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 1918–1919 being larger, with the Staaken R.VI's wingspan of 138 ft nearly equaling that of the World War II Boeing B-29 Superfortress, and somewhat less than the 157 ft span of the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII.
With four direct-drive engines in a tandem push-pull arrangement, and a fully enclosed cockpit, the R.VI design required none of the complex gearboxes of other R-types. Each R.VI bomber cost 557,000 marks and required the support of a 50-man ground crew. The R.VI required a complex 18-wheel undercarriage consisting of twin nosewheels and a quartet of four-wheeled groupings for its main gear to support its weight, and carried two mechanics in flight, seated between the engines in open niches cut in the center of each nacelle. The bombs were carried in an internal bomb bay located under the central fuel tanks, with three racks each capable of holding seven bombs. The R.VI was capable of carrying the 1000 kg PuW bomb.
Although designed by Versuchsbau, because of the scope of the project, the production R.VI's were manufactured by other firms: seven by Schütte-Lanz using sheds at Flugzeugwerft GmbH Staaken, Berlin; six by Automobil und Aviatik A.G. (Aviatik) (the original order was for three); and three by Albatros Flugzeugwerke. 13 of the production models were commissioned into service before the armistice and saw action.