The Survivors: Imperial German A.E.G. G.IV Bomber

The World War One era AEG G.IV (Registration Number 574/18) at the Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario is a rare aircraft indeed. The standard twin-engine G-type (Großflugzeug) biplane medium bomber was built by Allgemeine Elektrizitäts Gesellschaft (A.E.G. – General Electric Company) of Berlin and the type first entered German service in late 1916. The museum example was produced in Germany in 1918 and of 320 produced between 1916 and 1918, this is the only surviving example of its type. The aircraft is also the only surviving twin-engine bomber of the Imperial German Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte).

Rare Survivor: Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV (Registration Number 574/18) biplane bomber at the Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario
Rare Survivor: Imperial German Air Service A.E.G. G.IV (Registration Number 574/18) biplane bomber at the Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario
Imperial German Air Service A.E.G. G.IV twin engine bomber – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)

Given its relatively short-range of 652 km (405 miles), the A.E.G. G.IV was used as a tactical day and night bomber close to the Western, Eastern and Southern Fronts (in France, Romania, Greece and Italy). As the war progressed and the Allies gained air superiority, the type was used primarily as a night bomber. The design by A.E.G. utilised metal rather than an all wooden construction to provide a more rugged aircraft and featured a welded tube metal airframe (one of the earliest large aircraft to employ this method of construction).

World War One Imperial German Air Service A.E.G. G.IV tactical bomber
Imperial German Air Service A.E.G. G.IV tactical bomber (Photo Sources: Wikipedia, Airwar.ru and Canada Aviation & Space Museum)

The three aircrew (a pilot and two gunners) of the A.E.G. G.IV sat in three open cockpits and wore electrically heated suits to keep warm in the cold air. The aircraft was fitted with radio equipment for air and ground communication. Apparently the pilot was the only crew member to have a padded seat. Although typically a 3 man crew, an additional crew member – an observer or commanding officer could be accommodated.

The A.E.G. G.IV is of a reasonable size, with a wingspan of 18.4 metres (60 feet 4 inches) and a length of 9.7 metres (31 feet 10 inches). The bomber was powered by two 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa 6 cylinder water-cooled inline engines that were mounted on metal struts attached to the lower wing and undercarriage supports. The top speed was 165 km/h (103 mph) and the aircraft had a service ceiling of 4,500 metres (14,764 feet),

Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service A.E.G. G.IV twin engine bomber – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service A.E.G. G.IV twin engine bomber – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)

Defensive armament consisted of a 7.92mm Parabellum MG14 machine gun on a trainable ring mount in the forward and rear gunners position (apparently the rear gunner position was fitted with a floor mounted hinged window for observation and to fire the gun through). The aircraft had a bomb payload of 400 kg (880 lb) which were mounted on bomb racks between the undercarriage.

Imperial Germany A vicious looking AEG G.IV with a full bomb load
A fierce looking A.E.G. G.IV with a full bomb load!
A view into the cockpit and rear gunners position of the A.E.G. G.IV - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario
A view into the cockpit and rear gunners position of the A.E.G. G.IV – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
The open cockpit arrangement and 7.92mm machine gun armament of the A.E.G. G.IV – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario
The A.E.G. G.IV had a bomb payload of 400 kg (880 lb) which were mounted on bomb racks between the undercarriage – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)

An Allied evaluation report on a captured A.E.G. G.IV example in 1917 was not overly flattering. It was reported to be constructed in a “clumsy” manner, difficult to fly if a gunner was not present in the nose (weight distribution) and to have issues with the elevator control, which were very evident upon attempting to land. Despite this, the Germans used it as a capable bomber aircraft.

Two other variants were also produced during the war. The G.IVg featured a three bay wing with an increased span. The G.IVk (kanone) was an attempt at producing a ground attack / anti-tank aircraft that featured a modified tail fin, armoured protection for the forward fuselage and engines, and 2 x 20mm Becker cannons for low-level strafing (one under the nose in a turret and another in the rear gunner position on a trainable mount – tank armour was light on top, so this caliber of gun could have pierced it). Standard defensive armament seems to have also been retained – only 5 G.IVk were produced and the type did not go into service (I suspect it was just too big a target for ground fire yet alone Allied fighters!).

Imperial German A.E.G. G.IVk (kanone) ground attack / anti-tank variant Circa 1918
A.E.G. G.IVk (kanone) ground attack / anti-tank variant Circa 1918 (Photo & Image Source: Airwar.ru – Drawing (c) Robert Craig Johnson)
A good close up detail on the 20mm cannon nose turret of the A.E.G. G.IVk (kanone) ground attack / anti-tank variant Circa 1918
A good close up detail on the 20mm cannon nose turret of the A.E.G. G.IVk (kanone) ground attack / anti-tank variant Circa 1918 (Photo Source: Airwar.ru)

To see such aircraft that could so easily have been lost in the pages of history is a great opportunity. The museum example was intended to be used as a night bomber and the aircraft features a dark geometric “Night Lozenge” camouflage pattern on the fabric coverings, with a black livery elsewhere (also the only surviving aircraft in this night scheme). According to the museum information board, it appears to have been used by a training unit as it has no signs of combat action and features fuselage markings consistent with such units.

The night lozenge camouflage scheme is applied to the museum A.E.G. G.IV night bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
The “Night Lozenge” camouflage scheme is applied to the museum A.E.G. G.IV night bomber – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Starboard profile of the A.E.G. G.IV twin engine bomber – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Port profile of the A.E.G. G.IV twin engine bomber – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)

The G.IV was shipped to Canada as a war trophy in 1919 and entered the museum collection in 1970 (although a number were captured and evaluated by the Allies in Great Britain, it appears the others were scrapped by February 1919). Before being at the museum the records of the aircraft are scarce. It was stored in a Canadian War Museum warehouse in the 1950’s and somewhere along the line the original engines and radiators were lost! They were replaced by 160 hp Daimler Mercedes D.III engines during a partial restoration conducted between 1968 and 1969 by No. 6 Repair Depot at RCAF Trenton (the search for the originals continues!).

Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber - Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
Imperial German Air Service AEG G.IV twin engine bomber – the original engines were replaced by 160 hp Daimler Mercedes D.III engines during a partial restoration conducted between 1968 and 1969 by No. 6 Repair Depot at RCAF Trenton – Canada Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario (2013)
The remains of a German A.E.G. G.IV bomber brought down in flames near Proyart, France in 1918 and apparently in Australian hands - It is believed to be AEG G.IV serial 588/17, which was hit by anti-aircraft fire and force landed in flames near Villers-Bretonneux on 16 May 1918
The remains of a German A.E.G. G.IV bomber brought down in flames near Proyart, France in 1918 and apparently in Australian hands – It is believed to be AEG G.IV serial 588/17, which was hit by anti-aircraft fire and force landed in flames near Villers-Bretonneux on 16 May 1918 (AWM photo and info)
Captured German A.E.G. G.IV in British markings
Captured – A.E.G. G.IV in British markings (Photo Source: Airwar.ru)

References:

Australian War Memorial – The Remains of a German AEG IV Bomber

Canada Aviation & Space Museum – A.E.G. G.IV

Military Factory – AEG G.IV

Wikipedia – AEG G.IV

World at War – Plan 1919

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “The Survivors: Imperial German A.E.G. G.IV Bomber

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.