Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Linke-Hoffman R.ll Bomber

This was the final R-bomber of the Linke-Hoffman Company. The R.II was an approximately three-fold scale-up of a conventional single-engined biplane, with a conventional tractor biplane layout and a single propeller in the nose, the unusual design of the R.II only really becomes apparent once the crew provides a sense of scale.

Powered by a quartet of Mercedes D.IVa inline-six engines turning a single 22 foot tractor propeller, the largest single propeller ever used to propel any aircraft in aviation history. The quartet of Mercedes power plants were arranged in pairs in the central fuselage and drove the propeller through clutches, shafts and gearboxes. The engine arrangement allowed for inflight maintenance and the R.II could shut down up to two engines during flight.
Required a crew of six, with defensive guns placed in two dorsal and one ventral position.

The Linke-Hofmann R.II, probably the largest single propeller driven aircraft that will ever be built, had a wingspan of 135 feet, length of 76 feet and height of 23 feet. Gross weight of 26,460 pounds.
The airframe was constructed largely of wood, with plywood covering the forward fuselage and a steel-tube v-strut chassis main undercarriage with two wheels and a tail-skid at the aft end of the fuselage.

Unfortunately, the R.II wouldn’t fly before the end of the war. Only in 1919 did it make its first flight, demonstrating a standard endurance of 7 hours and estimated maximum endurance of 30 hours. “It was said to be an eerie, weird experience to fly in it - the propeller was geared down to 545 rpm”.

Linke-Hofmann hoped to salvage their work in the aftermath of the Armistice by turning the R.II into a 12 passenger airliner, but the conditions of the Versailles treaty put an end to the project.

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