Siemens-Schuckert R.VI

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R.VI
Role Bomber
National origin Germany
Manufacturer Siemens-Schuckert
Designer Bruno and Franz Steffen[1]
First flight c. April 1916[2]
Number built 1[2]
Developed from Siemens-Schuckert R.I[3]

The Siemens-Schuckert R.VI was a bomber aircraft built in Germany during World War I.[4][5] It was one of six aircraft based on the Siemens-Schuckert R.I that were originally intended to be identical, but which each developed in a different direction and were designated as different aircraft types by the German Inspectorate of Flying Troops (the Idflieg).[6] Development of the R.VI benefited from the experience that Siemens-Schuckert and the Idflieg had gained with the R.II, R.III, and R.IV, particularly in its choice of powerplants, where the R.VI was spared from the troublesome Maybach HS engine.[2] The R.VI was the first of the Siemens-Schuckert R-type aircraft to reach service,[2] and between July 1916 and November 1917 saw service on the Eastern Front before it was declared obsolete and dismantled.[7]

Design and development[edit]

As designed, the R.VI was a large three-bay biplane with unstaggered wings of unequal span and a fully enclosed cabin.[8] Three 180-kW (240-hp) Maybach HS engines were mounted internally in the fuselage, and transmitted their power via driveshafts to two propellers mounted tractor-fashion on the interplane struts nearest the fuselage.[9] The main undercarriage consisted of divided units, each of which carried dual wheels, and the tail was supported by a pair of tailwheels.[8] The fuselage was forked into an upper and lower section, which allowed a clear field of fire to the rear of the aircraft.[1] The Maybach engines had been a never-ending source of trouble on the R.II, R.III, and R.IV, and by June 1916, Siemens-Schuckert had obtained permission from the Idflieg to substitute Benz Bz.IV engines on the R.III[10] The firm made the same change on the R.VI, which was under construction at the time.[2] The fuselage was modified to accommodate the new powerplant, and an extra bay was added to the wings, increasing their span.[2] Upon completion, designer Bruno Steffen piloted the R.VI on a test flight in which the aircraft carried a 2,400-kg (5,300-lb) load for six hours,[2] a world record at the time, but one which was never publicised due to the war.[2]

Despite this remarkable flight, the R.VI did not meet the specifications issued by the Idflieg in its contract with Siemens-Schuckert. Therefore, the Idflieg opted to relax the original specifications somewhat and complete the purchase of the aircraft.[11]

Operational history[edit]

Siemens-Schuckert delivered the R.VI to the Riesenflugzeugersatzabteilung (Rea — "giant aircraft support unit") at Döberitz on 20 July 1916.[11] From there, it was assigned to Riesenflugzeugabteilung 501 (Rfa 501), and joined the squadron at Vilna on 7 August.[11] It operated there until it was dismantled as obsolete in November 1917.[7]

Specific details of several operational missions while with Rfa 501 have survived:[12]

  • 3 September 1916 — railway station at Molodeczne
  • 4 September 1916 — unknown target

Additionally, the R.V carried out the following raids together with the R.V:[12]

  • 19 January 1917 — troop camp at Iza
  • 30 January 1917 — railway station at Wileyka
  • 8 February 1917 — railway station at Molodeczne
  • 12 February 1917 — railway station at Zalesie

together with the R.VII:[12]

  • 2 March 1917 — railway stations at Zalesie and Molodeczne
  • 7 March 1917 — railway stations at Wileyka and Molodeczne
  • 16 March 1917 — troop camp at Iza

and together with the R.IV and R.VII:[12]

  • 1 April 1917 — town of Naracz
  • 5 April 1917 — railway station at Wileyka
  • 5 June 1917 — troop camp at Biala[disambiguation needed]
  • 18 June 1917 — supply dump at Overky
  • 2 August 1917 — reconnaissance mission over railway station at Prudy

Specifications[edit]

Data from Kroschel & Stützer 1994, p.141

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4
  • Length: 17.7 m (58 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 33.36 m (109 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 4.6 m (15 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 177 m2 (1,910 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 5,250 kg (11,550 lb)
  • Gross weight: 6,660 kg (14,650 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3 × Benz Bz.IV, 150 kW (200 hp) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 132 km/h (83 mph)
  • Range: 720 km (450 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 2,950 m (19,400 ft)

Armament

  • 3 × 7.9-mm machine guns
  • 500 kg of bombs

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Grey & Thetford 1962, p.572
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.190
  3. ^ Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.180
  4. ^ Taylor 1989, p.808
  5. ^ The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft, p.2920
  6. ^ Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.184
  7. ^ a b Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.194
  8. ^ a b Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.175
  9. ^ Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.174
  10. ^ Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.186–87
  11. ^ a b c Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.192
  12. ^ a b c d Haddow & Grosz 1963, p.56

References[edit]

  • Gray, Peter; Owen Thetford (1962). German Aircraft of the First World War. London: Putnam. 
  • Haddow, G.W.; Peter M. Grosz (1962). The German Giants: The Story of the R-planes 1914–1919. London: Putnam. 
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing. 
  • Kroschel, Günter; Helmut Stützer (1994). Die Deutschen Militärflugzeuge 1910–1918. Herford: Mittler. 
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions.