✨Happy New Year! ✨
On the 1 January 1914, all army airships were transferred from the Military wing of the Royal Flying Corps to the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps.
Four months later, the Naval Wing of the RFC became the Royal Naval Air Service and three months after that we were at war with Germany.
The Germans had developed airships and their Zeppelin rigid airships made regular bombing raids over Britain from January 1915 to 1918, damaging our infrastructure, wrecking our houses and killing many civilians. It was the first Blitz on Britain.
Meanwhile, the Royal Naval Air Service were ordering, building and operating many different types and sizes of airship.
The RNAS operated more airships than the Germans during the First World War and more airships than any other organisation before or after. At the outbreak of the war, it had six. At the height of the war, it had 103.
The Royal Navy was the most successful airship service.
The advantages of an airship over an aeroplane were the distance it could fly, the length of time it could remain airborne and the height it could attain. Airships were used for convoy escort as ships crossing the Atlantic neared Britain.
They were used for anti-submarine patrols and for general reconnaissance. They were deployed around Britain and in the Aegean in the Dardanelles campaign.
The first naval airship was built in 1911, HMA No 1 (His Majesty’s Airship). It was a large rigid airship. Sadly, it was wrecked during trials at Barrow-in-Furness.
After the failure of HMA 1, most of the Royal Navy’s airships were non-rigid or semi-rigid, North Sea airships, Submarine Scout airships and Coastal airships.
As the war progressed we began to construct larger rigid airships, with the prefix R, as in R.29.
The photographs show the different types operated by the RNAS.