Caproni Ca.42

Italian aircraft designer and manufacturer Gianni Caproni was an early advocate of strategic bombing. Hundreds of his large Ca.3 series trimotor biplane bombers were used by Italy’s Corpo Aeronautico Militare in raids against Austria-Hungary from the summer of 1915. In 1917 Caproni introduced the Ca.4 series, broadly similar to the Ca.3 but with three wings instead of two and capable of carrying a heavier bomb-load.
The Ca.42 was the ultimate version of the series. The pilot and co-pilot sat in a central nacelle, with one gunner in front and two more positioned in the long twin booms carrying the tail surfaces. Two engines were mounted at the front of these booms, with a third installed as a pusher in the central nacelle. The Ca.42 carried 24 small bombs in a clumsy, albeit streamlined, gondola attached to the bottom wing.
The aircraft entered service with Italian units on 24 February L918, The Ca.42s presented a large, easy target for anti-aircraft guns and fighters, but nonetheless carried out a number of raids. They aroused considerable interest among Italy’s allies. Six Ca.42s served briefly with the British Roval Naval Air Service; the US Navy undertook to build the aircraft under licence, but this programme ultimately proved abortive.

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