- Caproni Ca.111
__NOTOC__ Infobox Aircraft
first flight=February 1932
variants with their own articles=
The Caproni Ca.111 was a long-range reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber produced in
Italyduring World War II. It was a derivative of the Ca.101.
Design and development
A robust and simple aircraft, it was meant to be used in harsh conditions with minimal support. It was designed by the engineer Rodolfo Verduzio of
Gianni Caproniin 1931, and first flew in February 1932as MM 205.
This aircraft was a high-wing monoplane, built with a robust but simple structure consisting of a tubular steel skeleton with a fabric and wood skin. Derived from the earlier
Caproni Ca.101, it used different a engine. The fuselage was of square section, and the wing was practically rectangular, with the extremities sloped and the ailerons running the whole length of the trailing edge. Steel tubing was also used for the undercarriage. This was fixed and had a complex structure that had two legs supported by several steel tubes between the fuselage and the wings.
The main innovation was the engine. Whilst the previous Ca.101 had three units, the newer type had only one. This was a risk because the engines of the time were not very reliable. It seems that the gamble paid off as the Ca.111 was faster than the three engined Ca.101 and even the Ca.133. The engine was a water-cooled Isotta Fraschini Asso 750RC 18cylinder in a 'W' layout. The first examples were equipped with a four bladed wooden propeller. Later models were fitted with the 3 bladed metal propeller with variable pitch. The required pitch had to be set on the ground and was not variable in flight. It was heavier and more expensive but provided a worthwhile improvement.
Fuel capacity was 1,690l in two tanks, one of 1,060l and one of 440l. Range was 2,000km. The oil tank was below the engine and contained 150l.
Maximum payload was 2,000kg, but if necessary could be raised to 2,500-2,800kg.
The cockpit instruments were repeated for each pilot. The instrument fit included a 'Pezzoni' compass, a 'Sonia' aerometer, a variometer, 'OMI' altimeters and fire detectors with extinguisher controls. The canopy was detachable to allow for exit in an emergency. There was also a rice-transmitter radio, for the marconist-gunner. This consisted of a RE 350 and AR 5 transmitter-receiver. This allowed both telegraphic and voice transmissions. To make this possible, there were two radio antennas: one fixed, one flexible. There were two accumulators and two air-generators. Finally, there was a photographic, photoplanimetric O.M.I. 13x18 camera, or a OMI APR 3 panoramic. Sometimes, a cine-machine-gun was also fitted.
Defensive armament varied between three and six 7,7mm machine-guns. Initially the armament was quite weak, one Lewis gun in the dorsal position, and one in each beam position. This was a serious failing as the gunner could only man one weapon at a time. One improvement was the replacement of the single dorsal gun by a turret fitted with two 7,7mm Bredas. Another machine-gun was sometimes fitted in the ventral position, both for offensive and defensive tasks. Some examples also had a machine-gun fixed in the nose, firing with a synchronizer through the propeller disk.
Bombload, theoretically was up to 600kg, in practice, it was more. This load was held vertically inside the fuselage, and consisted of two launchers for:
*6x100kg (total practical, 780kg)
*6x50 (total, practical, 420kg)
*6x24, 20, 15, 12, 10kg.
Up to fifteen 12, 15 or 24kg bombs could be carried in a third laucher. It was also possible to carry two bombs of 250 or 500kg or incendaries (144x1kg and 144x2kg). Finally, chemical bombs could also be dropped.
The door for entry into the aircraft was on the left-hand side.
A civil version was built with seven seats. The
Caproni Ca.140was, instead, a retractable version of the basic project, but remained prototype. Another prototype was a version with a 3,000km range, but the redesigned Ca.112 it was not put into production. Its most notable difference was a new elliptic and enlarged wing.
One example had an 1000hp A.80 engine.
Possibly the most important version was the hydroplane, fitted with two 'shoes' under the belly. It had been tested in
1932and was called the Ca.111 'Idro'. The 'Idro' version was the first to enter service. It was almost identical to the land version, but weighted 3,500kg and had a 2,00kg payload. The two shoes were made of cedarwood. The engine remained the same but with 1,940l (1,455kg) of fuel. Range was greater, but speed was reduced. Defensive weapons were 4 Lewis-guns with 2,000 cartridges each. Bombload was similar to that shown above. An 800kg torpedo could also be carried.
The first examples were used by 146 and 183 Squadrilia, 85° Gruppo, to perform maritime reconnaissance, followed by the 142. They had six machines each. After just a year, these machines were replaced by CANT Z.501s. The aircraft were not scrapped but converted for land use, complete with undercarriage. Over 100 machines were rebuilt between
1934and 1936. 25 were 'Idro' versions.
The Ca.111 was used as a long-range work-horse by the Regia Aereonautica. Its main employment was in the Ethiopian war. This aircraft was, like all other machines, sent to the
Ethiopian theatre by sea. The aircraft performed a variety of tasks, such as long range reconnaissance, ground attack, bombing, and as a refuelling machine. It was even used to drop live animals to the troops ! The aircraft was well suited to this kind of environment. It was relatively simple to maintain and could often be repaired with local materials. In this theatre it was second only to the SM.81, which was much more sophisticated.
On the whole this machine was cheap, robust and reliable. It had good performance and could be armed with a variety of ordnance. It was also highly vulnerable and so was not deployed to places like
Nevertheless, the machine served until the early
1940s, when it was replaced as a reconnaissance aircraft by the Cant Z.501and Ro.37. It was then used in the photoplannimetric role and as a supplier of isolated troops, this time in the Balkans, after the 'conquest' of Yugoslavia.
met or eng?= met
rot dia m=
rot dia ft=
rot dia in=
wing area sqm=61.5
wing area sqft=662
swept area sqm=
swept area sqft=
rot area sqm=
rot area sqft=
empty weight kg=3,490
empty weight lb=7,694
gross weight kg=5,490
gross weight lb=12,103
Isotta-Fraschini Asso750 RC
eng1 kw= 619
eng1 hp= 830
max speed kmh=290
max speed mph=180
max speed mach=
cruise speed kmh=
cruise speed mph=
climb rate ms=3.1
climb rate ftmin=610
sink rate ms=
sink rate ftmin=
armament1=4 × 7.7 mm
Breda-SAFAT machine gunin flexible positions in dorsal, ventral, and beam positions
armament2=Up to 600 kg (1,323 lb) of bombs
* Lembo, Daniele "Caproni Ca.111", Storia Militare N.35, Westward editions, pagg. 8-19.
* [http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/album/showphoto.php?photo=6867 Caproni Ca.111] Photo
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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