The Caudron brothers long-enduring legacy
Many brothers apparently left their mark to the Aviation history board, the most famous ones being the Wrights. Long before them in the late 1700s in France, the Montgolfier already left this earth on a paper balloon, the first human flight in record ever. The Caudron brothers (perhaps something to do with the art of cauldron making in medieval times) Gaston and René founded their company in 1909, and produced some 4,000 aircrafts during ww1 and some more in the interwar, before being bought by Renault in 1933, which left in the wake of their marriage a lineage of impressive race monoplanes, but that's another story. Caudron during the Great war procured France and other belligerents in the entente famous and reliable single and twin-engine nacelle aircrafts, used for observation, bombing and training. Some of these definitely stand out like the Caudron G.III, first French mass-produced observation plane, or the modern G.VI, long range twin-engine for observation and bombing, the types R bomber series, and many prototypes, including one fighter.
After the war, Caudron became a pillar of French aircraft production, turning hundreds of utility planes like the Luciole, Phalene, super-Phalene, the transports Goeland and Simoun, or the famous blue Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe racers that dominated the competition in the 1930s, Rafale (first of the name) which became afterwards popular sport/touring aircraft called Aiglon before being converted in emergency as fighters called Cyclone before 1939.
The G series success story
If Caudron was to be remembered by a single plane, at least for WW1, that should be the G.III. Its production, for France alone, reached 2500 before the twin-engine G.IV appeared, but never equalled it. Robust and reliable, stable and simple to fly, it was fit for observation and training and became de facto the main trainer of many new-born aviations around the world. 233 were also built in England and 166 built in Italy along with several other countries and Caudron released its blueprints and patents for free as a patriotic gesture. It was also capable to reach a good altitude as shown by Adrienne Bolland crossing of the Andes in 1921, and as a testimony for its durability, the Chinese nationalists still flew it in Mukden by 1931... More on the dedicated part below.
The G.III was the first mass-produced French plane of the war, 2500 and many more being cranked out and used by 27 countries, sometimes well after the war.
The twin-engine G4 had a much better range, speed, climb rate and ceiling and served until 1917.
The twin-engine G6 was the first with a straight fuselage. It was produced in 1917-18 as a bomber/observation plane
The list is rather impressive, so for clarity it has been decided to separate the prototypes and production planes (more than 5).
- Caudron Type A (1910) 7 trainers
- Caudron Type D (1911) 13 trainers
- Caudron Type F (1913) 15 trainers (China)
- Caudron Type G3 (1914) 2700+
- Caudron Type G4 (1915) 1240
- Caudron R.4 (1915) 249
- Caudron R.6 (1916) 750
- Caudron R.11 (1917) 370
- Caudron C.23 (1918) 54
- Hydroaéroplane Caudron-Fabre floatplane 1911 1
- Caudron Type B 1911 nacelle type trainer 1
- Caudron Types M and N 1911, monoplan racers, at least 4
- Caudron Type C (1911) nacelle type trainer 2
- Caudron Type E (1911) nacelle trainer 4
- Caudron Type G (1913) G1, preseries nacelle type observation bipanes 2
- Caudron type H (1913) amphibious plane 2
- Caudron type J (1914) amphibious plane 3
- Caudron Type K (1913) floatplane 1
- Caudron Type L (1913) Floatplane 4
- Caudron Type P (1914) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R/R.3 (1915) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.5 (1915) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.7 (1915) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.8 (1916) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.9 (1916) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.10 (1917) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.12 (1917) Prototype bomber
- Caudron C. 02 fighter 1917
- Caudron R.13 (1918) Prototype bomber
- Caudron R.14 (1918) Prototype bomber
- Caudron C.22 (1917) prototype night bomber
Caudron A (1910)
The Caudron A N°2 in 1911, modified with with direct drive tractor prop and interplane ailerons
The Caudron A was the first "production" model by the Caudron brothers, previously briefly associated woth the Société Anonyme Français d'Avaiation (S.A.F.A.), therefore the very first prototype was showcased in the Paris Aero Salon as the S.A.F.A. Biplane. The previous prototype was flown as a glider, towed by a galloping horse, whereas it was designed in 1908 to be tracted by a pair of 30 hp (22 kW) Farcot engines. This early model was followed by the proper Type A No.1, a two-bay, equal span pusher biplane, smaller and lighter than the glider. It was was fitted with a 25 hp (19 kW) three-cylinder Anzani engine placed left to the pilots with a two bladed propeller and transmission by chain and driveshaft. There was a fixed rectangular horizontal surface with four booms which helped lateral control as well as elevation. Small rectangular rudders above the tailplane helped elevation in any case. The lower pair was particular as to be connected to the lower wing by struts, curved upwards to form undercarriage skids, doubled with road-wheels, soon a Caudron trademark feature. It flew several times wit success but crashed the 9th time and when refitted, the engine was modified to drive the propeller by shaft, directly instead of with chain. The Caudron Type A No.2 had the engine mounted in a mid-gap position, at the front. The interplane ailerons had been relocated between the upper and lower wings for improved lateral control. The derived type A bis had a 5-cylinder Anzani rated for 45 hp (34 kW), as a larger two-seaters. In all seven planes were built, used for training, but in a casuel manner, not in a regulr unit. They were 8 m (26 ft 3 in) long, 8 m (26 ft 3 in) large (wingspan), weighted 270 kg (595 lb)and caâble to reach 85 km/h (53 mph; 46 kn) thanks to their Anzani 5-cylinder air cooled semi-radial engine rated at 34 kW (45 hp).
Caudron D (1911)
A Caudron D showing the suspended nacelle and typical Caudron twin-boom, it first flew in December 1911
The Caudron D succeeded to the prototype Caudron C, and even mistaken for it in the UK, as shown in 1911 W.H. Ewen catalogue; Only about 13 planes were built, and it first flew in December 1911. In fact just one was sold to the UK, other went into China (three), and they tried various engines. They could be considered as drafts for the next Type F, the true forerunner of the famous Type G. The Chinese variant were propelled by the 34 kW (45 hp) 6-cylinder Anzani radial engine, uncowled. The type unique A bis had a 37 kW (50 hp) Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary engine mounted with an oil-deflecting cowling over the upper half. One called Caudron D-2 was tested as a two-seater with a 45 kW (60 hp) 6-cylinder Anzani, raised decking ahead of the cockpit and modified struts suspension flew in June 1912 to London. They had a 125 l (27 imp gal; 33 US gal) tank giving a 3 hours endurance. Phillipe Marty flew with a second D-2. Ewen's flying school licenced-produced or boufht at least one. The rest (sesquiplane and equal plane versions) were used by the French Air Force for beginners training, and likely retired in 1914.
The late 1911 Type D was a single-seater, twin boom, two bay tractor biplane with equal spans, later redesigned as a sesquiplane. It had an interwing nacelle and was smaller than the Type C, powered by the small 26 kW (35 hp) 3-cylinder Anzani radial engine. As a sesquiplane, the span ratio was even further reduced. The wings were fabric covered wings with plans apart and angled tips, no stagger, and vertical, parallel interplane struts and conventional wire bracing. Wing warping for roll control was allowed thanks to the rear part of the wing being flexible. The simple flat sided nacelle was short and placed mid-wing by using two more pairs of interplane struts while the Anzani engine was uncowled at the front. The empennage was attached on upper and lower girders and strengthened with two diagonal struts either side. The lower members ended underbelly as skids mated with twin, rubber sprung landing wheels.
Dimensions: 6.7 x 9.7 m (22 ft x 31 ft 10 in -upper plane), Wing area: 24 m2 (260 sq ft)
Weight: 220 kg (485 lb) empty, 350 kg (772 lb) loaded.
Engine: 3-cylinder radial, 26 kW (35 hp) or 30/34 kW (40/45 hp) Anzani/ 37 kW (50 hp) Gnome rotary
Performances: Top speed 90 km/h (56 mph; 49 kn) 10 min to reach 500 m (1,600 ft).
Caudron F (1913)
A Caudron F in 1913. This was the blueprint for famous the Type G
This single seat sesquiplane looks like the wartime Type G that followed and is almost a pre-serie, with a dozen purchased by China and two other had civilian use, trying different engines. These won in 1913 the first two places in the cross-country race at Reims, Pierre Canteloup doing the first loop-the-loop biplane.
The Type had the same layout as previous Caudron biplanes, a twin boom tractor with a short central nacelle and twin fins. Unlike the B and E, the Type F had a redesigned nacelle and vertical tail shape. By 1913, the Type F was a sesquiplane, like the Type E, from the start. It had a wire braced two bay biplane, rectangular plan and angled tips. The sesquiplan ratio was 1.8 without stagger, parallel vertical interplane struts. The nacelle had its sides curving upwards in profile to the engine. The upper edges were straight with a curved decking running forward rounding into the engine cowling. In front was located the 37 kW (50 hp) Gnome Omega seven cylinder radial engine. The cowling varied in time, and the gap at the bottom allowed lost oil to escape. One was shot with an uncowled Anzani 10-cylinder radial engine. The forward cockpit's rim was raised up, better enclosed and the nacelle was supported above the lower wing on two pairs of enclosed interplane struts. Its empennage was supported on a pair of parallel girders, the upper ones being attached to the upper wing spars while the lower ones ran under the lower wing supported by inverted W-struts. The aircraft could land on skids carrying two rubber sprung landing wheels.
In 1913 two of the Type D had been sold to China and the company obtained an order for twelve of the single seat variant Type F, which were operated under Emile Obre and Bon at Beijing. They also organised an aviation centre. Two Type Fswere showcased at Reims in September 1913 and René Caudron won first prize in the biplane category at 94 km/h (58 mph) and fastest lap time. In November, Pierre Chanteloup flew the Gnome powered version making the first biplane loops and other aerobatic manoeuvres at Issy-les-Moulineaux. The Type F was followed by the Type G-1, which was a preserie with a new nacelle for observation ad two were built and evaluated by the Army.
The Type F was a monoplane, 6.40 m (21 ft 0 in) long, 10.10 m (33 ft 2 in) in wingspan, 2.60 m (8 ft 6 in) high, 280 kg (617 lb) heavy, and propelled by a Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary, 37 kW (50 hp) (2-bladed prep.), and it was capable of 100 km/h (62 mph; 54 kn) flying at least for 4.5 hr. It was able to reach 5 min to 500 m (1,600 ft) and landed at 40 km/h (25 mph).
Caudron G.3 (1914)
An early Caudron G3 in 1913.
The Caudron G.3 designed by René and Gaston Caudron was a development of the G.2, extensively military tested. The final model first flew in May 1914 at Le Crotoy aerodrome. The G.3 short crew nacelle had the same nose tractor rotary engine, and open tailboom truss. A sesquiplane biplane steered by using wing warping and soon conventional ailerons for production aircraft. The G.3 was not armed but later a light machine guns and small bombs were carried. The G3 was ordered in gargantuan quantities when the War broke out. The Caudron factories themselves delivered 1423 out of the 2450 built in France alone. 233 were also built in UK, 166 in Italy and more in other countries, as 27 countries used it, either during or after the war. The Caudron brothers did not even charge a licensing fee for the design, calling this patriotism.
A Caudron G3 in Spain.
The G.3 first was assigned to Escadrille C.11 at the outbreak of war, performing reconnaissance missions that were crucial, all in good visibility. With time they joined more units. However low performance and no armament made it too a sitting duck and by mid-1916, the G.3 was retired and replaced by the G.4. The Italians used it extensively until 1917, and the British RFC still flew it by October 1917, for strafing attacks, while the Australian Flying Corps used the G.3 in the Mesopotamian campaign of 1915–16. The G.3 own qualities were appreciated to such a degree, its career went on as a trainer until well after the end of the war. The Chinese Fengtian clique G.3s remained in service until 1931, some were even captured by the Japanese. After the war, one of these G.3 was flown by Adrienne Bolland in 1921, making the first crossing of the Andes by a woman. The G.3 was followed in production by the G.4, a twin-engined development. Many have been preserved to this day, including some in flying conditions, like at La Ferté Alais historic meeting near Paris. The G.3 main type was the A.2 used for artillery spotting as far as Russia and the Middle East. The D.2 was a two-seat trainer with dual controls. The E.2 was a more basic trainer. The R.1 was a United States Air Service taxi trainer with no wings. The L2 had a 100 hp Anzani 10 radial engine. Gotha actually copied the G.3 (LD.3/LD.4 for "Land Doppeldecker").
Caudron G3 drawing.
Dimensions: Length 6.40 x 13.40 x 2.50 m (21 x 44 x 8 ft 3 in)
Weight: 420 kg (933 lb)/710 kg (1,577 lb) max takeoff
Le Rhône 9C rotary, 60 kW (80 hp), top speed 106 km/h (57 kn, 68 mph) 4,300 m  (14,110 ft)
Caudron G3 in Brazil.