The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during the First World War. Operational use of the G.IV demonstrated that the incorporation of the fuel tanks into the engine nacelles was problematic. In a crash landing, the tanks could rupture and spill fuel onto the hot engines. This posed a serious problem because landing accidents constituted 75 percent of all operational losses. In response, Gothaer produced the G.V, which housed its fuel tanks in the center of the fuselage. The smaller engine nacelles were mounted on struts above the lower wing.
The G.V entered service in August 1917. It offered no performance improvement over the G.IV. Indeed, the G.V was up to 450 kg (992 lb) heavier than the G.IV due to additional equipment and the use of insufficiently seasoned timber. Furthermore, inferior quality fuel prevented the Mercedes D.IVa engines from producing the rated 260 hp. For these reasons, the G.V generally operated at much lower altitudes than the G.IV.
In February 1918, Gothaer tested a compound tail unit with biplane horizontal stabilizers and twin rudders. The new tail unit, known as the Kastensteuerung, improved the aircraft's marginal directional control in single-engine conditions. The resulting subvariant, designated G.Va, incorporated the new tail as well as a slightly smaller nose section with an auxiliary nose landing gear. All 25 G.Va aircraft were delivered to Bogohl 3, the new designation for the former Kagohl 3.
The G.Va was replaced in production by the G.Vb, which carried an increased payload and operated at a maximum takeoff weight of 4,550 kg (10,031 lb). To reduce the danger of flipping over during landing, Gothaer introduced the Stossfahrgestell ('shock landing gear'), a tandem two-bogie main landing gear. The Stossfahrgestell proved so effective that it was retrofitted to all G.V aircraft serving with Bogohl 3. Some G.Vb aircraft also had Flettner servo tabs on the ailerons to reduce control forces.
Idflieg ordered 80 G.Vb aircraft, the first being delivered to Bogohl 3 in June 1918. By the Armistice, all 80 aircraft had been completed, but the last batch did not reach the front and was instead delivered directly from the factory to the Allied special commission.