Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI

The Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI was a four-engined German biplane strategic bomber of World War I, and the only Riesenflugzeug ("giant aircraft") design built in any quantity.[2]

The R.VI was the most numerous of the R-bombers built by Germany, and also among the earliest closed-cockpit military aircraft (the first being the Russian Sikorsky Ilya Muromets). The bomber was reputedly the largest wooden aircraft to be produced in any quantity during World War I, with only the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII prototype bomber of 1916–1919 being larger, with the Staaken R.VI's wingspan of 42.2 m (138 ft) nearly equaling that of the World War II Boeing B-29 Superfortress

The R.VI equipped two Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Army Air Service) units, Riesenflugzeug-Abteilung (Rfa) 500 and Rfa 501, with the first delivered June 28, 1917.

The units first served on the Eastern Front, based at Alt-Auz and Vilua in Kurland until August 1917. Almost all missions were flown at night with 770 kg (1,698 lb) bomb loads, operating between 6,500 and 7,800 feet (2,000 and 2,400 m) altitude. Missions were of three to five hours' duration.

Four R.VI's were shot down in combat (one-third of the operational inventory), with six others destroyed in crashes, of the 13 commissioned during the war. Six of the 18 eventually built survived the war or were completed after the armistice.