Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024) Special Forces
Aviation / Aerospace

Zeppelin-Staaken R-series

Heavy Bomber Aircraft [ 1917 ]

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.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/31/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Zeppelin-Staaken - Germany
German Empire
Operators National flag of the German Empire
Service Year
Imperial Germany
National Origin
Project Status

Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.

72.5 ft
(22.10 meters)
138.5 ft
(42.20 meters)
20.7 ft
(6.30 meters)
17,463 lb
(7,921 kilograms)
Empty Weight
26,120 lb
(11,848 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
+8,658 lb
(+3,927 kg)
Weight Difference

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.
84 mph
(135 kph | 73 knots)
Max Speed
14,108 ft
(4,300 m | 3 miles)
497 miles
(800 km | 432 nm)
350 ft/min
(107 m/min)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

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.

Up to 4,400 lb of bombs.


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

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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 Special Forces
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft


1 / 2
Image of the Zeppelin-Staaken R-series
Image from the Public Domain.
2 / 2
Image of the Zeppelin-Staaken R-series
Image from the Public Domain.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)