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1912: Army airship's training flight

The Army airship Gamma on Saturday morning in perfect weather made a flight to Lindfield, in Sussex, from South Farnborough, journeying over Guildford, Cranleigh, Horsham, Cuckfield, and Hayward's Heath. She left Farnborough at 6.15 a.m. and descended on Lindfeld Common at 8.10.

A close-up of similar gondola for a Lebaudy airship built in 1910 and flown on its delivery flight from Moisson, near Paris over Brighton on 26 October 1910. It made a difficult landing at Farnborough in high winds and was damaged in being stowed in a hangar.

Captain Brooke Smith was in charge, with him being Captain Maitland and two officers for instruction. During the flight the airship attained a height of about 1,000ft. The Gamma left about 9.20 and returned to Farnborough about mid-day.

The size of the Gamma's envelope has been considerably reduced since her deflation trial of last year, and she now appears to be very little larger than her predecessor the Beta.

The Times 22 April 1912

The early British Army airships

British Army Dirigible No 1 - or 'Nulli Secundus'; first flight, 10 September 1907. Damaged by high wind ,10 October 1907 and rebuilt with enlarged envelope as Nulli Secundus II.

Nulli Secundus II - first flight 24 July 1908. Damaged on 15 August and never repaired

Baby - 1909, 'British Army Airship No 3.

Beta - May 1910 (a rebuild of "Baby" with a new envelope).

Beta II - 1912 (a rebuild of Beta).

No.2A - 1910, 150 feet long, with a gas capacity of 75,000 feet, powered by an 80hp British Green motor.

Gamma - February 1910.

Gamma II - 1912 (A rebuild of Gamma).

Delta - 1912.

Eta - August 1913. Transferred to Royal Navy, 1914.

The Royal Navy realised that airships similar to Ferdinand von Zeppelin's designs could be of great use and in 1909 ordered construction of a rigid airship. This was completed in 1911 but was wrecked while leaving the hangar before it had flown. Meanwhile, the British Army's School of Ballooning (later the Air Battalion Royal Engineers) acquired a small fleet of semi-rigid and non-rigid airships for observation purposes; they were taken over by the Royal Navy on the creation of the Royal Naval Air Service in 1914.

A large number of rigid and non-rigid airships were mainly used to counter the U-Boat campaign in World War I. Interest in military airships declined at the end of the war, but some success in the commercial field inspired the Imperial Airship Scheme; however, the disastrous crash of the R101 in 1930 ended serious government and commercial interest in airships.

From Wikiwand:

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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