The Caproni Ca.111 was a long-range reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber produced in Italy during the 1930s.
The first examples were used by 146 and 183 Squadriglia, 85° Gruppo, to perform maritime reconnaissance, followed by the 142.
They had six machines each. After just a year, these machines were replaced by CANT Z.501s.
The aircraft were not scrapped but converted for land use, complete with undercarriage.
Over 100 machines were rebuilt between 1934 and 1936. 25 were Idro versions.
The Ca.111 was used as a long-range work-horse by the Regia Aeronautica.
Its main employment was in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
This aircraft was, like all other machines, sent to the Ethiopian theatre by sea.
The aircraft performed a variety of tasks, such as long-range reconnaissance, ground attack, bombing, and as a refuelling machine. It was even used to drop live animals to the troops.
The aircraft was well suited to this kind of environment.
It was relatively simple to maintain and could often be repaired with local materials.
In this theatre, it was second only to the SM.81, which was much more sophisticated.
On the whole, this machine was cheap, robust and reliable.
It had good performance and could be armed with a variety of ordnance.
It was also highly vulnerable and so was not deployed to places like Spain.
Nevertheless, the machine served until the early 1940s, when it was replaced as a reconnaissance aircraft by the Cant Z.501 and the Ro.37.
It was then used in the photoplannimetric role and as a supplier of isolated troops, this time in the Balkans, after the ‘conquest’ of Yugoslavia.
Peru took delivery of a number of Ca.111s in the 1930s which they nicknamed Panchos for use as “heavy” bombers, but found them unsatisfactory in service and by 1935 had begun to consider replacing them.
In 1936, Peru ordered Caproni Ca.135 bombers—which entered Peruvian Air Force service in 1937—as replacements for its Ca.111s.
However, Peru never procured enough Ca.135s to replace its Ca.111s; Ca.111s served in Peruvian Air Force heavy bomber squadrons alongside the new Ca.135s until 1940, when all Peruvian Ca.111s were reassigned for use as transport aircraft.
Peru which had a small unit of paratroopers trained by Italy, during the Zarumilla War of 1941 dropped a small number of paratroopers from Ca. 111 R.C. aircraft on 27 July to seize the river port of Port Bolivar in disputed territory.
This was the first combat use of paratroopers in South American or North America’s military history.