Allied Bombers

British Bombers

Airco D.H.4 - 1917
Airco D.H.4 - 1917

Designed in 1916 by Geoffrey de Havilland, the D.H.4 was easily identified by its rectangular fuselage and deep frontal radiator. Versatile, heavily armed and fast.

Short Bomber - 1915
Short Bomber - 1915

The Short Bomber was a British two-seat long-range reconnaissance, bombing and torpedo carrying aircraft designed by Short Brothers as a land-based development of the very successful Short Type 184 (of which more than 900 were built and many exported).

French Bombers

Voisin VIII
Voisin VIII - 1916

The Voisin VIII entered service in November 1916 as a French night bomber. This was the French army's main night bomber in 1916-1917, with over one thousand built.

Caudron R 11 - 1917
Caudron R 11 - 1917

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.

Italian Bombers

Caproni Ca.3 - 1914
Caproni Ca.3 - 1914

The Caproni Ca.3 was an Italian heavy bomber of World War I and the post-war era. It was the definitive version of the series of aircraft that began with the Caproni Ca.1 in 1914.

Caproni Ca.5 - 1918
Caproni Ca.5 - 1918

The Caproni Ca.5 was an Italian heavy bomber of the World War I and post-war era. It was the final version of the series of aircraft that began with the Caproni Ca.1 in 1914.

Russian Bombers

Sikorsky Ilya  Mouromets V
Sikorsky Ilya Mouromets V - 1914

Sikorsky's Ilya Mourometz was the world's first four-engine bomber. During World War I if flew for bombing and reconnaissance missions at the front.

Central Powers Bombers

German Bombers

AEG G.IV - 1916
A.E.G. G-IV - 1916

The AEG G.IV was a biplane bomber aircraft used in the World War I by Germany. Serving late in the war, the AEG G.IV managed to achieve some operational success in reconnaissance and combat roles.

Gotha G.IV - 1917
Gotha G.IV - 1917

The Gotha G.IV was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I.

Bomber Aircraft Table of Contents

Allied Powers Bombers

Central Powers Bombers


Origins of Bomber Aircraft

Early in the war the idea of dropping objects from above to cause damage on the enemy took hold. Many improvised objects such as rocks and bricks were used as well as hand grenades. The process was a very crude affair: the pilot or observer would manually drop the object over the side of the fuselage and hope he had hit something or someone. It soon became obvious to all parties that there had to be a better methods of sighting and dropping bombs more precisely.

Nearly every type of aircraft, including: rigid airships, balloons, observation and fighter planes, were employed for bombing missions during the first world war. Both sides saw a need to develop large aircraft that could penetrate enemy defenses, defend themselves from aerial attack, and deliver massive amounts of bombs on a target far behind the front lines.

Early Bomber Aircraft

The first true bomber to be used in combat was the French Voisin airplane, which bombed the Zeppelin hangers at Metz-Frascaty on August 14, 1914. The rugged and weather-worthy Voisin pusher biplane was a success partially due to its strong but light tubular steel airframe. Throughout the war it was fitted with increasingly powerful engines, moving successively up from engines that generated 70 horsepower (52 kilowatts) to those generating 155 horsepower (116 kilowatts). The bomb loads capacity grew from about 132 pounds (60 kilograms) to 661 pounds (300 kilograms) by late in the war. The later Voisins also incorporated a 37mm cannon.

The French Aviation Militaire began reorganizing its Voisins into bombardment squadrons in September 1914, which eventually numbered more than 600 aircraft. France used its Voison squadrons after May 1915 to conduct a sustained bombing campaign along the Western Front.

The Russian Giant

Sikorsky's Ilya Mourometz was the world's first four-engine bomber. Construction started in August, 1913 and first flight was in January, 1914. The cockpit had space for several persons.

The Ilya Muromets (Sikorsky S-22) was designed and constructed by Igor Sikorsky at the Russo-Baltic Carriage Factory (RBVZ) in Riga in 1913. It was based on his earlier S-21 Russky Vityaz or Le Grand which had played an important role in the development of Russian aviation and the multi-engine aircraft industries of the world.

Italy's Bomber Development

Italy was one of the leaders in heavy bomber design in World War One. Italian aircraft factories built many bombers which were used by the Italian, French and British air corps.

The Caproni Ca.3 was an Italian heavy bomber of World War I and the post-war era. It was the definitive version of the series of aircraft that began with the Caproni Ca.1 in 1914. The prototype flew in late 1916 and was soon put into production. Known to Caproni at the time as the Caproni 450 hp, the Italian Army designated it the Ca.3.

German Giant Bombers

The German Empire had a philosophy of bigger is better. After it was determined that lighter than airships were not as effective as they had thought, they began development on large dedicated bomber aircraft designated as type G or R. The designs reflected a desire for long range aircraft with a large lift capacity and the ability to defend against inteceptors.

The G classification was short for "Großkampfflugzeug", (large battle aircraft). The manufacturer's name preceded the letter G followed by a Roman numeral, e.g. AEG G.IV or Gotha G.III .

The G type could be produced relatively quickly and in fairly large numbers making them a high priority for production.

R-planes were large German Army bombers in World War I. The R classification was short for "Riesenflugzeug" (giant aircraft). The manufacturer's name preceded the letter R followed by a Roman numeral, e.g. Dornier Rs.III or Staaken R.XIV.

The R type aircraft were all one off planes No two were built exactly alike. Due to their size they were not built in large quantities.

The German R-planes were the largest aircraft of World War One. German R-planes, which bombed London during World War I were even larger than the German aircraft used for the same purpose in World War Two.

Aerial Ordinence

An aerial bomb is a type of bomb intended to travel through the air with predictable trajectories, usually designed to be dropped from an aircraft. Aerial bombs include a vast range and complexity of designs, from unguided gravity bombs to guided bombs, hand tossed from a vehicle, to needing a large specially built delivery vehicle; or perhaps be the vehicle itself such as a glide bomb, instant detonation or delay-action bomb. The act is termed aerial bombing. Aerial bombs typically use a contact fuze to detonate the bomb upon impact.

Both sides in the conflict quickly raced to develop several different types of munitions ensuringthe needed flexibility to deliver the desired mayham on the ground. Their were mainly five types of bomb warheads developed for use during the Great War. They are the: High explosive bomb, Fragmentation or Anti-personel bomb, Incendary Bombs, Poison Gas bombs, and Torpedos or naval operations.

Some Example World War One Bombs

Würfgranate 15 German Fragmentation Grenade
Würfgranate 15 German Fragmentation Grenade

The favourite weapon of Schlachtstaffel air crew during WWI due to the hitting power of its splinters. Grenades of this type were also used by polish airmen during the 1920 Polish-Bolshevik war.

British 25 Pound Cooper Bomb
British 25 Pound Cooper Bomb

The US adopted the British Cooper bomb as standard during WWI. The Mark II 25 pound fragmentation bomb was the result.