Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Unique Caudron R.XI Escort Fighter



Daylight bombing required the collaboration of the bombing aircraft with fighters for protection against German interceptors. In November 1916, specifications were drawn for a three-seat long-range escort fighter to accompany formations of medium bombers.  The aircraft was well armed with twin 7.7mm Lewis guns in the nose and rear fuselage, and there was an additional machine gun below the nose position to enable that gunner to fire downward. Later aircraft were equipped with dual controls so that if the pilot was wounded the R.XI could be flown by the observer. Three hundred and seventy R.XIs were built by Caudron and its subcontractors by the Armistice, with 54 making it into service. They were most effective when used in combination with more maneuverable SPAD fighters providing top cover and the R.XIs providing close-in escort.


Specifications


Production Model Caudron R.XI, Three-Seat, Long-Range Fighter

  • Engine: Two 215-hp Hispano-Suiza
  • Span: 17.92 m
  • Length: 11.22 m
  • Empty Weight: 1442 kg
  • Loaded Weight: 2165 kg
  • Ceiling: 5,950 m
  • Range: 600 km
  • Endurance: 3 hours
  • Armament: Five 7.7 Lewis guns
  • Maximum Speed:
  •    183 km/h at 2000 m
       164 km/h at 5000 m
  • Rate of Climb:
  •    To 2000m — 8 min, 10 sec  
       To 5000m — 39 minutes

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