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Caproni Ca.161

Caproni Ca.161

The Caproni Ca.161 was an aircraft built in Italy in 1936, in an attempt to set a new world altitude record. It was a conventional biplane with two-bay, staggered wings of equal span, based on Caproni's Ca.113 design. The pressure-suited pilot was accommodated in an open cockpit.

Ca 161
Role High-altitude experimental aircraft
Manufacturer Caproni
Designer Rodolfo Verduzio
First flight 1936
Lieutenant Colonel Mario Pezzi wearing a pressure suit for a high-altitude flight.

On 8 May 1937, Lieutenant Colonel Mario Pezzi broke the world altitude record with a flight to 15,655 m (51,362 ft). The following year, Pezzi broke the record again in the more powerful Ca.161bis, making a flight to 17,083 m (56,047 ft) on 22 October 1938. The Grob Strato 2c broke this record for piston-powered crewed airplanes generally in 1995, but as of 2022 it still stands for piston-powered biplanes, and for crewed single engine piston aircraft.

A final altitude record for floatplanes was set on 25 September 1939 in the float-equipped Ca.161Idro, piloted by Nicola di Mauro to 13,542 m (44,429 ft). As of 2012, this record also still stands.


  • Ca.161 – original version with Piaggio P.XI R.C.72 engine
  • Ca.161bis – improved version with Piaggio P.XI R.C.100/2v
  • Ca.161Idro – floatplane version

Specifications (Ca.161bis)

Data from Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930–1945 apart from weights

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: 8.25 m (27 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.25 m (46 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.50 m (11 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 35.5 m2 (382 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 1,205 kg (2,657 lb)
  • Gross weight: 1,650 kg (3,638 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Piaggio P.XI R.C.100/2v 14-cylinder radial driving a 4-blade propeller , 560 kW (750 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 100 km/h (60 mph, 52 kn)
  • Service ceiling: 17,083 m (56,047 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 10.3 m/s (2,020 ft/min)

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. p. 236.
  • Thompson, Jonathan (1963). Italian Civil and Military Aircraft 1930–1945. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc. p. 93.
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