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The first Gotha, the G-I, was designed by Oskar Ursinus for the Gothaer Waggonfabrik Company in 1914. This ground attack aircraft saw service on both the Western Front and the Eastern Front in 1915. The following year the company produced the Gotha G-IV. This aircraft, designed by Hans Burkhard, was built to carry out bombing raids in Britain. Day raids continued throughout the summer of 1917.
The Gotha G-IV was replaced by the superior Gotha G-V in August 1917. As well as structural changes, the Gotha G-V had more powerful engines and was more difficult to shoot down. A successful feature of the bomber was the gunner's ventral tunnel, which allowed him to fire downwards and towards the rear.
Performance Data of the Gotha G-V
2 x 260 hp Mercedes
77 ft 9 in (23.7 m)
40 ft (12.2 m)
14 ft (43 m)
87 mph (140 kph)
21,325 ft (6,500 m)
520 miles (835 km)
2-3 machine-guns; 1,102 lbs (500 kg) of bombs
The War in the Air - Bombers: Germany, Gotha and Giant
During the last two weeks of 1914, before the first Zeppelin attack on Britain, there were a small number of abortive raids against the Dover area by German seaplanes.
A more successful bomber force of 36 airplanes was organized in the Bruges region, which carried out its first night raid, against Dunkirk, in January of 1915. This unit was planning to run raids against Britain, but before they could about half of them were transferred to the Eastern Front and provided tactical support to the German breakthrough at Gorlice-Tarnow.
The Germans then concentrated their bomber activities on the Zeppelin fleet, until by mid 1916 it was clear to all (excluding Strasser, the naval airship fleet commander) that the airships were not succeeding as expected.
In the autumn of 1916 the Germans began to equip with the Gotha twin engined bomber. Of a pusher layout, these aircraft could fly at 15,000 feet, above contemporary fighter's maximum height. With a range of 800 km (500 miles) and a bomb load of up to 500 kg (1,100 lb), the Gothas were designed to carry out attacks across the channel against Britain.
A group of four squadrons was established in Belgium, and they carried out their first bombing raid towards the end of May, 1917. This 22 plane sortie, against the town of Folkestone, caused 95 deaths. In mid June a force of 18 Gothas attacked London in broad daylight. They were met by over 90 British fighters, but not one Gotha was brought down. This bombing raid caused 162 deaths.
On the 7th of July 1917 over a hundred defensive sorties were flown against a 22 plane Gotha raid. In this case one Gotha was shot down, and three were damaged, at the cost of two fighters shot down by the Gotha's defensive gunners. It was only when the RFC began to equip their home defences with Sopwith Camels that the Gothas began to suffer serious losses and were forced to switch to night attacks.
From mid-September the Gothas were joined by an even larger, more potent bomber. The Zeppelin-Staaken Riesenflugzeug "Giant" bomber was a four engined tractor biplane with enclosed cabin that may have been inspired by the Russian Murometz. The Giant certainly deserved its title - its wing span of 42 metres (138 feet) was only one metre (3 feet) shorter than Boeing's famous B29 Superfortress of World War II fame, and its tailplane was roughly the same size as a Sopwith Pup.
It could carry a maximum bomb load of 2,000 kg (4,400lb) but for long range flights, such as against London, this was reduced to half that. It had a range of about 800km (500 miles). Like the Murometz, the engines could be serviced in mid-flight.
The Gotha/Giant night raids continued throughout 1917, almost unscathed, until December when the British began to have success in intercepting the Gothas at night. Anti-aircraft fire was also becoming more effective and increased use of barrage balloons affected the bombers.
By the end of the war a 50 mile long line of barrage balloons surrounded London.
On the night of the 28th-29th of January 1918, after the loss of one Gotha over Britain and four more to crash landings back in Belgium, the Gotha squadrons were withdrawn for reorganization and training. When they became operational again in March they were employed primarily for tactical support during Germany's last great offensive on the Western Front.
In the meantime the Giants continued a small but influential campaign against London. On the 16th of February, during a four plane raid, a Giant dropped a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bomb - the largest used by anyone in the war - and blew up a wing of the Chelsea hospital.
During the same raid another Giant survived colliding with the cable of a barrage balloon and falling 1,000 feet before the pilot could regain control. The following evening a single Giant returned and scored a direct hit on St. Pancras station. The crew of this airplane reported that they saw anti-aircraft fire as far as twenty miles away - an indication of the psychological impact of attacks on urban targets.
The last raid of the war was carried out on the night of the 19th-20th of October 1918. This was a combined Gotha/Giant raid, and of the 38 Gothas taking part three were shot down by fighters and a further three were brought down by anti-aircraft fire.
No Giants were ever lost to British fighters or anti-aircraft guns, even though some were intercepted. A number were badly damaged by accidents during landing. The Giants were extremely complicated to build, and only 18 were ever completed.
The Germans hoped to cause widespread panic and even uprising with these raids. In this they failed, but the raids tied down a large number of aircraft, anti-aircraft guns and personnel that otherwise could have been used directly on the Western Front. The need for a coordinated air defence was one of the major reasons for the formation of the RAF in April of 1918.
One of the conditions of the armistice was that the German would hand over all their night bombers. When the British saw how few of these aircraft there actually were they initially suspected the Germans of hiding some of them.
The seeming invincibility of the bombers, especially in 1917, had a great influence on British military thinking well into the Second World War, for it was here that the British concept that "The heavy bomber will always get through" was born.
Saturday, 22 August, 2009 Ari Unikoski
The financial cost of the war is said to have amounted to almost $38 billion for Germany alone Britain spent $35 billion, France $24 billion, Russia $22 billion, USA $22 billion and Austria-Hungary $20 billion. In total the war cost the Allies around $125 billion the Central Powers $60 billion.
- Did you know?
Gotha G. IV And G. V Biplane Bombers
Potentially a major, advance in air warfare, the Gotha bomber was Germany’s major weapon in her attempt to subdue England’s civilian population in World War I. From it arose the misguided belief that terror bombing could win wars.
The first Hague Peace Conference in 1899 had banned the dropping of projectiles from balloons but only for a five-year period, and before 1914 the popular press and fiction writers had foreseen air attacks on cities. London’s vulnerability caused a panic in 1913.83 After war began, humanitarian considerations caused little hesitation. The French bombed Ludwigshafen in 1914, and they and the British continued to raid enemy border towns into 1915–16, although neither had yet developed specialized bomber aircraft and the damage caused was slight. From Germany, only Zeppelin airships could reach London, and they came under the German navy. Gradually Wilhelm – who had scruples about targeting historic buildings and his cousins’ palaces, while the Chancellor was worried about neutral public opinion – ceded to the navy’s enthusiasm, and raids on London began on 31 May 1915. For some months the British had no answer, but during 1916 new BE2C aircraft arrived that climbed higher and were stable at night, and fired incendiary ‘Buckingham’ bullets. Supported by better anti-aircraft guns, searchlights, and an improved ground observer system, they shot down so many Zeppelins that from September 1916 raids on London ceased. Because of raw-material shortages the airships’ skin was no longer rubberized, and their ribs consisted of wood rather than aluminium, making them even more flammable. The danger seemed over, and in early 1917 the British authorities were winding down their civil defence arrangements.
But the Zeppelins prepared the way for bombing by aircraft. German engineers had been working on the Gotha G-IV bomber since the start of the war, and the OHL wanted it ready for raids to coincide with unrestricted submarine warfare. London, 175 miles from the Gothas’ bases in Belgium, fell within their 500-mile range. Unlike French cities, it could be approached over water, without ground defences, and the Thames estuary provided a conspicuous guideline. Gothas carried a smaller payload than did Zeppelins, but they were faster (87 mph), higher (up to 10,500 feet), more heavily armed (carrying three machine guns), and harder to shoot down. Moreover, whereas the British decrypted the Zeppelins’ wireless code and always had warning of their arrival, the first daylight Gotha raids (codenamed Operation Türkenkreuz) were unanticipated. They killed and injured 290 people at Folkestone on 25 May, and on 13 June they killed and injured 594 in bombing centred on London’s Liverpool Street Station and the East End, including eighteen children at the Upper North Street school in the East India Dock Road on 7 July another raid on the capital claimed 250 more casualties. By this stage there was media uproar and tense discussion in the War Cabinet. Two fighter squadrons returned from the Western Front (over Haig’s protests) – and a new agency, the London Air Defence Area (LADA), was created under Major Edward B. Ashmore, a gunner moved from Flanders. Ashmore added another barrier of fighters east of London and altered their tactics so that they attacked the Gothas in groups rather than singly, and the same bad weather that bedevilled British troops in Belgium assisted him. In three raids during August the Gothas failed to reach London, and in the last they lost three aircraft, one to AA fire and two to fighters. Perhaps prematurely, they switched to night attacks.
By far the most famous German bombers of the war were the Gotha G. IV and G. V biplanes, which carried out highly successful raids on London in the summer of 1917. They were derived from the earlier Gotha G. II and G. III, which were designed by Hans Burkhard and introduced in 1916. The former proved to be underpowered with its twin 220 hp Benz inline motors, limiting production to just ten aircraft. The latter, however, were powered by two 260 hp Mercedes inline engines and could carry a bomb load of approximately 1,100 lbs. The G. III was also the first bomber that attempted to provide the tail gunner with the ability to fire downward as well as laterally and upward. Replaced on the Western Front fairly quickly by the much-improved G. IV, the G. III was transferred to the Balkans after Romania entered the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary.
The G. IV was introduced in late 1916 and formed the nucleus of Heavy Bomber Squadron No. 3, which by war’s end was to drop more than 186,000 lbs of bombs on London in a series of raids that began with a daylight raid on 25 May 1917. With a wingspan of 77 ft 9.25 in., a length of 38 ft 11 in., and a loaded weight of 7,997 lbs, the G. IV was capable of carrying between 660 and 1,100 lbs of bombs, depending on the mission and the amount of fuel carried on board. In order to have maximum range for the attacks on London, for example, the G. IV carried just 660 lbs of bombs. One of the chief reasons for its success was that its twin 260 hp Mercedes D. IVa inline motors (configured in a pusher arrangement) enabled it to reach a maximum speed of 87 mph and to operate from a service ceiling of 6,500 m (21,325 ft)-a height that was beyond the capabilities of the home defense aircraft used by the British. As a result of the raids, the British were forced to divert top-of-the-line fighters to home defense, forcing the Gothas to switch to nighttime raids. The G. V was a heavier version that had a better center of gravity and featured an improved tail gunner firing arrangement. All versions of the Gothas had a three-man crew. Although precise production figures are not available, it is estimated that 230 G. IVs entered service in 1917. Total production probably exceeded 400, of which forty airframes produced by L. V. G. were supplied to Austria-Hungary and equipped by Oeffag with 230 hp Hiero inline engines.
Kagohl 3 was still carrying out raids on French ports and over the front, but casualties were mounting at an alarming rate. At the beginning of February, Ernst Brandenburg returned to take command again, but after one look at what remained of the England Geschwader he had the unit taken off operations to re-organize and re-equip. By the spring of 1918, Kagohl 3 was once more flying combat missions over France and the western front, but they did not attack England again until 19 May.
The raid on 19-20 May was the largest to be mounted against Britain during the whole war, 38 Gothas and three R-planes flying the mission. From 2230 until long after midnight the bombers streamed across to London, and destruction was extensive with over a thousand buildings damaged or destroyed. But the Gothas paid a fearful price. Only 28 of those that took off actually attacked England fighters claimed three victims, anti-aircraft fire accounted for three more, and one crashed on its return flight.
As had happened with the GIV, the performance of the GV deteriorated as loads increased and serviceability declined, and the 19 May raid had been carried out from only about 5,500ft, whereas earlier night missions with GV’s had been at over 8,000ft. Bombing at such low levels was bound to be expensive.
By June 1918 new types of Gotha were beginning to arrive at Kagohl 3. The GVa and GVb both had shorter noses than the normal GV, box-tails with twin rudders instead of a single fin and rudder, and auxiliary landing wheels under the nose or at the front of each engine nacelle. The GVb could carry a useful load of 3,520lb, 8031b more than earlier models, but its performance was otherwise no better and in some respects inferior. Since the GIV was now obsolete, these aircraft were being supplied to the Austrians for use on the Italian front, or to training squadrons in Germany.
At the end of May the England Geschwader were switched exclusively to targets in France in support of the German spring offensive, including Paris and Etaples, on the French coast. Later they were diverted to tactical targets near the front as the Allies counter-attacked, and the squadron inevitably suffered catastrophic losses. By November it was all over, however, and grandiose schemes to renew the raids on England in 1919 came to nothing as Germany sued for peace.
The casualties suffered by Kagohl 3 at the end of hostilities totalled 137 dead, 88 missing and over 200 wounded. On raids against England alone, 60 Gothas were lost—almost twice the basic strength of the unit. But the Gotha threat kept two British front line fighter squadrons at home at any one time and thereby indirectly benefited the German Air Force in France and Flanders.
Siegfried Sasson, the war poet, observed an air raid – in his case of the Gotha raid of the 17th August 1917 that attacked the City of London. It warrants a paragraph in his “Memoirs of an Infantry Officer” “When my taxi stopped in that narrow thoroughfare, Old Broad Street, the people on the pavement were standing still, staring up at the hot white sky. Loud bangings had begun in the near neighbourhood, and it was obvious that an air-raid was in full swing. This event could not be ignored but I needed money and wished to catch my train, so I decided to disregard it. The crashings continued, and while I was handing my cheque to the cashier a crowd of women clerks came wildly down a winding stairway with vociferations of not unnatural alarm. Despite this commotion the cashier handed me five one-pound notes with the stoical politeness of a man who had made up his mind to go down with the ship. Probably he felt as I did—more indignant than afraid there seemed no sense in the idea of being blown to bits in one’s own bank. I emerged from the building with an air of soldierly unconcern my taxi-driver, like the cashier, was commendably calm, although another stupendous crash sounded as though very near Old Broad Street (as indeed it was). “I suppose we may as well go on to the station,” I remarked, adding, “it seems a bit steep that one can’t even cash a cheque in comfort!” The man grinned and drove on. It was impossible to deny that the War was being brought home to me. At Liverpool Street there had occurred what, under normal conditions, would be described as an appalling catastrophe. Bombs had been dropped on the station and one of them had hit the front carriage of my noon express to Cambridge. Horrified travellers were hurrying away. The hands of the clock indicated 11.50 but railway-time had been interrupted for once in its career, the imperative clock was a passive spectator. While I stood wondering what to do, a luggage trolley was trundled past me on it lay an elderly man, shabbily dressed, and apparently dead. The sight of blood caused me to feel quite queer. This sort of danger seemed to demand a quality of courage dissimilar to front-line fortitude. In a trench one was acclimatised to the notion of being exterminated and there was a sense of organised retaliation. But here one was helpless an invisible enemy sent destruction spinning down from a fine weather sky poor old men bought a railway ticket and were trundled away again dead on a barrow wounded women lay about in the station groaning. And one’s train didn’t start. . . .”
The Gotha Bomber and the Origins of Strategic Bombing
While England may have slept during the years between the world wars, it was a restless slumber haunted by dreams of war transgressing all sanctuary and moderation. Other nations may have contemplated the theory of strategic bombing, but the British had already tasted its bitter harvest. They had never forgotten the summer of 1917, when the German Gothas rained terror and destruction on London and the towns of the southern coast.
Fittingly enough, the nightmare’s first visitation literally floated into existence. Since 1793, when French revolutionaries established an infant balloon corps, lighter-than-air vehicles had been used intermittently for military purposes. They were employed primarily for reconnaissance, but the idea of balloon bombardment was deemed sufficiently credible for it to be banned by both the 1899 and 1907 Hague disarmament conferences. The magnitude and desperation of World War I made relatively short work of these prohibitions, and by late January 1915 German zeppelins had begun bombing English ports on the south east coast. By September these attacks had escalated to squadron-size night raids on London itself, and within a year the zeppelins had accounted for more than 400 dead and millions of dollars’ worth of property damage.
Nevertheless, German airships were fundamentally flawed as weapons.
They not only were huge targets, most be ing over 600 feet long, but were filled with highly flammable hydrogen. Consequently, a combination of British spotlights, antiaircraft guns, and incendiary-firing pursuit planes was soon turning the zeppelins into flying crematoria with such regularity that the attacks were halted in December 1916. But the English would soon face a much more dangerous threat: the Gotha G IV.
The roots of the German program to develop a heavy bomber aircraft go back to autumn 1914, when Major Wilhelm Siegert, a former balloon pilot, proposed a strategic bombardment of London using airplanes. But what he had in mind were the rickety 100-horsepower B-type aircraft with an extremely light bombload and a range so limited that a trip to London and back would have required launching them from airfields no farther from the target than the Pas de Calais.
The advance of the German army bogged down far short of this goal, necessitating a turn to the much longer-range zeppelins. Nonetheless, specifications were also issued for a Grosse kampffiugzeug (large bomber aircraft) or G-type, and a number of companies, including Gothaer Waggonfabrik
A.G. Gotha, began work. Over the next two years, a series of multiengine prototypes and limited-production models were created, but in each case they proved underpowered and unreliable. Finally, in October 1916, Gotha managed to generate a successful design, which would be rushed into production as the G IV.
The basic G IV was a large, angular biplane with a wingspan of over 77 feet and twin 260-horsepower, water cooled Mercedes engines linked to pusher propellers that drove the air craft for more than 300 miles (on auxiliary tanks) at a sedate 80 miles per hour. Yet the Gotha was no sitting duck. It was highly maneuverable, and the early, better-made models, even with a full, 2,600-pound fuel and bombload, could climb to between 18,000 and 21,000 feet-far higher than nearly all the interceptors they were likely to encounter. Even pursuit planes that succeeded in engaging G IVs at lower altitudes found them to be relatively tough customers. The bomber and its three-man crew were protected by two electrically heated 7.92mm Parabellum machine guns, one placed to fire forward and above, the other set up to shoot not only upward and behind the plane but also downward, through a special tunnel in the rear of the fuselage, thus covering a favorite angle of approach. This unprecedented “sting in the tail” would provide a nasty surprise for British pilots intent on attacking from below.
Yet the Gotha was primarily an offensive instrument intended to deliver explosives, and in this role its specifications were equally impressive. Subtracting weight for the crew and fuel, the G IV retained a bomb payload of 660 pounds at full range. While this compares unfavorably with the carrying capacity of the zeppelins–from 2,500 to 4,500 pounds of bombs, depending on the model–it does not take account of numbers. A typical zeppelin raid might include two or three of the giant craft, while the Gothas could come in waves of 25. The combined payload of the aircraft was at least as great, and the G IVs were both individually less vulnerable and collectively less subject to dramatic attrition, because the bombs were spread over many more vehicles.
Although the Gotha was destined to inflict damage primarily on civilians and their property, the aircraft’s features and armament did indicate some intention to limit indiscriminate destruction. Specifically, the G IV was equipped with a Goerz bombsight employing a three-foot Zeiss vertical telescope, constituting what aviation historian C.M. White calls “the first scientific attempt at bomb-aiming during the Great War.” Further, the Gotha’s initial basic bombload was divided between 110- and 27-pound projectiles, both useful primarily against point targets, or specific buildings. Racks for much heavier bombs meant for indiscriminate night raids were eventually fitted, but this was largely a reaction to the growing lethality of British air defenses. (The Germans apparently never thought of including poison-gas projectiles, and ignored the sinister “Elektron” incendiary bomb perfected in the final months of the war–mainly because the war was lost anyway.)
Nevertheless, when the Gothas were unleashed in late May 1917, it was primarily with a political purpose in mind, and this was clearly understood to include attacks on civilian facilities. Türkenkreuz (Turk’s Cross), as the bombing operation was called, was part of a two-pronged strategy–the other being unrestricted submarine warfare–intended to drive Britain from the war by striking at the home front. Symbolizing this resolve was the designation of central London the government buildings around Downing Street, the Admiralty, the Bank of England, and the press organs of Fleet Street–as the principal target area, with military installations and war production assuming secondary importance. Yet the actual results proved far less discrete, if almost equally devastating psychologically.
Typical was the Gothas’ first mass raid, which bad weather turned away from London. While the raid only lightly damaged military camps at Shorncliffe and Cheriton, it also slaughtered 60 people, mostly women and children, in the Folkestone commercial district. When the Gothas did succeed in reaching the capital, beginning in June, the results were much the same. The planes located and hit designated targets, but a 110-pound bomb also plunged through the Upper North Street Schools, bursting on the ground floor to kill or injure 64 children. And the bombing was destined to grow more in discriminate as British defenses improved.
Initially, British efforts were compromised by the government’s unwillingness to divert assets from the Western Front, by interservice rivalry, and by the sheer technical difficulty of adjusting to Germany’s shift from the lumbering zeppelins to the faster, higher-flying Gothas. British pilots frequently fumed in frustration as the bombers passed unscathed thousands of feet above.
But the early-warning net was soon streamlined to provide adequate reaction time. And with this came a dramatic improvement in the coordination of antiaircraft fire and aerial defenders, which in turn drew an increasingly heavy toll of Gothas. By the end of August, the bombers sought the cover of darkness, and daylight missions ceased.
So began what historian Raymond Fredette has called the first blitz, a weeklong string of random night bombings during the final days of September 1917. At first many Londoners looked upon the raids as a sort of out door spectacle. But after four such attacks, as many as 300,000 people nightly were taking refuge in the Underground, and numerous others hid in the tunnels beneath the Thames.
Each evening more than 10,000 anti aircraft shells were fired at the German raiders–and the spent bits of shrapnel raining down on the city added to the casualties. For all anybody knew, the bombing might never end.
But in fact the attack was a spasm, a supreme German effort. Virtually all the Gothas flew, as well as zeppelins and several enormous unstandardized aircraft known as Giants. Typical of this small class of behemoths was the R.39, with a wingspan of nearly 140 feet, four engines totaling almost 1,000 horsepower, a nine-man crew, and a bomb payload of 4,000 pounds. Yet only one Giant reached London and this, too, was typical.
The first blitz was a dismal failure. The kaiser awarded the coveted Blue Max to Rudolf Kleine, commander of the Gothas, but the facts bespoke an other result. Of 92 G IV sorties, only 55 reached England, and fewer than 20 found London. Thirteen Gothas–nearly one-third of the squadron–were destroyed that week. There would be other raids, but the cost would be still dearer. For by 1918 the British had nearly completed an air defense system, which in every essential save radar was like the one that stunned the Luftwaffe in 1940.
Still, the memory of the Gothas and that frightening week in September 1917 continued to haunt the English. As much as anything, this was why when war came again to the otherwise unprepared nation, there was not only air defense but civil defense and a heavy bomber force to wreak terrible vengeance on the homes of those who assailed them from above.
ROBERT L. O’CONNELL was an MHQ contributing editor.
This article originally appeared in the Autumn 1990 issue (Vol. 3, No. 1) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: The Gotha Bomber and the Origins of Strategic Bombing
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The Gotha G.V was among Germany's long-range heavy bombers of World War I. This classic airplane took over from the ungainly Zeppelins that had been used previously as bomb platforms over London and other targets. The word 'Gotha' evoked a nervous horror among the English civilian populace in World War I, much like the terms 'V-1' and 'V-2' would during World War II. In both instances, the fear of injury was mixed with an intense frustration that nothing was being done to remedy the situation.
The Gotha bombers evolved from the 1915 G.II and G.III versions that were successful on both the Eastern and Western fronts. These were soon followed by the improved G.IV and G.V aircraft, which were larger and more strongly built. As Raymond Fredette relates in his remarkable book, The Sky on Fire, they carried the brunt of the German attack against England.
Classic Airplane Image Gallery
The later Gothas were indeed engineering triumphs of classic aircraft, especially when one considers that their first flight came only 13 years after Kitty Hawk. Large biplanes built of wood, steel, and fabric, they were powered by sinister-sounding twin-pusher (rear-sited) Mercedes engines.
Called into service because of the failure of the Zeppelin raids against England to make a significant contribution to victory, the three-place Gothas made their first daylight raid on May 25, 1917, with a mass (for those days) attack of 21 aircraft against Kent. On July 13, they had the effrontery to attack London, killing 162 people and injuring 400. Indignant citizens demanded immediate action, and the Royal Flying Corps was eventually forced to withdraw a number of fighter squadrons from the front. The effective home defense system that was created became the model for Britain's defense during World War II.
Because the Gotha G.V was a big, ponderous plane with unexceptional engine power, takeoffs and landings were real tests of pilots' skill. At night, in particular, many more of these classic airplanes were lost to pilot mishap than to British fighters.
Gotha G-V - History
Gotha G.V serial 947-16 KZ captured by Belgian troops in August 1918 (H Sermon collection)
Country of origin:
Twin-engine long-range heavy bomber
Two 194 kw (260 hp) Mercedes D.IVa six-cylinder in-line liquid-cooled engines
Two manually-operated 7.69 mm (0.303 in) Parabellum machine guns in nose and rear cockpits bomb load from 300 kg to 500 kg (660 lb to 1,100 lb) six 50 kg (110 lb) bombs carried in daylight raids on England
The Gotha G.V was one of a series of long-range heavy bombers built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik A G Gotha in Germany, which produced the type in some numbers during World War I, the series also being licence-built by Luft Verkehrs GmbH (LVG) and Siemens-Schuckert Werke GmbH.
The Gotha bombers of World War I have been described as having a unique position in aeronautical history in that their name became the accepted synonym for ‘German bomber’ on both sides and has remained so since. Despite widely-published information at the time that they were Handley Page O/100 bombers of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) which got lost and landed on a German airfield in 1916, they were an original design and were placed in production before the O/100.
Gothaer Waggonfabrik was well known before the war as a manufacturer of railway carriages, trucks and other heavy equipment, an aircraft manufacturing division being set up in 1912. Initially the Company built other manufacturers’ designs under licence but eventually commenced to produce its own designs.
The first twin-engine design appeared in 1914, designed by Oskar Ursinus, a civil engineer, and at the time editor of ‘Flugsport’. The aircraft was initially known as the Ursinus GUH and was an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft but was later fitted with machine guns and re-designated the GO G.I, having Benz engines providing 112 kw (150 hp) and an all-up weight of 2,790 kg (6,150 lb).
The prototype of the Model G.II had engines in the pusher configuration instead of tractor and had a unique quadricycle undercarriage under each engine nacelle. This was changed to a three-point undercarriage. The Models G.III to G.V differed only slightly from the G.II, mainly mounting more powerful engines.
The basic framework was of wood construction with fabric covering, the tail surfaces, ailerons and undercarriage being built of steel tube. The wing was of three-bay layout, the upper wings being composed of two panels joined at the centre with steel wedges. The lower wings had a centre-section to which were attached the engine bearers, struts and undercarriage. These sections were plywood covered on both surfaces. The interplane struts were of steel tube with three-ply fairings.
A crew of three or four was usually carried and the various cockpits for the nose gunner/bombardier, pilot and rear gunner were connected by an open passageway to allow positions to be changed in flight. Bombs were carried vertically in an internal bomb bay and externally on racks under the wings and fuselage. An unusual feature was the tunnel in the rear fuselage which gave the rear lower gunner a clear field of fire to the rear and below from a prone position which covered the vulnerable blind spots of the bomber.
Production continued to the G.VII and G.VIII models, which had opposite rotating propellers, but most aircraft had standard engines with both propellers rotating clockwise.
The Gotha G.IV emerged in 1916 and coincided with the realisation that the Zeppelin airships had limitations as a raiding weapon. Subsequently the Gothas made many bombing raids on England. Heavy Bomber Squadron 3 was formed in 1917 with 30 examples of the Gotha IV, commanded by Hauptmann Brandenburg, being based at St Denis Westrem [Flights 13 and 14] and Gontrode [Flights 15 and 16]. Two more Flights [Nos 17 and 18] were formed in July 1917. Daylight raids were made on England from 25 May to 22 August 1917 and achieved remarkable success with a low casualty rate, the aircraft flying at 4,572 m (15,000 ft). Sopwith Pups and Martinsydes were sent to intercept the Gothas but by the time they reached altitude the bombers were on their way back across the North Sea.
There was very little significant damage caused by the bombing but the effect on the British public was enormous and forced the British Government to withdraw No 56 Squadron from France to combat the daylight raids. Once an early warning defence system was put in place, and with the advent of the Bristol F.2b Fighter and Sopwith Camel with defence units, daylight operations became impossible and the German bombers had to resort to night raids. By May 1918 the Gothas used on night raids were withdrawn from operations on England, having made 22 raids. No 3 Bombengeschwader dropped 84,745 kg (168,828 lb) of bombs. Twenty-four aircraft were destroyed by Allied defences and a further 37 were lost in accidents.
Late in the war, in December 1918, when Germany and its aerodromes were being overrun, units of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) took possession of many German items of equipment, including aircraft and field guns. No 4 Squadron AFC captured what was said to be a Gotha bomber, thought to be a G.V, at an airfield near Cologne. A photo of this aircraft has appeared in Vol. VIII of the ‘Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18, Australian Flying Corps’ by F M Cutlack, this being Australian War Memorial (AWM) Official Photo No E4147. However, this aircraft was in fact a Zeppelin Staaken R.VI. The Australian unit did capture a Gotha G.V bomber in that area but, as the German bombers were too large an aircraft to be taken as a War Prize, it is assumed in due course it was abandoned on the airfield and later broken up.
It is interesting to note a German Railway gun named ‘Big Bertha’ was captured by Australian troops and shipped to Australia for the AWM. At one stage it was assembled and placed on display at Central Railway Station in Sydney, NSW. It is believed to be the only German railway gun which survived the war but it was eventually scrapped and all that remained was the barrel at the AWM.
The number of operations by German bombers against the United Kingdom has been described as the ‘First Battle of Britain’. Attacks were made initially by Zeppelin airships on 51 occasions and by aeroplanes on 52 occasions. Records have indicate 1,414 persons were killed and 3,416 were injured on the ground. However, raids did cause many Londoners to seek shelter in underground railways and many left the city for country areas.
Raids on Britain by Gotha aircraft commenced on 25 May 2017 with 21 aircraft reaching the shore and successfully bombing Folkestone on the English Channel in Kent, and Shorncliffe Camp. Raids continued until 18 September 1917 when 25 aircraft set out but only three bombed coastal areas in Suffolk, Kent and Essex. On this occasion they were joined by three Zeppelin Staakens, which were known as ‘Giants’.
The last operation was on 19/20 May 1918 when 38 Gothas set out and 28 reached their targets in the London, Faversham and Dover areas, being joined by two ‘Giants’. Altogether the Gothas carried out 383 raids, 297 reaching Britain during eight daylight and 19 night raids. On these raids they were joined by 30 ‘Giants’, 28 of which reached their targets. A total of 111,935 kg of bombs was dropped. During these operations 24 Gothas were shot down, 36 were lost or damaged in crashes, and two ‘Giants’ were lost in crashes.
Entering service in 1917.The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I to terrorize the innocent London dweller. They carried but 1200 lbs of bombs and, in reality, more were destroyed during landing than by Allied firepower. This model is being totally re-designed (Apr 6, 09)
Gotha G.V WWI German Bomb Dropper
It was not until the early spring of 1917 that a long-range bomber of sufficiently advanced design and number was available to the Germans to bomb London.
With it's sinister 'lozenge' camouflage, crew of three, and 6x200lb bombs careening in at 81 mph this two engine flying nightmare made the Zeppelin bomb droppers look like Santa Claus.
What's more, the rear gunner was able to fire down through the Gotha's fuselage at attacking (and very much surprised!) allied Scouts. Whatamodel!!
Gotha G.V German WWI Bomber
Since the occupation of the Belgian coast in 1914, it had been the German ambition to be able to bomb England particularly London. But it was not until the early spring of 1917 that a long-range bomber of sufficiently advanced design was available. This flying nightmare, soon to become a household word in England, was the Gotha Bomb Dropper.
The Gotha Bomb Dropper was produced in the autumn of 1916 when the limitations of the Zeppelin as a raider had become painfully obvious. Unlike the Zeppelins, the Gotha's could fly in formation and cover each other with their Parabellum MG14 7.9 mm caliber machine guns. The German High Command decreed that 30 Gotha bombers were to be ready for a daylight raid on London on February 1st, 1917, but the machines were not actually available until May, and the first daylight raid on London was carried out by a formation of 14 Gotha's on June 13th, 1917.
This raid, and the others which followed, received little opposition and the public indignation was substantial. After July 7th, when 22 Gotha's raided the Capitol, the daylight raids on London stopped, and the following month night raids commenced. Hit and run raids continued by day in other parts of England for several weeks. Night raids continued until May 1918 and were abandoned in view of the increasingly heavy toll taken by the defenses which by that time included an efficient system of balloon-cables and many night-flying Sopwith Camels and other fighters. At peak employment, in April 1918, 36 G.Vs were in service.
On daylight attacks the Gotha's flew between 10,000 ft and 16,000 ft- too high to enable the defense to intercept them as they flew up the Thames estuary towards London. On the night raids, when a lower ceiling sufficed, a greater weight of bombs could be carried.
The most novel feature of the Gotha, and one which made it difficult to attack, was the carefully designed tunnel through the fuselage for firing downward, covering the standard blind spot and enabling the tail and underside to be perfectly protected against attacking aeroplanes. A crew of three was normally carried in the Gotha. The raids on England were mostly carried out from bases at St. Denis Westrem and Gontrode in Flanders.
ARMAMENT: Movable Parabellum 7.9mm machine gun on turntable mounting in front cockpit and a Parabellum gun on traverse mounting on rear cockpit. (Interesting note is that this rear cockpit gun could be fired downward through an opening in the upper fuselage for belly defense). Twelve (10?) heavy Explosive (H.E.) bombs carried in twin chambers mounted within the fuselage between the pilot's and rear cockpit along with two external bombs in spring jaws under the forward section to correct tail heaviness. Some Gotha's were seen to be carrying 6X50kg bombs externally between the landing gear. Total bomb capacity was 1,102 lb.
Jane's Fighting Aircraft of WWI explains ..
"The bomb dropping instruments carry 14 bombs in all. One in the front of the fuselage, an affair with spring jaws, contains two bombs lying longitudinally.
Two others placed between the pilot and the rear passenger contains up to six bombs each, piled one upon the other in a rectangular chamber, so arranged that as the lowest bomb is released, it is followed successfully by the other bombs."
Two 260 hp Mercedes motors driving pusher props:
Final versions in service were the G.Va distinguishable from the G.V by the biplane tail assembly and shorter nose And the G.Vb which sported a nose wheel for safer landings. Going into production in March 1918- in service by June, they were agile for their size, well defended, and difficult to shot down.
In all, there were 57 airship raids (564 killed and 1,370 wounded), and 27 aircraft raids (835 killed and 1,990 wounded) on Great Britain in the First World War. A total of 9,000 bombs (280 tons)was dropped. Damage totaling £3,000,000 was caused but the wasted time of workers having to take shelter had a far greater impact. Combined with this was the emotional shock resulting from raids such as that of January 28, 1918, when an exploding bomb caused a press to fall through the floor of O'dhams printing works on to people sheltering below, killing 38 of them and wounding 85 more.
The first Grossflugzeug (large aeroplane) built by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG was the 0. evolved by Oskar Ursinus and Major Friedel of the German Army from a prototype flown for the first time in January 1915. A few of these were built by Gotha under licence, in simplified and improved form. They were intended for ground-attack and general tactical duties and were employed on the Western and Eastern Fronts. The G.Is were characterized by a slim fuselage attached to the upper wings, while the two l60hp Mercedes D.III engines were mounted close together on the lower wings. Although following the same basic concept, the Gotha 0.11 was an entirely new design, evolved at Gotha under the Swiss engineer Hans Burkhard and flown for the first time in March 1916. The fuselage and engines (220hp Mercedes D.IVs) were mounted conventionally on the lower wings overall span was increased, and auxiliary front wheels were added to the landing gear to avoid the risk of nosing over. The Gotha 0.11 carried a crew of three and a defensive armament of two machine-guns the first production example was completed in April 1916. The 0.11 entered service in the autumn, but was soon withdrawn from operations (on the Balkan Front) after repeated failures of the engine crankshafts. It was replaced from October 1916 on the Balkan and Western Fronts by the 0.111, a new model with reinforced fuselage, an extra machine-gun and 260hp Mercedes DJVa engines. An initial 'twenty-five GIlls were ordered, and in December 1916 fourteen were in service at the Front.
First major production model was the OW, chosen to carry out raids on the United Kingdom: an initial fifty G.IVs were ordered from Gotha, eighty were built by Siemens & Huckert and about a hundred by LVG. The CIV went into service about March 1917, and began to make daylight raids on southern England towards the end of May. The G.IV retained the Mercedes D.IVa, but differed appreciably in having a tunnel hollowed out of the rear fuselage so that the rear gunner could cover the blind spot' below and to the rear of the bomber. Normandy this was done with the standard rear-mounted gun, but a fourth gun could be carried for the purpose at the expense of part of the bomb load. The CIV, with an an-plywood fuselage, and ailerons on top and bottom wings, was stronger yet easier to fly than its predecessors, though its performance remained much the same as for the 0111, and Germany was obliged to switch it to night attacks against Britain from September 1917. By this time it was beginning to be replaced by the new G.V, which had entered service in August this version continued the night bombing of England until the following May.
At the peak of their employment, in April 1918, thirty-six Gotha G.Vs were in service. Their typical bomb load on cross-Channel raids was six 50kg (1 bIb) bombs - about half their maximum load. These differed from one another only in internal details, but could be distinguished from the G.V by their biplane tail assembly and shorter nose. The G.Va/Vb went into production in March 1918 and into service in June by August there were twenty-one G.Vbs at the Front. In general, the Gotha bombers were agile for their size, well defended and difficult to shoot down. More were lost to anti-aircraft flue than in aerial fighting, but far more still were lost in landing accidents. Forty of the Siemens-built G.lVs were completed as trainers. About thirty of the 1MG G.IVs were later transferred to Austro-Hungary, where they were refitted with 230hp Hieros and employed on the Italian Front. A seaplane development of the G.I, the Gotha-Ursinus UWD, was completed late in 1915. It was handed over to the German Navy in January 1916 and used on operations.
Specifications for the Gotha G.V Bomber
Maximum speed: 87 mph
Range: 522 miles
Service ceiling: 21,325 ft
Meet the Gotha: Imperial Germany's Deadly World War I Bomber
Key point: In the WWI era, these bombers represented a significant improvement. However, they weren't enough to win the war for Berlin.
On May 25, 1917, a fleet of 21 bombers lumbered in a line at 12,000 feet over the English coast. The biplanes, each carrying 13 bombs, had wingspans exceeding 70 feet, immense for World War I aircraft. German military leaders called the planes Gothas, hoping the name would add an element of terror to English citizens in their homes below.
Earlier that day the Gothas, a top-secret weapon carefully concealed at Belgian airfields, had taken off and headed toward England, about 175 miles away. The super-bombers were led by Ernst Brandenburg, personally selected to head Kagohl 3, the elite of Kaiser Wilhelm’s bombing squadrons organized for raids on England. The target was London. Because the British weren’t expecting these newly designed warplanes, they were not prepared to spot their arrival or to stop them.
Ironically, in the spring of 1917, British residents believed the battle for the skies over their country was already won. They had been able to sleep soundly in their beds for about eight consecutive months with no German Zeppelins daring the North Sea with their deadly bombs. The Gothas now heading toward London had a much greater potential for causing damage than the Zeppelins, which could muster only small bomb loads.
The German Gotha
Although no other bomber, German or Allied, cradled more than two 112-pound bombs, the Gotha was capable of carrying more than 10 times that amount and dropping them with remarkable accuracy by using a high-tech Goerz bombsight.
Twin engines gave these bombers a top speed of 88 miles per hour and a ceiling of 16,000 feet, well above the reach of most defensive fighters then based in England. Because the Gothas flew so high, tanks of liquid oxygen were available if needed by crewmembers. The aircraft’s many unique features convinced German leaders that the Gotha was a plane capable of winning the war.
The 34-year-old Brandenburg took off with 23 bombers from grass fields near Ghent and headed for the Nieuwunster Airfield 40 miles away to refuel. (A reserve fuel tank was later installed under the upper wing to avoid this delay on future raids.)
One Gotha experienced engine problems halfway to the coast and landed near Thielt. Another suffered fuel line problems over the North Sea and began falling behind. Unfortunately, Brandenburg had no radio (because of its prohibitive weight) to find out what was wrong with this Gotha, which was painted with undulating serpents from nose to tail. Finally, the pilot of the troubled plane fired several red flares to indicate he was turning back and dumped his bombs into the sea. Meanwhile, an observer on board scribbled a message about the bomber’s problems to be carried back to a German coastal station by one of two pigeons aboard.
“The Whole Street Seemed to Explode, With Smoke and Flames Everywhere”
Brandenburg had marched off to war in 1914 as an infantry officer, but after being severely wounded ended up an air observer flying over the front. From observer he had moved up to command the important Englandflieger, or England Squadrons, which he was now leading up the Thames Valley without opposition. Thick, towering clouds greeted the planes over the capital instead of the clear weather forecast in Belgium. Accurate bombing would be impossible, so the pilots reluctantly turned southeast and headed off to find another target.
They dropped a scattering of bombs along the way over Kent. These were aimed at Lympne Airfield and destroyed a few British airplanes about to take off. The Gothas then went in search of Folkestone, a major supply port for British armies in France.
The sky was clear at this seaside resort filled with unsuspecting crowds in a holiday mood for a Whitsun celebration. The Gothas droned high overhead. Although the raid lasted only 10 minutes, 60 bombs found their way to unsuspecting throngs in the Tortine Street shopping district. “The whole street seemed to explode, with smoke and flames everywhere,” one eyewitness reported. “Worst of all were the screams of the wounded.” The death toll was 95 along with 260 wounded, far higher than from any German Zeppelin airship raid.
The Gothas droned out over the North Sea again for the return flight to Belgium, ending their raid. The Germans had just introduced a new degree of aerial warfare, changing how wars from the sky would be fought during World War I and in future wars.
German efforts to create strategic bombing from the air with specially designed monster planes sprang from the hope of escaping the war’s hideous and interminable slaughter of ground troops. The bombers appealed to the German emperor and his High Command because they believed civilians had been softened by the Industrial Age and saw a chance to strike at the working class, considered Britain’s soft underbelly.
The Kaiser’s Secret Weapon
Brandenburg was personally selected to head Kagohl 3, the elite of the Kaiser’s bombing squadrons for the raids on England, by General Ernst von Hoeppner. Kagohl 3 was attached to the German Fourth Army in Flanders, but operated independently of fighting on that front. Its orders came directly from the German Army High Command (OHL).
A striking commander with dark, intelligent eyes, Brandenburg emphasized training his crews to handle the unwieldy bombers and to fly together like geese. In the middle of May when the Gothas were ready for their first raid on London, the revered Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was driven to a Flanders airfield in a large open car to give Kagohl 3 airmen a fitting sendoff. The lined-up planes were snow-white except for bold black crosses on their tails and fuselages and customized body painting to suit a crew’s own taste.
The Germans began air attacks in late 1914 by using their unique Zeppelins. While drawing considerable publicity, these airships caused only minor damage. When the OHL lost faith in the Zeppelins, it ordered increased Gotha bomber production. These planes were produced by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG Company, a prewar maker of railway carriages. The German High Command wanted 30 Gothas ready by late May.
Dubbed “the Kaiser’s secret weapon,” Gothas were a big improvement over early aerial combat efforts in small, rickety planes. Early emphasis had been on “dogfights” between opposing pilots, then some airmen began tossing small bombs from their open cockpits. Soon French pilots were dropping pencil-sized steel darts called flechettes on unsuspecting ground troops 1,500 feet below. Some were said to have fatally wounded a German general riding on horseback.
Bombing efforts gradually became more sophisticated until larger bombers like the Gothas were specially designed to pack a bigger wallop. Gothas were only 41 feet long, far shorter than their extensive wingspans. Two early Gotha models had 72-foot wingspans, with wings on more widely used G.IV models extending 77 feet. The bombers ranged from the G.I model with two 160-horsepower Benz motors, to the improved G.IVs equipped with more powerful 260-horsepower Mercedes motors. The fuselage and wings were made of plywood and fabric.
Brandenburg Pounces on London
In the front sat the navigator/bombardier, who was also the front gunner. Behind were the pilots. The tail had two guns reachable by a tunnel running through the rear fuselage. One was called the “sting in the tail” because it shot downward to cover the tail’s blind spot. The other rear gun was able to shoot above the plane if an attacker approached from that direction.
The machine guns were fitted with electrical dynamo-driven heating so they could be fired in the cold air of high altitudes. Because of chilling temperatures, the airmen dressed as warmly as possible. In addition, oxygen was taken along, but it wasn’t always used. “We rather preferred to restore our body warmth and energy with an occasional gulp of cognac,” claimed one pilot.
Brandenburg had to wait weeks for another try on London, but when good weather was predicted, he pounced. Brandenburg and 14 Gothas took off from Ghent at 10 am on June 13, hoping to return before forecast thunderstorms at 3 pm.
By midday the Gothas were droning up the Thames. The distant rumble was heard first by English suburb dwellers, who stepped outside to watch the planes—their wonder greater than their fear. They stared in awe at the distinctive formation three miles up. Because of their great height, a British volley from ground guns proved fruitless.
At 11:35 am, the Gothas dropped some bombs on London’s East End, with a cluster falling between the Royal Albert Docks and the borough of East Ham. Eight men were killed at the docks and bombs damaged some sheds, offices, and railway cars. Brandenburg, in the lead plane, fired a white flare signaling the Gothas to unleash their main bomb loads, Liverpool Street Station being the prime target. With terrible explosions, 72 bombs landed within a mile of the terminal—only three hit the station itself. Some victims were trapped in a wrecked dining car and two coaches were set afire.
When the first shells from Germany’s infamous Paris Gun, history’s first super long-range artillery piece, began landing in the so called City of Light in the spring of 1918, citizens wrongly believed that they were under attack from a high-flying Zeppelin. In reality, they were being bombarded by a 211-mm field gun with an unheard of range of 130 km. In the first day of its use, the gun hammered the city with 21 shells, each weighing more than 200 lbs. Despite the terror the weapon wrought on the people of the city, the Paris Gun proved to be more trouble that it was worth for the Germans. For starters, the 350-lb. powder charges required to send a shell such a distance wore the barrel’s rifling down so quickly each successive shot measurably increased the caliber of the gun. In fact, after 60 rounds, the entire barrel was ruined and would need to be replaced. The gun was also woefully inaccurate. Not only was it virtually impossible to hit anything smaller than a city from a distance of more than 100 km, but since the flight time from muzzle to target was more than three minutes, the gunners actually needed to calculate the earth’s rotation when aiming the weapon. Simply put, by the time one of the gun’s shells returned to earth from its then unprecedented 130,000-foot-high flight path, the city had moved slightly with the planet’s own rotation. Despite this, the Germans managed to kill 256 civilians with the Paris Gun. Sixty-eight died in one lucky shot alone, when a round struck a packed church on Good Friday of 1918. The Paris Gun was withdrawn from service in the final weeks of the war, lest the advancing Allies capture it. It was dismantled in Germany before the Armistice. Although militarily a failure, the Paris Gun was the first device to launch a man made object so high into the stratosphere. An improved version of the weapon would be used by the Nazis in World War Two to shell southern England from Occupied France.
Gotha G-V - History
S u m m a r y
Hippo Kit No. PK48001 - Gotha G.V
Contents and Media:
124 tan coloured injection moulded plastic part three parts in clear 29 photo-etched parts.
Excellent mouldings with good detail wings with sharp trailing edges and subtle rib tapes outlines conform very well to published plans, includes some useful photo-etched parts decals in perfect register with thin carrier film.
Missing window and some decal option issues. No bombs included.
Thanks to Hippo, the Gotha G.V makes another appearance in 1:48 scale. Although it&rsquos not perfect, all of the basic elements are catered for to allow a sound replica of the original. Don&rsquot be scared off by the boxtop warning &ldquofor experienced modeller&rsquos only&rdquo. All this really means is that some skills will be needed for the photo-etched parts, rigging and the &ldquopinning&rdquo of the wings. easily accomplished if you have tackled a biplane or two in the past.
Reviewed by Rob Baumgartner
HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron
For those of us with a fondness for the famous Gotha bomber, things are looking pretty good at the moment. Not only can we indulge ourselves in new kit releases, there are new publications as well.
The popular scale of 1:48 hasn&rsquot seen many of these aircraft. We had the Aurora G.V in the late 1950s, which although quite inaccurate by today&rsquos standards, was a good effort for its time. When the Copper State Models G.III came onto the market, we were in heaven. Now we have a new kid on the block and it&rsquos the G.V that once again makes an appearance.
Fortunately it&rsquos a well produced kit but there are a few things to look out for along the way.
Presented on four tan coloured sprues, we have a total of 124 plastic parts with an additional clear sprue catering for the windows and windscreen. Added to this is a photo etched fret which provides another 29 pieces, and completing the package is a decal sheet that offers markings for a single aircraft.
All of the plastic parts are well formed with good detail and no obvious deformities. A couple of ejection pin towers can be found inside the fuselage halves but these can easily be cleaned up and removed.
No locating pins are present so a little care will be needed during assembly.
A warning on the boxtop advises that this kit is for experienced modellers only. As such the builder is expected to provide much of the detail themselves. This includes the interior framework as Hippo only supplies the floor, &ldquofuel tanks&rdquo and bulkheads. Some smaller items are catered for, which come in the form of seats, steering wheel, and rudder bar. Pilot controls, fuel and air pump, bomb release levers and the like, will all have to be made from scratch.
The instrument panel comprises of a photo etched part (uncoloured) that is glued to the rear of the cockpit partitioning.
The moulding of the wings is very good, requiring only minimal cleaning up of each flying surface. The ribs are represented by subtle tapes and the trailing edges are commendably thin. As per the original, they are broken into sections so some pinning will be required for strength. The delicate struts are all to scale and thankfully the plastic is strong enough to support the structure.
Photo etched parts take care of the finer elements in the kit. These include such items as the control horns, machine gun mount, and the all important propeller guards. An interesting idea from Hippo is their decision to use this material for the control cable guides that run along the fuselage sides. These will certainly help ease the rigging process.
All of the major components conform well to published general arrangement drawings, those used here being Ian Stair&rsquos set found in the 1994 Albatros Publications &ldquoGotha!&rdquo Datafile Special. However there is one frustrating omission and this relates to one of the starboard windows below the bomb aimer. Even if this was painted over (and some were, including 670/17 during its career), there should still be the representation of a frame.
Arming your Gotha with bombs will also be problematical as they are a surprising exclusion from this release.
Speaking of transparencies, one would expect to see one above the instrument panel. The outline is present but unfortunately it&rsquos a solid piece of plastic. So if you wish to replicate an aircraft that didn&rsquot have this area blacked out, you will have to open up this region and also find some clear film to fill the resultant gap.
A rigging diagram is included on the instruction sheet and this also deals with the outer control cables.
The decal sheet contains some of the thinnest carrier film you are ever likely to see and each item was printed in perfect register. While the foregoing is all good news, there are some items that will raise a few eyebrows amongst the aficionados. Hippo have gone against convention and decided to include a black outline around the national crosses and chevrons.
While this interpretation can be altered by those with a steady hand, the omission of the aircraft&rsquos serial number is inexcusable. It should be 670/17, as flown by Walter Aschoff who was the commander of Staffel 17. It was photographed in early 1918 and can be seen wearing the image of a snake down its fuselage sides.
Stencilling and the all important Gotha logo are included.
With just a little bit of extra work, Hippo&rsquos Gotha G.V will turn into a fine replica of the original. After all, it is a &ldquolimited run&rdquo kit and designed for the experienced builder, so one is expected to do more than just &ldquoassemble&rdquo the bits.
The few problem areas are frustrating but they are not insurmountable. A window frame can be fabricated from sheet styrene and the missing serial number manufactured from spares. Constructing the correct font could prove difficult so perhaps this is an opportunity for Rowan at Pheon.
Overall it&rsquos a very welcome addition to one&rsquos Kagohl 3 airfield.