute.

Then came twelve of the Ca.42 model which introduced the 400 horsepower Liberty engines mentioned above. The Ca.43 served as a "one-off" flying boat derivative and the Ca.48 marked post-war passenger airliners converted from wartime bombers. The Ca.51 became another one-off form powered by FIAT A.14 series engines of 700 horsepower (each) and featured a new tail assembly. Ca.52 marked British Ca.42s and numbered six aircraft. The Ca.58 sported either Fiat A.14 or Isotta Fraschini V.6 series engines and the Ca.59 became its export designator.






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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (87mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Caproni Ca.4 (Ca.42)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
50
50


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: Kingdom of Italy
Year: 1918
Type: Triple-Engine Heavy Bomber Triplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Caproni - Italy
Production: 50
Global Operators:
Kingdom of Italy; United Kingdom; United States (evaluation only)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Caproni Ca.4 (Ca.42) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
42.65 ft


Meters
13 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
98.10 ft


Meters
29.9 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
20.67 ft


Meters
6.3 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
14,793 lb


Kilograms
6,710 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
16,535 lb


Kilograms
7,500 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
3 x Liberty L-12 V12 water-cooled inline engines developing 400 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
87 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
140 kph


Knots
76 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
435 mi


Kilometers
700 km


Nautical Miles
378 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
9,843 ft


Meters
3,000 m


Miles
1.86 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
410 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
125 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
4 x 6.5mm FIAT-Revelli machine guns

OPTIONAL:
Up to 3,200lb of conventional drop ordnance.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Ca.40
• Ca.4 - Base Italian Military Designation
• Ca.40 - Prototype model
• Ca.41 (Caproni 750hp) - Definitive production form; fitted with 3 x Fiat A.12 engines of 280 horsepower; 41 examples.
• Ca.42 (Caproni 1200hp) - Fitted with 3 x Liberty engines of 400 horsepower; 12 examples.
• Ca.43 - One-off flying boat model
• Ca.48 - Airliner form converted from wartime Ca.42 bombers.
• Ca.51 - One-off example with new tail and 3 x Fiat A.14 engines of 700 horsepower.
• Ca.52 - British Ca.42 models; six examples.
• Ca.58 - Ca.48 bombers completed with Fiat A.14 or Isotta Fraschini V.6 engines.
• Ca.59 - Export designation of Ca.48 aircraft.