Book Review
Caproni Ca.3 At War Vol. 1
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

The latest Windsock Datafile revisits an earlier subject, but in a much expanded format - the first in a totally new 2-part study of the Caproni Ca.3.

The notes by the author Gregori Alegi make it clear that this is far more than a simple re-work of his early book on the Ca.3 (Datafile #78). The new narrative is about twice as long as previously, and now offers a detailed account of the origins of the bomber, as well as presenting a broader context of the Italian aviation industry of the period, while correcting a few minor errors in the previous effort.

In fact, the title Caproni Ca.3 At War hardly does justice to the depth of content, as Volume One concentrates mostly on the design history of the aircraft from its earliest origins in 1913 as a "new extra powerful aircraft to fight airships" through the Ca.1 and Ca.2 to its fully developed form as a bomber, and the ongoing struggle to push the advanced aircraft into production and find sales abroad.

Official interference is often blamed for ruining perfectly sound designs, but in the case of the Caproni the opposite appears to have been true. While the twin-boom layout of the new machine remained basically unchanged, Caproni's original concept was for three rotary engines all mounted in the central gondola - one as a pusher, with the other two connected to gearbox and driving tractor propellers mounted in the wings via long drive shafts. In retrospect, this arrangement looks hopelessly complicated, and much of the type's future success can be attributed to the insistence of Capitano Ottavio Ricaldoni, head of the Army's Technical Office, on a more conventional arrangement of three in-lines (eventually Fiat-built Mercedes copies), with the tractor propellers driven directly by engines mounted in the nacelles, in an early example of Italy's long love-affair with tri-motors.

The text of Vol. 1 concludes with an outline of the colours and markings of the Caproni in Italian and French service, based on the analysis of preserved fabric specimens and other period references. Methuen and F.S./RAL matches are noted where possible.

Datafile #144 is profusely illustrated with over 60 original B&W photos. Obviously the quality of these does vary considerably, but the clarity of the best ones is remarkable, bringing out many useful details. Modellers will particularly welcome the 5 pages of colour photos of the preserved exhibits in Dayton and the Italian Air Force Museum, which include close-ups of the cockpit and engines.

No Datafile would be complete without scale drawings, in this case drawn and traced by Martin Digimeyer in 1:48. These really do serve to show what a magnificent model the Caproni would make in this scale. (Whatever happened to the planned Eduard and Italeri kits that were announced a few years ago?)

Finally, there's a quartet of excellent profiles by Ronny Bar that offer a good selection schemes - Italian, French and a machine on trials in the US, each accompanied by a concise description. Completing the colour section is a wonderful contemporary cutaway of the Ca.3 produced by the Caproni company around the end of the war.

Caproni Ca.3 At War is an excellent addition to the indispensable range of Datafiles - and a timely reminder in the midst of the current Gotha-fever, that there are other WW1 "heavies" still begging to be released as modern mainstream kits. Highly recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Informative text. Excellent selection of photos. Top quality colour profiles by Ronny Bar.
Verdict: An excellent addition to the Datafiles range, of interest to historians and modellers alike.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Datafile #144
  Suggested Retail: 10.90
  PUBLISHED: Jan 22, 2011

Our Thanks to Albatros Productions!
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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