The Caproni three-engined bomber appeared in 1914, powered by three Gnome rotary engines. The production version, equipped with three 100 hp fixed in-line Fiat A 10 engines entered service in the summer of 1915, and it was the most effective bomber of any air force, except for the Russian Sikorsky.Ilya Mourometz.
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 development of the Ca.1 to the Ca.2 suggested the benefits of increasing amounts of power to the very sound airframe. The Ca.3 was a development of Ca.2, by replacing the two engines mounted on the booms with the same Isotta-Fraschini engine that had been used as the central, pusher engine on that design.
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. In Caproni's post-war redesignation, it became the Ca.33. Somewhere between 250 and 300 of these aircraft were built, supplying the Italian Army and Navy (the latter using the type as a torpedo bomber), and the French Army. Late in the war, Robert Esnault-Pelterie built the type under licence in France, building an additional 83 (some sources say only 19) aircraft.
Note: there is some variation in published sources over early Caproni designations. The confusion stems, in part, from three separate schemes used to designate these aircraft - Caproni's in-house designations of the time, those used by the Italian Army, and designations created after the war by Caproni to refer to past designs.
The Ca.3 was a three-engined biplane of wooden construction, with a fabric-covered frame. The of four was plaved in an open central nacelle (front gunner, two pilots and rear gunner-mechanic). The rear gunner manned upper machine guns, standing upon the central engine in a protective "cage", just in front of a propeller. Tricycle landing gear.
Caproni Ca.4 Series was patterned along the lines of the Caproni Ca.3 series of biplane bombers, the larger triplanes of the Ca.4 series were designed to be more effective in combat. Sometimes armed with up to eight machine guns, these cumbersome bombers were capable of accurately delivering large payloads of bombs to distant enemy targets. Although mainly used at night, they took part in daylight raids towards the end of the war. Of thirty-two Ca.42s manufactured in 1918, six of them were used by the Royal Naval Air Service.
After designing the successful Ca.3, Gianni Caproni of the Caproni works designed a much bigger aircraft. It shared the unusual layout of the Caproni Ca.3, being a twin-boom aircraft with one pusher engine at the rear of a central nacelle and two tractor engines in front of twin booms, making a push-pull configuration. The twin booms carried a single elevator and three fins. The main landing gear was fixed and consisted of two sets of four wheels each. The most distinguishing feature of the new plane was, that it was built in a rare triplane layout, instead of the more common biplane.
The huge new bomber was accepted the Italian Army under a military designation Ca.4, but it was produced in several variants, differing in factory designations.
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.
By late in World War I, developments in aircraft technology made older bomber designs unable to penetrate targets defended by modern fighters. Caproni's response to this problem was to significantly uprate the power on the existing Ca.3 design, with some versions of the Ca.5 eventually carrying engines with nearly five times the total power that the first Ca.1 had.
Apart from greater power, various refinements were made to the design, including modifications to the main nacelle and undercarriage, and completely new wings. The first prototype flew in late 1917 and the type remained in production until 1921. Some 659 of all versions were built by Caproni, and another three were licence-built in the US (two Ca.44s by Standard, and one Ca.46 by Fisher). Plans for licence production in France did not eventuate.
During the war, Caproni designated these aircraft according to the total power of their engines. Afterwards, the company redesignated these designs.
The Ca.5 was a three-engine biplane of a wooden construction, covered with fabric. The crew of four was placed in an open central nacelle (front gunner, two pilots and rear gunner-mechanic). The rear gunner manned upper machine guns, standing upon the central engine in a protective "cage", just before a propeller.
Armament consisted of two to four Revelli 6.5 mm or 7.7 mm machine guns, one in front ring mounting and one, two or sometimes even three in an upper ring mounting. Bombs were suspended under the hull.