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Caproni Ca.1

Heavy Biplane Day-Bomber Aircraft

Kingdom of Italy | 1915

"The Italians and Russians led the way in developing the first useful heavy bombers in the world - the Caproni Ca.1 was a testament to that."

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 03/12/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
While the British Handley Page and German Gotha bombers receive their fair share of notoriety in World War 1 text, both Italy and Russia were ahead of the development curve in terms of applying workable heavy daytime, long range bombers into modern military usage. These two nations had already developed serviceable heavy bombing platforms by the opening salvos of the war and the Ca.1 was at least one a testament to this fact. The "Societa de Aviazone Ing Caproni" bureau (better known simply as "Caproni") proved something of a pioneer in the field, resulting in their first impressive attempt sometime in 1913 as the "Caproni 260hp". This version sported a "pusher" engine and a pair of "pusher" engines - these Gnome rotary engines all being mounted in-line along a central fuselage nacelle. The two pusher systems drove propellers mounted at the tail booms via a tractor arrangement. A modified version was then later trialled in October of 1914. In the post-war years, these respective systems came to be designated as the Ca.30 and Ca.31.

The Heavy Bomber

Heavy bombers were a fine addition to any military arsenal, regardless of era. They supplied a world power with long-range attack capabilities and greater payloads than that of scouts or fighters, making good use of multiple engine layouts and requiring the use of multiple crew. As such, defensive measures were supplied in the way of trainable machine guns to cover the critical quadrants about the aircraft. Eventually, these day-only bombers graduated to become the massive monsters that complimented the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Today, the heavy bomber more-or-less exists in the new range of stealth-oriented implements and multi-role fighter systems.

Making a Better Product

After a period of evaluation, it was determined that these new larger bomber platforms were wholly underpowered. Caproni set to achieve better performance from his "giant" and moved the puller engines to the tips of each tail boom, keeping the pusher system in its centralized nacelle approach from earlier. This allowed each wing-mounted engine to directly drive its propeller in a more efficient manner. The French-based Gnome rotary engines were then replaced with Italian FIAT A.10 inline types and produced the new company designation of "Caproni 300hp". First flight occurred in late 1914. FIAT would eventually supply over 15,000 engines of all types during the First World War.

First Delivery

This revised development caught the eye and imagination of the Italian Army and the first Italian bomber force was conceived. The new bomber aircraft was designated officially as the Ca.1 by the Italian Army and production ramped up by the middle of August 1915. Some 162 to 166 aircraft were eventually delivered up to December 1916.

First Strike

Upon delivery, Ca.1s were quickly adopted into Italian Army service. Their first true sortie occurred on August 20th, 1915, in an attack on Austrian targets at an airfield in Aisovizza. Most Ca.1s were committed to such attacks, primarily against the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the new bomber eventually served in some fifteen total Italian air squadrons during the war effort. Three of these Italian squadrons were known to have operated out of France with another stationed for action overseas out of Libya.

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Ca.1 Bomber Walk-Around

The Ca.1 featured a wide-span, four-bay, bi-plane wing assembly. At the center of the wings was fitted the crew nacelle containing accommodations for four personnel and the third engine. The primary engines were fitted ahead of the twin booms extending aft in a "puller" function arrangement. The third engine on the central nacelle operated in a "pusher" format. The crew consisted of two pilots, a forward gunner and a rear gunner - all fielded in tandem positions. The forward gunner sat in the forward-most compartment. Distinctly, the rear gunner stood in an open air, cage-like pulpit behind the upper wing assembly and ahead of the pusher engine at rear. The twin booms extended aft into a tailplane. Upon this tailplane was affixed three vertical tail fins. The undercarriage was a fixed structure and consisted of a tricycle arrangement featuring two single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a single-wheeled nose landing gear, all supported by struts. The rear of the empennage was supported by a simplistic tailskid fitted to the extreme end. Construction was mainly wood covered in fabric.

Performance, Dimensions, and Armament

The 3 x Fiat A.10 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled in-line engines delivered up to 100 horsepower output each. This supplied the massive aircraft with speeds of up to 75 miles per hour as well as a range equal to 344 miles. Her service ceiling was listed at approximately 13,000 feet. Her empty weight ranged in at about 7,200lbs with a gross weight tipping the scales at 8,800lbs. Wingspan was nearly 23 feet with an overall running length of 36 feet plus. She stood at an impressive 12 feet high. Bombs were suspended under the central nacelle and there were 2 x 6.5mm FIAT-Revelli machine guns used for defense. These machine guns were fitted to the front gunner tub and the rear gunners pedestal cage.

Post-War Ca.1

In the post-war years, the Ca.1 was redesignated to as the "Ca.32". The Ca.1/Ca.32s that survived were logically refurbished to be used as passenger airliners. These systems could transport up to six passengers in relative comfort and fell under the Caproni designation of "Ca.56".

The Improved Ca.2 and the Definitive Ca.3

The Caproni Ca.2 ("Caproni 350hp") was a minor variation (improved engines) on the strengths of the Ca.1 platform. Development ultimately led to the definitive Ca.3 bomber platform.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Caproni Ca.1 (Ca.32) Heavy Biplane Day-Bomber Aircraft.
3 x FIAT A.10 6-cylinder engines developing 100 horsepower each in a 2 x "puller" and 1 x "pusher" arrangement.
75 mph
120 kph | 65 kts
Max Speed
13,123 ft
4,000 m | 2 miles
Service Ceiling
342 miles
550 km | 297 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Caproni Ca.1 (Ca.32) Heavy Biplane Day-Bomber Aircraft.
36.3 ft
11.05 m
O/A Length
74.6 ft
(22.74 m)
O/A Width
12.1 ft
(3.70 m)
O/A Height
7,280 lb
(3,302 kg)
Empty Weight
8,818 lb
(4,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Caproni Ca.1 Heavy Biplane Day-Bomber Aircraft .
1 OR 2 x 6.5mm FIAT-Revelli machine guns in forward and rear gunner positions.

Up to 1,874lb of external ordnance (drop bombs) suspended externally.
Notable series variants as part of the Caproni Ca.1 family line.
Caproni 260hp - Internal Caproni designation of the Ca.30.
Caproni 300hp - Internal Caproni designation of the Ca.32.
Ca.1 - Base Production Model Designation
Ca.30 - Later designation of the Caproni 260hp.
Ca.32 - Later designation of the Ca.1.
Ca.31 - Later designation of the Ca.30 in a revised form.
Ca.56 - Passenger Conversion Model; seating for six passengers.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Caproni Ca.1. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 166 Units

Contractor(s): Caproni - Italy
National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy

[ Kingdom of Italy ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (75mph).

Graph Average of 75 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Caproni Ca.1
High-angled left side view of the Caproni Ca.1 heavy day bomber

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Caproni Ca.1 Heavy Biplane Day-Bomber Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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