Operational use of the G.IV demonstrated that the incorporation of the fuel tanks into the engine nacelles was problematic. In a crash landing, the tanks could rupture and spill fuel onto the hot engines. This posed a serious problem because landing accidents constituted 75% of all operational losses. In response, Gothaer produced the G.V, which housed its fuel tanks in the center of the fuselage. The smaller engine nacelles were mounted on struts above the lower wing.
The Gotha's pilot seat was offset to starboard with the bomb bay immediately behind. This allowed for a connecting walkway on the port side allowing crew members to move between the three gun stations. The Gotha included an important innovation in the form of a "gun tunnel" whereby the underside of the rear fuselage was arched, allowing placement of a rearward facing machine gun protecting from attack from below. To this point, bombers were vulnerable to attack from this quarter and the Gotha removed this last blind spot.
The G.V entered service in August 1917. It offered no performance improvement over the G.IV. Indeed, the G.V was up to 450 kg (990 lb) heavier than the G.IV due to additional equipment and the use of insufficiently seasoned timber. Furthermore, inferior quality fuel prevented the Mercedes D.IVa engines from producing the rated 190 kW (260 hp). For these reasons, the G.V generally operated at much lower altitudes than the G.IV.
In February 1918, Gothaer tested a compound tail unit with biplane horizontal stabilizers and twin rudders. The new tail unit, known as the Kastensteuerung, improved the aircraft's marginal directional control in single-engine conditions. The resulting G.Va subvariant incorporated the new tail as well as a slightly shorter forward fuselage with an auxiliary nose landing gear. All 25 G.Va aircraft were delivered to Bogohl 3, the new designation for the former Kagohl 3.
The G.Va was replaced in production by the G.Vb, which carried an increased payload and operated at a maximum takeoff weight of 4,550 kg (10,030 lb). To reduce the danger of flipping over during landing, Gothaer introduced the Stossfahrgestell ("shock landing gear"), a tandem two-bogie main landing gear. The Stossfahrgestell proved so effective, it was retrofitted to all G.V aircraft serving with Bogohl 3. Some G.Vb aircraft also had Flettner servo tabs on the ailerons to reduce control forces.
Idflieg ordered 80 G.Vb aircraft, the first being delivered to Bogohl 3 in June 1918. By the Armistice, all 80 aircraft had been completed, but the last batch did not reach the front and was instead delivered directly from the factory to the Allied special commission.
Specifications (Gotha G.V)
2 or 3 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) Parabellum MG14 machine guns
Published - July 2009
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