The Mystery Airplane
April Contest Photo Caudron G. IV
June 1, 2018
Rene and Gaston Caudron were inspired by seeing Wilber Wright fly. Their first aircraft flew from their farm on 21 September 1909. Caudron designed and constructed aircraft for civilian and military use until the end of World War II when the company disappeared. One of their most exciting aircraft was the C. 460 racer that appeared in the 1935 National Air Races flown by Michel Detroyat, winning the Greve and Thompson Trophies against U.S. competitors.
This photo, taken at the NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, depicts a Caudron G. IV. Derived from the single engine G. III, the G. IV, which appeared in March 1915, saw service with France, Italy, the Royal Naval Air Service, and the Royal Flying Corps as a long-range day and night bomber. It was also used for recon and training. Powered by a pair of 80 hp Le Rhone rotary engines, the two-seater could carry 250 pounds of bombs and two machine guns. Its 82mph top speed made it an easy day time target, but at night, pioneering the "master bomber" concept used by RAF Bomber Command in WWII, it was used for raids on German seaplane, Zeppelin, and submarine bases. G. IV's were also built in Britain and Italy.
The G. IV, serial C4263, in the NASM collection was delivered on 12 December 1916, to the French Air Force as a reconnaissance model with cameras and radios. Surplus to French needs, it was sold to the U.S. Government in early 1917 and sent to the United States for testing. This purchase was separate from the 10 G. IV's used by the A.E.F. for training. Already obsolete, it was turned over to the Smithsonian, lacking engines, propellers, and guns. It was "preserved" in 2000 and put on display at Dulles with the correct 80 hp Le Rhones.
The "regulars" all knew the Caudron G. IV, with Bob Heaviland of North Branch being this month's winner. Congratulations to the 2018 inductees into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. Our annual dinner had an overflow crowd.
Blue skies and tail winds!