final WW1 raider Zeppelin which was handed over to the UK as
part of the war repatriations.
the British obtained 2 of the finest War Zeppelins.
the end of WW1 the Allied powers quickly decided to dismantle
whatever was left of the German war machine. They required
the Germans to surrender all remaining instruments of war,
among which were 21 Zeppelins.
Allies worked out a plan to divide these amongst themselves.
After a careful survey, seven were declared obsolete and
dismantled, seven destroyed by the German Crews, the rest
divided up between the British, French Italian and Japanese
Governments. Following the post war agreements on reparations,
it was agreed that these would be handed over to the Allies
and restrictions were put on the German Government on the
construction of future airships.
20,000ft - Dynamic Ceiling
L64 was built in 1918, and had it's first flight on 11th
March 1918, and commissioned 2 days later. The ship was
quickly put in to service and involved in a raid on the
North of England on the evening of the 12th April 1918.
The L64, along with the fleet consisting of L60, L61 L62
and the L63 raided the towns of Leeds, Grimsby and Hull.
Some 6,600lbs of high explosive bombs were dropped. The
ships returned safely after causing extensive damage. The
ship was then involved in another raid on 2nd August 1918
but as the ship was crossing the English Channel, it was
intercepted by British Naval Flying Boat and attacked. The
ship was damaged by fire but survived and struggled back
to base at Alhorn, Northern Germany. It was damaged upon
landing as it landed "heavy" due to the loss of gas from
the attack. The ship was put in to the shed and repairs
undertaken. The repairs were completed and the ship then
was brought out of the shed on 5th September.
The L 64 was then required to participate in scouting missions
in the run up to the long dark nights in further winter
raids. However this was not to happen.
the end of the war, the German crews were ordered back to
their bases on 9th November 1918. The ground crews were segregated
from their officers, and the ground crews then ordered to
deflate their ships and leave them suspended from the roofs
of the airship sheds, as was the normal procedures for large
rigid airships. When the lifting gas was valved off the weight
of the ships was taken by large slings in the forms of loops
which suspended the craft from the roof, and thus preventing
the ships control and engine gondola's being crushed under
the weight of the framework above.
: Work flights : 2
Scouting : 15
Raids : 1
Navy Flights : 24
Total Flights - 26
crews who flew the Zeppelins remained loyal to their country
in spite of defeat. At the same time their waterborne comrades
were scuttling their vessels in Scarpa Flow, the crews stealthily
entered the sheds at Nordholz and Wittmundhavn on 23rd June
1919, released the straps and allowed the ships to crash down
on the hanger floors. Irreparable damage was done to them
which prevented the craft being handed over to the Allies.
At Alhorn air station, however no action was taken by the
crews and the L-64 and L-71 remained intact.
was then agreed that the British should receive the L-64 and
L-71 as part of the German repatriations.It took more than
18 months from the end of the war in 1918 before the final
agreement for the ships were handed over. The L64 was the
first ship to be flown over to the UK and arrived at Pulham
Airship Station on 22nd June 1920.
ship was expertly flow in and landed by the German crews
and it was remembered by local people watching this, that
there was resentment seen by the German crews in handing
over the ship. As the British Airship Programme had been
put on "hold" since the end of the war, it was
agreed to retain the ship in the hanger. It was never to
a year had past since the L 64 had landed in the UK, as
on the 21st June 1921, the R36 was returning to Pulham after
a local flight. Upon approaching the airfield, the R36 was
snagged on her forward mooring cables and when Captain Scott
overran the mooring tower. The strain was too much for the
bow of the ship and the forward two gas bags deflated. As
the ship was unmanageable with the loss of lift in the forward
section, it was decided that the R36 must be put in to the
shed. However the shed at Pulham was already full with the
L64 and L71. It was suggested that the R36 be moved off
to Howden but this was too dangerous a flight. She was lowered
to the ground, and Captain Scott took the decision to sacrifice
the two German ships. With the benefit of hindsight, both
of the German ships were now some 3 years old and technology
was moving on fast. Radical decisions to scrap ships had
happened throughout the whole of the British Airship Programme
due to costs and so it cannot be seen as quite so wasteful
to get rid of these ships, which were now deemed obsolete
considering the move to create more "commercial"
However, Captain Scott had to get over the problem that
the L64 refused to be moved from her berth in the shed.
In desperation a cable was passed through the centre of
the ship, and a tractor was hitched to one end of the cable.
However when forward gear applied, the tractor was unable
to move the ship. The Zeppelin remained immovable.
measures were therefore require and the Zeppelin was lowered
to the shed floor, and the crew set about with axes and
saws, cutting up the ship. Bits of the ship were dragged
out, to make room for the R36 to be housed. At 2 am the
following morning, thus ended the life of a "super"
Zeppelin which had been built intended to bomb New York.