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Caproni CA.311 History and Specifications

by JDG

The Caproni CA.311 was twin-engine, reconnaissance, light bomber used by Italy in World War Two.

Background on the Caproni CA.311

In 1938 Caprioni flew the Ca.310bis prototype powered by P.VII RC.35 engines with a completely redesigned nose that was glazed and heavily framed. This eliminated the previously stepped windscreen. The design was reminiscent of the Bristol Blenheim Mk I and Breguet Bre.482. The revised forward fuselage provided excellent fields of vision and, as it met the Italian Air Force’s requirement for a light reconnaissance bomber with observation capability, the type was ordered into production as the Caproni CA.311.

Caproni Ca.311 in flight.

Caproni Ca.311 in flight.

The prototype first flew in April 1939 with the dorsal turret moved forward to a position immediately behind the cockpit. Additional glazing was added on the upper sides of the central fuselage over the wings, on the sides of the fuselage above the wing trailing edges, and under the fuselage immediately behind the wing trailing edges.

The Ca.311 began to replace the Meridionali Imam Ro.37 biplane in service with the Regia Aeronautica air observation wings in 1940. However, the full transition did not occur until 1941.

The Caproni Ca.311 mounted a fixed armament of three 7.7mm machine guns, and a bomb load of 882 pounds.

Variant

The sole subvariant was the Ca.311M Libeccio (modified) that reverted to a more conventional forward fuselage with a stepped windscreen. The subvariant still had extensive glazing on the nose, but the revision altered the overall length by 1 foot, 2.25 inches.

The nose section of the Caproni Ca.311M variant. Notice the 7.7mm gun on the left wing.

The nose section of the Caproni Ca.311M variant. Notice the 7.7mm gun on the left wing.

Total production of the Ca.311 and Ca.311M series for the Italian air force consisted of 320 aircraft in 11 series. They served with all but two of the Regia Aeronautica observation air wings in theaters as diverse as North Africa and Russia.

Planned Exports

A contract finalized in January 1940 included the delivery of some 400 Ca.310 series aircraft to Britain. It included 100 Ca.311 in place of the 200 Ca.210. The aircraft were to be delivered disassembled to an airfield near Marseilles, France. They would then be re-assembled and flown to Britain. The German government knew of the order and in March 1940 signaled their approval for the contract to go ahead despite the fact that Germany and Britain were at war. Six weeks later, however, the Germans changed their minds and requested the Italian authorities to halt the implementation of the order.

Faced with this German embargo, Count Caproni (who was anti-German) arranged for the aircraft to be delivered to Britain via a front organization in Portugal. But less than four weeks later Italy entered the war on the German side and all further work ceased on the British order

Specifications

Model Caproni Ca.311
Crew 3
Pilot, Co-Pilot/Bombardier/Dorsal Gunner and Radio Operator/Gunner
Powerplant (2) Piaggio P.VII C 35 radials
(2) 470 HP at 3800 mt (each)
Maximum Speed 223 mph (359 Km/h) at 5250 m
Max Ceiling 24,300 ft (7,400 m)
Range 1,000 miles (1,600 km)
Length 38 ft 6 in (11.74 m)
Height 12 ft 1 in (3.69 m)
Wingspan 53 ft 2 in (16.2 m)
Weight Empty: 7.630 lb (3,460 kg)
Max: 10,630 lb (4,822 kg)
Armament (3) 7.7 mm Breda SAFAT machine guns
Bomb Load: 880 lbs (400 kg)

Additional Source
Ali D’Italia 24 Caproni CA.311-314, Giorgio Apostolo, La Bancarella Aeronautica

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