The Caudron G.3 was a single-engined French biplane built by Caudron, widely used in World War I as a reconnaissance aircraft and trainer. In comparison to its competitors, it had a better rate of climb and it was considered especially suitable in mountainous terrain.
The aircraft had a short crew nacelle, with a single engine in the nose of the nacelle, and twin open tailbooms. It was of sesquiplane layout, and used wing warping for lateral control, although this was replaced by conventional ailerons fitted on the upper wing in late production aircraft.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, it was ordered in large quantities. The Caudron factories built 1423 aircraft (2450 total were built in France) and it was built under licence in several other countries (233 were built in England and 166 were built in Italy). The Caudron brothers did not charge a licencing fee for the design, as an act of patriotism.
Usually, the G.3 was not equipped with any weapons, although sometimes light, small calibre machine guns and some hand-released small bombs were fitted to it.
It was followed in production by the Caudron G.4, which was a twin engined development.
The G.3 equipped Escadrille C.11 of the French Aéronautique Militaire at the outbreak of war, and was well-suited for reconnaissance use, proving tough and reliable. As the war went on however, its low performance and the fact that it was unarmed made it vulnerable in front line service, and so the French withdrew it from front line operations in mid-1916. The Italians also used the G.3 for reconnaissance on a wide scale until 1917, as did the British RFC (continuing operations until October 1917),who also fitted some with light bombs and machine guns for ground attack.
It continued in use as a trainer after ceasing combat operations until after the end of the war. Caudron G.3 in Chinese hands, namely the air force of Fengtian clique warlords remained in service in training roles until the Mukden Incident, when most of them were captured by Japanese, and their eventual fate is unknown.
Most G.3s were the A.2 model, used by various airforces for fire spotting on the West front, in Russia and in the Middle East. G.3 D.2 was a two-seated trainer aircraft, equipped with dual controls and the E.2 was a basic trainer. The R.1 version, which had been developed from the basic version was used by France and by the USA for taxi training, with fabric removed from large areas of the wing to prevent its becoming airborne. The last version, the G.3.12, was equipped with a more powerful 100 hp Anzani 10 radial engine.
In Germany, Gotha built copies of the G.3 as the LD.3 and LD.4 (Land Doppeldecker - "Land Monoplane").
Caudron G.3s are displayed in several museums, including at the RAF Museum Hendon, the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Paris, the Royal Army and Military History Museum, Brussels and the Airspace Museum (Musal), Rio de Janeiro. One aircraft (1E.18) is currently being repaired at the Hallinportti Aviation Museum.
Data from Suomen ilmavoimien lentokoneet
One small calibre machine gun (optional) and some hand released bombs (optional)
Published - July 2009
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