Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Zeppelin Facts

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Zeppelin L-15 was a representative example of the combat airship. It was 536 ft long and could carry a two-ton bomb load. After its commissioning in September 1915 it conducted eight scouting missions and three raids. On its last mission it was brought down in the Thames Estuary, 1 April 1916.

Some Interesting Facts About the Zeppelins at War

  • A total of 115 zeppelin-type airships was used by the German military in the First World War. The army and navy lost 53 airships and 379 highly trained officers and men, and 24 airships were so damaged they could not be used again.
  • The German zeppelin fleet was used much more for reconnaissance missions than bombing, with over 1200 sorties flown over the North Sea alone.
  • Parachutes were considered excess weight and, therefore, not carried.
  • In April 1917, zeppelin L-23 intercepted the Norwegian schooner Royal off the Danish coast, determined she was carrying contraband, put a prize crew aboard, and sailed the ship back to Germany.
  • History's Largest Zeppelin Attack: sixteen navy and army airship bombers against London on 2 September 1915 (13 arrived over target).
  • Deadliest Raid: L-13 against London on 15 September 1915 killed 22 people. Over 500 individuals died in Britain from air attacks.
  • A Victoria Cross was awarded to William Leefe Robinson of the Royal Flying Corps for shooting down Schütte Lanz SL-11 over London on the night of 2–3 September 1916, a feat that paved the way for the eventual defeat of the zeppelin as a bomber.
  • Incendiary bullets, which would prove the most lethal anti-zeppelin weapon, were developed in contravention of the Hague Convention. German use of gas in 1915 encouraged overlooking this "technicality."
  • 1915 was the best year for zeppelin crews. Not a single raider was lost to enemy fire.
  • Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich Graf von Zeppelin's airship career was inspired by a balloon ascent he made in St. Paul, Minnesota, on 19 August 1863. A cavalry officer, he had been sent to the U.S. as an observer with the Union Army. 
  • Many European cities experienced zeppelin attacks, but possibly the most improbable urban target was Naples. It received 20 bombs from Bulgaria-based L-59 on the night of 11–12 March 1918.
  •  The late naval-air expert R.D. Layman considered the Royal Navy's sea-launched assault on the zeppelin sheds at Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914, as the world's first carrier-based air strike.


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