This Rumpler C. IV is a later-production model without
propeller spinner. It wears standard factory camou? age enhanced with red/
white/black (German national colors) markings on the fuselage, wheel covers,
wing struts, and nose, making it more colorful than most Rumplers.
The excellent Rumplers were a common sight in the skies of
Europe throughout World War I. They were among the highest-flying
reconnaissance machines to serve during that conflict.
Since 1915 the Rumpler Flugzeugwerke had provided the German
army with numerous two-seat aircraft, both armed and unarmed. The firm’s C I
was a masterpiece of aeronautical engineering that debuted in 1915 and
soldiered on at the front lines three years later. Toward the end of the war
Dr. Edmund Rumpler decided to update his long-lived design with one better
suited for long-range reconnaissance work. The new version, the C IV, was a
departure from earlier conceptions. A two-bay bi- plane, it possessed slightly
swept, highly efficient wings constructed of wood and fabric. The fuselage was
also highly streamlined and mounted a pointed spinner on the propeller hub. The
tail surfaces had also been revised and lost the triangular shape that was a
Rumpler trademark. But more important, this craft was fitted with an excellent
Mercedes D IVa engine, which gave it plenty of power at all altitudes.
The Rumpler C IV appeared at the front in February 1917 and
was strikingly successful. It was one of the few aircraft that could routinely
reach altitudes of 20,000 feet at speeds of 100 miles per hour. Consequently,
Rumplers were considered among the most difficult German aircraft to shoot
down. They were also ruggedly constructed and could absorb great damage. That
fall work on an even better version was commenced, and the C VII emerged that winter.
Externally, it was almost indistinguishable from the C IV but was powered by a
high-compression Maybach Mb IV engine. This plane functioned as a high-altitude
long-range reconnaissance platform. An even more highly specialized form, the
Rubild (Rumpler photographic) also materialized. It was a stripped-down C VII fitted
with heaters and oxygen equipment for the crew. Thus rendered, it easily
reached unprecedented altitudes of 24,000 feet, where no Allied fighters could
follow. The exemplary Rumpler ma- chines continued serving with distinction
until the war’s end.
1917 Rumpler C.VII
Rumpler C. IV to C. VII
The C. IV, the second of Dr. Edmund Rumpler’s C type designs
to go into large-scale production, was preceded by the generally similar C.
III, seventy-five of which were recorded in service in February 1917- The C.
III was a 1916 design, powered by a 220 h. p. Benz Bz. IV. When the more
powerful Mercedes D. IVa became available it was developed into the C. IV,
which was one of the most efficient, as well as most elegant, German 2-seaters
to appear on the Western Front. It had the staggered, sweptback wings of `libellule’
planform that characterised subsequent Rumpler C types, and its horizontal tail
surfaces were of `wing-nut’ shape. The fuselage was reasonably well
streamlined, with attention paid to nose-entry in the neat cowling of the 260
h. p. D. IVa engine and the small conical spinner over the propeller hub. In
place of the small, comma-type rudder of the C. III, the C. IV’s vertical tail
surfaces were of the triangular fin and plain rudder form used on the earlier
C. I. The Rumpler C. IV carried the normal 2-seater armament of the period, i.
e. a forward-firing synchronised Spandau gun and a ring-mounted Parabellum. The
reconnaissance cameras were aimed through a trap in the floor of the rear
cockpit. Light `nuisance’ raids were often undertaken, with a small load usually
consisting of four 25 kg. (55 lb.) bombs on underwing racks. The C. IV had an
excellent performance for an aeroplane in its class, especially at high
altitude; it could climb to 5,000 m. (16,404 ft.) in 38 minutes, and at its
maximum altitude was still fast enough to elude Allied fighters. Rumpler C.
IV’s saw service in Italy and Palestine as well as on the Western Front; they
were built by the Bayerische Rumpler- Werke and Pfalz Flugzeugwerke, those
built by the latter concern having linked double ailerons.
The Rumpler C. V was a variant of the C. III airframe fitted
with a Mercedes D. IVa, but apparently it did not go into production. There is
no record of a C. VI, the next production version being the C. VII, which
appeared late in 1917. The C. VII had a 240 h. p. Maybach Mb. IV engine which,
although of a lower nominal rating, had a higher compression ratio than the
Mercedes D. IVa that enabled it to maintain its output at greater heights. The
C. VII was slightly smaller than the C. IV; it was built in two standard forms,
the long-range recon¬ naissance version with radio equipment and a normal 2-gun
armament and the C. VII (Rubild). In the latter version the front gun was
dispensed with, and instead the aircraft carried additional photographic gear
and oxygen breathing apparatus for the crew members, who were also pro¬ vided
with electrically heated flying suits. These assets were extremely necessary,
for the C. VII (Rubild) could fly to, and maintain its speed at, even greater
heights than those reached by the C. IV. Service ceiling of the C. VII (Rubild)
was 7,300 m. (23,950 ft.), which it could reach in 50 minutes. At heights in
the region of 20,000 ft. (6,000 m.) it could fly as fast as such Allied
fighters as the S. E. 5a. Both the Rumpler C. IV and C. VII remained in German
Air Force service until the Armistice.
Rumpler C. IV of the Imperial German Military Aviation Service,
late 1917. Engine: One 260 h. p. Mercedes D. IVa water-cooled in-line. Span: 41
ft. 6 3/8 in. (12.66 m.). Length: 27 ft. 7 1/8 in. (8.41 m.). Height: 10 ft. 8
in. (3.25 m.). Takeoff weight: 3,373 lb. (1,530 kg.). Maximum speed: 106.3 m.
p. h. (171 km./hr.) at 1,640 ft. (500 m.). Operational ceiling: 20,997 ft.
(6,400 m.). Endurance: 3 hr. 30 min.