The Caudron G.4 was a French biplane with twin engines, widely used during World War I as a bomber aircraft. It was designed by René and Gaston Caudron as an improvement over their Caudron G.3. The aircraft was no delight for the eye with its massive, open construction. The aircraft employed wing warping for banking. The first G.4 was manufactured in 1915, both in France, England and in Italy.
The Caudron G.4 was used as a reconnaissance bomber into the heart of Germany. Later, when Germany developed a fighter force, the aircraft had to be used for night bombings.
Following several production delays, the Caudron G.4 entered service with the French Aviation militarie in 1915 and was soon in use by the British, Russian and Italian air services. In 1916 and early 1917, the G.4 was extensively used by the Royal Flying Corps to bomb the German seaplane and Zeppelin bases in Belgium. Despite its lack of defensive armament, the twin-engine biplane quickly established a reputation as a reliable performer with a good rate of climb.
While the Caudron G.3 was a reliable reconnaissance aircraft, it could not carry a useful bombload, and owing to its design, was difficult to fit with useful defensive armament. In order to solve these problems, the Caudron G4 was designed as a twin engined development of the G.3, first flying in March 1915. While the G.4 had a similar pod and boom layout to the G.3, it has two Le Rhône rotary or Anzani 10 radial engines mounted on struts between the wings instead of a single similar engine at the front of the crew nacelle, while wingspan was increased and the tailplane had four rudders instead of two. This allowed an observer/gunner position to be fitted in the nose of the nacelle, while the additional power allowed it to carry a bombload of 100 kg.
The Voisin VIII entered service in November 1916 as a French night bomber. Gabriel and Charles Voisin designed the Voisin VIII to replace the Voisin VII. The more powerful, and more successful Voisin VIII, was also known as the Type LAP and Type LBP. This was the French army's main night bomber in 1916-1917, with over one thousand built.
The Voisin VIII flew in a wide range of environments, from the freezing Russian steppes to Mesopotamia. The Voisin VIII operated by the Imperial Russian Air Service substituted skis for the rubber wheels used by other operating nations . Equally adaptable to desert conditions, the sturdy Voisin VIII was used by the British Royal Flying Corps in the Middle East.
The original engine choice for the Voisin VIII was a Hispano-Suiza, however there were not sufficient quantities available for the demand, resulting in the installation of Peugeot engines. The change in powerplant forced a redesign of the Voisin VIII. The engine compartment was widened and the airframe was strengthened to accommodate the engine.
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has a beautifully restored example of a Voisin VIII on display. NASM's Voisin Type 8, serial number 4640, is the oldest surviving aircraft that was specifically designed as a bomber. When manufactured in February 1916, it was equipped as a night bomber, with internal bomb racks, cockpit lights, and provision for landing lights. Painted in the markings of French bombing squadron VB 109, it is the sole survivor of the 1,100 Type 8s produced.
Used throughout the war, the innovative Breguet Br.14 was a highly successful biplane used by the French, Belgian and American air services. Designed by Louis Breguet in 1916, it was one of the first aircraft constructed with duralumin in the airframe.
Rugged and versatile, it was mass produced in several variations, including a seaplane model. Before the end of the war, the Br.14 saw service as a reconnaissance aircraft, a day/night bomber and an air ambulance. This was one of the best bombers the French used. It was produced up until 1926.
The Caudron R.11 was first used as a bomber and then used as an escort at the end of the war. This was the last bomber the French built during the war.
The R.11 was originally intended to fulfill the French Corps d'Armee reconnaissance category. Its design was similar to the Caudron R.4, but with a more pointed nose, two bracing bays outboard the engines rather than three, no nose-wheel, and a much larger tail. The engines were housed in streamlined nacelles just above the lower wing.
The French army ordered 1000 R.11s. Production began in 1917, with the first aircraft completed late in that year. In February 1918 the first Escadrille (squadron) R.26 was equipped. The last escadrille to form before the Armistice (and production ended abruptly) was R.246, at which point 370 planes had been completed.