Caudron R.4 – WWI French Aeroplane

Caudron R.4The image above is a World War I era postcard depicting a good landing back when the old adage of “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing” had real meaning.

I suppose that adage holds true today.

Except in the case of the French Caudron R.4 reconnaissance aeroplane, I would imagine the pilot didn’t so much as walk away as he slid away after landing on the roof – a rather sturdy roof – of an airbase.

According to Google Translate, the French on the front of this post card translates into English as :

War Planes
Fall of a R.4 Caudron

So let’s see what we can learn of this bird.

First, the Caudron Airplane Company (Société des Avions Caudron) was a French aircraft company founded in 1909 by brothers Gaston (1882-1915) and René Caudron (1884-1959).

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René Caudron (left) Gaston Caudron (right). Photo from

While the brothers had worked together on some of their earlier designs, the appropriately named G.3 and G.4 aircraft were designed by Gaston, and the R.4 is credited to Rene.

The R.4 had full-length fuselage and single fin and rudder. The unequal-span wings had three bays on each side as you can see from the postcard image above, and there were ailerons on the upper wing only.

There was also twin-wheel main landing gear units – which are not seen here – and tailskid, and a single nose-wheel which was supposed to protect the propellers in rough landings – which it does not appear to have done here.

The R.4 performed well in combat conditions, not only maintaining defensive capabilities whilst in reconnaissance mode but also achieving success in shooting-down a considerable number of enemy aircraft.

Originally designed to be a bomber, the R.4 served mainly as a three-seat reconnaissance aircraft doing photographic work.

Even though a total of 249 R.4 aeroplanes were built, it had a structural weakness with lots of crashes, none more disastrous than one on December 12, 1915 that killed Gaston Caudron who was testing his brother’s plane as the pilot.


  • Crew: Three;
  • Length: 11.80-meters (38′-9″);
  • Wingspan: 21.10-meters (69′-3″)
  • Height: 3.20-meters (10′-6″);
  • Wing area: 70.0 m2 (754 ft2);
  • Empty weight: 1,710-kilograms (3,770 pounds);
  • Gross weight: 2,330-kilograms (5,137 pounds);
  • Powerplant: 2 × Renault 12Db;
  • Horsepower: 130 hp each;
  • Maximum speed: 136 kph (85 mph);
  • Endurance: 3 hours-0 minutes;
  • Service ceiling: 4,600-meters (15,090′);
  • Rate of climb: 1.9 meters/second (374 feet/minute);
  • 2 × .303 Lewis guns in flexible mount in dorsal position;
  • Up to 100-kilogram (220 pound) of bombs.

About mreman47

Andrew was born in London, UK, raised in Toronto, Canada, and cavorted in Ohtawara, Japan for three years. He is married, has a son and a cat. He has over 35,000 comic books and a plethora of pioneer aviation-related tobacco and sports cards and likes to build LEGO dioramas. He has written and been an editor for various industrial magazines, has scripted comic books, ghost-written blogs for business sectors galore, and hates writing in the 3rd person. He also hates having to write this crap that no one will ever read. He works on his Pioneers Of Aviation - a cool blog on early fliers - even though it takes him so much time to do. He also wants to do more writing - for money, though. Help him out so he can stop talking in the 3rd person.
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2 Responses to Caudron R.4 – WWI French Aeroplane

  1. Pingback: Bessie Coleman – First Black Female Licensed Pilot | Pioneers Of Aviation

  2. Pingback: WAI's Dr. Chabrian INSPIRES | JDA Journal

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