One of the
two new "super" Zeppelins handed over to the British
at the end of the first world war.
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.
ft - Dynamic Ceiling
ft - Dynamic Ceiling
L71 was from a new class of "super" Zeppelin with
the intention of having the ability to bomb New York. The
Germans had already proved that a lengthened Zeppelin could
fly over 5,000 miles, as with the famed L59 and the flight
Flights : 2
Scouting : 0
Raids : 0
Navy Flights : 6
Total flights : 8
plus delivery to the UK
the original works flight of the L71 on 29th July 1918, the
ship was finally commissioned on 10th August 1918. She carried
out Navy flights then it was decided that she would be lengthened
and she was put in the shed at Friedrichshafen from 3rd October
to 28th October. When she emerged and flown up to Alhorn,
the war was in it's final days. This brand new ship stayed
in the shed with the L 64 awaiting to hear her fate.
With 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. At Alhorn
air station, however no action was taken by the crews and
the L-64 and L-71 remained intact.
control gondola of the L 71
It was not until the 30th June 1920 that
the L 71 was handed over to the British and she was flown
in to Pulham Airship Station by her German crews. She was
expertly landed and impressed not only the Station officers
but also the local people who had witnessed her arrival.
The ship stayed in the shed but later it was decided that
the ship donate two of her engine cars to the newly constructed
R 36. This was a strange twist of fate in that it was the
R36 which aided the destruction of the L 71.
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" ships.
German ships once delivered, were never flow by British