The Ca.101 was essentially an enlarged Ca 97 which appeared in 1927 as a commercial transport, powered by three AHa Romeo built 200 h. p. Armstrong-Siddeley Lynx radial engines. Specifications of this model included a span of 65 ft., a length of 44 ft. 8 in., a height of 12 ft. 6 in., and a wing area of 592 sq. ft. The empty and loaded weights were 4730 lb. and 7920 lb. Maximum speed was 121 m. p. h. and ceiling 13,120 ft.
Relatively large numbers of the Ca.101 saw extensive service during Italy’s conquests in Africa, particularly with La Disperata squadron during the Ethiopian campaign, and some remained in use during the Second World War, despite their total obsolescence. A slab-sided high-wing monoplane with a generous interior, the Ca.101 was well suited to the colonial administration uses to which it was first put. As a bomber, powered by three 370 h. p. Piaggio Stella VII radial engines, it fitted four bomb racks and three machine guns, one in a dorsal turret and two firing through the floor. The military Ca.101 ‘s equipped night bomber squadrons of the Regia Aeronautica, as well as the colonial units. Engines fitted to the colonial versions were three 240 h. p. Walter Castor or three 270 h. p. Alfa Romeo Dux radials. In service with the well-publicized La Disperata squadron, commanded by Count Galeazzo Ciano, the Ca.101 was flown by Bruno, Vittorio, and Vito Mussolini, sons and nephew respectively of II Duce. A civil accomplishment of the Ca.101 was Mario de Bernardi’s 1933 non-stop flight from Rome to Moscow, carrying six passengers. Paraguay purchased a few Ca.101’s in 1933.
Of fabric-covered welded steel tube construction, the Ca.101 weighed 7577 lb. empty and 11,317 lb. fully loaded, its complement including radio, camera, and stretchers, in addition to the armament, Span was 64 ft. 6 1/2 in., length 47 ft. 1 1/2 in., height 12 ft. 9 in., and wing area 664 sq. ft. The performance included maximum, cruising, and landing speeds of 155 m.p.h., 127 m.p.h., and 59 m.p.h. respectively, a range of 621 miles, and a service ceiling of 19,680 ft. Climb to 3280 ft. took 3 min. 15 sec; to 9840 ft., 12 min. 31 sec.; and to 16,400 ft., 37 min. 32 sec.
Ca.101 – Production model
Ca.101bis – Slightly larger and with more powerful engines designed for colonial service.
Ca.102 – Ca.101 airframe with two Bristol Jupiter engines (34 built)
Ca.102quarter – Ca.102 with four engines (one built)
The Ca.102 was essentially similar to the Ca.101 except for the substitution of two 500 h.p. Bristol Jupiter engines for the three lower-powered units. Like the Ca.101, it was built in both military and commercial versions, but not in large numbers.
The Ca.102 quater had four engines in tandem pairs; it was used by the 62a SperimEmtale Bombardieri Pesanti (Experimental Heavy Bomber Units).
When Ing. Rodolfo Verduzio rejoined Caproni in 1934, he immediately began projects aimed at improving the existing Caproni range of aircraft. A development of the basic Ca.101 design, designated Ca.131, was still further improved under Verduzio, emerging as the Ca.133. Three Piaggio Stella P. VII C. 16 radial engines of 460 h. p. each were chosen to power the modernized transport, and both sixteen passenger commercial and military bomber and hoop transport versions were built. Despite the obsolete configuration, which really dated back even further than the Ca 101 to the Fokker and Ford trimotors, the Ca.133 was a functional and reasonably efficient design which saw considerable service during the late 1930’s and early war years. The civil version served with Ala Littoria, while the military model functioned long and well in the Italian colonies, notably A.O.I. (Africa Orientale Italiana, or Italian East Africa).
Although the basic airframe remained the same, the Ca.133 was considerably improved over the Ca.101 by the higher-powered engines, and by such refinements as N.A.C.A. cowlings, smoothly faired engine nacelles and landing gear, flaps, and revised tail surfaces. The Ca.133 was of welded steel construction with mixed metal and fabric covering. Retaining the dorsal turret and ventral gun positions, the military Ca.133 also mounted a lateral machine gun firing from the door on the port side of the fuselage, bringing the total armament to four 7.7-mm. guns. Two 550-lb. bombs or one 1100-lb. bomb could be carried beneath the fuselage. A larger number of smaller bombs were occasionally carried: six 220-lb., 110-lb., or 44-lb. bombs, or fifteen 33-lb. or 27-lb. bombs. As a military transport the Ca.133 carried up to eighteen fully-equipped troops.
In 1939 the Regia Aeronautica possessed 259 Ca.133 aircraft, of which 183 were bombers in service in A.O.I. Performance was adequate only for colonial use against limited opposition, and by the outbreak of the Second World War the Ca.133 had limited military value. The Capronis were destroyed in large numbers during the North African conflict, usually on the ground. Maximum speed was only 166 m. p. h., cruising speed 144 m.p.h., and landing speed 63 m.p.h. The cruising range was 838 miles and the service ceiling 18,050 ft. Dimensions were: span 69 ft. 8 in., length 50 ft. 4 in., height 13 It. 1 in., and wing area 700 sq. it. Empty and loaded weights were 9240 lb. and 14740 lb. respectively.
The final development of the series high-wing trimotor transports commencing with the Ca.101 was the eighteen-passenger Ca 148 of 1938, which differed very little from the Ca.133. Power was supplied by 460 h.p. Piaggio Stella VII R. C. radials driving Piaggio-d’Ascanio variable-pitch airscrews. The only important modifications were confined to the fuselage. The pilots’ cabin was moved forward approximately three feet from its former position just ahead of the wing, and the loading door beneath the port wing was moved behind the trailing edge. Aside from these changes, which were made to increase the capacity of the fuselage, and a strengthened undercarriage to cope with the increased loaded weight of 10956 lb., the characteristics of the Ca.148 were the same as for the Ca.133. Intended for operation in East Africa, only a small number of transports were built, a few serving with the postwar Italian Air Force. One example, owned by the Aero Club d’Italia, was still flying as late as 1956.
Bomber and transport; 76 aircraft produced
Medical transport, 30 aircraft produced
Troop transport, 283 aircraft produced
Stretched eight-seat civil/military transport, 54 aircraft produced