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Zeppelin-Staaken R-series

Heavy Bomber Aircraft

Zeppelin-Staaken R-series

Heavy Bomber Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The Zeppelin-Staaken Z-series of heavy bombers were the largest such aircraft to serve in World War 1, these with the German Air Service.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Imperial Germany
YEAR: 1917
MANUFACTURER(S): Zeppelin-Staaken - Germany
PRODUCTION: 29
OPERATORS: Imperial Germany
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Zeppelin-Staaken R-series model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 7
LENGTH: 72.51 feet (22.1 meters)
WIDTH: 138.45 feet (42.2 meters)
HEIGHT: 20.67 feet (6.3 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 17,463 pounds (7,921 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 26,120 pounds (11,848 kilograms)
ENGINE: 4 x Mercedes D.IVa 6-cylinder inline piston engines developing 260 horsepower each OR 4 x Maybach Mb.IVa piston engines of 245 horsepower each; arranged as two pusher and two puller engine pairs.
SPEED (MAX): 84 miles-per-hour (135 kilometers-per-hour; 73 knots)
RANGE: 497 miles (800 kilometers; 432 nautical miles)
CEILING: 14,108 feet (4,300 meters; 2.67 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 350 feet-per-minute (107 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
1 x 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun in trainable nose position.
1 x 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun in trainable upper wing pulpit position.
1 x 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun in rear fuselage cockpit on flexible mount.
1 x 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun in rear ventral position.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 4,400 lb of bombs.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• R.IV - Initial production model; four engines; 18 examples
• R.VII - Revised tail unit; single example
• R.XIV - 5 x Maybach Mb IV engines; three examples
• R.XV - Five engine arrangement; central fin added to tail unit; three examples built.
• Type L - Seaplane conversion; single example
• Type 8301 - Seaplane conversion; three examples


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Zeppelin-Staaken R-series Heavy Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/31/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
When World War 1 (1914-1918) bogged down into the stubborn battles of trench warfare in the Autumn of 1914, it fell to alternative measures to help change the tide of the war. Bombing enemy homefronts proved an acceptable part of the war to ensure victory and early attacks for the Germans were handled by its Zeppelin fleet which could fly higher than enemy defenses could engage. However, as the war went on, these systems proved too susceptible to environmental conditions as well as advances made in enemy tactics and technology, forcing the use of twin-engined bombers. In time, these medium designs evolved to become much larger solutions that became what was eventually termed the "heavy bomber". One of the earliest examples of such an aircraft became the Russian Sikorsky Ilya-Muromets four-engined bomber which debuted in 1913.

Using the large, existing Zeppelin hangars, the Germans worked on their own multi-engine bomber forms and one ultimately realized product became the Zeppelin-Staaken R-series. These bombers incorporated enclosed cockpits, which were rather novel for the time, multiple engine nacelles and a network of machine guns for local defense. Bomb loads reached over 4,000 lb. The aircraft offered the operational ranges required in reaching the enemy while also providing the needed bomb-carrying capability that light and medium bomber models lacked.

The first available mark was R.VI which arrived in late-June of 1917 and were pressed into service as night bombers against the Russians over the Eastern Front from August onwards. By September, they began operations in the West when stationed in German-held Belgium territory. Raids against the British mainland followed and lasted into May of the following year with none were lost to enemy action. Four aircraft were ultimately destroyed by enemy action during the course of the war with six lost to accidents.

Five major variants of the R-bomber were conceived beginning with the aforementioned R.VI. These marked the first true production versions of the line and were outfitted with 4 x Maybach Mb IV engines of 245 horsepower each. An alternative engine configuration became 4 x Mercedes D.IVa engines of 260 horsepower each. Eighteen examples made up this mark with one reserved as an engine testbed.

The R.VII mark came next - though with only one example built - and added a revised tail unit for improved stability. This sole aircraft was lost while in transit to the frontline. Variant R.XIV was outfitted with 5 x Maybach Mb IV engines, four arranged in paired "push-pull" nacelles and the fifth set in the nose as a puller engine. Three were ultimately built with one being lost to enemy action. R.XV appeared with the same five engine arrangement debuted in the R.XIV and was produced in three examples. A primary physical difference of this mark was a large tail fin added at the center of the tail unit arrangement. This group did not see formal combat service in the war.

The Type L was a large floatplane conversion of the land-based bomber to operate from water for the German Navy. Large floats were appropriately added in place of a traditional wheeled undercarriage and a sole prototype was completed. However, this example crashed while being tested. The Type 8301 followed suit as a possible seaplane conversion but introduced an all-new fuselage while retaining the wing elements of the previous bomber design. Again a float undercarriage allowed for waterborne take-off and landing and this design netted three examples in all.

Only two German Air Service squadrons were ever equipped with the R-bomber - Riesenflugzeugabteilung 500 (Rfa500) and 501 (Rfa501). As stated, the bomber also saw some limited service with the Imperial German Navy for a time.

Twenty-nine of these large bombers were built.




MEDIA









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: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (84mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
29
29

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
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