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

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Halberstadt CL IV

On Display at the National Museum of the USAF

Introduced into combat during the last great German offensive of World War I, the CL IV supported German troops by attacking Allied ground positions. Equipped with both fixed and flexible machine guns, hand-dropped grenades, and small bombs, the CL IV proved very effective in this role, but it lacked the armor necessary for protection against ground fire. Nevertheless, it proved to be one of the most effective ground attack aircraft of World War I, relying on its good maneuverability to avoid ground fire. 

The Specimen at the National Air and Space Museum Nicely Shows
the Late-War Camouflage of the German Air Service 

The CL IV became a hunted target of Allied pursuit squadrons, but it gave a very good account of itself in dogfights. A versatile machine, the CL IV also performed as an interceptor against Allied night bombing raids and served as a night bomber against troop concentrations and airfields near the front lines.

The Halberstadt CL.IV was one of the most effective ground attack aircraft of World War I, relying on its good maneuverability to avoid ground fire. It appeared on the Western Front toward the end of the German offensives in 1918. Flights of four to six aircraft flew close-support missions, at an altitude of less than 100 feet, suppressing enemy infantry and artillery fire just ahead of the advancing German troops. After these late German offensives stalled, Halberstadt CL.IVs were used to disrupt advancing Allied offensives by striking at enemy troop assembly points and flying night sorties Allied airfields.

Toward the end of the war, on bright, moonlit nights, CL.IV squadrons attempted to intercept and destroy Allied bombers as they returned from their missions.

The USAF museum acquired the Halberstadt CL IV on display in 1984. Badly deteriorated at the time, its restoration was a joint international cooperative venture by the Museum für Verkehr und Technik in Berlin, Germany, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It is marked as the CL IV of the squadron leader of the Schlachtstaffel 21, which is known to have engaged elements of the U.S. Army's 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons in mid-July 1918 during the Chateau-Thierry battle.

Close-up of Gunner's Position

Armament: One or two fixed 7.92mm Spandau machine guns and one flexible Parabellum 7.92mm machine gun; anti-personnel grenades; and four or five 22-lb. bombs
Engine: Mercedes D III 6-cylinder in-line, water-cooled engine of 160 hp
Maximum speed: 112 mph
Range: 300 miles
Ceiling: 21,000 ft.
Span: 35 ft. 2 7/8 in.
Length: 21 ft. 5 1/2 in.
Height: 8 ft. 9 1/8 in.
Weight: 2,350 lbs. loaded

Data and photos from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, except as indicated.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading about this little known ac of WW1. Please do some more profiles like this.